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November 26, 2013

How to survive cooking for a large group at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of the year to celebrate family and friends while enjoying a delicious meal. But for some, it can easily turn into a high-stress situation when it comes to preparing a meal for a large group.

This Turkey Day, leave the stress behind with some helpful tips and resources for pulling off dinner for a crowd.

Prepare in advance

Procrastinators, beware. The last thing you want to do is put off planning your Thanksgiving meal.

"The absolute key to a successful Thanksgiving meal is advance preparation," says David Dial, a New York food blogger at SpicedBlog.com. "Make a list of everything that needs to be done, and then put that list in order by date. I recommend starting about two to three weeks early, although most of the tasks can't be completed until closer to Thanksgiving."

Use the extra time to select which dishes you want to include, the recipes that you will use, and how much food you will need to prepare. Confirm the number of attendees as early as possible to determine food quantities.

"The number of dishes to make is purely based on personal preference," Dial says. "Part of the fun with Thanksgiving is the leftovers, so I always err on the side of making too much food rather than running out."

When it comes to selecting a turkey, a good estimate is eight ounces per person, according to Julie Jones, a catering manager at Hy-Vee supermarket. She estimates a group of 25 to 30 will consume a gallon each of sides like potatoes, gravy, stuffing and a vegetable. Dinner rolls are estimated at one and a half per person and since not everyone likes cranberry sauce, Jones says a quart will serve 25 to 30.

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