Plan Ahead to Avoid Thanksgiving Panic

Over the next week, we’ll consider the steps in getting a Thanksgiving meal successfully (and safely) on the table.  Our first topic: Plan ahead to avoid Thanksgiving panic.

The Thanksgiving holiday focuses on bringing family and friends together over a shared (or virtual) meal.  Planning ahead will help ensure an enjoyable holiday.  Tips for starting the planning process:

  • Consider refrigerator and freezer space.  You will need cold storage for holding and/or thawing your holiday bird.  The weeks before Thanksgiving may be a good time to clean out the freezer and warm up those leftovers so you have space for the holiday meal.
  • Purchase a meat thermometer.  The only way to tell for sure that your Thanksgiving turkey is ready is to check the internal temperature.  Using a food thermometer will also ensure that the bird is cooked to perfection – not dry and over-done.  Information on food thermometers is available in English and Spanish.
  • Gather containers for storing leftovers.  You may look forward to turkey sandwiches or a bowl of turkey soup on Black Friday.  To ensure that those leftovers are safely stored in the refrigerator, plan ahead and gather shallow containers for quick cooling in the refrigerator.
  • Enter the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline number into your phone contacts: 1-888-MPHotline or 1-888-674-6854.  The Hotline has answered nearly 3 million calls as part of USDA’s consumer food safety education efforts, and it’s open Thanksgiving week and Thanksgiving day.  Food safety experts who staff the Hotline (yes, there are real people answering the calls!) answer calls in both English and Spanish.  And if your question arises after Hotline hours, you can listen to more than 50 food safety messages recorded in either English or Spanish, 24 hours a day.

    Hotline hours: Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Central Time (English or Spanish). Hours on Thanksgiving Day from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p. m., Central Time.

You can also Ask Karen! ( | ) the automated response system that provides food safety information 24/7 and a live chat during Hotline hours.  Mobile phone users can access

Other articles that will be posted as we get ready for Thanksgiving:

  • Fresh or Frozen: Purchasing a Thanksgiving Turkey
  • Brining Safely Will Bring Tender, Flavorful Meat to the Thanksgiving Table
  • Safe Thawing Instructions for the Thanksgiving Turkey
  • You’ve got the right stuff(ing)! Tips to handle stuffing with care
  • Cooking the Thanksgiving Bird in the Oven or Deep Fryer
  • Keep Black Friday for Shopping by Handling Leftovers Safely

Stay food-safe!

Authored by: Barb Ingham,
Sharing is Caring - Click Below to Share