Thanksgiving is less than a week away, and if you're the one stuck hosting this year, it's crunch time.

To help lighten your load next week, here are few things you should get out of the way this weekend. So you are not running around last minute as I have done in the past.

Clean out your fridge.  You'll need room for the turkey and all the extra ingredients you'll buy.  You don't want to run into an issue because you have a half-full gallon of milk taking up space.

Check your pantry.  Take inventory of what you have in your fridge, cupboards, and drawers, especially when it comes to things like spices.  You might not need to buy a turkey roasting bag, because the box you bought last year came with two.

Have a game plan for your cooking vessels and dinnerware.  Take stock of all the pots, pans, plates, glasses, serving platters, and flatware you'll need to pull off your Thanksgiving dinner.

One tip we saw recommended putting Post-It notes on some items so you don't accidentally "double book" them.

Grocery shop.  You should have everything you need for Thanksgiving dinner by Sunday night . . . the turkey, canned ingredients, fresh ingredients, beverages, everything.

Defrost your turkey.  If you bought a frozen turkey, the USDA recommends one day of thawing in the fridge for every 4 to 5 pounds. So I guess that cleaning out of the fridge is a really good idea, so you can fit your bird in there while it thaws.

So if you have a 15-pound bird, you'll need to start defrosting at least 3 days in advance.  And if your bird is over 20 pounds, you should have it defrosting in the fridge by tonight.

Do some food prep.  Depending on what you're serving, you can check off a few things this weekend.  Things like dips and spreads can generally be made up to a week ahead of time.

You can air-dry breads for stuffing.  You can make homemade pie crusts.  And things that are served chilled, like cranberry sauce or vinaigrette for salads, can all be made this weekend.




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