Plan out your turkey feast

— Plan for one pound of meat per person. Generally, you will need to plan one day for every four pounds of turkey to ensure your bird completely thaws.

— Do not rinse your raw turkey. Rinsing the turkey is not a safety step and can increase the risk of spreading bacteria to the sink and other surfaces.

— Stuffing is an excellent medium for bacterial growth so cook it to a safe minimum internal temperature (at least 165 F).

— For safety, cook your turkey to at least 165 F and always use a food thermometer to ensure your turkey reaches this safe internal temperature. You can find a complete turkey roasting chart at StoryofYourDinner.org.

— When checking to see if your turkey is done, insert the food thermometer into the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.


Get cozy inside and out with a shared meal

As the nights lengthen and temperatures drop, it’s a time to embrace all the simple and cozy pleasures the season has to offer. Now is the perfect time to increase your contentment and spread the joy by preparing and sharing some homemade food.

Fire up the oven: Whatever you prepare, the best results start with high-quality, wholesome ingredients, according to the experts at Simply Organic, which makes seasonings and extracts.

Share the joy: Whatever you’re cooking, make extras and share with a neighbor or someone who can use a friendly gesture.

All aglow: Ambiance makes rooms cozier, so place lit candles around the room, hang a string of lights, or do both.

Take time for reflection: Think about how sharing a homemade meal transforms how you and others around you feel about the season. Then, inspire others with your stories and photos on social media with the hashtag #CookForAChange.


Don’t let party-prep burnout mar your big feast

When getting ready for the big holiday gathering, create a new mindset: You also deserve to enjoy yourself. With smart planning, you can show up to your own bash with energy to spare, according to OXO.

Use the freezer: A week before the big event, prepare sides, sauces, gravies and desserts and freeze them. Be sure you have high-quality bakeware that won’t shatter.

Be your own sous-chef: Before you start cooking, do all the cutting, slicing, chopping and measuring at one time, consolidating where you can.

Round up your helpers: Draw up a master to-do list of things you need to do to get the house ready for guests, from cleaning to decorating to setting the table. Assign tasks to different family members so everyone plays a role.


You can cook a whole chicken in a slow cooker

Forget the pricey rotisserie chicken from the supermarket. You can actually cook a whole chicken right in the crockpot, thanks to this recipe from the Family Fresh Meals blog.

Whole Chicken in the Crockpot

Take one whole chicken, insides removed and patted dry with paper towels, and rub with your favorite seasoning. Place four foil balls at the bottom of the crock pot to serve as a chicken stand. (You may also use root vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots and turnips, cut into two-inch chunks.)

Place chicken in the slow cooker, cover and cook on high for 4 to 4.5 hours or on low for 6.5 to 8 hours.

When finished, carve and serve. Shred the leftover meat and use as taco meat or add to soups.

— Brandpoint