Vegetables You Can Purchase The Weekend Before Thanksgiving

There are two kinds of people — the ones that take the time to plan out their Thanksgiving meal and the ones that wing it. But no matter which type of holiday home chef you are, you likely start to get a little nervous the weekend before the big feast, either about executing your perfectly planned meal or having visions of years past as you braved the pre-Thanksgiving (or Thanksgiving day, if you really put it off) crowds, scouring the aisles for that missing can of cranberry sauce or pound of Brussels sprouts.

Well, this year you can do some of your shopping a bit earlier, as writer, editor, and recipe developer Christina Chaey has partnered with Kikkoman to share some advice with Tasting Table on all things Thanksgiving — including which vegetables can be purchased four to five days in advance of the holiday, allowing you to rest easy on turkey day with your family and friends. (But if you're in a pinch, we still have you covered; We've rounded up a list of all the grocery stores open on Thanksgiving day to help you out.)

Save the leafy greens for last

As we all know, there is nothing worse than carefully planning out and prepping for a meal and then finding the ingredients rotten when you're finally ready to cook. And for Thanksgiving this stressful situation is made even worse by the fact that many grocery stores aren't open or operate at reduced hours for the holiday, meaning you may have to tell your judgemental uncle that, sorry, you won't be serving grandma's famous copper penny carrots this year. (You know, if it was so important he could have offered to cook it himself ...) 

When it comes to shopping for vegetables, Chaey (who says she's a fan of prowling around New York City greenmarkets in search of the best and freshest buys) tells Tasting Table you can help yourself by buying some ingredients ahead of time — and we're not just talking about canned goods and pantry staples. She explained "You can purchase many things the weekend before. My rule is leafy things like fresh herbs, lettuces, and greens I wait until a few days before to buy. Squashes, carrots, Brussels sprouts, carrots, and potatoes — especially if they are coming from the farmer's market and are freshly picked — they can be purchased in advance."

Christina Chaey's trick for a picture-perfect turkey

That's not the only trick Chaey has up her sleeve for a picture-perfect Thanksgiving meal. She recently took to Instagram with a turkey brining suggestion — one that leans into a pantry staple a good number of us probably hadn't considered before. She writes: "Using soy sauce in turkey brines and glazes is an old trick of the trade in the food world. It gives the turkey that covetable golden-brown skin while also seasoning it inside and out." Chaey says the soy sauce both adds an umami component and gives a copper hue that turns the finished product into what she describes as a "magazine cover-worthy Thanksgiving bird." 

Chaey's brine calls for 10 ounces of soy sauce, with a quarter cup set aside to make a glaze, then brining the bird with that, water, salt, sugar, garlic, peppercorns, as well as "woody herbs such as rosemary, thyme and/or sage", per Kikkoman. (And in case you were wondering what makes an herb woody, City Gardening calls these herbs plants that eventually grow wooden stems over time. The classification includes sage, sweet bay, thyme, and tarragon.)

Armed with the knowledge of what you can — and cannot — buy in advance from your grocery store or farmers market, plus Chaey's handy soy sauce turkey tip, you're well on your way to pulling off a show-stopping Thanksgiving with minimal stress.