I made Thanksgiving dinner for my family for the first time last year. Overall it went well, although there were a few hiccups and lots of Google searching along the way.

One of my biggest questions when preparing the meal was--when should I start thawing out the turkey?

We've all probably watched the Christmas movie classic, Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase. No one wants to make a turkey like that.

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Even though I made a turkey last year, I forgot exactly when I'm supposed to start the thawing process because not all turkeys are the same. I made a bigger turkey last year than I'm making this year.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, you should know that size matters when you're talking about turkey. You're supposed to allow at least 24 hours of fridge time for every 5 pounds the turkey weighs. Now, I say FRIDGE time because you're not supposed to let that bird sit out at room temperature. That could make you and your family very sick. No one wants that!

So, if you're like me and you've got a 10-12 pounder this year, you'll need roughly 2 days, maybe a little more. For those big 20 pound turkeys, you'll want to take it out of the freezer by Sunday, November 21.

Also, here's a pro tip that I wish someone would have told me. Make sure you've got your turkey thawing out in a pan or some other device that'll catch all of the drippings, moisture, and water that comes off the bird. I left it in the bag last year--and, let's just say there was a huge mess everywhere.

If you bought a turkey this year with intentions to cook it, but then you were invited to a dinner, you can store your turkey in the freezer for up to a year. Save it for next year!

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