Tips for proper Thanksgiving food preparation for smaller gatherings

Thanksgiving may look a bit different for families this year, as gatherings will be smaller and there may be less preparation for food.
News 12 spoke with the undersecretary for food safety, and she has some tips for your Thanksgiving prep and meals this year, as well as with limitations on gatherings.
"You might want to buy a smaller turkey because you might not need all of those leftovers," says Dr. Mindy Brashears, undersecretary for food safety.
COVID-19 may cap the amount of people at your Thanksgiving this year...but it won't take away the meal you've been preparing for.
The undersecretary for food safety says there's four simple areas to remember when prepping your meal.
"Clean, separate, cook, chill; and these guidelines really help you all the way through the process,” says Brashears.
The first step to prep is thawing your turkey in the refrigerator in cold water. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, you'll need to thaw it for one to three days if your turkey is four to 12 pounds and three to four days if it's 12 to 16 pounds.
"If you forget, you can also put it in the sink with cold water but you need to change that cold water out every 30 minutes because if the water gets warm then the bacteria or germs will start to grow on the turkey,” says Brashears.
Make sure to check the temperature of your turkey in the thickest areas and to set your oven temperature to no less than 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
One of the most important things to remember during this holiday is to keep your hands clean if you're touching or cooking food. The USDA says to lather your hands for 20 seconds, which will also prevent any cross contamination.
"COVID is not food borne. We know it's a respiratory disease, but that doesn't mean to neglect your food; that means to make sure you still take care of your food and have a good focus on food safety,” says Brashears.
And although families might be separated this Thanksgiving, that doesn't mean you can't spread the love for the ones you care about.
"Drop off food for your grandparents or elderly neighbors, and you can do a Zoom call and enjoy it together,” says Brashears.