Why You Don't Want To Buy Your Thanksgiving Turkey Too Early

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and with it comes one all-important question: Are you ready? Did you figure out who will sit where? Do you know who's bringing what? And perhaps the most important concern of all, what about the turkey?

While there are plenty of useful tips on how to prepare and cook a Thanksgiving turkey (and plenty of mistakes to look out for, too), one particular trick to making sure you get a great bird this year is knowing when to buy one and which ones to buy. You may think that it's a smart idea to get a fresh turkey a few weeks ahead of the crowd, and cross it off your checklist while everyone else runs themselves into the ground trying to get one. However, Allrecipes notes that purchasing a fresh turkey too early may wind up being a waste of your money. This is because a fresh vacuum-packed turkey can last only a few days in the fridge, meaning that it can go bad before you even get to Thanksgiving Eve. You'll know when the turkey has spoiled when it gets a foul, sulfur smell and develops a shiny, slimy texture across the surface (via USA Today). And a bad turkey is really something you wouldn't serve on a Thanksgiving table, with pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce.

So when is the best time to buy your turkey without running the risk of it going bad or having to fight your way for the last remaining Butterball?

Pick up your turkey two days in advance

According to Allrecipes, the solution to your problem is simple. All you need to do is call your local grocer, butcher, or wherever you plan on getting your turkey from, a maximum of two days before you plan to cook it. This way, your turkey is waiting for you at the store, and you can pick it up on the last few days before the big day.

Southern Living suggests that if you are unable to procure a fresh turkey, you can easily get a frozen turkey, as they last for several weeks before spoiling. Keep in mind that a frozen turkey needs time to thaw. So it's best to buy it a little longer before to ensure it thaws all the way. If you are going to reserve a fresh turkey, Smoked BBQ Source recommends that you reserve it in late October or early November while orders are still available. 

Although this all might seem a bit complicated, it's much easier than worrying about how to get a turkey a few days before Thanksgiving. Or worse, getting a turkey too early in advance and risking it going bad before the big day.