Here’s the one thing you need to do now to prep for Thanksgiving

So, your turkey is safe and sound in the fridge and you’ve been keeping yourself busy studying our play-by-play Thanksgiving dinner game plan. Now—how’s your stock?

Don’t tell me: You’re waiting until the day after Thanksgiving to make turkey stock. That’s perfectly sensible—you’ll have a big turkey carcass to work from, after all. The downside is that you won’t have any homemade turkey stock to use for making gravy.

Luckily, there are a few ways to make homemade stock ahead of time.

1. Buy turkey wings.

Your first option is to head to the grocery store or local butcher and order some turkey wings. They’re relatively inexpensive (I found them in my neighborhood for about $3/lb) and, when combined with your Thanksgiving turkey’s neck and giblets (check the cavity for those if you haven’t already), form the base of a deeply rich gravy.

2. Use a chicken instead.

Can’t find turkey wings locally? Chicken wings should be easier to locate, and they’ll work just as well. Most gravy recipes give you the option of either chicken or turkey stock in addition to aromatics, anyway.

3. Hack up the turkey.

Are you tackling our Obsessive Turkey Project or—on the other end of the spectrum—our super-quick One-Hour Bird? Both methods call for cutting up the bird before cooking, freeing up the backbone and allowing you to make this “day-after” turkey stock a day before the big Thanksgiving meal.

4. Go meatless. 

If you’re looking to avoid meat at Thanksgiving—or want to be hospitable to those vegetarian cousins who seem to show up year after year—try out our Vegducken. And while you’re at it, make a vegetarian gravy with a rich porcini mushroom stock, like the one featured in this chickenless noodle soup.