Buying a frozen turkey is a great way to cut down on last-minute shopping. But if you don’t thaw the bird correctly you can ruin the meal.

The key here is thinking ahead. To thaw a turkey, it has to stay in the refrigerator 1 day for every 4 pounds. So, for example, if you buy a 12-pound bird, put it in the fridge on Monday. And if you plan on brining your 12-pound bird, which you would do the day before Thanksgiving, give yourself an extra day and put it in the fridge to thaw on Sunday. Always thaw turkey in the fridge, because if you leave it out on the counter it risks growing bacteria. Be sure to thaw the turkey in a disposable baking dish, as some juices may run as the bird defrosts.

Figure out the weight of your bird, when you’ll need to transfer it from the freezer to the fridge, and mark your calendars now.