Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday growing up, but I hated Thanksgiving morning.
Growing up, Thanksgiving was a major event for my mom. She used to prepare 3 different types of turkeys (fried, smoked and roasted), 10 different vegetable sides and a myriad of delicious but laborious desserts. That feast inevitably came with a 5am wake up call for everyone, 7 last minute trips to the grocery store and a few tears.
Pulling off a dinner like that without being caught bra-less, makeup-less, and still in your pajamas when your guests arrive takes an army… or at the very least a plan. Here are 5 tips for to make your Thanksgiving meal prep go smoothly this year.
Know your menu well in advance. Preparation is crucial to Turkey Day success, know your menu and do your shopping well in advance. One of our rockstar Voeden subscribers suggests printing out a blank November calendar to hang on your refrigerator. You can download ours Thanksgiving Calendar by clicking here, then fill it in with your shopping trips, your meal prep days and friendly reminders.
Don’t stress over fancy recipes. Just like our weekly meal plans, we like to use a combination of familiar, staple dishes and fun, new ones but don’t feel pressured to reinvent the wheel. Celebrate the classics and each year you’ll gain confidence in making those dishes, in turn they’ll become easier to prepare. Toss in a few exciting ones just to keep the table fresh but don’t stress over them, cooking is supposed to be fun!
Ask for help. That’s what friends and family are for, have your guests bring desserts or take care of the appetizers so that you can focus on the main meal. Or you could potluck style the whole dinner and divvy up everyone’s favorites dishes. Remember those “fun, exciting dishes” that you’re experimenting with? Ask someone to bring a back up (without them knowing it’s a back up) and if you run out of time or if you burn the pie, then you already have plan B and no one has to know!
Prep as much as you can in advance. My kitchen icon, Ina Garten always said to make any gratins, mashed potatoes and soups a few days in advance and just reheat them that morning. Another helpful tip is to skip stuffing the actual turkey and just make a side of stuffing in another container. Be sure to grocery shop a few days in advance too, that way if you forget anything you aren’t running to the grocery store on Thanksgiving morning to pick up coconut milk only to find out your hubby bought a carton of it instead of the canned stuffed… (story of my childhood!)
Have fun. This last tip is something I go back to with each and everyone of my students, daily. When’s the last time you let your hair down, put on your favorite music and danced around the kitchen singing into a wooden spoon? Dance with your kids while stirring the soup, and stop striving for Martha Stewart perfection, remember that this day is about being thankful for the life you’ve created so celebrate it!
Don't forget to download our FREE blank November Planning Calendar so that your Thanksgiving Meal Prep goes smoothly, and be sure to check you inbox next week for our BONUS Thanksgiving meal plan featuring 6 recipes for this year's biggest food holiday.