Thanksgiving is definitely going to look a little different this year but that doesn’t mean we don’t need to plan for the day. Each year all of us decide where we are going to eat and what needs to be done. Below is a list to help you make your best Thanksgiving ever!
Three Weeks Before Thanksgiving
- Decide how many people you are feeding and what time dinner will be served.
- Are you going to offer dinner as a buffet or a sit down dinner?
- Make a list of what you are going to make. Is there anything special that you need to make for anyone? Do you have anyone who has food allergies or restrictions coming to dinner? (I have had Thanksgiving dinner guests that couldn’t have gluten. We made sure we had plenty of gluten free options).
- Determine how many servings you need of each dish? Do you have kids that you know don’t eat certain things? Keep this in mind as you plan and serve a smaller amount of those dishes.
- Gather all the recipes and make a full grocery list. Split the grocery list into what can be bought two weeks or more ahead and what needs to be bought a day or two before.
- Look through your kitchen and decide what serving dishes you will use for each dish. Do you need to borrow something from a guest or buy something additional?
- Review the recipes to see what kitchen equipment you will need to make dinner. Do you have a meat thermometer? A turkey baster?
- Determine what dishes you will cook where (stove top, instant pot or oven) and how long they will take. For example: you can make great mashed potatoes in the Instant Pot and this will free up a spot on the stove. Plus the Instant Pot keeps them really hot so you don’t have to wait until the last minute to make the mashed potatoes. Is there anything you can make the day before Thanksgiving?
- Is there any food you need to preorder? Such as a Honey Baked Ham or a special gluten free apple pie.
Two Weeks Before Thanksgiving
- Shop for any kitchen equipment you are missing.
- Gather all of decorations, linens, serving pieces, plates, glasses and anything else you will use to set the table. Make sure everything is cleaned and the linen is pressed.
- Shop for all groceries that you can buy ahead. Make a section in your fridge and pantry that you label Thanksgiving so now one else in your house eats what you need to cook with for the big meal. Nothing is worse than going to make something and realizing someone ate what you needed to make it – believe me I have been there before!
One Week Before Thanksgiving
- Double check your grocery list. Was there anything you weren’t able to get last week?
- Clean out your fridge and freezer.
- Take out the turkey to defrost. (It can take up to 5 days to fully defrost depending on the size).
- Pickup any food that you had to order ahead.
Day Before Thanksgiving
- Review your timeline for your cooking.
- Take the list of dishes and assign them to any helpers that you will have on Thanksgiving Day.
- Set an alarm for Thanksgiving Day to get the turkey in the oven on time.
- Check to see if there are any fresh ingredients you need to get from the store.
- Early in the day make your final trip to the grocery store.
- Cook anything that can be cooked ahead of time such as the pies.
- Complete any prep work that can be done ahead for veggies.
- If you have the space take out your cooking vessels and anything that is in the pantry that you will need on Thanksgiving Day. I like to put the pantry items with the cooking vessel so everything is at hand. This also makes it easier for those helping you cook so you can focus on what you are making.
- Start the day with an easy breakfast and assign cleanup to someone else in your household. It’s great to delegate breakfast cooking to someone else too!
- Have someone in your family set the table.
- Start the turkey first and then make the rest of the dishes.
- Clean as you go to make sure your kitchen stays functional. It can be helpful to run the dishwasher as soon as it is full instead of waiting until the end of the day. This allows you to unload it after Thanksgiving dinner and reload it with the dinner dishes.
- Put everything into serving dishes and serve dinner.
- Enjoy the lovely dinner you have prepared.
- Let your family do the remaining dishes.