OHC’s Approach to Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Dinner

OHC loves Thanksgiving!  It means that I can spend all week cooking and Scott can spend all weekend eating good food.  I realize that spending a week cooking can be most people’s worst nightmare but when you love cooking as much as I do, then Thanksgiving is a dream come true.

The reason I spend all week cooking is because I plan out Thanksgiving.

If you know anything about me, then you know I love Google web-products.  GCal and Google Docs have saved my life time and time again.  Google can be your best friend during the holidays.

With GCal I plan out the week before Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving week.  Then I print this out and stick it to my fridge so I have in front of me and can stay on task.

The week before I plan out my grocery list.  I have my menu in front of me and I write down every ingredient I need for that recipe.  Off of that I make a master list of things I’ll need from the grocery store.  Then I do a walk-through, looking over each of my fridges (I have two) and my pantry to see what I already have on hand.

Once that’s done, I have my grocery list ready to go.  I keep it on the fridge as well because if I use up something during the week, I make sure to note that I’ll have to pick up more at the store.

Friday before Thanksgiving (yes this means the weekend before Thanksgiving) I go to the grocery store and do my BIG shopping.  Sales typically have already started by this point and the stores stay relatively empty.  A lot of people wait till the last minute to buy stuff but not me!

If you think about it, the staples will stay fresh and you will still be able to use them the following week.  Carrots, onions, celery, and potatoes will all be fine the following week.  Herbs, if treated properly will be fine too!

The week of Thanksgiving is when I start all the prep work.

Monday I check over my menu and double check that I have all the necessary ingredients.

Tuesday of that week is when I pick up my turkey from the butcher.  I place the order for my turkey at the beginning of the month and then all I have to do is pick it up the week of Thanksgiving! This saves time and I’m not fighting people in the grocery store over turkeys.

You can chop the veggies for stuffing, brining, and for the turkey ahead of time.  I do veggie prep either on Tuesday or on Wednesday.

Despite what the experts say, you CAN make pumpkin pie ahead of time.  You CAN also freeze it and then thaw it out the day of.  Yes it might pull away from the crust a bit but who cares?  Slap some whipped cream over the edge and no one can see anything.  Besides, most people just want  eat, they aren’t really focusing on if your pie is perfect looking.  I make my pies either on Tuesday or Wednesday.

I also make the cranberry sauce and try to keep Scott away from it till Thursday.

Wednesday I prep the brine for the turkey.  You know how I love brining!  If I am doing a whole turkey, it goes in the brine Wednesday evening.  If I’m doing just a breast, I put it in a brine super early in the morning.

Sweet potato casserole and green bean casserole get made and assembled on Wednesday.  This means on Thursday all I have to do is heat them up.

Those can be heating up while I make the stuffing.  I make mashed potatoes ahead of time on Thursday because they can be kept warm on the stove.  You can use Ina’s method of a double boiler to keep them warm or you can just keep them on the stove with a very low heat.  Stirring occasionally so they don’t stick to the bottom.  I start the potatoes when the turkey is about halfway through cooking.

The gravy is the very last thing I make while the turkey is resting and the stuffing is finishing off in the oven.  I use some of the roasting juices and some boxed stock that I jazzed up for the gravy.

Once the gravy is done then it’s time to eat!  Scott slices the turkey and dishes it up on our plates.  Then we get to down eating a fab meal that I didn’t stress over because it was all planned out.

Sticking to a plan makes life easier and makes the idea of a huge Thanksgiving dinner seem approachable and not intimidating.

What’s Thanksgiving like at your place? Do you cook or do you travel?

7 thoughts on “OHC’s Approach to Thanksgiving

  1. I am with you on the pies – I always make mine in advance! We host and have roughly 12-15 people attend. I do as much as I can in advance, especially since I am running a race Thanksgiving morning!

  2. While I would love to host Thanksgiving and have a big to-do my MIL would not be happy so this year we are going to Cracker Barrel. Maybe next year I can suggest that I host it. I like to make my pies in advance.
    Have you ever tried oyster and rice stuffing? My dad and I made it a few times and it is really yummy. Might make that in memory of him this year.

  3. Heidi says:

    We often travel to be with family, but we always bring something to contribute to the meal. I normally bring a pie or a side dish that I can make ahead of time. I try to bring something that doesn’t need refrigerator space so I’m not taking up someone else’s fridge.

    I hosted Thanksgiving one year and I didn’t plan it out as well as I should have, but it worked out fine.

  4. I can’t wait to host my first holiday meal! I think I might be doing Easter in the spring… and yes, I’m already looking forward to it :D

    Great tips. It definitely makes things FAR more relaxing, enjoyable, and better all around to plan ahead and do things before the event itself.

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