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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Planning Ahead for Thanksgiving

As far as I know, I will be the only one cooking for our Thanksgiving dinner. I'm not sure which of our four foster daughters will be here, if any. One of our daughters will be here, but she'll be traveling. So, I need to plan ahead so I'm not exhausted on Thanksgiving!

I've already done my major shopping - turkey, dressing, potatoes, sandwich stuff for turkey sandwiches, etc. We'll be having a broccoli casserole which uses cooked broccoli. So I'll cook some broccoli some time before Thanksgiving, making enough extra for the casserole. I'll make up the casserole and put it in the fridge.

I may make some homemade cornbread stuffing in addition to the boxed kind, so I'll plan to make some cornbread to go along with the chili I'm making next Wednesday. 

I'm not a whiz at gravy, so I have canned gravy. I'll also make giblet gravy ahead of time. I usually make mashed potatoes with red skin potatoes so I don't have to peel them. If everyone is okay with it, I'll make them garlic mashed potatoes.

I'll also make what our family calls cranberry fluff. I can make most of it on Wednesday and add the final ingredients on Thursday. And I'll just bake some sweet potatoes as things are baking on Thursday - nothing fancy, just plain baked sweet potatoes. 

Hmmm ... pies. Guess I'll make a pecan and a pumpkin. I'll use Betty Crocker's refrigerated pie crusts, which taste like homemade, so that will make it easy.

Rolls? Do we really need those with all the starch in the meal? If so, I'll use the frozen kind that just need to thaw and bake - I have some in the freezer. 

As the time gets closer, I'll figure out how many days it will take to thaw the turkey, and how long it will need to cook. I always cook mine in an oven bag, which reduces cooking time significantly. I'll allow for the turkey to be ready about an hour before we eat so it can sit for a bit before being carved.

That will give me time to cook the other side dishes. I'll make a list of when each item needs to go into the oven. I'll also figure out which dishes will go in which serving pieces. 

So, hopefully, by planning ahead, Thanksgiving Day will be as stress-free as possible. I'm sure whoever is here will give me a hand. 

If you're worried about hosting Thanksgiving, plan it out ahead of time, cook or prepare as much as you can early, let others help by bringing something or by helping you cook, simplify as much as you can, and enjoy your day!

More on holiday meals:

Reduce Christmas Stress by Organizing Now, Part 6 - Planning Holiday Meals

Organizing Holiday Meals with Safety in Mind

Three Steps to Planning Dinner