Thanksgiving is about week away, and you have 20 people coming on the big day. Well, even if you aren’t having 20 people over for dinner, having a plan for the day makes everything go much more smoothly, barring unforeseen disasters like dropping the turkey or burning the pie.
Some things are just outside my locus of control, and my Type A personality is learning to accept that. But the rest I plan for, especially Thanksgiving: menu, shopping list, what day I will make each dish, and in what order. Many parts of the meal can be made ahead, which takes some of the pressure off on the big day and gives me a little freedom to relax and enjoy precious time with family and friends.
As our boys have gotten older, they have taken on some of the cooking duties and help make meals, and there are a number of ways that the family can cook together at Thanksgiving. Our boys help make the cranberry sauce, chop vegetables, shape rolls, and other things as needed. If your children have never cooked before, the cranberry sauce is an easy way to start learning.
So here is how I run Thanksgiving preparations and dinner, which assumes two ovens or one oven and a countertop roaster oven or some other turkey-cooking device. If you have one oven and no other options for cooking the turkey, you may need to double up baking some things or break out your slow cooker. Most of the make-ahead items can be refrigerated until Thursday.
Start thawing the turkey in the refrigerator.
Make the cranberry sauce. [Note: Don’t forget to serve the cranberry sauce. Not that I would ever do that.]
Make the pie dough.
Make the cornbread, if cornbread stuffing is your thing. It’s ok for it to sit a day or two before using in the stuffing.
Bake the pies.
Chop any vegetables that can be chopped ahead of time.
Make salad dressings, they often have more flavor after resting for a day.
Make Thanksgiving breakfast (scones, muffins, baked French toast). Or just skip this part and buy doughnuts.
Start the dough for the rolls.
Set the turkey out on the counter and allow it to come to room temperature.
Start prepping the side dishes.
Shape the rolls and allow them to rise.
Cook the turkey.
Bake any side dishes.
Bake the rolls after the turkey comes out of the oven and rests before carving.
Time to eat! And don't forget the cranberry sauce!
And here are a few more of our Thanksgiving favorites.