Feeling overwhelmed by your Thanksgiving meal prep? Depending on the size group you’re hosting and how many dishes you have to prepare, it’s easy to feel stressed out, anxious and already behind schedule.
Let’s face it. That’s no way to spend your holiday when it’s really about focusing on all the friends, family and blessings for which you should be thankful.
With our Thanksgiving meal prep guide, we can help! Follow this schedule, and you won’t have to manage anything but cooking the turkey and pulling together the final touches on the big day.
Of course, before you get going, make sure you’ve planned your menu and gone grocery shopping. Perhaps most importantly, give yourself plenty of time for the turkey to thaw. A good rule of thumb is allowing one day for every 4 pounds it weighs.
One Week Before
Cranberry Sauce – If you’re not a fan of canned, you can make cranberry sauce a week to two days before the big day. It lasts up to a week in the refrigerator, and it will thicken as it cools, giving it a little more texture.
Pie Crust – Again, if you’re going with a from-scratch approach, you can prepare pie crusts up to a week before and freeze them until you start baking your desserts the day before.
Two Days Before
Casseroles – Save precious time by assembling the casseroles you plan to serve. Cover and refrigerate them when you’re done until they’re ready to cook on Thanksgiving day.
Dressing (or Stuffing) – If served as a side, you can also put this together and refrigerate it. Streamline your cooking on Thanksgiving by putting it in the oven along with the turkey.
The Day Before
Desserts and Pies – Conserve your oven space and start preparing your sweets the day before. Refrigerate pies, such as custard and pumpkin, overnight. Anything that needs a quick reheat can be popped in the oven after the meal.
Mashed Potatoes – Peel and prep potatoes and sweet potatoes, place them in water and store in the fridge.
Turkey – Season the turkey the night before so it’s ready to go in the oven first thing on Thanksgiving Day.
On Thanksgiving Day
Turkey – Start with the centerpiece of your meal first. Since you’ve seasoned it the night before, you can put it right in the oven. Some say take it out of the oven before it’s fully cooked so the heat can redistribute, leaving it juicy. It’s also recommended to slice the turkey, place it in the oven on broil to finish cooking and crisp the skin.
Gravy – Prepare while the turkey is in the oven. Boil bones and vegetables you plan to use early to help you stay on schedule.
Mashed Potatoes – Remove the potatoes from the fridge, boil and mash them on the stovetop while the turkey is cooking.
Salads and Cold Sides – While the turkey and dressing are in the oven, chop and assemble salad ingredients or other cold sides. Use this time to chop herbs for garnishes and other dishes while you’ve got the cutting board out.
Roasted Vegetables – With the more complicated dishes out of the way, finish up your meal prep by roasting vegetable sides, such as green beans or Brussels sprouts. Start this a couple of hours before you plan to serve dinner.
Dinner is served!
If you follow this schedule, you’ll be able to get dinner on the table with a minimal amount of stress.
Need help with the post-Thanksgiving cleaning? We can help with that too! We proudly offer 5-star service to customers in many communities on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay. Contact us today with your questions or to request a quote!