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Thanksgiving Meal Planning: Tips, Tricks, and Ideas

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Photo: Carrie/Carrie Elle

Thanksgiving can be a stressful holiday meal. With guests, whether friends or family joining, the stress of hoping your turkey cooks properly can be anxiety-ridden. Having everyone hungrily waiting to pounce on the food just before the game starts, can make for hectic day if no preparation was made. To help you get ahead of the game and have a seamless Thanksgiving, here are some tips, tricks, and ideas to help you meal plan and prep ahead of time!

Get Your Numbers Straight

One of the best tips to plan for a successful Thanksgiving is to finalize your guest list and count ahead of time. This ensures you have enough time to set the table for all who are attending but also plan the amount of food you cook according the  number of guests you have.


Menu Planning

Once the guests are settles, create a menu that will cater to all those hungry tummies but also accommodates any dietary or allergy restrictions. Having a variety of sides, salads, roasted vegetables is a great way to add some lightness to a heavy meal. Some of these dishes such as favorite sauces/gravy, rolls, or doughs for dessert pies can be made ahead of time and frozen. This will help you throw together dishes in an instant and help with the reduced amount of oven space you have you are roasting your turkey. Another great tip is to select unique ingredients for each dish and not use them in others. This keeps all the dishes interesting and flavor profiles distinct.


Prep Your Turkey Knick Knacks

While cooking your turkey ahead of time isn’t an option, preparing any seasoning, brine, fryers, or smokers (YUM) to ensure proper and seamless cooking of your turkey is a great way to stay on timing for the big day. Allowing your turkey to marinate also allows for extra flavor and moisture to get into the meat, preventing any dry turkey.


Clean Up

Recruit your clean up crew in advance. Whether needing someone to be on dish duty or wrap up the leftover, making sure everyone has a job and a hand in cleaning up means you aren’t stuck cleaning up alone. This also allows for a quicker clean- teamwork makes the dream work!


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