Thanksgiving Survival Tips

One of the ways I maintain my sanity when cooking for Thanksgiving is keeping  a calendar of the week and dividing up the prep work and cooking, so I don’t feel too overwhelmed.  Any child that happens to be in the vicinity gets pulled into the kitchen to help.  We crank up the tunes and, before we know it, the work is done and we can enjoy Thanksgiving with our family and friends.  Here's a rough outline of how I divide everything up:


1.  Plan the menu (this is usually pretty easy because my menu stays close to the same.  I may add a new pie, or a couple of new side dishes, but the rest of the menu is set)  Check out our Thanksgiving Feast for ideas!

2.  Head to the grocery store

3.  Wash all the veggies and organize everything as you put it away, so you know where it is.   I clear out my produce drawers, so the the only produce in them is what I'm cooking for Thanksgiving.

4.  Set the Thanksgiving table (doing it early gives me a chance to see if any silver needs to be polished, or any napkins ironed ----- or if need to borrow or buy any additional glasses/plates/platters.  To decorate the tables I prefer gourds, pumpkins to fresh flowers. They look just as festive as fresh flowers, but I don’t have to worry about them dying or wilting.

5.  If your turkey is frozen, make sure it's is defrosting in the refrigerator.  It can take a few days to defrost it completely, so don’t forget this important step!



1.  Make cranberry sauce (or relish, or chutney).

2.  Make pie crusts and store in refrigerator.

3.  Chop veggies (onions, celery, etc.) and put in marked ziplock bags.  I even chop the apples for the stuffing, but not for the pie.  Put a damp paper towel into each of the ziplock bags to keep everything fresh.

4.  Chop your herbs (parsley, rosemary, thyme) and put in individually  marked ziplock bags and store in freezer.



1.  Assemble the stuffing, cook and store in the refrigerator.  Looking for a new stuffing recipe?

2.  Make the biscuits (see note about Pies to ensure you still have biscuits for Thanksgiving).

3.  Make the soup and store in your refrigerator.



1.   Make your pie (or pies, because who can serve just 1 pie on Thanksgiving?)  Pumpkin and any other custard-based pies should be stored in the refrigerator.  The other pies can be stored safely at room temperature.  You may want to put a note on the pies "Do Not Eat!"......if you have teenagers, kids, husbands, family, anyone who loves pie for breakfast, I recommend this extra step to ensure you actually have pie for Thanksgiving.

2.  Assemble the other vegetable side dishes and store in the refrigerator.

3.  Cut up the potatoes and store in a bowl covered with water. This will prevent them from turning brown.



1.  Count back from when you want to sit down and eat.  This will help you decide when to put the turkey in the oven.  Preheat your oven and roast your turkey, leaving about 2-4 hours to cook and 30 minutes to rest.

2.  If you’re like us, and are working with one oven, no need to worry about getting everything on the table at once.  There’s plenty of time to cook (and warm up) everything else once the turkey is out and resting.  The great thing about veggies is they taste just as delicious when they’re room temperature as they do when they come right out of the oven.

3.  When the turkey comes out, put the vegetables in the oven to cook.

4.  While the vegetables cook, make the mashed potatoes and keep warm on low heat.

5.  When the vegetables are done, reheat the stuffing and biscuits, and warm the soup over low heat.

6.  Carve the turkey

7.  Put out the rest of the side dishes

8.  Sit back and enjoy a fabulous Thanksgiving meal!

Don't forget to check out our latest Facebook Live video on our Facebook page!  I make some of Donna and my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes and show you the easiest way to make ALL of your pie crusts.

What are some of the ways you stay organized for Thanksgiving?  Let us know in the comments section below.

Happy Cooking!

Lisa and Donna

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