Stress-Free Thanksgiving Prep

Get ready for ThanksgivingDuring the fall and winter, I love to prepare traditional home made, American dishes so there’s no surprise that Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year.

But for those of you who aren’t used to cooking a huge celebration meal, like this one, it might seem daunting.

There are plenty of easy ways to save on time and energy but still have your Thanksgiving meal taste delicious and look effortless. With just a bit of planning and thinking ahead you can cook a huge feast for 20 or more guests all by yourself — here are simple tips and do-ahead ideas that even beginning cooks can use.

Shop Ahead

With the Internet, finding simple, healthy holiday recipes is easier than ever. Just plan your shopping list a week ahead of time. Use downtime, like your morning train commute, to quickly make your list. Many grocery stores now have “shop online” services where you can order your groceries over the internet and have them delivered. Canned items, freshly bagged cranberries, potatoes, pastas, dried herbs, and stocks will keep in the pantry or the fridge for up to two weeks.

Do Ahead

Spend 1 or 2 hours prepping the day before — it’s the perfect time to have your family or friends help over a hot cup of cocoa or a glass of wine. You can make cranberry sauce, apple sauce, desserts, salad dressings, and even store them directly in the serving dish so that they can go from the fridge right to the table. Casseroles, scalloped potatoes and stuffing can also be assembled the day before and refrigerated in their oven-safe cookware, ready to pop into a preheated oven right before the doorbell rings and your first guest arrives.

Storage

Use wax paper and zipper lock bags to store items that need additional cooking the next day. I wrap my cookie dough in wax paper and chill it up to two days in advance so that I just have to slice and bake for freshly baked cookies for dessert. There are no extra bowls or mixing equipment to clean up since you tidied up the kitchen the night before. Zipper lock bags are great for storing dressings, marinades, pasta sauces, and icings for deserts. Just clip the end with a scissor and dispense! Plus they take up less room in the fridge and leave more space to chill drinks and desserts.

In Granny’s Kitchen #3: Thanksgiving

In Granny's Kitchen #3: ThanksgivingWonder how Thanksgiving was celebrated decades ago? In Granny’s Kitchen is a series of taped conversations that took place at Granny’s kitchen table, in the house where I grew up. Listen to our kitchen talk focused on family traditions, rituals, and how the quality of food has changed since Granny was a girl growing up in the Depression era.

In this episode from a few years back, Granny shares her best Thanksgiving tips for what she considers to be the biggest feast of the year. From smooth mash potatoes to her moist stuffing, Granny knows best – after all she has cooked over 60 Thanksgiving dinners!

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