Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Guide

Shannon Vavich

It’s possible to pull-off a great Thanksgiving by planning ahead and pacing yourself.

Most Thanksgiving dishes can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. Follow my recipes for instructions on what to do to make prep easy. It’s important to just take it one day at a time. This calendar will help you visualize the process.

The most important aspect of planning your Thanksgiving dinner is to give yourself the time to do so. If you are planning on cooking an entire Thanksgiving dinner by yourself, you have to truly “wrap your head” around the fact that it is NOT a normal dinner, and it will take more than a quick shopping trip and a couple hours on your feet to achieve. We’re talking major logistics, here. You need to be honest with yourself about how much time you actually have. You’ll have to get really firm with boundaries and saying all the “no’s” in order to make this time for yourself. This is not just something you can ‘fit in’ to your normal grind. I have tried to just “fit it all in” in years past, and while I did cross the finish line with a big Thanksgiving table that my family loved, I lost sleep over it, I was wiped out for days afterward, and I was so tired I could barely enjoy the meal myself.

This is my plan that I wrote for myself after years and years of trial and error. Even if it’s not adhered to perfectly, it at least gives me the wake-up-call that the third Thursday of November is approaching at lightening speed.

Quite possibly the most important tasks of this lineup are the grimy ones. Getting your fridge(s) cleaned out and your kitchen counters decluttered are a big part of creating the positive momentum you’ll need to get you to Thanksgiving Day without frustration and chaos.

November 6-10: Print recipes and shopping list, plan shopping trip, clean out your fridge, shop, organize your groceries and take a rest.

November 13-17: Read and review recipes, make cranberry relish, prep and freeze dinner rolls, prep stuffing kit, prep pie pastry.

November 20-22: Prep sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, make and bake pies, prep Turkey on the evening of the 23rd.

Thanksgiving Day: Roast turkey, defrost and bake rolls, assemble stuffing in the crockpot,heat mashed potatoes, heat and top sweet potato casserole, make gravy, make fresh whipped cream for pies.

Scroll down to print your own calendar. I have attached a PDF file.