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We are just one week away from Thanksgiving and the official kick-off to the holiday baking season in our home. I currently have the turkey defrosting in the garage fridge. I have a produce drawer full of vegetables to prep for stuffing and other side dishes. There is so much little stuff to do, and I like to write everything out so I can get the turkey in the oven on time, and enjoy the day with family.
This year, there will only be ten of us for Thanksgiving dinner, but I still cook as if there will be 15-20 people. I love to cook, and I love being able to send my guests home with leftovers and having enough leftovers so I don’t have to cook again until Saturday or Sunday. Yup, I’m that person. If I do all the work one day, I need a few days off after that.
Our Thanksgiving Menu
We have a fairly traditional Thanksgiving meal, and it doesn’t vary much from year to year. I am adding a few extra side dishes this year, but making smaller batches of them so I don’t really overdo it. Knowing how much food you really need can be a challenge, but I want to have leftovers for a few days.
Herb Roasted Turkey
Apple Butter Mashed Sweet Potatoes
String Bean Casserole
Homemade French Bread Rolls
Apple Crumb Pie
The Game Plan
This year, I am planning to grocery shop on Monday afternoon before Scouts. It’s going to be a busy few days, but if I get the work done by Wednesday evening, I’ll get to relax and enjoy Thanksgiving with my family.
1 Week Before Thanksgiving
- Defrost the turkey in the fridge
- Confirm guest list
- Finalize the menu for Thanksgiving, but also for the days before when you know you’ll be busy.
- Cube the bread and dry it out in the oven Store it in an air-tight container until needed.
- Make the fermented cran-apple relish
- Make the citrus herb salt for the dry brine
3-4 Days Before Thanksgiving: Cleaning & Errands
- Clean the house – focus on the areas where guests will be on Thanksgiving Day
- Grocery Shop – get all of the fresh items and any pantry staples that you need to restock
- Liquor Store – purchase wine, beer, or any alcohol needed for guests.
- Buy any additional supplies that we need – candles, linens, foil pans, pie plates, etc
- Rearrange dining room furniture to accommodate additional dinner guests & put the leaf in the table or bring in an extra table.
- Launder the tablecloths and other linens
2 Days Before Thanksgiving
- Brine the turkey
- Make the compound butter
- Chill the beer/wine
- Chill the cranberry sauce
- Make the pie crust and chill
Day Before Thanksgiving: Kitchen Day
- Early morning quick trip to get fresh herbs, flowers, and anything that you forgot to pick up a few days ago. The goal is to be out and home again before 10am since many people only work half-day the day before a holiday. Get in and out before the crowds.
- Assemble and bake the pies
- Bake the brownies
- Make the sweet potatoes
- Assemble the green bean casserole
- Peel the potatoes and put them in water so they don’t brown
- Chop all the vegetables for the stuffing
- Brown the sausage for the stuffing
- Make turkey stock in the instant pot so it’s ready for the stuffing and gravy
- Have a freezer meal for dinner
- Pull out all of the serving pieces that will be needed
- Quick clean-up of all common areas
- Go to bed early so that you’ll be well rested in the morning
On Thanksgiving Morning
- Wake up early and get caffeinated
- Make both stuffings
- Stuff the turkey and rub the compound butter under the skin
- Roast the turkey – We have a 20 lbs turkey so it needs to be in the oven by 8:30am so we can eat around 1:30.
- Assemble all side dishes and bring those that are chilled to room temperature
- Keep up with the dishes
- Prepare the bread dough for the rolls
In the hour before dinner
- Set the table
- Bake the rolls
- Make or Reheat the side dishes
- Make the gravy
- Carve the turkey
- Serve dinner and enjoy the day with your family and friends
Right as you sit down for dinner, start a pot of coffee and put on the kettle so that you’ll be ready for dessert.