Eight Tips for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving Dinner
Can you believe we have less than two weeks until Thanksgiving? Already! I don’t know about you, but it snuck up on me. Now, thankfully, we live near my in-laws, and I don’t have to host Thanksgiving dinner, so my holidays are pretty easy.
But, if you’re the one hosting, it can be a bit stressful, to say the least. I remember when Eddie and I first got married and we invited my parents to have Thanksgiving dinner with us. In our one-bedroom apartment with a teeny-tiny oven. I learned a few lessons from that holiday dinner, and the ones to follow.
So I’ve decided to share a couple of tips to help you have the easiest holiday possible. Plus, I’m including a holiday meal planner, so be sure to grab yours down below!
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Allow plenty of time to defrost the turkey.
I’ve definitely learned this one the hard way. The amount of time it will take to defrost your turkey (or ham) will depend on its size, but I like to allow at least three days for defrosting in the refrigerator. If I’m brining the turkey overnight, I’ll tack on an extra day. For a ham, I’ll allow two days to defrost in the fridge.
Prep in advance.
Seriously, have you noticed how much time f*cking chopping vegetables takes? Like, holy shit. Save yourself some stress on Thanksgiving day and do your prep the day (or even two days) before. Be sure to store them in an airtight container so they’re nice and fresh!
You can also bake your pies/cakes the night before, or make casseroles ahead of time, if you like.
Be strategic with your casseroles.
Either bake them in advance and warm them on the day of, or pick casseroles that cook at the same temperature as the turkey. The latter option should be pretty easy to do, since many turkey and casserole recipes call for 325-350 degrees.
Utilize your stovetop.
Now, if you’re one of those lucky mofos that has a double oven, you don’t really have to worry too much about space in your oven. But if you’re like the rest of us and have to be strategic with your oven space, you might consider making some of your dishes on the stovetop rather than in the oven. OR, in the slow cooker! The possibilities are endless.
Utilize your warming drawer.
This might seem a little obvious, but for the longest time, I thought that little drawer beneath the oven was just for storage. It’s not. Make sure you utilize every little bit of space and warm some of your made-ahead dishes underneath the oven.
Get yourself a good roasting pan.
If there’s one investment you make in your kitchen, let it be a good quality, stainless steel roasting pan with a rack. Seriously, don’t even think about getting a non-stick. My first pan was non-stick, and it literally slid all over my oven rack.
Another thing to take into account when buying a roasting pan is the handles.
Be sure to get a pan with fixed (not collapsible), low profile handles that stick up rather than out from the pan. If you don’t have a large oven, this will make a huge difference in how the pan fits in your oven. And those fixed handles will make you feel much safer when lifting all 20 pounds of hot turkey out of that oven.
This 16” Cuisinart pan looks like a good one.
Make your gravy and cranberry sauce from scratch.
Okay, this tip isn’t really stress-free, but you will be so glad you did it. It’s really not as time-consuming or difficult as you might think to make these from scratch, and it will make a huge difference in the meal. Why would you choose canned gravy and cranberry sauce to compliment your beautifully roasted turkey?
Last but not least, you’ll need a good game plan to ensure that you have everything taken care of. This includes a full menu plan, grocery list, and timeline to remind you when to get everything done.
I’ve got your back on this one. Sign up below to grab my free holiday meal planner! It comes with a pre-determined timeline so you don’t even have to stress about doing the math. Cause I love you, and I want you to have a stress-free Thanksgiving!
How do you keep sane during a holiday dinner? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to grab your meal planner! Have a great Tuesday!