Planning ahead for a great Thanksgiving holiday

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Whether you are an avid cook or a new comer to the cooking scene, chance are the thought of putting together a holiday meal scares the begeezes out of you. Pair the stress of making a delicious meal with cleaning the house, prepping for guests, and entertaining your in-laws, and you’ve got a recipe for a holiday melt down.

It might seem like a crazy idea, but some of us actually enjoy the holidays, including the planning, preparing, and cooking. Want to know the tricks? Here they are:

Plan ahead. Take a page out of Santa’s book — make a list and check it twice. Choose the recipes you want to use and make a shopping list. If you haven’t already made your first round through the grocery store, it’s a good time to think about it. Grab the kitchen must-haves that don’t spoil.

Items to grab now:

  • Turkey: talk to the butcher or do your research online to find the perfect poundage. Generally you’ll want to make 1 to 1 1/2 pounds per person.
  • Potatoes and/or sweet potatoes and all the fixins (butter, milk, cream, marshmallows, etc)
  • Broth or Stock (cans tend to be cheaper, but make sure you buy enough)
  • Beverages, wine, champagne, cider, etc.

Engage the help of family and friends. Need help with an appetizer or desert? There’s no shame in asking!

Plan to buy produce no later than Wednesday. For the freshest veggies, buy as late as possible. To cut down on the trips to the store, you can buy celery, carrots, string beans, brussel sprouts, and winter vegetables early because they stay fresh in the refrigerator. Buy perishable vegetables, cranberries, fruit, and any salad fixings on Wednesday if possible.

Start cooking early. If you bought a frozen turkey, start thawing it now. For other recipes, you can easily plan ahead.

Need guide to your Thanksgiving prep? Follow this weekly plan and you’ll surely be thankful on the big day.


  • Begin thawing turkey
  • Buy and/or set aside non-perishable items for the big day


  • Clean the house and prepare for guests
  • Make cranberry sauce
  • If baking, bake deserts


  • If you’re brining your bird, start today
  • If you’re rubbing/spicing your bird (compound butter under the skin is suggested), prepare today.
  • Make stuffing (either make it from start to finish OR prep all the ingredients and save in the fridge.)
  • Make sweet potatoes (either make from start to finish OR prep all ingredients and save in the fridge.)
  • Prepare all veggies – chop, slice, dice until all elements are ready.
  • Set the table, set out serving platters and utensils
  • Chill beverages


If you’ve prepared adequately, the rest should be simple. Roast your bird, make your potatoes, bake your sweet potatoes and stuffing (already prepared), and cook your veggies. Make your gravy prior to surving, carve your turkey, and place all items on the table and enjoy.

And that’s all folks! Now, the only thing left is the dishes…

Photo from CarbonNYC via Flickr

San Diego resident for over 10 years, I now call this beautiful city home. Originally from the Bay Area, I'm a California girl at heart. I love the outdoors, fitness, food, and a good craft beer (from San Diego of course).

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