I love getting together with extended family for Thanksgiving and have been hosting family at our home on this special day for a couple of years now. To make things easier and be able to enjoy the time with my family, I’ve come up with some time-saving and stress relieving tips that I hope will help you too.
1. Use Your Slow Cooker
You can use a slow cooker for mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, or even your turkey. This allows you to prep these items ahead of time and frees your oven or stovetop for preparing other dishes.
2. Tape Recipes on Cabinets for Easy Reference
Instead of spreading your recipes all over your counter to get buried under ingredients or spilled on, tape them up on your cabinets. With them in plain sight, you can go through them quickly without having to pause for “where did I put the recipe?” searches.
3. Prepare and Freeze Vegetable Side Dishes Ahead of Time
By doing a quick search on Pinterest or Google, you’ll find several freezer-friendly make-ahead Thanksgiving options. You’ll save yourself several hours in the kitchen on the holiday by preparing and freezing your side dishes before that day.
4. Prepare Desserts and Appetizers the Day Before
Your homemade pumpkin pie and pecan pie need to cool and set before serving, so baking them the day before works out great. Cold appetizers, finger foods and dips are just as delicious when they’re prepared ahead of time, so make these the day before and you’ll have more space to cook the main meal on the big day.
5. Lay Out Your Kitchen Tools Beforehand
Before you start cooking, assemble all your ingredients, pots, pans, baking dishes, measuring cups and utensils that you’ll need. You can even organize these items the night before if you plan to start cooking first thing in the morning. Having everything laid out and ready to go will save you lots of time when you don’t have to search for every little thing while you cook.
6. Use Your Microwave
You can speed up your mashed potatoes by microwaving them instead of boiling them. You can also warm up rolls and anything else that needs a little heat by placing it in the microwave.
7. Cook Your Turkey While You Sleep
Do a quick search online for an overnight turkey recipe and you’ll find several options for cooking your turkey overnight while you sleep. This Thanksgiving food hack will save you tons of time and oven space while producing a perfectly done turkey for your family dinner.
8. Skip the Potato Peeler
Boil your potatoes whole and then shock them in cold water so that the skins peel right off. You can also mash the potatoes with the skins still on.
9. Serve Dinner Buffet Style
Instead of spending the first half of your Thanksgiving dinner plating and serving the meal, arrange the food on a table or countertops and make it self serve. This way, everyone can sit down to eat at roughly the same time and start enjoying their meal and each other’s company.
10. Set up a Beverage Station
Your kitchen will be busy on Thanksgiving and guests walking in and out for beverages can disrupt your work flow. Set up a table outside of the kitchen with pitchers, ice buckets and glasses so that guests can help themselves and save you interruptions.
11. Set the Table the Night Before
Who has the time to set the table while juggling a huge turkey and a dozen side dishes and desserts. Set the table the night before to save yourself some time and stress that day.
12. Have a Potluck
Take some of the pressure off of yourself as the host. Discuss the potluck idea ahead of time with your guests and hand out assignments for all the Thanksgiving must-haves to everyone. This will save you lots of time on preparation and save you money as well.
This is the most important tip that I want to share: Thanksgiving is about being grateful and spending time with family and friends. If the meal doesn’t turn out as perfectly as you expected or you don’t get all the decorations up in time, don’t let it spoil your enjoyment of the holiday. Relax, enjoy your time with loved ones and the meal that you worked so hard to prepare.
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