Planning for Thanksgiving

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Now that November is here, it’s time to start thinking and planning for Thanksgiving. Don’t go all nutso on me, just spend 20 minutes thinking it through.

Planning for Thanksgiving | Life as MOM

1. Think through your Thanksgiving.

If you’ve never served up a Thanksgiving meal before, take some time to consider how you want to plan a big dinner and enjoy it. Resist the impulse to be so ambitious that you don’t enjoy your day. Think about how to find that balance of creating a wonderful meal for your family but not creating too much stress.

Last year, at the risk of sacrilege, I ditched the whole bird notion and bought a  turkey breast and chicken legs instead. Everyone was happy; the oven wasn’t tied up for hours on end; we didn’t waste dark meat that we don’t like. Triple win. I’m doing the same thing this year.

Keep an eye on Good Cheap Eats’ Thanksgiving stream this month. I’m going to be sharing new recipes for each course (pictured above). I am particularly smitten with the homemade cranberry sauce. Oh my! It is so good and super easy to make.

2. Keep your budget in mind.

Hosting a Thanksgiving meal doesn’t have to break the bank. There are so many strategies to help you prepare a delicious Thanksgiving meal on a dime. Take some time to plan ahead and see how you can save money while still creating a memorable meal for your friends and family.

If you know what you want to cook early in the month, you’ll be able to shop the sales in the coming weeks instead of paying full pop right when you need it.

3. Assemble your recipes and create a plan of attack.

Choosing what recipes to make for Thanksgiving can be so much fun. Whether you make the same traditional recipes every year or like to mix things up with new ones picked from magazines or your favorite blog, you’ll need to get just a bit organized to pull it all off on Turkey Day.

Planning sheets can make things so much easier. Use these free printable sheets to make quick work of organizing your meal and creating a meal timeline:

  • Holiday Dinner Plan – This printable will help you organize what recipes you plan to use, where the recipes are located, and what ingredients you’ll need to make it all happen.
  • Holiday Dinner Timeline – Getting a multi-course meal on the table in a timely fashion takes a bit of choreography. You’ve got to plan your steps. Work backwards from serving time and create your timeline. If too many dishes need to be in the oven at the same time, you need to rethink your plan.

What’s your plan for Thanksgiving?

Are you cooking or letting someone else do it?

Want to plan a fabulous holiday? A Simpler Season holds almost everything you need to do just that. This guide to planning the winter holidays provides creative ideas , time-saving tips, and budget-minded inspiration for making the most of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.

With the busy family in mind, I’ve provided recipes, to-do lists, children’s activity sheets, planning pages, gift ideas, and step-by-step tutorials for creating homemade gifts. Grab your copy today.

About Jessica Fisher

I believe you can get great meals on the table -- and still keep that pretty smile on your face.

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  1. Thanksgiving is my favorite favorite holiday, but unfortunately this year I am getting my wisdom teeth taken out on the Tuesday before 🙁

    Instead ill be doing a mini thanksgiving feast the Sunday before thanksgiving so my husband can eat the leftovers while I’m convelescing. That will include a turkey breast, cranberry sauce, cornbread dressing, stuffing, green bean casserole, gravy and rolls. Which is WAY less than I normally do.

    I will us the amazing sales to stock up on whole turkey in the deep freezer. It will be great for the rest of the year

  2. We always host Thanksgiving at our house. Our current count is 16 but we leave the door open for friends who have no other place to go, so the number is most likely to go up at the last minute. We always have more than enough (in fact, we encourage those who attend to bring Tupperware with them so they can pack some leftovers to bring home…I always crave a turkey sandwich the day after so I assume my guest will want to take their favorite treat home as well.) so adding a guest at the last minute is a delight, not a burden.

  3. I’m going to be cooking with my sister-in-law. We make a pretty good cooking team. Cooking a bird doesn’t seem as daunting when we do it together.

  4. Melanie A. says:

    This is my Thanksgiving to work at the hospital (people still have babies on Thanksgiving), so we will celebrate with family the day after. My mother does the turkey and bread, I will bring a few sides/desserts, and my sisters pitch in and help with a few sides as well. I always want a turkey sandwich in the days following the big day, so I may also get a turkey on sale and cook it at my house.

  5. Lynette W. says:

    Hi Jess!

    I figured out the secret to not wasting the dark meat (even though I do have a few lovers of dark meat) when my husband carves the bird – he puts all the dark meat on a plate and then goes ahead and strips the bones and wings clean! He pulls it all off the bones, so it’s sitting there, ready to go in my kitchen aid mixer and get shredded up into smaller pieces. The bones and carcass go into my largest crock-pot, covered in water to the top for turkey soup in a few days (simmers over night). That shredded turkey I section into 2 cup portions (last turkey I got 6 cups!) and freeze so that I can pull out for casseroles that use chicken. A turkey Thanksgiving that feeds 9 people on the first meal, then is stretched into almost 2 weeks (when you figure double nights for casseroles, plus the soup, and at least one night of all leftovers) for a family of six! Really trying to make that price of a turkey and potatoes work for us and save!

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