5 Tips for Planning Your Thanksgiving Menu

Be the most prepared and organized cook you can be this Thanksgiving day and start planning out your Thanksgiving dinner now. Whether you’re having a sit-down meal or a help-yourself buffet, there are a lot of things to consider when it comes to planning out your menu. Here, 5 tips for planning Thanksgiving dinner.

Photo Credit: Serious Eats

1. Keep It Simple

Our motto for menu planning? More is not always better. Aside from your turkey, keep it to three to five side dishes and two varieties of pie. If you have a big group coming, then double the recipes! Trying to manage hungry relatives is enough, don’t pile on juggling ingredients for 10 different recipes.

2. Think About Your Oven

Thanksgiving Thursday is a busy one for your oven. Pick a few dishes that can be prepared or reheated on the stove-top OR don’t need to be heated at all (such as this radicchio and endive salad from Bon Appetit Magazine). Pro tip: try spatchcocing your turkey this year (your butcher can do it). It cuts the roasting time in half, freeing up the oven for other dishes.

 

3. Don’t Overdo it on Appetizers

You don’t want your guests to spoil their appetites before they even try the dinner you’ve been preparing all month long! Keep pre-dinner snacks to a few light snacks such as olives, crudité, stuffed dates or nuts. If you want to put out cheese and crackers, keep it to one big piece of cheese like an aged gouda (and don’t replenish the crackers).

 

4. Make Ahead, Make Ahead, Make Ahead

The only way to get through Thanksgiving day while maintaining your sanity is to make as many things in advance as possible. Stamp out your biscuits and store them in the freezer on a baking sheet that’s ready to go in the oven, try this make-ahead mashed potato recipe from Food & Wine Magazine, or wash and dry all of the vegetables for your salad and whip up the vinaigrette the night before. All of these little things will make the big day that much easier.

 

5. Get Familiar with Your Recipes

There is nothing more irritating than getting halfway through your recipe prep on Thanksgiving day and realizing you forgot to pick up an ingredient. If you’re trying out a few new things this year, take the time to read through each recipe carefully before you start cooking. Pro tip: Tape the recipes up on your kitchen cabinet so they’re easy to find and won’t get covered in food.

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