Ahhhh, Thanksgiving. A time for family, food and fun. UNLESS you are the busy Mom who’s in charge of pulling together the perfect family meal and feeding everyone. Lets face it: Thanksgiving can be stressful and exhausting for some and since our goal here at Mini-Maid is to give you more quality time with your family, we thought we would offer up some tips on how to eliminate Thanksgiving day food preparation by pre-cooking side dishes.
What’s on the Menu?
Standard Thanksgiving fare usually includes a wide variety of dishes: Turkey or ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, casseroles and pies to name just a few. If you think in terms of preparing the components of specific dishes you can save yourself a LOT of time and stress. Other dishes are simple to make ahead (like your mashed potatoes). Leading up to the holiday, a few hours planning can really get you out in front by of that big meal and let you relax with family and guests. Plus, it can eliminate any last minute runs to the grocery store that thwart your attempts to pre-cook parts of your meal.
My Favorite Pre-cooking Tips
Veggies – your carrots, onions, celery and other harder vegetables will keep well in the fridge. Slice and bag them up to 3 days ahead of time and then store them in the refrigerator. Then, when it’s time for that broth, stuffing or other dish, it’s just a matter of grab and go!
Casseroles – green bean casserole is a favorite at our house on Thanksgiving and it probably comes as no surprise that this is made a couple of days ahead and reheated. Casseroles, in my opinion, actually taste BETTER after a day or two.
Stuffing/Gravy – stuffing will keep for several days so this should be one of the first items you prep early. Gravy base can be made ahead and will refrigerate well. Simply reheat your gravy and add dripping or final seasoning touches.
Pro tip: DON’T stuff the turkey! Cooking the stuffing outside of the turkey shaves off cooking time, especially with your larger turkeys.
Cranberry Sauce – this Thanksgiving day staple freezes well and can be prepped days in advance.
Pies and Desserts – Pies and most desserts can be made the evening before and stored in the refrigerator. Make sure to guard your pies closely – in our house little “elves” have been known to sneak in and sample pre-cooked pies!
Now It’s YOUR Turn!
What are some of your special Thanksgiving recipes and/or tips? We would love to hear them in the comments below …thanks!