I discovered a little trick while planning for Canadian Thanksgiving last year – which was to plan ahead as much as possible. I recommend cooking and prepping two days before your big dinner so you’re not stuck in the kitchen the whole day while your friends and family are there.
Paul and I had an awesome Canadian Thanksgiving last year and cooked up a feast for his parents who drove a uhaul full of our junk from Toronto to Portland, in order to help us furnish the new beach house!
Here’s how we planned for our Thanksgiving Dinner together:
The WEEK Before
Go to Pinterest or research online and print out all of the recipes you’ll be making. I’ve shared a few of my favourites to help you out in this round-up below. Make your grocery list and start clearing out your fridge to make room.
Order a Smoked Turkey. We opted-out of cooking a turkey from scratch this year and ordered this delicious fully smoked and cooked turkey from Willie Bird in Sonoma, California.
My turkey arrived within 2 days by FedEx with cooler packs around it to keep it cold. It also means smoked turkey sandwiches for leftovers!
THREE Days Before
Hit the grocery store and/or farmers’ market and get all your ingredients.
This is also a great time to buy any red or white wine (Chardonnay all the way) you want to serve for Thanksgiving.
Don’t forget to pick up a special local coffee to serve with your pumpkin pie.
Also buy any flowers for DIY centerpieces. I usually get mine at Trader Joe’s.
TWO Days Before
Make Your Cranberry Sauce
Make this easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce recipe! Let it cool and store it in an airtight container and store in your fridge until you need it.
Make a Pumpkin Pie
I used this Pumpkin Pie recipe and it was ridiculously easy. I used condensed milk, pumpkin pie puree and a store-bought frozen pie crust that I rolled on top of my pie plate – because no one needs to know I didn’t make the crust!
I baked it off and stored it in my fridge until Thanksgiving. Then I simply heated the pie in my oven and served with whipped cream and some coffee.
ONE Day Before
Prep a Green Bean Casserole
I love this classic Green Bean Casserole recipe and the only time I make it is at Thanksgiving. It’s always a hit and one of the first things to go.
I prep this recipe ahead of time, except for baking it off – I do that on the day-of. I make, prep and store it in this glass casserole dish that then goes directly into the oven.
Prep Roasted Carrots
I also prep this very simple Roasted Carrots recipe and store them in a large mixing bowl until I can roast them in the oven on the day-of on a big sheet pan.
Prep Sausage & Chestnut Stuffing
Follow all the directions for Martha Stewart’s Sausage & Chestnut Stuffing recipe and don’t bake it until the day-of. Store it in a glass or foil container that can go directly in the oven.
If you have gluten-free guests, try out my Brown Rice + Sausage Stuffing recipe.
If you have time after your marathon prep session – set your table the night before!
The Day of – Thanksgiving
Prep Slow Cooker Garlic Mashed Potatoes
These slow cooker mashed potatoes are a dream! They keep your stovetop free and your slow cooker does all the work for you. All you need to do is cook on high for 5 hours and then mash! Your slow cooker also keeps the dish warm.
Don’t make our mistake – we tried prepping them the night before and they went moldy from the moisture. Save this one for the day-of.
- Warm your Smoked Turkey in the oven according to directions
- Cook your Sausage & Chestnut Stuffing for an hour at the same time as your turkey
- Put out a meat and cheese platter with wine for guests to nibble on when they arrive
- Take the turkey and stuffing out when done, cover with foil and let rest
- Take your Pumpkin Pie and Cranberry Sauce out of the fridge
- Cook your Roasted Carrots in the oven. About 2/3 of the way through, bake off your Green Bean Casserole. You can also throw your stuffing in there for the last 10 minutes to keep warm
- While that’s cooking, heat up a store-bought package of turkey gravy – because our smoked turkey was already fully cooked, we didn’t have any drippings
- Assign someone to carve your turkey while everything above is cooking
- Remove your Green Bean Casserole and Roasted Carrots
- Serve EVERYTHING
- Reheat your Pumpkin Pie and make Coffee for dessert
This is how we streamlined our Thanksgiving and it was great and way more stress-free. What do you do to take the stress out of Thanksgiving cooking?