Thanksgiving on your mind? It’s been on my mind as I prepared for and then taught a cooking class this past Saturday. The class centered around ways to have more joy and less stress leading up to and during Thanksgiving Day. Today I share with you these same timesaving and stress-reducing tips along with Thanksgiving recipes that work.
Throughout Saturday’s class we lunched on colorful and delicious Thanksgiving recipes including traditional favorites and others with a more modern twist. One woman sent me this enthusiastic and appreciative thank you note after the class.
“I so love being in your classes and learning so much from you! Thank you for sharing your love and wisdom with delicious food! I love being your student.” RBM
(BTW there are just a few seats remaining in the upcoming December 6th cooking class.)
A tribute to the cook
It’s more than possible to enjoy Thanksgiving as much as or even more than your guests. There is great pleasure to give, and much to receive when you orchestrate and prepare a meal. True for every meal. Though perhaps most especially so for the Thanksgiving meal. When the stress gets the best of you, read and reflect on this quote from Michael Pollen in his recent book, Cooked. He offers such a beautiful tribute to the significance and role of the cook.
“For is there any practice less selfish, any labor less alienated, any time less wasted, than preparing something delicious and nourishing for people you love?”
Nine Tips for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving
Whether you’re serving two, twenty or two thousand, all of which I’ve done over the years, pre-planning and organization make all the difference in minimizing the stress. These newly updated Nine Tips serve as a condensed version of my very much more detailed Thanksgiving Guide and Checklist.
- A week or two before Thanksgiving. Plan your menu balancing flavors, colors, fresh & cooked dishes along with oven & stove top requirements. Take a look at my Pinterest Thanksgiving board with photos of many of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes. Click on any of the photos to be taken to another photo with the words “visit site” at the top. Then click “visit site” to be taken to the recipe 😉
- With your recipes in hand, compose a shopping list. Write down each ingredient in each recipe. I even like to highlight—using a different color highlighter for each store—where I’ll purchase each item. By noting and checking off each ingredient as you buy it, you can (hopefully) avoid last-minute trips to crowded stores. Here’s a downloadable Shopping List Template for your convenience.
- Buy whatever you can in advance. From canned pumpkin to fresh cranberries, fresh spices and flours, butter, turkey necks and wings, roasting pans and pie plates, serving platters and extra glasses, etc.
- The week before Thanksgiving. Prepare whatever you can in advance, including the making of pie crusts, cranberry sauce and turkey or vegetable stock.
- If using special linens, china, glasses, silver and platters, wash and polish them now.
- Decide what you’ll wear. If needed, have it cleaned and pressed so your outfit’s ready when you are.
- Thanksgiving week. Complete the rest of your food shopping over the weekend or early morning on Monday or Tuesday.
- Create a very detailed timeline for each day of Thanksgiving week.
- Put this timeline in writing and paste it on the front of your kitchen cabinets.
- Check things off as they are completed.
- Include and highlight the time when items go into the oven. Include and highlight the times when these same items should be coming out of the oven.
- Whatever can be done in advance of Thursday, do in advance. Prep vegetables, make stuffing and pie fillings, set the table, lay out and label serving utensils and platters.
- Wash all pots and pans and clean up the kitchen before you go to bed Wednesday night.
- Thanksgiving Day. Wake up early and thankful that your kitchen is clean and your mind relaxed, as you have a timeline in place to guide you through a most enjoyable Thanksgiving Day.
A few Thanksgiving favorites
- Winter Squash Spread
- Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Yams with Balsamic Reduction, Scallions & Chili Pepper
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Pecans
- Braised Turkey with Fresh Herbs, Wild Mushrooms & Vegetables
- Shiitake Gravy
- Watercress, Belgian Endive and Pear Salad
- Triple Delish Cranberry Sauce
- Maple Pumpkin Pie