Thanksgiving Planning Guide

A Thanksgiving Planning Guide to help make planning Thanksgiving dinner this year a breeze.

A Thanksgiving Planning Guide to help make planning Thanksgiving dinner this year a breeze.

Every year I make a Thanksgiving planning guide. Spending a little time before Thanksgiving creating a plan helps make Thanksgiving Day much more stress free. So many side dishes and desserts can be made ahead of time and either frozen and kept in the fridge ready to bake or serve.

Since I generally cook the same things every year (with a few new things added in to keep it fun for me), I decided it’s silly to start from scratch every year making a new plan. So this year I took the time to type up my guide and I decided to share it with you.

First up decide on your menu. There’s my Thanksgiving menu:

  • Dry-Brined Turkey – I’ve done a dry brine for several years now. It’s so moist and delicious.
  • A traditional bread stuffing. This year I’ll cook it in the pressure cooker.
  • Perfect Mashed Potatoes and Gravy made in my pressure cooker. I use my ricer for making really creamy mashed potatoes. I make the potatoes early in the day and keep them warm in a crockpot with a little milk on top. Jane, This Week For Dinner, also has a great post on making gravy.
  • Paula Deen’s Sweet Potato Bake has become a tradition.
  • New Broccoli Gratin. This recipe is from Kalyn’s Kitchen and is a lighter version of broccoli casserole.
  • Crescent dinner rolls using Lovin’ from the Oven’s Brown & Serve Roll technique.
  • I grew up eating Green Jello Cream Cheese Salad and it really wouldn’t be Thanksgiving for me without it. My kids love it now too.
  • New Homemade Cranberry jelly – I’ll post this recipe on Monday.
  • New Baked Brie Bites from A Spicy Perspective.
  • Pumpkin Pie is an absolute must have for my husband. He likes the Famous Libby’s pumpkin pie that is always on the label.
  • Almond Joy pie – a Coconut Cream Pie with a Chocolate Crumb Crust.
  • Pecan pie – a classic pecan pie.
  • Lemon Cheesecake – a rich, creamy lemon cheesecake “baked” in the pressure cooker. Lemon pie was one of my mom’s favorite. So this dessert is for you mom.

Meyer Lemon Cheesecake at Pressure Cooking Today

Once you’ve got the menu planned. It’s time to make a planning guide.

Two Weeks Before Thanksgiving:

  • Make a  guest list
  • Plan Thanksgiving menu

Friday  before Thanksgiving:

Saturday before Thanksgiving:

Sunday before Thanksgiving:

Thanksgiving Week: Monday

  • Print out the recipes and make shopping list
  • Go shopping

Thanksgiving Week: Tuesday

Thanksgiving Week: Wednesday

  • Cut up bread for stuffing. Toast bread in the oven. Cool. Store in plastic zip-top bags.
  • Chop vegetables for stuffing, and seal in plastic zip-top bags.
  • Make Green Jello Salad
  • Prepare pies. 2 Pumpkin, Pecan, Almond Joy, and Lemon Cheesecake, Cover and refrigerate.
  • Remove rolls from freezer.
  • Wash salt off turkey and leave  uncovered in fridge overnight.

Thanksgiving Morning:

10:30 am – Three and a half hours Before Dinner:

  • Put the turkey in the oven. (I’m cooking a 20 lb. turkey in a roasting bag. The roasting time will change depending on the size of your bird and method of cooking. )

Three Hours Before Dinner:

Two Hours Before Dinner:

  • Prepare broccoli gratin.

One Hour Before Dinner:

  • Place cranberry sauce, olives and other side dishes in serving bowls.
  • Bake appetizers and set out along with napkins when guests arrive.

One Half-Hour Before Dinner:

  • Remove the turkey from the oven. Let it sit 30 minutes before carving.
  • Brown rolls.
  • Bake broccoli gratin and sweet potato bake and crisp up stuffing ring.
  • Make gravy, using the drippings from turkey and turkey stock you made earlier.

Serve Dinner!

  • Whisk the gravy and pour it into a gravy boat.
  • Set out a pitcher of water so people can help themselves.

Here’s a link to my Thanksgiving guide that you can download and print out to help you plan your Thanksgiving meal. Just change it up to include the foods you’ll be cooking on Thanksgiving.

I used iVillage’s Thanksgiving Planning Guide as a starting point to create my guide. Check out their guide for additional planning tips.

Refrigerator Rolls Barbara Bakes

Now that I’ve got a plan, Thanksgiving dinner is going to be almost stress free.

I’d love to hear your plans for Thanksgiving this year.

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    Leave a Comment:

  1. says

    What a great llist. I’ve been eying those dinner rolls and I agree about Libby’s pumpkin pie. I also do a dry brine and then I roast with cheesecloth. It’s a no fail. Have a happy Thanksgiving meal, Barbara. Mine is Sunday, a new tradition.

  2. says

    I had to laugh at the 20 lb turkey. I bought my turkey the other day and it’s about 10 pounds and it was one of the bigger ones at the store. They had one larger than this and it was $72 and it didn’t come close to 20 lbs. Turkey isn’t a big thing here so if you want it bad enough, you pay. :) I’ve got a new American family member I’ve never met who’s coming for dinner and is dying for American food. Yay!

    I need to get my planning guide going!

  3. says

    thank you for doing this Barbara. A big help. I wonder if you have ever tried another pie crust recipe. I have one that you add vinegar, egg and water along with the flour shortening etc and I love it. Just wondering since you are a great cook to try my recipe sometime and let me know how you like it. I got this recipe from my mom that used this recipe for as long as I can remember.

    I think I would like to come to your house for dinner, everything looks so good
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family

    Andi thewednesdaybaker

  4. Carol says

    I don’t cook Thanksgiving dinner any more-my daughter does the cooking now-I just have to organize the list of half the house that I’m bringing up there.

    I wish I was as organized as you are Barbara-your menu sounds over the top amazing. I would love to sample all the wonderful dishes you’re serving. I know everyone will push away from that glorious feast with very full tummies and VERY big smiles.

    A very happy and blessed Thanksgiving to you and your family,