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It’s probably no surprise that November is this foodie girl’s favorite month to cook. In addition to it being the beginning of soup and slow cooker season, it also means Thanksgiving is right around the corner.

I LOVE Thanksgiving dinner!!! I love cooking it and I love eating it! Because I have cooked Thanksgiving dinner numerous times over the years for groups both big and small, I think I have really developed my large meal preparation skills. Over the next few weeks, I would like to write a few blog entries highlighting recipes, strategies and techniques that you all might find helpful in preparing your own Thanksgiving meal.

My goal for the Thanksgiving meal is to serve delicious food, while trying to keep it healthy and not killing myself with the stress. This is where careful planning comes into play. My Thanksgiving days are usually pretty relaxing as I get the bulk of the work done ahead of time, so on the special day I’m just taking care of a few basic things.

So where to start? I guess we’ll start where I usually start and move on from there! I found these instructions got pretty lengthy, so I think I’ll split them up in to a couple of blog posts!

Thanksgiving Planning Part 1 – Menu Planning

1. Get that menu started!

  a. Are you cooking everything or are other people bringing dishes?

  • My motto, is that if I’m hosting the event I get to decide what I would like to cook and then I can give others a few choices of what to bring. Over time, I’ve found out what type of dishes my various family members are comfortable making/bringing and so I try to play to their strengths.

   b. Figure out what you’re making

  • I usually stick to the foundational dishes; turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes (I usually only make these in addition to mashed potatoes if it’s a decent size group), gravy, cranberry sauce.
  • Search your cookbooks and online resources for the recipes you will use. Over the years, I have assembled a few recipes that are made every year. I’ll be sharing these special recipes with you in future blog posts! Hint: One of these includes cooking our turkey on the grill. It tastes great, takes the same amount of time as the oven, and it keeps your oven open for cooking other dishes, like stuffing and sweet potatoes! Plus, it keeps the men occupied and out of your hair!
  • Write out your menu making note of what you’re making and what others are bringing. This will give you a visual of your meal and make sure you’re not missing an important component. For the things I’m making, I also write down the name of any cookbooks, with the page number and/or print out any online recipes. Here’s a sample:

          1. Turkey stuffed with fruit – Weber Cookbook, Page 20 – Me

          2. Stuffing – Me

          3. Mashed Potatoes – Me

          4. Sweet Potatoes – Me

          5. Gravy – Me

          6. Cranberry Sauce – Sierra

          7. Hot Vegetable Side – Stephanie

          8. Side Salad – Cathy

          9. Rolls & Butter – Me

          10. Desserts and Any Toppings – Grandma Barbara