Depending on how thoroughly you plan ahead, hosting Thanksgiving dinner can be either a relaxing time spent with loved ones or a frenzied rush to get food on the table.
We at Mother Rucker’s Sweets know a thing or two about keeping a kitchen running smoothly. That’s why we’ve put together this foolproof timeline for the week of Thanksgiving — so you can spend less time laboring over the meal and more time catching up with friends and family.
One Week Before
Don’t wait until the day before Thanksgiving to tackle your shopping list, or you’ll be stuck with picked-over produce and a limited turkey selection. Make a comprehensive shopping list and buy everything you’ll need at least the weekend before Thanksgiving. If you’ll be sending guests home with leftovers, don’t forget to pick up some inexpensive storage containers, too.
Once your shopping is done, you can get started on prepping easily frozen foods to store in the freezer. Cranberry sauce, gravy, mashed potatoes, soups and side dishes such as casseroles can be fully prepared and stashed away in the freezer until the night before they’re served.
Apple pies can be prepared and frozen unbaked in the freezer, along with crusts for pumpkin and chocolate pies. Homemade dinner rolls can also be prepared and frozen ahead of baking.
Three Days Before
Thaw your turkey three days before you plan to cook it by taking out of the freezer and placing it in the coolest part of your refrigerator, with a plate and paper towels underneath to catch any drips.
The Day Before
You’re in the home stretch! With so many dishes and sides already prepped, you can concentrate on preparing the stuffing and finishing up any dishes that weren’t suitable for freezing. Begin thawing any sauces, soups and casseroles you prepped a week ago by placing them in your refrigerator.
Bake chocolate pies, pumpkin pies and pecan pies the day before they’re served — a good 24 hours in the fridge will firm them up perfectly for serving.
The Day Of
When you wake up on the morning of Thanksgiving, you’ll have just a few tasks left to do, totally stress-free. Get the turkey in the oven, defrost your frozen dinner rolls and toss up some fresh salad. Refrigerate drinks and chill wines.
Once the turkey is done, heat up your sides that have been thawing in the fridge and start placing everything on your table. Relax and enjoy the day with your family!