Every Thanksgiving since I can remember featured my dad in the kitchen all day, juggling dishes and making magic happen.  Growing up, I always thought that I wouldn’t have to make a Thanksgiving meal, because I was lucky enough to have a dad who would do it for me, you know, forever.  But then I got married, and Chad’s family isn’t all that into food.

Hi, I’m Sarah, and I’m very into food.

It was in that first year when it became clear that I would be able to take the reigns of the family Thanksgiving meal (for Chad’s side) and I further realized that I wanted those reigns.  I pulled recipes out of magazines (pre-pinterest) and read cookbooks.  I made an excel spreadsheet so I would know when to put things in the oven and what dishes I would need.  I bought more butter for that one meal than I had in the previous two years.  I still ran out.

The Thanksgiving meal has been my passion ever since.  I copy my favorite dishes from my dad, and then I have the creative license to try and bring in other dishes as I see fit.  It’s marvelous.  It’s everything I thought being an adult would mean and more.  More butter, that is.  And with this great power, comes great responsibility.

This is how I organize our Thanksgiving, insanely:

Two Weeks Before Thanksgiving
Some time between November 1st and two weeks before Thanksgiving is when the menu planning goes on, using pinterest of course.  I keep the recipes that worked, I toss the ones we didn’t use or didn’t like, and I peruse the interwebs for new ideas.  Once I have a menu outlined I show it to Chad so he can remind me that make seven dishes with potatoes is probably not a good idea.  I get mad at him and then I cut back to three dishes with potatoes.

Ten Days Before Thanksgiving
Print out new recipes and make grocery lists.  Since I prefer to stay away from the grocery store the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I write out a master grocery list using the printed recipes and then I divide it up into three or four lists based on how long things can last in the fridge or on the counter.  All of the grocery shopping is usually done by Tuesday – which is when I start brining the Turkey.

Sunday Before Thanksgiving
I place all the recipes in their own sheet protector and attach them with a ring.  Then I note on each recipe (with color coded post-it notes) what day I need start working on it, when it needs to be put in the oven (if applicable), and what dish it needs.

Recipes

Tuesday Before Thanksgiving
Clean the kitchen and set out all the dishes I need.  Then I put post-it notes and anything the recipe calls for (that can sit out on the counter for a day or two) inside the dish.

Thanksgiving Prep 2

Thanksgiving Prep

Yes, that’s what the kitchen looked like last night after we put the Brining Turkey into the fridge.

Day Before Thanksgiving
This is when I prep everything that can be prepped, like chopping veggies, boiling/baking potatoes, and making pie crusts.  I also make the Sangria and the Cranberry Sauce because those are supposed to be chilled for 12-24 hours before serving anyway.

I noticed last year that my ability to start a recipe at a certain time totally depended on how much prep time it took – so stuffing was always off by an hour, and the pies messed with my ability to get the gravy done (since I put them in the oven while the Turkey is resting).  Prepping the day (or night) before Thanksgiving is definitely going to be a game changer for getting everything out on time.

It’s Thanksgivings when I really wish I had a larger kitchen… but then I remember to be thankful for all the things I have, instead of thinking about all the things I think I don’t.

How do you prepare for Thanksgiving?