So, last week, we discussed what food you can safely purchase in advance of Thanksgiving. This week, we’re going to look at what can be cooked and prepared in advance.
First, if you haven’t written out your menu, you need to do that now. Yes. Stop everything (even reading this article) and write out your menu.
Almost all of our family lives out of town, and they kind of trickle in and out throughout the day. So, that means I need to prepare an entire Thanksgiving Day menu.
For Breakfast & Brunch, I try to do as much of the cooking in advance as possible, and then leave it out kind of Smörgåsbord style. Although I’m neither a vegan or vegetarian, we have some family members that trend that way, so I try to have something they can eat, too. But once I’m done with the early meal fixin’s, I’m done. I won’t have time to stop and make a real lunch. I have to focus on dinner.
I’m sharing our menu with you - hopefully it will be helpful. Your menu will likely be different - using your own traditional recipes. But the point is, take your own menu and look at what can be done in advance. You want to be able to enjoy your day and not feel panicked.
Two methods to achieve a (more) relaxed day is, 1) Cheat whenever possible. Use gadgets like food processors for shredding, chopping. Buy things that are already cut up, like butternut squash and mushrooms. 2) Prepare as much in advance as possible. Start your T-Day prep a week in advance, and do a little at a time.
Here we go - this is our menu:
Croissant Breakfast Spinach Casserole
Overnight Pumpkin Streusel Bake
Vegan Wrap Sandwiches
Hors d’Oeuvres (my sister-in-law usually brings these, so I don’t stress much over it. Otherwise, people can munch on the brunch items.)
Twice-baked potato patties
Sweet potatoes (My sister-in-law usually makes this, too. She doesn’t do the kind with melted marshmallows on it, though, which is honestly very fine with me.)
Green bean casserole (Another delicious specialty from my sister-in-law.)
One Week in Advance
So, the first thing I do about a week in advance is create a shopping list from my menu. I usually go shopping the weekend before Thanksgiving. When you’re making your list don’t forget herbs, spices, paper products, ziplock bags (you’ll want quart, gallon and two-gallon sizes) any kind of table decor and beverages.
If your turkey is frozen, you’ll need to decide what method you want to use to thaw it out. Here are some tips for thawing a turkey from FoodSafety.gov. I tend to purchase the largest turkey I can find, so that can take as much as 5-6 days to thaw in the refrigerator.
Next, I can start making my cinnamon rolls as far in advance as possible. What I do is make the dough, let it rise, then roll it out and cut it into the rolls. Then I put them into a buttered pan, cover with plastic, and freeze. On Thanksgiving morning, I take them out of the freezer, and they rise as they thaw. When they’ve risen properly, I bake them and make the glaze.
If you’re going to be making deviled eggs, you can hard boil them several days in advance, too.
Two Days in Advance
Check your shopping list. Do you really have everything?
I usually make the desserts one or two days in advance. Ok, I’ll be honest, frequently I purchase a pumpkin pie from Costco. But the other desserts I make from scratch. This also gives you time to be fancy with your pies if you like!
If you are serving Brussels Sprouts from the stalk, now is a good time to pull them off and place in the refrigerator.
Want to be really sneaky? Make your gravy now. Yep. You can do this.
Or, try this recipe with porcini mushrooms and marsala wine:
One Day in Advance
On Wednesday, I’ll go over my menu and shopping list one more time to make sure I didn’t forget anything. It never works, to be truthful, I always end up needing something from the store on Thanksgiving day, but I try.
My rice stuffing has a lot of veggies in it. So, one or two days before, I start chopping the vegetables and then put them in the refrigerator. On Wednesday, I’ll cook the rice stuffing mixture. That way it’s ready for me to put into the turkey (yes, I stuff the bird) the next day.
We don't brine or marinate our turkey, but if you plan to do that, it should be done today.
I will need grated cheddar cheese for the twice baked potatoes, so now is a good time to do that.
Wednesday evening, I put together the Pumpkin Streusel Bake, and will put it in the oven first thing Thanksgiving the morning.
Also on Wednesday, I’ll prepare the roasted chickpeas and squash for the Vegan Wrap sandwiches, but I won’t cook them until the next day. (Super time saver hint, you can buy the squash already cut into squares and save yourself some time and effort.)
Additionally, I’ll make the Waldorf Salad, which gives time for the flavors to blend overnight.
I take out the frozen cinnamon rolls to thaw. While that’s happening, I put the Pumpkin Streusel in the oven. Then I prepare the Croissant Breakfast Spinach Casserole and put it in the oven ASAP.
While those are cooking, I fix the bacon. You don’t want this to take up a lot of time, because you don’t have a lot of time. So, look for shortcuts. Nobody wants to stand over a skillet and get splattered with grease. Bake it, or microwave it this way or this way or with this or this. Here’s something for “bacon every morning” aficionados. If people are going to be eating bacon all day anyway, you could even (gasp!) cook the bacon in advance Wednesday night and just pull it out of the frig and reheat for a couple of seconds on Thanksgiving morning.
I typically put fresh fruit out for people to grab whenever they want. Don’t do much to it. Apples, bananas, pineapple or berries.
Next, I'll peel the potatoes and put them in the crockpot. Yep, we’re going to have Crockpot Mashed Potatoes. This is my first time to make the potatoes in the crockpot, see the recipes below. Mine will be a little different, because I am making the twice baked potato patties, but the basic techniques should be the same. How nice to have that chore over!
When the breakfast casseroles are done, the cinnamon rolls are probably ready to go in. While they’re baking, I make up the glaze.
After they are done, I put the ham in. On a separate shelf, put the chickpeas and squash in for the wraps. Once that’s done, all my pre-Thanksgiving Dinner meal prep is done.
Thursday around noon
I try to get my turkey in the oven by around noon or 1 PM. We usually eat around 6 PM.
Once my turkey is in, I take a nap. By now, I need it!
When I get up, I’ll whip up the cream for dessert. I’ll need the mixing bowl for the dinner rolls and maybe the potatoes, so it’s best to get it done now.
About 3 1/2 hours before dinner time, I make the dough for my dinner rolls and let it start rising.
When the roll dough is ready, I roll it out, cut it into strips, tie them into knots, cover them and set them aside to rise. This is what it looks like:
It's time to eat!
At the end, everything happens at once. Turkey comes out of the oven and rests on the counter for a few minutes until my husband can carve it. I brush the rolls with melted butter and put them in the oven. I cook the Brussels sprouts (haven’t decided on the recipe yet). The potatoes have to be mashed and formed into patties. Once the rolls are out, in go the potatoes for a quick time under the broiler. We’ll warm up the gravy, adding in some fresh meat juices, get it all to the table, pray and eat.
After that, I won’t cook much for a week. We’ll have plenty left to make derivative meals for the next few days.
5-7 days before Thanksgiving
- Go shopping
- Start thawing turkey
- Make cinnamon rolls, freeze before final baking
- Hard boil eggs
- Check your list - what did you forget?
- Make desserts
- Make your gravy
- Remove Brussels Sprouts from stalk today or Wednesday
- Double check your list one last time
- Chop veggies for stuffing, cook in advance if appropriate
- Grate cheese
- Make Pumpkin Streusel, refrigerate
- Prepare chickpeas and squash for Vegan wraps
- Make Waldorf Salad
- Take cinnamon rolls out of freezer, let thaw and rise
- Put pumpkin streusel in oven
- Assemble Breakfast Croissant Spinach Casserole, bake
- Bake cinnamon rolls, glaze and serve
- Put potatoes in crock pot
- Bake ham, chickpeas and squash
- Place ham on counter for serving, make up Vegan Wraps
- Stuff turkey, put in oven to roast
- Take nap
- Whip cream
- Make dough for dinner rolls
- Roll out dinner rolls, let rise
- Ask someone to set the table for you. You won’t have time!
- Remove turkey from oven, let rest
- Brush rolls with melted butter, bake
- Cook Brussels Sprouts
- Mash potatoes, form into patties
- Take out rolls
- Put potatoes in under broiler for a couple of minutes. Do not leave in too long!
- Heat up gravy, add a few new turkey drippings
- Get turkey carved, on a platter
- Take it all to the table, pray and eat!
Next week, we’ll talk about what to do with the food that didn’t get eaten. Also, there probably won’t be an ad comparison, because most stores won’t have new ads.
This is a great time to stock up on sale items!!!
As always, prices are for this area and for Safeway and Fry's will require at least a Club Membership card. Some may require digital coupons as well. We try to indicate all restrictions, special conditions etc. Sprouts does not require any cards and does not have any special savings days. Every week Sprouts has double ad Wednesday, when you get last week’s and this week’s ad prices. All three stores have digital savings available to those with appropriate accounts.
Go to their web pages for details and directions. Fry’s at least will give you the advertised digital price if you state you do not have the necessary technology. Safeway sometimes has coupons which you can access digitally or clip out of the ad.
BOGO= Buy One Get One
Items in Italics are found in more than one store
These sale prices are good from Wednesday, November 15-Thursday, November 23, 2017
2.99 spiral sliced ham - buy 1 ham, get free frozen turkey
Buy 1, Get 2 Free Pork Back Ribs
2.99 Boneless Beef Roast Sale - Chuck, shoulder, bottom, top, eye of round or sirloin tip
BOGO Turkey Breast
$4.99 Strip Roast, bone-in
$6.99 Ribeye Roast
$1.59/lb. Foster Farms Fresh Turkey
$1.99 Chicken Breasts b/s
$1.29 Sugardale Shank Portion Ham
$1.67 Sugardale Spiral Sliced Ham
$.79 lb. Kroger frozen turkey
$1.49 lb. Butterball frozen turkey
$.99 lb. Honeycrisp apples
2/$5 Fresh Cranberries
$3.99 Clementine Oranges, bagged, 3 lb.
$1.77/10 lb. Bag Idaho Russet Potatoes
$.99 lb. Sweet Potatoes or Yams
Maybe you want to cook both regular and sweet mashed potatoes, but only have one crockpot:
$1.44 ea. Lay’s Family Size Chips, must buy 3
$1.77 ea. Pillsbury Crescent Rolls or Sweet Rolls
3/$5 Pillsbury Grands! Biscuits
3/$5 Kroger Cheese
$1.49 Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail or Craisins
4/$8.88 Coca Cola, Pepsi or 7UP 12 packs, SV
10/$10 Kroger or Bird Eye Vegetables
$5.99 Marie Callenders Pie SV
$2.99 Kroger Egg Nog SV, half gallon
2/$5 Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider
$2.99 butter, Kroger
33% off Private Selection Spices
3/$5 Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce
10/$10 Dole Pineapple or Jell-O
10/$10 Cream of Mushroom Soup
2/$5 Nestle Pure Life Water
2/$5 Oreo Cookies
10/$10 Idahoan Instant Mashed or Casserole Potatoes
2/$3 Stove Top Stuffing
4/$10 General Mills Cereal, buy 4, get 1 gallon milk
3/$10 Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sausage
BOGO Pyrex Pie Plate
$1.79 Heinz Gravy
2/$3 Cool Whip
$2.99 Croissants, 4 ct. Or 8 ct. mini
Digital Coupons: Required for the prices below
3/$4 Philadelphia Cream Cheese
4/$3 Betty Crocker Cake or Brownie Mix
2/$4 Pie Crusts
$.99 Kroger Powdered Sugar
$3.99 Diamond Pecans
$1.49 Kroger Vegetable Oil or Canola Oil
Prices effective 11/15-22/17
$3.97 lb. Boneless Beef New York Holiday Roast, whole in bag
$.79 Turkey, frozen
Buy 1/Get 3 Free Pork Loin Back Ribs
$2.77 lb. Ground Beef, 85% lean
$6.99 Salmon Fillets
2/$6 Jimmy Dean
Buy 1 Get 2 Free, Petite Sirloin Steak or Chuck Tender Fillets
$5.99 Lobster Tails
$1.99 Jennie-O Fresh Turkey
$1.27 lb. Cooks Shank Portion Hams
$8.00 shrimp lb. Previously frozen
$9.99 Rack of Lamb
$6.99 Ribeye Roast or Steak, bone-in Family Pack
$3.99 Boneless Roast, Top Sirloin, Cross Rib, Eye of Round or Tip Roast
$1.99 Spiral Ham
$2.99 Pecan Praline or Salted Caramel Spiral Ham
$1.69 Butterball Turkey
10/$10 Farmer John Sausage
$2.77 Clementine oranges, 3 lb. Bag,
$.77 Broccoli crowns
$.99 lb. Yams or Sweet Potatoes
$5 Fresh cranberries, 32 oz.
2/$5 Green Giant fresh green beans or vegetables
$1.49 mini carrots
$5 10 oz. AsparagusTips, fresh
$.99 lb. Russet Potatoes
2/$4 Mushrooms, whole or sliced, white or brown
$2.99 Honeycrisp apples
4/$8.88 Coca-Cola, Pepsi, 7UP
$3.99 Marie Callender’s Pies
2/$1 Libby Canned Vegetables, Swanson Broth
10/$10 Betty Crocker Cake or Brownie Mix
$1.99 Nabisco Ritz or Snack Crackers SV
$2.49 Challenge Butter
$1.99 Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice
$1.99 Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider
3/$5 Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, Grand Biscuits, Cookie Dough
2/$4 Ocean Spray Craisins
2/$4 Mrs. Cubbison’s Stuffing
10/$10 Pineapple Chunks
10/$10 Jell-O pudding or Gelatin
33% off McCormick Spices
2/$5 Nestle Toll House Morsels
$3.99 Pumpkin Pie
$5 Fruit Pie
$1.89 Milk, gallon
$1.47 Large AA eggs, dozen
3/$5 Lucerne Chunk, Shredded or Sliced Cheese
$1.44 Lays Family Size, Fritos Cheetos, Bean Dip
$1.77 Purified Water
2/$5 Sara Lee Classic Rolls, Aunt Hatties Potato Rolls, Thomas’ Bagels or Muffins SV
10/$10 Stove Top Stuffing
2/$5 Oreo Cookies
10/$10 Campbells Cream of Chicken or Mushroom Soup
10/$10 pitted olives 5.75-6 oz.
10/$10 Whipping Cream 8 oz. or Half & Half 16 oz.
3/$5 Cream Cheese Philadelphia
$5.99 Fried or Baked Chicken, Buy one, get one free Hormel Side Dish
10/$10 Knorr Side Dishes (buy 10, get free rotisserie chicken)
$8.99 Chicken Tenders or Hotwings, buy one Get one Classic Potato or Macaroni Salad $.99 lb.
Clip or Click, Just for U - Digital offers only
$20 Off Any Fresh Thanksgiving Turkey, if you spend $150 in single transaction
$1.88 Lucerne Butter
$1.49 Kelloggs Cereal, Pop-Tarts, Nutri-Grain Bars, more SV
$.79 Sugar (4 lbs), Chocolate Chips, Flour - Signature Kitchens brand
$7.99 Stouffers Lasagna
$8.99 Charmin bath tissue, Bounty Paper Towels
$7.99 Gain Laundry Detergent
$5 Friday everything below is $5
Shrimp, raw, medium, price per lb.
Lamb Loin Chops, per lb.
Leg of lamb, semi-boneless per lb.
Deli, Mesquite Turkey Breast, Provolone, per lb.
Lindor or Ghiradelli bags of truffles, chocolates 2/$5
DiGiorno rising crust, California Pizza Kitchen pizzas
Coke, 20 pack Glaceau Smartwater, 6 pack SV
Ads effective 11/15-23
$1.67 lb. B/S Chicken Breast
$2.99 lb. Turkey, organic, fresh, free-range
$2.49 Ham, spiral sliced
$1.49 Turkey, fresh, whole
$9.99 lb. Rib Roast
$1.99 lb. Pork Loin Roast, boneless
$16.99 lb. Filet Mignon Roast
$4.99 boneless Chuck Roast
$2.99 lb. Sausage, chicken or pork
$2.99 lb. Pork loin chops, boneless
$12.99 lb. Ribeye Steaks, boneless
$4.99 lb. Ground beef, 93% lean
$4.99 lb. Bacon
$5.99 ea. lobster tails
$8.99 lb. fresh Atlantic Salmon Fillets
$1.98 Clementines, 2 lb bag
$.98 ea Cranberries, 12 oz.
$1.98 ea Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries
$1.98 Grapes, holiday red
$.98 lb. navel oranges
$.98 lb. Pears, Bartlett, Bosc, D’Anjou, Red, Comice
$.88 lb. Roma Tomatoes
$.88 ea. Avocados
$2.88 lb. Grapes, red, green black seedless O
$.98 Organic Celery
$2.98 potatoes, gold, russet O
$3.99 lb. Walnuts
$3.99 lb. Dark Chocolate walnuts
$6.99 lb. Chocolate almond clusters
$6.99 lb. Slivered almonds
$9.99 lb. Pecan Pieces
$6.99 lb. mixed nuts w/o peanuts
$3.99 lb. Wild West Trail Mix
$2.49 lb. Cranberries
$7.99 lb. Organic Bulk coffee beans
2/$6 Immaculate Baking Co. Biscuits, Crescent Rolls O
$3.99 butter O
2/$5 Eggs, Sprouts Cage Free or Omega-3
$2.99 ea. Greek Gods Greek Yogurt, 24 oz.
$3.49 Organic Valley Heavy Whipping Cream, I pint
$2.99 lb. cheddar cheese, mild
$8.99 lb. Roast beef
$6.99 lb. Turkey Breast
$2.99 pumpkin pie
$2.99 apple pie
$3.99 coffee cake
$3.99 Dave’s Killer Bread
$3.99 Talenti Gelato
2/$4 Sprouts frozen Vegetables O
2/$4 Whipped topping, Truwhip
35% off Alternative Meat Roast, Tufurky
2/$3 Mashed Potatoes O
2/$5 Turkey Gravy O
2/$3 Cranberry Sauce
4/$5 Sprouts canned vegetables O
2/$3 canned pumpkin O
$3.99 Better than Bouillon Base
$2.99 Wild Rice blend O
$2.99 Quinoa O
2/$5 Mezzetta Pasta Sauce
40% off Wheat Montana
$8.99 Sprouts Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2/$5 Guittard chocolate Baking Chips or Bars
50% off Simply Organic spices and vanilla
$2.99 ea. Evaporated or Condensed Milk, Sprouts Brand, O
40% off Arrowhead Organic Mills Baking Essentials, O
4/$5 Canned Fruit, Sprouts
$6.99 Sprouts Maple Syrup, O
2/$5 Green & Black’s Chocolate Bars, O
2/$7 Peanut Butter, Sprouts O
$.99 San Pellegrino Water, Perrier Sparkling Water
2/$5 Hansen’s or Blue Sky Soda
2/$6 Traditional Medicinals Tea O
2/$5 Milton’s Baked snacking chips, Que Pasa Tortilla Chips
3/$5 Sprouts Potato Chips
BOGO Late July Tortilla Chips
Another Mashed Potatoes in the Crockpot recipe:
One more mashed potato recipe, the old fashioned way:
I just can’t do a Thanksgiving article without having turkey prep videos. And maybe this is your first time to cook a turkey. This video walks you through the process, part 1:
Turkey prep, Part 2:
Here’s something different, a Peruvian Turkey - If you don’t want to experiment on the big day, buy 2 turkeys and try this later:
Hope your Thanksgiving is the best ever!