Three steps to a no-fuss Thanksgiving feast


I’ve been cooking a full-on Thanksgiving dinner since I was 21 years old. Yup. I’ve been doing this for a while.

Not every dinner was smooth though. Like everything in life, you learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward.

I decided to make my first solo Thanksgiving dinner at age 21. I was a full-time college student and new wife. I was so determined to have it be a success.

No sweat I thought. I watched and helped my Mom for years. I’ll just do what she does … but with my own flair.

With my own flair all right!

As a newbie to cooking Thanksgiving dinner, I forgot to defrost the turkey for 3 days in the fridge. I did it for only 2.

I discovered this problem when it came time to wash the turkey just before putting it in the oven. Yikes! Too late.

The turkey was a little too frosty. And I knew rinsing it off with water was NOT going to cut it.

To make matters worse, my kitchen sink was too small to defrost the turkey in there, so … I had to do the unthinkable.

I had to defrost it in my clean, just-scrubbed bathtub. No lie!

Well … it worked. My turkey defrosted in time and became the centerpiece of my first solo holiday table. Golden and beautiful.

No one knew about the bathtub. Just You.

I share this story with you because I want you to be encouraged. You can do it. It doesn’t have to be daunting. You can even recover from mistakes like I just shared.

To keep the grounded, thankful spirit going when it’s on you to get a beautiful holiday dinner on the table, you need a plan.

Here’s what I do to stay sane and enjoy my favorite holiday.

1. Decide what the menu is and write it out. Stick to the must-have items you and your guests expect and not one item more. This prevents overwhelm. Keeping it manageable is key. Too many items on the menu mean too much can go wrong.

2. Create the shopping list by reviewing your recipes. Check it twice so you don’t have any emergency trips to the grocery store.

3. Break down the cooking and baking in do-able chunks. Start cooking 3 days before Thanksgiving! Yup. That’s the secret to staying cool, calm and collected.

Here’s what my prep typically looks like broken down by day:

3 days before:

· Homemade cranberry sauce

· Stuffing (aka dressing) … I don’t actually stuff the turkey to avoid any health risks.

2 days before:

· Butternut squash-apple soup

· Mashed parsnips

1 day before:

· Apple pie

· Pumpkin pie

Thanksgiving Day:

· Turkey

· Gravy

· Roasted Brussels Sprouts or other seasonal greens

· Warm up the already prepared items as needed

Hope this idea helps you prepare and take the stress down a few notches. Feel free to personalize it with your menu and timetable.

Now you’re ready for your guests. Enjoy!

Do you have a Thanksgiving dinner mishap as memorable as my bathtub defrost? Would love to hear about it in the comments below!