What can be made in the next few weeks and frozen for thanksgiving?

Young kids with no help so want to start cooking whenever have time to get ready for hosting thanksgiving

  • Posted by: Lara
  • October 17, 2016
  • 1464 views
  • 36 Comments

36 Comments

Mrs B. October 24, 2016
Lara, my heart goes out to you. I've been there!
Here's a thought - a tip that doesn't get much play, but an excellent idea -- from an article posted a few years ago by a Food52 user (not an editor or food blogger contributor).
While you are thinking about what to freeze for Thanksgiving Day, also think about, plan and follow through on what you can freeze to serve your family for dinner during the 7 - 10 days before Thanksgiving. There are so many Thanksgiving tasks that can only be handled during that final week. It's quite helpful if you can free up the time you'd otherwise be spending in the evening cooking dinner, to do that advance prep during Thanksgiving week.
So, the idea is to make double batches of what you will be serving in the next couple of weeks and freeze as much as you can for those Thanksgiving week dinners. It's fall, so soups and stews are perfect for this.
Write out your menu for those 7 days. Combine holiday prep with week-before dinner prep, e.g., if you are making pie crust, make an extra and bake a quiche for dinner one evening when you'll have the oven on for pre-Thanksgiving prep.
Here is the article: https://food52.com/blog/8826-how-to-hike-a-mountain-and-serve-thanksgiving-dinner-on-the-same-day There are a lot of other suggestions you may find helpful. The author developed the method over many years while raising two sons, with no help, and working full time.
 
BerryBaby October 22, 2016
Reading about Thanksgiving food, I can't wait for the day! I love this meal! I think the stuffing is my favorite part. I use dried, cubed, bread, celery, onions, butter, sage, thyme and S/P. Very traditional recipe from 1973 Betty Crocker cookbook, and a family favorite.
 
Susan W. October 22, 2016
Have you ever made stuffing muffins? They are so good. You use any stuffing recipe and cook them in a buttered muffin tin. Each muffin is crunchy on the outside. Yum!!
 
Bevi October 18, 2016
Chops, I love Ina's gravy. It hits all the right notes and it takes extra ingredients well, like a bit of apple cider or a fortified wine. Ina's Make Ahead book is a great guideline for preparing dishes in advance. I love it.
 
sexyLAMBCHOPx October 21, 2016
I have the cookbook and love it. I don't think I've ever made a recipe of hers that didn't work out well.
 
Bevi October 18, 2016
milled applesauce, pie crusts, NY Times gougeres for apps, IPK's mushroom pinwheels, Ina Garten's make ahead gravy. I make batches of Mrs. Wheelbarrow's raspberry and cranberry conserve as well, but they are processed in a water bath.
 
sexyLAMBCHOPx October 18, 2016
Bevi, I make Ina Garten's gravy, not AJ's although looks good. Here're a few ideas from Ina.
http://greatideas.people.com/2014/11/19/ina-garten-make-ahead-thanksgiving/
 
Susan W. October 18, 2016
Chops, Ina's is more what I had in mind. I like the base idea and using all those drippings to finish. I had a Julia Child's recipe from ages ago that's similar. She has you thicken it with cornstarch though which I didn't like. Ina's ticks all the boxes.
 
MMH October 18, 2016
Along those lines, Alton Brown has a spatchcocked turkey recipe/process which is wonderful. He starts well in advance of the big day & the spatchcock method roasts much more quickly and evenly.
 
sydney October 18, 2016
This isn't strictly on the freezing issue BUT if anyone has time/space/help restrictions and isn't committed to a whole-bird's dramatic entrance, I buy fresh turkey and have the butcher cut it up. It's a breeze to do stock for gravy, and a breeze to season and roast every piece. Flavour is superior, too. I'll never return to whole-bird roasting. Just a thought for people to consider. :-)
 
Susan W. October 18, 2016
I so agree. It's so much easier to cook turkey parts. Another good one is to cook a breast and put the stuffing under the skin. Delicious and it looks really pretty when sliced.
 
Mrs B. October 24, 2016
Sydney and Susan W - and everyone else who treasures their sanity in late November -- Paul Virant has a clear, intelligent and effective step-by-step make ahead game plan for a broken down turkey in his excellent book, "Preservation Kitchen." Tried and true, and a quite handy especially for those with limited oven space. Shoot me a note via my profile if you wish more information.
 
keg72 October 18, 2016
Thomas Keller's leek bread pudding (you can find the recipe in a lot of places, including on this site: https://food52.com/recipes/39035-thomas-keller-s-leek-bread-pudding#comments) is delicious, and although I've never frozen it, I freeze other bread puddings all the time. The recipe calls for you to bake it for 1.5 hours. If you wanted to freeze it, I'd suggest adding just a little extra liquid and then baking it for 1 hour before freezing it. I tend to thaw my bread puddings in the fridge before re-heating them, but you could probably just bake from frozen (although it would need to bake for a while). If baking from frozen, I'd cover the dish in foil until the last 15 minutes of baking in order to avoid over-browning.
 
Nancy October 18, 2016
In this ball park - stuffing for the turkey.
 
BerryBaby October 17, 2016
I'd make the pie dough and freeze it, not the pies. Not crazy about frozen pies and it is so easy and quick to roll out the pre-made dough and add the filling. Never really have made anything else in advance. Just 4 of us. I would think it depends on how many guests and what is on your menu. The suggestions listed are great. Happy Turkey Day, and Happy Cooking! BB
 
SK October 21, 2016
Could you roll out the dough ahead and freeze them flat?
 
MMH October 17, 2016
Make mashed potatoes ahead (not frozen) and use a slow cooker on low when you are ready to rewarm them. It frees up stove top space.
 
Windischgirl October 17, 2016
Pies. And the vegetarian mushroom gravy on this site, http://food52.com/recipes/7483-vegetarian-mushroom-thyme-gravy --just add the cream when heating to serve. Most kinds of casseroles--corn pudding, broccoli or green bean casserole, sweet potato or squash casseroles. You can even freeze mashed potatoes but it should be a recipe with a lot of cream, cream cheese, and butter; the richness of the dairy helps maintain the nice texture.
 
Riddley G. October 17, 2016
Hi Lara! We actually have an article coming up next week about this very topic (so stay tuned!). However I do agree with other commenters! You can freeze rolls, cranberry sauce, pies, and soup with a lot of success. I often make a big batch of pie crust going into the holidays and freeze it, just so it's there when I need it.
 
Lara October 18, 2016
Great. Think I got enough info here!
 
Susan W. October 17, 2016
To add to this list, I always buy turkey wings and make a stock. Then I thaw it a few days before and make an uber stock with the neck and wing tips (if you're okay with the tips not being there when you present the bird).

I make cornbread stuffing so I always make that and freeze it.
 
sexyLAMBCHOPx October 17, 2016
I agree! Also, you can make the gravy a huge timesaver.
 
Susan W. October 18, 2016
Chops, don't you miss using the turkey drippings when you complete the gravy ahead of time?
 
sexyLAMBCHOPx October 18, 2016
No hun! This make-ahead (I do make a few tweaks) is great and I make double. https://food52.com/recipes/7530-make-ahead-turkey-gravy
 
Susan W. October 18, 2016
AJ is a genius!! Saved in bookmarks and making it this Thanksgiving. :)
 
Mrs B. October 24, 2016
Susan W, there is nothing to prevent you from scraping all those lovely bits from the bottom of your roasting pan and stirring them into your "made-ahead" gravy at the time that you're warming it up to serve. I believe that is actually recommended in the recipe linked by sLx. (See step #10.)
 
Susan W. October 24, 2016
Mrs. Ardmore true and those brown bits always go into my stock. I'm speaking of the opulent drippings that you end up with when you roast a whole turkey. Easy enough to add them to the gravy base as AJ suggests.
 
ChefJune October 17, 2016
Pies and cakes, Breads and rolls, dressing, some vegetable dishes can be made ahead and frozen. Cranberry sauce.
 
pierino October 17, 2016
I was thinking about having myself cryonically froze u til after it's over.
 
PHIL October 17, 2016
Why? Thanksgiving is like the family version of Chopped!
 
Mrs B. October 24, 2016
Superb idea, pierino. I'll be totally off the grid in November, at least as far as food writing is concerned, unless I absolutely need to look something up, which I hope will not be the case. The hype and fear-mongering are just too exhausting -- and annoying.
 
soozbooz3 October 17, 2016
One thing my mom does is sautee all vegetables in advance a few days before. For example, the onions and celery you add to stuffing. Boil the noodles for the mac & cheese. Make the salad dressing, clean the lettuce.

All day-of should be is assemble and bake. Hope this helps! good luck!
 
SK October 21, 2016
You could even saute veggies for the stuffing and freeze them, no? Maybe just undercook them a bit.
 
Trena H. October 17, 2016
I'll add to Stephanie's suggestions with homemade cranberry sauce.
 
SK October 21, 2016
Great idea! Homemade cranberry sauce doesn't even to be frozen! The recipe on the bag of cranberries and lasts in the fridge for a long time!
 
Stephanie G. October 17, 2016
Breads such as rolls, cakes, even pies freeze well.
 
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