Make Ahead

Recipe for Peace of Mind Thanksgiving Week

October 27, 2016
Photo by AntoniaJames
Author Notes

"Whatever you would do, begin it. Boldness has courage, genius and magic in it." Goethe For the backstory on this, with more details on my approach, please see the final note in the instructions below. I hope you find this helpful. Love you. AntoniaJames ;o) —AntoniaJames

  • Serves you and everyone around you
  • Notebook, paper, pocket dividers, calendar pages (see more below)
  • These can be digital or analog, or a combination of both
  • An hour or so to think this all through and get the plan onto paper
  • Whatever minimal amount of extra time is needed to make double batches of meals to freeze
In This Recipe
  1. The basic idea is to plan your menus in late October or very early in November for the upcoming weeks, and to make double batches of meals, freezing half to serve during the 7 – 10 days before Thanksgiving. It's fall, so soups and stews are perfect for this.
  2. Do you have a written inventory of what's already in your freezer? This is a great time to do it! You'll want to use as much as you can of what's already in there, not just to save time, but also because you'll need room for items you'll be making ahead for Thanksgiving Day, as well as the meals for the week right before it.
  3. Not everything needs to come directly from the freezer. You can also combine holiday prep with week-before dinner prep, e.g., if you are making pie crusts (and freezing them now), make an extra to use in a quiche for dinner one evening when you'll have the oven on for pre-Thanksgiving prep.
  4. To find the article, just type into the search box “Thanksgiving Hike” and it should be the first search result. I cannot link within this recipe, but if you copy and paste you can see what I've planned for October and November. Within that document you can link to my "flightplan" for the wonderful voyage that begins on the Saturday morning before Thanksgiving and ends when dinner is served on Thursday. It shows the tasks to do each day, including many that can be done in just a few minutes, as well as my grocery lists (with dates assigned) and links to the recipes I'll be using. In early November, I'll pull from my notebooks the recipes I've already printed, and will print and drop into sleeves the new ones.
  5. About those supplies in the “ingredient” list above: I use a 1” 3-ring binder with built-in front and back pockets. In it, I put pocket dividers - one for menus, calendars, shopping and to-do lists, etc., and one for recipes. I print out just about all of the recipes on the holiday menu, even for dishes I’ve made frequently, just so I’m sure I won’t overlook something. I keep a supply of plastic sheet covers for recipes I’m using on a particular day. Like I say in the article, I tend to put my lists initially on large sticky notes; I dictate those into a master shopping “Note” on my iPhone. While standing in line, I update it, and then print out the updated Note from my computer, if necessary, and pop that back into the book. (I typically start my December holiday baking plans before Thanksgiving, so notes for that go into another pocket divider. I usually get my baking ingredients during one of my grocery store visits during the week before Thanksgiving. And yes, I go through the same planning process for December, usually over the Thanksgiving weekend.)
  6. Okay, you’re right. This is not a recipe. I hope however that you find it helpful and that you enjoy the peace of mind throughout this lovely month that I will certainly be enjoying.
  7. The backstory, and a few additional words about my approach: A few years ago, I wrote an article for Food52 on how I plan ahead so that I can take a long, demanding hike on Thanksgiving Day, and then come home (usually, exhausted) to put our celebration meal on the table within a few hours. There’s a good idea in that piece that’s worth expanding, especially given the recent interest in planning meals ahead, and also, on preparing and freezing side dishes, rolls, desserts, etc. to serve on Thanksgiving Day. My idea – my practice for many years -- is to plan the dinner menu for the week before Thanksgiving now, in late October, so that meals to be served during the 7 days before Thanksgiving will come mostly from the freezer. There are so many Thanksgiving tasks that can only be handled during that final week. Freezing the primary components of one's dinners for that week will free up valuable time for final advance prep when one would otherwise be cooking the evening meal. If one plans those meals now, and works the preparation of key components into one's cooking schedule over the next few weeks, the result will be the most wonderful peace of mind. With much love and wishing you all good things, AntoniaJames

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Recipe by: AntoniaJames

When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)