Your Thanksgiving Game Plan

With Thanksgiving less than three weeks away, it’s not such a crazy idea to check off a few totally doable items off the list. It’s not about cooking the entire feast weeks ahead, but instead laying out a game plan while you have the time. So when the Macy’s Parade pops up on the TV, you’re confident and ready to go. HIKE!

Food52 Test Kitchen Director Josh Cohen is a list-maker through and through. “Do all the hard thinking way ahead of time,” he tells me. “Break everything down into simple steps, so that as the holiday gets closer, you can shut off the anxious part of your brain and know that the big decisions have already been made.” It’s a lesson in self-care, really, which is something we could all use during this bustling holiday season.

First, write out the menu (with an eye for make-ahead dishes). “Look carefully at each recipe,” Josh says. “Is there an equal balance of dishes that can be made ahead of time versus dishes that need to be made at the last minute? If your menu consists entirely of recipes that need to be made at the last moment, then you’re setting yourself up for failure.” Don’t forget to assign some dishes out, too; you don’t have to cook the whole feast yourself.

Next, make a shopping list so you don’t have to worry about it later. “This is one of the keys to feeling calm and happy as the day approaches,” Josh tells me. “If you have a detailed list of every ingredient that you need to buy, where you will buy it from, and when you will buy it, then your holiday prep becomes a much calmer experience.”

Finally, make a prep list. “This is different from your shopping list,” Josh says. “Your prep list breaks down every moment of cooking that needs to happen for all the food to appear on the table. Which bit of cooking can happen three days ahead of time, what can happen two days ahead of time, what needs to happen two hours before guests arrive, that kind of thing. Here’s where you can also note which dishes should be served hot versus room temperature—I like to serve roasted vegetables at room temperature but mashed potatoes hot.”

Thank you Food52 for the Thanksgiving Tips.

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