My 2020 Thanksgiving Menu and Timeline!
Over the years I’ve shared my Thanksgiving timeline and it’s been insanely helpful – especially to me! This year looks different for everyone, but since we’re still having our parents over, I’m making a full spread. It’s our best CLASSICS! I don’t change a ton in terms of dishes I’ll be serving, and now that I have kids, it helps me SO much to be able to plan and organize in advance. It allows me to enjoy the day so much. Because I love cooking a giant spread for everyone!
I’m sharing my full menu below! And then, my crazy timeline starting from four weeks out.
My 2020 Thanksgiving Menu
- Pomegranate Jeweled Cheeseball
- Citrus Butter Sage Roasted Turkey
- Turkey Stock
- Buttery Herb Stuffing
- How Sweet Eats House Mashed Potatoes
- The Best Gravy Ever
- Pomegranate Greens Salad
- Corn Pudding Souffle
- Vanilla Bourbon Cranberry Sauce
- Lightened Up Sweet Potato Casserole
- Green Bean Casserole
- Parker House Rolls
- Pumpkin Dream Cake
- Salted Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars
- Red Apple Cider Sangria
THE MONTH BEFORE (OR, UM, RIGHT NOW):
- I determine who is coming and how many people I’ll have for dinner. We never have a HUGE group, but obviously this year it’s very small.
- I figure out the menu! What exactly I’m serving, buying and what are others bringing. See above for details.
- I go through every.single.recipe and write down the ingredients. I take inventory of what I have. From there, I build a grocery list around what I need.
- I go through all of the serving dishes, place settings, glasses and everything I’ll need. This is personal preference but I love to use real dishes and set the table for Thanksgiving. It’s probably because my mom and grandma always did. I think it just makes for such a nice meal and it also allows people to linger at the table for conversation after! This year, I am considering using plastic silverware and serving ware for safety purposes.
- I also go through all of my cookware. Do I have the turkey roaster, kitchen twine, baster, enough pots, baking dishes, etc.
- I make a master list, based on all of the above, on EVERYTHING I will need.
- I order a fresh turkey.
- I usually make a list for Eddie to do that includes errands he can run during the week at lunch. Things like grabbing extra propane for the grill if we’re grilling or smoking a turkey, light bulbs for any that may be burnt out in the house, grabbing drinks, etc.
- You can order florals if you wish. I learned this the hard way two years ago when I spent $100 upfront ordering one that looked like it belonged in a funeral home. I ended up buying my own flowers and making my own, so I don’t order any.
- I buy as much as I can right now. This includes wine, pantry ingredients, things like crackers for the appetizers, foil containers or packaging for people to take home leftovers – EVERYTHING. And I check it off the list!
TWO WEEKS BEFORE:
- I take some inventory of the fridge and figure out what we can eat/cook to free up space.
- I pick up any pantry ingredients or items I couldn’t get in the weeks prior.
THE WEEK BEFORE:
- I do a massive fridge clean. I clean the entire fridge, get rid of what I don’t need, make room for the turkey, the dishes I’ll make ahead of time, etc.
- I go over my master list again and see what else I may need.
- I grocery shop for the things that are fresh but will last until Thursday, such as milk, potatoes, squash, etc.
- I also think about next weekend and a lunch and dinner plan right now. I know that at some point we will be sick of leftovers and won’t want to eat out every single meal (and will want something light!) so I try to plan a light meal or two and have some things on hand for easy lunches and dinners during the long weekend.
- I do any miscellaneous house things and regular life things that must get done to live. Ha! Things like laundry, etc.
- I go over my list again. DO I HAVE EVERYTHING? Probably not. I always forget things.
- I clean out my dining room and set the table. I set up my own centerpiece space – or at least as much of it as I can. I also like to set out all of my serving and baking dishes with post-it’s of what will go inside.
- This is house cleaning day! Whether I do it, or it gets professionally cleaned.
- I do one final grocery shop. Grabbing anything else I may need.
- I pick up the turkey.
- I prep my dry brine and prep my turkey, get it all together and stick it in the fridge. Let the magic happen.
- I make my turkey stock.
- I make the chocolate pecan pie bars and stick them in the fridge!
- I’m making the lightened up sweet potato casserole. I don’t bake it yet. I measure out the topping ingredients and set them aside for tomorrow. I’ve done this for 7 years and it works great! This is a great dish to bring if you are going to someone else’s house.
- I also make the green bean casserole. I make it up until the point of baking, then store it in the fridge.
- And I’m making the cranberry sauce, the pumpkin dream cake and prepping the bread and veggies for the stuffing. I leave the bread in baking dishes and sauté the vegetables, then stick them in jars in the fridge. I refrigerate the cake.
- I prep the parker house roll dough and bake the rolls before bed.
- I prep the pomegranate cheese ball. This actually tastes better as it sits.
- Finally, I prep the corn souffle pudding! This is a lot of prep, but it makes Thursday go super smoothly.
- Before I go to sleep, I make sure that the kitchen is clean and the dishwasher is running!
- Turkey comes out of the fridge to take the chill off.
- I peel the potatoes and place them in a pot of cold water in the fridge.
- Prep the cheesecloth, butter/wine mixture for the turkey.
- Turkey is stuffed (if needed), legs trussed, ready to go.
- Turkey goes into the oven! A 15lb turkey using this recipe takes about 4 hours. I’m giving myself more time for a slightly larger turkey. I set an alarm on my phone so I know when to baste the turkey.
- I run the dishwasher again if needed, only so I can have a completely empty dishwasher after dinner!.
- I make the sangria and keep it in the fridge. Also make sure coffee and dessert space is prepped!
- This is probably when I will shower and get ready myself.
2 PM to 3PM:
- I make the mashed potatoes. I keep them warm in a slow cooker until dinner.
- I make the halloumi for the salad.
- I take other dishes out of the fridge that have to be heated soon, like the sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, corn and the cranberry sauce.
- Then I clean up the mess that I probably made.
- It’s snack time. Pomegranate cheese ball coming right up! Roll it in the pomegranate arils and set it out to eat.
- Take the turkey temperatures. Our parents come!
- We eat and snack and chat.
- Turkey is out of the oven and resting for 30 to 45 minutes. Side dishes that have to be warmed/baked go into the oven. I start making the gravy. I love the gravy made fresh with the turkey drippings. I follow my exact recipe! It’s worth it, trust me.
- I throw together the salad quickly. Everything is measured, washed, made and chopped so it takes a few minutes!
- Eddie carves the turkeys!
- Fill up water and wine glasses, sides come out of the oven, everything is set out and arranged for serving.
6PM: Give thanks and EAT.
I live for this day. This week! Truly. It’s all the prep – that’s where the fun is.
Now I’d love to know if you prep something crazy like this? Tell me your menu (and your ways!).