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Thanksgiving Time-Shift

Posted by on Nov. 8, 2013 at 12:00 AM
  • 46 Replies

For people who love to cook and eat, Thanksgiving is really the best of the holidays. I actually love all the cooking, shopping, planning and prep that goes into pulling off the big meal. What I don't love is doing it at the last minute so I'm exhausted and stressed out by the time the meal starts.

Luckily, there are lots of things you can prep ahead, even right now, to get a jump on the festivities. That allows you to add last-minute healthy dishes to your table...things like a crisp green salad, or a simply steamed vegetable, that might fall by the wayside if you're trying to do it all that day.

My family's favorite sweet potato casserole was actually developed to be made ahead. Sweet pecans, brown sugar, and spices combine to make a dish that's indulgent enough for a holiday but not such a fat and sugar bomb it drowns out all the goodness of the sweet potato.The recipe I linked doesn't mention this, but you can freeze it after spreading on the streusel topping for up to a couple weeks ahead. It freezes like a dream and just needs to be pulled out and thawed ahead of time.

Plenty of other dishes lend themselves to freezing...pies, macaroni and cheese, and rolls, to name a few. Cranberry sauce is actually better if made a day or two ahead and the flavors given a chance to marry, and stuffing can be prepped ahead as well and simply popped into the oven on Thanksgiving Day. That leaves you with time to saute some kale with garlic, or whip up a salad, or roast some cauliflower for a nice healthy veggie addition to  your rich feast. Less stress and time to make some lower-fat dishes means Thanksgiving dinner really can be good for you!

What's your favorite make-ahead Thanksgiving side?

Image ŠIStockPhoto/artcasta

by on Nov. 8, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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Replies (1-10):
by Rhonda on Nov. 8, 2013 at 6:20 AM
When I have a huge meal like this to cook, I make desserts, dinner rolls, salads (7 layer salad is better if it sits overnight anyway), cranberry relish all ahead of time. The other sides don't take that long to make, especially if I mash the sweet potatoes ahead of time. If everything is ready to go, I roast the turkey in the morning, make the mashed potatoes and keep them warm in a crock pot, then put all of the other sides together about an hour before dinner and let them bake in the oven.
by Peggy on Nov. 8, 2013 at 7:29 AM

I usually make ahead the pies, pretty much everything else I do the day of....maybe I should do the stuffing the day before this year it's always better the next day anyway

by Bronze Member on Nov. 8, 2013 at 7:51 AM

The only thing I make ahead of time is sweet potato pie.

by Member on Nov. 8, 2013 at 7:54 AM
I don't have to make anything except a turkey candied sweet potatoes and some desserts.
by on Nov. 8, 2013 at 7:54 AM

I always make desserts, and cranberry relish the day before. I also do a lot of prep work, like cutting the corn, breaking green beans, putting together the dressing.

by Tracy on Nov. 8, 2013 at 7:55 AM

Pecan Pie

by Sarah on Nov. 8, 2013 at 8:07 AM
I don't make anything ahead. I guess I like the craziness of making everything the day of
by Sarah on Nov. 8, 2013 at 8:07 AM
Have you tried my sweet pototoe casserole?

Quoting TerriC:

The only thing I make ahead of time is sweet potato pie.

by on Nov. 8, 2013 at 8:36 AM
Pies the homemade stuffing and stuff like that ahead of time. Anything that's easily reheated.
by Ticia on Nov. 8, 2013 at 8:52 AM

I only make desserts in advance.

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