The Secret for a Relaxing Thanksgiving: Planning!

With Thanksgiving still a few weeks away, there’s plenty of time to get a jump on holiday meal planning. If you’re like me, some years, you delight in perusing recipes, planning and then cooking up an elaborate meal…and then other years, well; you just want to make it as simple as possible. Takeout anyone? Regardless of your plans for Thanksgiving, here are a few ways to simplify for a stress-free holiday while still making sure you’ve got a menu full of flavorful dishes to delight your guests.

Try new recipes. Plan your menu. Start making lists. If you’re considering trying out a few new recipes, why not take them for a test run before the big day? We’ve got a selection of our holiday favorites opens in a new tab; everything from appetizers to sides to desserts -- including vegetarian, gluten-free and non-dairy options. Once you’ve got a few new recipes in your repertoire, you can start planning your menu, thinking about any special dietary needs your guests may have, and you can start working on those shopping and to-do lists. Check out our Holiday Meal Planning Tips opens in a new tab for lots of great advice for creating the perfect holiday menu. Considering making a completely vegetarian meal? We’ve got you covered with our Holiday Guide on cooking Vegetarian for the Holidays opens in a new tab.

Shop twice. Cook once. Menu plans help simplify because you can easily create shopping lists from them. With a shopping list in hand there’s no confusion, plus, you can break a huge list into manageable chunks. I try to shop for all non-perishables 2-3 weeks ahead (that means now!), and all perishables just a few days beforehand so it feels less overwhelming. Ask for help. Serve buffet-style. Chances are, some of your guests will be happy to bring their favorite dish – or, if they aren’t cooks, they’ll most likely be happy to pick something up. Plus, if you serve buffet style you can incorporate ingredient cards with the cook’s name on them, so guests with special diets opens in a new tabcan easily navigate the buffet and ask the cook directly for more information if necessary. Contact everyone on your guest list, and ask if they’d be willing to contribute food for the meal. Let them know how many their dish should serve, and encourage them to write out the ingredients beforehand.

Let us do the cooking. The simplest suggestion yet! Did you know that you could order an entire meal from our Holiday Table opens in a new tab? Some years, trading time spent stressed out by cooking for time spent with friends and family can be worth every penny. What are some of the ways you simplify your holiday meal planning and preparation during the holidays?

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