Ever since I got married, Thanksgiving alternated between my in-law’s home or ours. But for the past two to four years, I have been hosting. I was one of those who waited “ON THE DAY OF” before even beginning to cook because I like all foods freshly made! Well, you know what happens, it seemed like I was in the kitchen all day trying to prepare meals. But last year, I wised up a little after reading a blog post on early prepping. I do not even remember where I saw the post or all that was involved but I do know one thing, it really made Thanksgiving Day cooking easier and faster. And this year, I have even began to prep a few smaller things to help with the process. Let’s not to far out of the way, we still want fresh and tasty. And you all may be ahead of the game already on this one.
But if you are the main cook for Thanksgiving, here are 10 foods you can prep the night before and some, even days before Thanksgiving:
- Turkey or Meat: Be sure to purchase your turkey early (or whatever meat you will use). And give it enough time to defrost.
- Vegetables: I learned a trick earlier this year that potatoes can be peeled and placed in a big bowl of water in the fridge overnight. This will keep them from browning. Do the same for other vegetables like squash, carrots, corn, fresh green beans, etc.
- Cranberry: To have nice and cold cranberries on the day of, why not prep them the night before or even a few days early and put them in the fridge? If you purchase canned, just opened them, place them in your serving bowl, and cover with foil. Or if you are going to use fresh, cook them a few days or the night before. Be sure to store them in the fridge. Cranberries taste better when they are cold.
- Breads/Rolls: There are so many overnight rolls recipe floating around. Find a good one to prep before. Or even overnight cinnamon rolls or french toast casserole for breakfast. Corn bread could be made the day before, too.
- Toppings: Dry ingredients for oatmeal or nut toppings for dishes like sweet potato casseroles can be mixed ahead. All you need to do when it is time to make is add the butter (if using) to the topping and you are good to go.
- Stuffing mix: I am not a huge fan of pre-mix stuffing but getting most of the main ingredients together for “good ole” home-cooked stuffing before the day of could really help ease the cooking.
- Cold Salads: Don’t wait a few hours on the day of to start scrambling – hoping your cold salads would be cold by the time dinner is ready. Prepare them the night before.
- Spices/Seasoning Mixes: Most spices and seasoning mixes (dry or wet) can be mixed days before or at least for a day before the actual use. You know those recipes that is really worth creating but require a ton of spices and seasonings to add in? Mixing them before will definitely be a huge help to your Thanksgiving Day cooking.
- Desserts: In my opinion, pretty much all desserts could be made ahead especially cold desserts like cheesecakes and frozen pies. Other pies like Pecan pies can be baked ahead. Or if you prefer on the day of pies, you can make the dough ahead. Just freeze it and thaw it in the refrigerator a few hours before using.
- Drinks: If you are going to make special drinks, make them ahead and store them in the refrigerator. If using pre-made drinks, don’t forget to store them in the fridge. Or make ahead your ice to serve your drinks.
And so you ask yourself, won’t I still be tired if I spend all night prepping for the big day? Maybe so, but at least you will know when your family and friends are gathered, you will not be spending all day trying to prepare food to serve them. You can at least spend some time with them talking, playing or watching games or whatever traditions you have set up for Thanksgiving Day. And if you start earlier than just the night before (a week or a few consecutive days before), you will definitely cut down on the amount of work you will put in the night before Thanksgiving prepping for dinner.
So I would like to know, what other foods do you or would you make ahead for Thanksgiving dinner? I would love to know your thoughts in the comments.