Thanksgiving is around the corner, and that means traveling, family time and most of all — FOOD! Thanksgiving dinner is one of those meals that you look forward to all year, so it goes without saying that you want your dinner to go off without a hitch.
Worried that your busy holiday schedule might get in the way of a seamless Thanksgiving dinner? We’ve rounded up some of our favorite tips and tricks to save time preparing your Thanksgiving feast, while still eating well.
Prepare your Thanksgiving menu well in advance
The key to a seamless Thanksgiving celebration? Planning ahead to avoid any last-minute menu dilemmas. We recommend thinking about your Thanksgiving menu a week in advance, and finalizing your dishes at least 48 hours before Thanksgiving. This will give you time to put together a cohesive grocery shopping list.
Test out cooking your dishes before Thanksgiving day
We’ve all been there — it’s time to eat but your dish is nowhere near done. Rather than a day-of scramble to cook as quickly as possible, try doing a test run of your planned dishes a few days (or maybe even weeks!) in advance.
This will not only help you figure out how long a dish actually takes to make, but will also give you any ideas for how to improve it for the big Thanksgiving dinner!
Use Instacart to save time grocery shopping
Last but definitely not least — Instacart can help you save time by delivering your groceries in as little as one hour! Instead of taking time away from your busy schedule to run to the grocery store, you can spend Thanksgiving at home with your loved ones.
Just add everything you need for Thanksgiving to your cart, schedule a convenient delivery time and we’ll do the rest! Many retailers on Instacart have special Thanksgiving departments, making it easy to find the holiday essentials all in one place.
Remember, you can schedule a delivery up to seven days in advance, so if you want fresh groceries delivered right on Thanksgiving day, you can place your order on Instacart as early as Friday, 11/20.
You’ll also love these Thanksgiving Tips from our partners:
Thanksgiving Preparation Tips:
“Know when to revise your menu and save money by taking note of what dishes people actually eat each year. The dishes that usually get thrown out or have too many leftovers can be removed or changed for next year.” – Pete’s Fresh Market, Chicago
“A sharpened knife and a pocket thermometer are your best allies in the kitchen.” – Mollie Stone’s Executive Chef John Ness, San Francisco Bay Area
“For the holidays, consider cooking and baking with Fair Trade coffee, sugar, and chocolate to support the farmers and producers that make these ingredients.” – Wheatsville Food Co-Op, Austin
“Assembling a tempting cheese tray is easier than you might think: Separate strong-smelling cheeses and don’t crowd the cheese on the platter. Pick the right knife for each cheese – butter knife for a soft cheese , paring knife for a firm cheese, and a cheese plane for aged cheese. Finally, remove the cheese from the refrigerator an hour before serving and label each cheese with a few adjectives.” – PCC Natural Markets, Seattle
“Not sure how much food to make? Just enter the number of guests you are serving, and this handy tool will calculate how much you should serve.” – Whole Foods Market, Nationwide
Thanksgiving Cooking Tips:
“Making stuffing and sides from scratch? Save your carrot tops, celery leaves, and onion ends and peels to make a flavorful stock for your gravy and reduce food waste!” – Andronico’s Community Markets, San Francisco Bay Area
“Prep potatoes for mashed potatoes the night before by peeling, cutting, coating in some lemon juice (to prevent browning), covering, and storing in the refrigerator until it is time boil and mash. This makes for really smooth mashed potatoes as the action of cutting them and the lemon juice both begin the breakdown of fiber in the potatoes.” – Natural Grocers, Denver, Boulder and Portland
“Don’t cry over sliced onions! If you refrigerate your peeled onions, the sulfur compound that usually causes you to tear up is inactivated.” – Key Food and Food Universe, New York
“Let large cuts come to room temperature before cooking. Pat meats dry immediately prior to cooking for best browning. Rest your meat for 10-15 minutes after cooking to allow the muscle to relax and seal in the flavors and moisture.” – Bi-Rite Market, San Francisco
“When buying a turkey, the rule of thumb is one pound per person. This will prevent food waste yet ensure there is enough for leftovers.” – Super King Markets, Los Angeles
“Brine (think of it as marinating) your turkey in advance to make juicy, flavor-packed meat. Get crafty with fresh herbs and spices in your brine.” – Di Bruno Bros., Philadelphia
“Love your turkey, baste it every 15-20 minutes during the roasting process!” – Gelson’s, Los Angeles
“Cooking your turkey with the Helmet Method helps retain moisture, especially if you’ve brined your bird (if you have, pat the bird dry first). After seasoning, cover it with foil and follow the cooking times that came with it. Remove the foil one hour before the bird is done so the skin doesn’t get soggy—the meat will finish moist and tender.” – Central Co-Op, Seattle
“To help make your Holiday baking stress free, line the bottom of all your bakeware with parchment paper, this will allow for easy lift out and clean up.” – Smart and Final, San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles
Need Inspiration? Check out our favorite Thanksgiving recipes:
Chef Johns’ Roast Turkey and Gravy
Easy and Quick Pumpkin Pie | Photo via Bojon Gourmet
Chopped Brussel Sprout Salad with Creamy Shallot Dressing