Last year was the first time I hosted family for Thanksgiving, and as every holiday host can tell you, it's a major undertaking. Between the side dishes, the desserts and the turkey, it's easy to get overwhelmed and find yourself pressed for time getting everything done. But it doesn't have to be that way!
This year, check out these Thanksgiving food hacks to save time on your family's meal.
1. Use a slow cooker
You can use your slow cooker for the mashed potatoes, green bean casserole or even your turkey. This allows you to prep these items ahead of time and frees up your oven or stovetop for preparing other dishes.
2. Make your Thanksgiving dinner a potluck
Take some of the pressure off yourself as the host! Take your guests up on any offers to prepare a side dish or dessert. Or discuss the potluck idea ahead of time and hand out assignments for all the Thanksgiving must-haves to your guests. This will save you tons of time on preparation and saves money as well.
3. Tape recipes on the cabinets in plain sight
Instead of spreading your recipes out all over your counter to get buried under ingredients or spilled on, tape them all up on your cabinets. With the recipes in plain sight, you can zip through them quickly without pausing for Where did I put the recipe? searches.
4. Use your microwave
You can speed up your mashed potatoes by microwaving them instead of boiling them. You can also warm rolls and anything else in need of little heat by popping it into the microwave.
5. Cook your turkey while you sleep
Do a quick search online for an overnight turkey recipe and you'll find several great options for cooking your turkey overnight while you sleep. Here is one I like. This Thanksgiving food hack will save you tons of time and oven space while producing a perfectly done turkey for your family dinner.
6. Skip the potato peeler
Check out this simple hack for peeling potatoes without spending half your day peeling the skins off. By boiling your potatoes whole and then shocking them in cold water, the skins peel right off! You can also consider mashing potatoes with the skins on, which is something many members of my family actually like.
7. Make your vegetable side dishes a day (or more) ahead
Do a quick search for freezer-friendly make-ahead Thanksgiving side dishes. Or check out this list for some options. You'll save yourself several hours in the kitchen on the big day by preparing and freezing your side dishes before the holiday.
8. Lay out your kitchen tools in advance
Before you start cooking your Thanksgiving dinner, assemble all of the ingredients, pots, pans, baking dishes, measuring cups and utensils you will need for the meal. You can even get this stuff organized the night before if you plan to start cooking first thing in the morning. Having everything laid out and ready to go will save you a ton of time when you don't have to go searching for every little thing while you cook.
9. Serve dinner buffet style
Rather than spending the first half of your Thanksgiving dinner plating and serving the meal, arrange the food on a table or your countertops and make it self-serve. This way everyone can sit down to eat at roughly the same time and start enjoying their meal and each other's company.
10. Learn to let go
Thanksgiving is about being grateful and spending time with loved ones. If your meal doesn't turn out perfectly or you don't get all the decorations done in time, don't let that spoil your enjoyment of the holiday. Enjoy yourself and the meal you've worked so hard to prepare!