back to top
Food

18 Simple Time-Saving Ideas To Help You Prepare For The Thanksgiving Meal

It's a marathon, not a sprint, and we are here to help.

Posted on
Amy Sefton / BuzzFeed

Getting ready for Thanksgiving can be a little ~stressful~. But! It doesn't have to be.

Here are 18 time-saving ways to get ahead for the big meal.

1. First, start by figuring out what you want to cook. This easy menu for first-time hosts is a great place to start.

You can do this for under $100! Get the recipes here. PS: It helps to make a timeline while you're planning. There's a full one at the bottom of the menu post.
Lauren Zaser / Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

You can do this for under $100! Get the recipes here. PS: It helps to make a timeline while you're planning. There's a full one at the bottom of the menu post.

2. Once you've figured out your menu, make your shopping list. The absolute BEST way to save time is to avoid extra trips to the grocery store.

Guess what?! This is a shopping list that Alison already made for you and it goes with the Thanksgiving menu ^^^up there^^^.
Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

Guess what?! This is a shopping list that Alison already made for you and it goes with the Thanksgiving menu ^^^up there^^^.

3. OK, time for some real talk. If you are reading this two days or less before T-day and your turkey is frozen, it's time to defrost it RN.

BuzzFeed Food is here for all your Thanksgiving panic. Get 17 helpful charts to navigate turkey day here.
Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

BuzzFeed Food is here for all your Thanksgiving panic. Get 17 helpful charts to navigate turkey day here.

4. Once your turkey is defrosted, get a head start on flavoring by dry-brining it. It's best to do this 8 to 16 hours before roasting. (Read: You are forced to get ahead!)

Get a super-easy dry-brine recipe and the full step-by-step here.
Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

Get a super-easy dry-brine recipe and the full step-by-step here.

5. Now for the side dishes. Make your stuffing all the way through and then just reheat before serving.

Get the recipe for this classic stuffing here.
Lauren Zaser / Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

6. You can also make your mashed potatoes a few days in advance. Just heat them back up over low heat (or microwave them in one-minute intervals, stirring in between).

Get the recipe for Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes here.

7. Use a food processor to slice your Brussels sprouts up to two days before you need them. Because, let's be honest, ain't nobody got time to hand-slice 64 mini cabbages.

Get the recipe for these ~healthy~ roasted Brussels sprouts and 12 more healthy Thanksgiving tricks here.
Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

Get the recipe for these ~healthy~ roasted Brussels sprouts and 12 more healthy Thanksgiving tricks here.

8. If you're going to do a mashed sweet potato casserole, bake the potatoes one or two days before.

Most recipes can actually be prepared all the way through, just up to the baking step. Refrigerate until the day of, then bake according to directions. Get the recipe for Lighter Sweet Potato Casserole with Toasted Marshmallow here.
halfbakedharvest.com

Most recipes can actually be prepared all the way through, just up to the baking step. Refrigerate until the day of, then bake according to directions. Get the recipe for Lighter Sweet Potato Casserole with Toasted Marshmallow here.

9. This three-ingredient cranberry relish is super easy and will keep for up to five days in the fridge. So make it now.

Get the recipe for Cranberry Relish With Fresh Orange here.
Lauren Zaser / Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

Get the recipe for Cranberry Relish With Fresh Orange here.

10. Now for the most important part: dessert! This Nutella cake can be baked up to two days in advance.

Just make sure it's wrapped tightly in plastic, and frost with even more Nutella just before serving. Get the recipe here.
Lindsay Hunt / Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

Just make sure it's wrapped tightly in plastic, and frost with even more Nutella just before serving. Get the recipe here.

11. If you are going to make your own pie dough, you can make it up to five days before baking (or freeze for up to one month ahead).

Wrap it in plastic or store it in a zip-top bag in the refrigerator until you're ready to bake. Get the pie dough how-to and a killer cinnamon apple pie recipe here.
Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

Wrap it in plastic or store it in a zip-top bag in the refrigerator until you're ready to bake. Get the pie dough how-to and a killer cinnamon apple pie recipe here.

12. In fact, you can bake the entire apple pie the day before. Just reheat in a 350ºF oven for 30 minutes before serving.

Get the recipe for Cinnamon Apple Pie With Whipped Sour Cream here.
Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

Get the recipe for Cinnamon Apple Pie With Whipped Sour Cream here.

13. Not into pie? Harness the power of your fridge and the magic ingredient of ~time~ with an icebox cake.

Cookies magically become cake when they're layered with whipped cream. Make it up to a day before eating. Get the recipe here.
Lindsay Hunt / Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

Cookies magically become cake when they're layered with whipped cream. Make it up to a day before eating. Get the recipe here.

14. By the way, a great way to save time on Thanksgiving is to NOT start a complicated project the day of.

If you're going to make something involved, like these Chocolate-Covered Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels, do it at LEAST the day before.
halfbakedharvest.com

If you're going to make something involved, like these Chocolate-Covered Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels, do it at LEAST the day before.

15. Set the table as far in advance as you can.

See more pictures of this beautiful tablescape over at Design Love Fest.
designlovefest.com

See more pictures of this beautiful tablescape over at Design Love Fest.

16. Don't forget booze! Make a quick liquor run to stock up on enough wine and beer. Plan on three to four servings per person (and adjust based on your family's preferences).

Learn more about pairing Thanksgiving foods with all the alcohols at VinePair.
vinepair.com

Learn more about pairing Thanksgiving foods with all the alcohols at VinePair.

17. Make sure you have enough storage containers for your leftover food.

Glass containers are great because you can reheat leftovers directly in the microwave or oven. Get this set of Pyrex containers with lids here.
www1.macys.com

Glass containers are great because you can reheat leftovers directly in the microwave or oven. Get this set of Pyrex containers with lids here.

18. And, last, but definitely NOT least: If you have it in you, put some thought into how you're going to eat leftovers.

Adding some tortillas, pizza dough, and cheese to your grocery list will help you avoid post-Thanksgiving grocery store runs. Get 11 ideas for transforming your leftovers here.
Lauren Zaser / Via buzzfeed.com

Adding some tortillas, pizza dough, and cheese to your grocery list will help you avoid post-Thanksgiving grocery store runs. Get 11 ideas for transforming your leftovers here.

The best things at three price points