Thanksgiving Timeline – A Cook’s Guide

The GourmetGrrl Thanksgiving Timeline

Here’s a schedule to keep you, the chef, in line on the big day:

10 Days before Thanksgiving:

  • Plan the menu. Review your shopping list, and buy nonperishable items, including the wine. Order your turkey. Call friends and family and remind them what to bring (otherwise brace yourself for 8 bags of rolls and a pint or three of vanilla ice cream.)
  • If you’re making pie, prepare the crust. Roll out the dough, transfer to a pie dish, and store in the freezer wrapped in plastic wrap. (Click here for our Thanksgiving recipes.)

Two days ahead:

  • Shop for perishables.
  • Make cranberry sauce and store in the refrigerator.
  • Clean the house or make your significant other do it.

One day ahead:

  • Prep the turkey (but do not stuff it), and store in the ’fridge. If brining, get going.
  • If you’re serving a green salad, wash the salad greens and store them in damp towels in the ‘fridge.
  • Start the stuffing and any vegetable dishes that have do-ahead steps (like trimming green beans or Brussels sprouts).
  • Prepare desserts.

The Big Day:

  • Set the table (or make someone else do it).
  • Stick the bubbly and the white wine in the ‘fridge.
  • Get up early to put the stuffed turkey in the oven.
  • Make the vegetable dishes. Start with the most time-consuming recipe and end with the easiest recipe. (You can reheat them before you eat.)
  • Make the mashed potatoes. (Put your least-favorite relative in charge of peeling the potatoes.) Keep warm over a bain marie or reheat in the microwave.

The Day After:

  • Whoever’s stayed over: rouse them at dawn and make them clean up the kitche


Here are our two favorite pre-meal snacks that will satisfy the crowd while you’re busy in the kitchen. (They’re also perfect for weekend houseguests.)

Potato pancakes may seem like a heavy, greasy mess, but you clearly haven’t tasted Linda’s Gourmet Latkes. These are truly the most authentic latkes you’ll taste outside of making your own. And frankly, after roasting a turkey, who has the energy to peel potatoes? They come in a large and smaller sizes, which are perfect for a party snack. Just heat and eat! The traditional potato are our favorite, but Linda also makes them in green onion, sweet potato, and Southwest flavors. They also make a great hostess gift; they stay fresh in the freezer for a year! Order online; minimum order $34.

Yes, we love Marcona almonds but there’s nothing more American than good, old-fashioned peanuts. And Roasted Virginia Peanuts from Zingerman’s are the best, roasted by a family in Virginia and packaged in a fun little red tin. Perfect for that hour or three of cocktails before the turkey dinner is ready. $7.50 for 10-ounce tin (2 or more, $6 each)

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