Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. To me, it’s always been about eating good food with the people I love. Now that I am a mom, I’ve started brainstorming ways I can provide a memorable holiday for my family without spending the whole day in the kitchen.
Here are 5 ways to save time on Thanksgiving dinner without cutting corners:
Be intentional about your sides.
Do you really need 15 side dishes to enjoy the holiday? Think back on all the sides you’ve had throughout the years. Pick five or so that bring up the most warm fuzzies and forget the rest.
Use a mixture of homemade and store-bought sides.
Once you figure out the sides that are most important to you, decide which ones are worth the effort to make at home. Have an age-old recipe for stuffing that uses a secret ingredient? Make it at home. Think the supermarket’s coleslaw or cranberry sauce tastes about the same? Go ahead and buy it. (If you’re cunning, you could put it in a crystal dish so no one knows the difference.)
Cook whole chickens instead of turkey.
Did you know that baking a whole chicken tastes completely different than when you just bake the breast or the thigh? A few weeks ago, we cooked whole chickens for dinner, and I was surprised at home much it reminded me of turkey. Add to that the fact that it only takes 90 minutes to cook (turkeys take 3-4 hours to cook — on top of defrosting it for 4-5 days!). Since chickens are much smaller, you can cook what you need, saving you the agony of eating turkey leftovers for the whole week.
Involve your kids.
Okay, so maybe this tip doesn’t help you save time. But it can turn something tedious into a bonding moment. When I cook with my two year old, he gets to stir, mush, and chop (with my help)…but mostly he eats little pieces of vegetables I sneak his way. He loves being involved, and while it can greatly lengthen the time it takes to complete a task, it makes for some of my favorite memories.
Be clear about what Thanksgiving is all about. Family, friends, love, spending time together — that’s what Thanksgiving means to me. My friend shared about her year spent in The Gambia. On Thanksgiving, they gathered together and ate tacos. Thanksgiving is not about the what, it’s about the who. It’s about taking time to strengthen the bonds you’ve created with loved ones.
I hope this post inspired you to create a memorable holiday that both you and your family will enjoy! What are your tips for saving time on Thanksgiving dinner?