Get ready to dust off your favorite holiday recipes – sage stuffing, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole – in anticipation of a joyous holiday meal. As wonderful as it is to revisit those classic dishes, along with a turkey or other main dish, one of the most perplexing challenges of such a big meal is figuring out how to finish everything at the same time. How do you bake or reheat so many casseroles at the same time? How do you bake anything since the turkey is monopolizing the whole oven?
We have some good news…finishing everything simultaneously is not only do-able, it’s easy if you plan ahead and prepare some dishes beforehand. Many components of your holiday meal can be made days in advance. Other dishes can be prepped the day before and quickly cooked on the big day.
Our suggested timeline to help make your holiday meal stress-free
7 days before
- Clean out your fridge, eat whatever food is in there, and do an ingredient inventory to get ready for feast prepping and casserole storage
- Shop for shelf stable items like wine, flour, broth, potatoes, etc. and ingredients for dishes you will make ahead. It will be less stressful to make multiple shopping trips, one now and one just before the big day. This will also help you avoid out of stocks of critical ingredients.
The weekend before
- Make cranberry sauce.
- If you bought a frozen turkey, start defrosting it. (Oryana will have fresh turkeys starting the Saturday before so no need to bother with thawing.)
- Buy your fresh items, including bread for stuffing that will become stale and dry, which is perfect for making stuffing.
- Make a casserole, or two if you have time.
- Make your stuffing, place in a casserole dish, and refrigerate. We recommend not stuffing your turkey. Here’s why…
- Make another casserole.
- Peel, cut, and store your potatoes in water in the fridge.
- Prep any vegetables you plan on making on the stovetop, like green beans, brussels sprouts, broccoli, etc. Prep your fresh salads and salad greens.
- If you’re brining your turkey, do that today.
- If you don’t want to make turkey broth for gravy-making using the giblets, you can make your gravy today.
- Make your pies and/or desserts.
- Make whipped cream for your desserts.
The night before
- Start getting things set up, get out your dishes and flatware, etc.
- Make sure your kitchen is clean so you can start cooking first thing in the morning
The day of
- Remove giblets from turkey and make a simple broth for the gravy
- Start roasting your turkey depending on how big it is and what time you want to serve dinner, most likely about 4 hours before. (15 minutes per pound at 325°F.) Here is some great news: you can leave the cooked turkey to rest for a good 30-40 minutes, loosely covered with foil, which will free up your oven to heat your casseroles and bake your stuffing. It will still be hot when it’s time to carve and serve. Do not skip this step as resting meat is critical for maximum juiciness and flavor.
- 1 hour before: make your mashed potatoes. Take the cranberry sauce, butter, pies, etc. out of the fridge to bring them to room temperature.
- As soon as the bird comes out of the oven and, make your gravy using the giblet broth and pan drippings.
- 15 minutes before: cook your fresh vegetables and assemble your fresh salads. Carve your turkey.