Thanksgiving Cooking Mistakes and How to Avoid Them: Part 1

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, which means food, family, making memories…and stress. Unfortunately, spending the holiday in the kitchen to create a meal for your nearest and dearest can take its toll and believe me, nothing ever runs 100 percent smoothly. So, leading up to the big day, we’re putting together a Thanksgiving mini-series of blog posts about the biggest cooking mistakes and how to avoid them! Before we get to the real cooking and preparation of specific dishes, let’s talk about prepping for the meal overall. Today’s post is all about timing, planning and some major Thanksgiving coordination.

Read on for the first three major mistakes you can make when planning your Thanksgiving feast!

Mistake 1: Cooking without a plan

As with every holiday, the more dishes at Thanksgiving the better–same goes for guests. However, preparation of the year’s most important meal can easily go awry if you haven’t thought through a real plan. Trust us, you don’t want to be stuck at the stove all day because you were overly ambitious and decided to cook nine different dishes in 24 hours. So, here’s rule number one when it comes to cooking a delicious Thanksgiving meal: plan in advance. Take a breath, sit down, write out the guest list and  – most importantly – decide on the menu. Find the recipes you’re going to cook and figure out what can be done in advance. Next, come up with a step-by-step plan for what you’ll do each day leading up to Thursday. That way, the insurmountable task of getting a giant meal on the table can be broken into smaller, more manageable steps.

Mistake 2: Cooking everything yourself

Thanksgiving often means creating a feast – from the turkey and pies (so many pies!) to beloved side dishes like your grandmother’s green beans and the perfect mashed potatoes and gravy. The key to getting everything done is coordination. Don’t be afraid to enlist help. Otherwise you risk ending up stressed out and busy when you should be enjoying a day with family and friends. Plus, cooking together is one of the best ways to make memories around a holiday, and the old saying applies: “many hands make light work.”

Mistake 3: Oven overload

How will all those dishes be cooked or reheated if you only have one oven and that oven is full of a gigantic turkey? The solution is to stick to the game plan you made in step one. Make sure you incorporate dishes that can be done on the stovetop and ones that can be cooked in advance. Don’t shy away from reheating something in the microwave, if need be! Also, keep in mind that after the turkey comes out, the oven will be available for around 30+ minutes while the bird rests—that’s the perfect time to reheat stuffing, rolls, or any other side dish that can be made far in advance! (Another tip to avoid overloading the oven: try cooking a whole turkey breast on the grill and using the oven for everything else!)