Tips for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving Dinner

The opportunity to spend time with your family is one of the reasons Thanksgiving is so popular. Plus, there’s the added bonus of a special meal, football, and some shopping. If you live in one of the over 55 communities in MA and relish this chance to be with your family, some careful planning and a few shortcuts will help you get out of the kitchen and spend more time with the people you love.

Now is the time to start planning. Once you know how many people are coming, you can properly plan your menu, taking into account any dietary restrictions some family members might have. Now is also a good time to think about ordering a turkey so you can be sure you have one big enough to feed the family. You may also want to start stocking up on any wine and other drinks you expect to serve.

Two weeks before the big day, start thinking about all the baked goods like pie crusts and rolls, as well as homemade stock if you plan on using it. Pie crusts, rolls, and stock can all be made in advance and frozen until needed.

However, if baking isn’t your thing or you don’t have a lot of room in your freezer for containers of stock, there’s no reason why you can’t use some store-bought items. There are plenty of premade frozen pie crusts that taste just as good as homemade and you can also find ones that are gluten-free if needed. There are also frozen dinner rolls that you can happily serve to your family. As for stock, there’s no shortage of ready-made stock and according to a number of taste tests, the concentrated cubes or powders often taste even more like the real thing than the ready-to-use cartons.

A week before Thanksgiving, start preparing your cooking and shopping schedules. Even if you use ready-made pie crusts, you still need to make the pies, which can be done the day before Thanksgiving. If you have any side dishes that can simply be reheated, go ahead and get those made the day before as well.

Your kitchen is still going to be busy in the days leading up to and on the big day itself, so rather than drive yourself crazy trying to make everything yourself, no matter how easy, give in and use a few premade items like salad dressing and cranberry sauce. Using premade cranberry sauce doesn’t have to mean using the stuff in a can. There are some delicious cranberry chutneys and other sauces that taste as good if not better than homemade versions. Check your local farmer’s markets and specialty shops to find the ones that are that little bit special.

Whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving with family at one of the beautiful over 55 communities in MA like Southport or going elsewhere to visit your family, the most important thing to focus on is spending quality time with your loved ones. If that means taking a few shortcuts in preparing the big meal, go for it!