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Your Perfect Thanksgiving Checklist

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Your one-stop-shop for all things Thanksgiving, we've mapped out every moment of the meal, from writing the menu to cleaning up, so you can make it through the day with ease. With a perfectly planned (and healthy) menu of everything from the turkey to scrumptious sides to decadent desserts, you won't be left wondering what dishes to prepare or products to purchase. Our weeks ahead breakdown allows you to easily prep yourself for the big day and avoid last minute panicking. And the Thanksgiving day calendar will give you an hour-by-hour plan that will make your day super smooth.

Thanksgiving Food List

Our game plan is based on the menu below, but you can swap in any dishes you wish (or divide them among guests). Remember that turkeys with brines need to start the night before.

  1. Honey Whole-Wheat Pull-Apart Rolls
  2. Tricolored Beet Tart
  3. Caramelized Leek and Spinach Dip
  4. Tuscan Turkey
  5. Classic Turkey Gravy
  6. Sheet Pan Roasted Vegetables
  7. Skillet Green Bean Casserole
  8. Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
  9. Classic Herb Stuffing
  10. Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce
  11. Apple Galette with Vanilla Yogurt Drizzle

Thanksgiving Checklist

Two Weeks Ahead

  1. Plan your menu, and write a shopping list.
  2. Buy wine (see our picks).

One Week Ahead

  1. Clean out your fridge and freezer, leaving plenty of room.
  2. Shop for all the nonperishable items on your list.
  3. Buy frozen turkey, if using.
  4. Make rolls and dough for Apple Galette; freeze.

Three Days Ahead

  1. Place frozen turkey in fridge to thaw.
  2. Shop for all other perishable items on your list.

Two Days Ahead

  1. Roast garlic for Tuscan Turkey; extract pulp and refrigerate.
  2. Roast beets for Tricolored Beet Tart; cool, peel, and refrigerate.
  3. Boil green beans for Skillet Green Bean Casserole; plunge into ice water, drain, and refrigerate.

One Day Ahead

  1. Set the dining table.
  2. Cut up vegetables for Sheet Pan Roasted Vegetables, and refrigerate.
  3. Toast bread cubes for Classic Herb Stuffing.
  4. Place rolls and galette dough in fridge to thaw.
  5. Thanksgiving Day

8 a.m.

  • Grab a cup of coffee, and take a deep breath. You've got this!
  • Clear kitchen surfaces, put away dishes, and place utensils at their stations (spatulas and tongs by the oven, knives and spoons by the cutting board).

8:30 a.m.

  • Let galette dough come to room temperature while you preheat the oven and make the filling. Assemble galette, and bake. Cool at room temperature.

9:15 a.m.

  • Set up a drink station with glasses, wines, and other beverages. Speaking of beverages, it's time for a second cup of coffee.

10 a.m.

  • Assemble and bake beet tart. Season cut vegetables, and spread on a baking sheet.

11 a.m.

  • Time for a break. Maybe grab the latest issue of Cooking Light for a little reading.

11:30 a.m.

  • Set out dips, crudités, and other appetizers in the living area. Bake vegetables, and tackle the morning's kitchen cleanup.

1 p.m.

  • Guests are here! Luckily they can help themselves to apps and beverages. Put willing hands to work washing dishes, peeling and dicing potatoes, and rinsing cranberries. Prepare turkey for roasting.

2 p.m.

  • Place turkey in oven to roast. Assemble stuffing, and let stand at room temperature. Make cranberry sauce.

2:45 p.m.

  • The turkey has about an hour to go before the next baste, and you're in good shape. Take a walk around the neighborhood with relatives for some fresh air. When you return, pour yourself a glass of wine.

3:30 p.m.

  • Place stuffing in oven with turkey to bake. Bring potatoes to a boil. Make green bean casserole, but hold off on broiling until oven is free.

4:30 p.m.

  • Let turkey rest on a cutting board. Finish green bean casserole. Make mashed potatoes. Make gravy.

5 p.m.

  • Reheat rolls, stuffing, and vegetables in a 300°F oven. Carve turkey.

5:30 p.m.

  • Enjoy the meal—and the praise—with family and friends.

7 p.m.

  • Reheat galette while you make the yogurt drizzle and brew a pot of coffee.

8 p.m.

  • Kick up your feet; everyone else will clean up and pack leftovers.