Because who knows what’s lurking in your freezer right now.  
Credit: Photo: Iain Bagwell

Thanksgiving seems to be happening earlier than last year, but there is a lot you can do right now to prepare for a relaxed, delicious Turkey Day. These five tips will empower you to focus more on family time and feasting than holiday stress—even if you’re playing host this year.

Clean Out Your Fridge and Freezer

Now’s the time to clear space in your fridge and freezer for all the Thanksgiving dishes and leftovers to come. Cleaning out those storage containers, getting rid of expired food, and organizing what’s left will create more space and help keep necessary ingredients in sight.

Make a Grocery List

Planning out your Thanksgiving menu and grocery list may actually help seem the task of preparing dinner less daunting. Organize your grocery list by department to keep your trip (or trips!) efficient in the midst of grocery store chaos. You can also decipher which dishes can be made in advance—such as casseroles and pies—to reduce stress when next week rolls around.

Go Shopping

You may not be able to buy everything you need the week before, but tackling a chunk of your grocery list will save you time and money next week. You also have a better chance of finding items on your list before stores run out. Once you’ve figured out which items you can cook beforehand, you can shop for those items as well as anything else that’s canned, shelf-stable, or freezer-friendly.

Meal Prep

This weekend is a great time to get ahead on preparing your Thanksgiving feast if you have the time. It also might be a more relaxed time to let the kids get their hands dirty and help with the process. They also might be more interested in helping this week while extended family still hasn’t arrived. Once you have a few items under your belt, making one or two versatile dishes for meals leading up to Thanksgiving will help the family stay fed and keep you from kitchen fatigue before Thanksgiving even begins. Need some inspiration? Sign up for The Prep, our newsletter that delivers meal prep tips and healthy recipes to your inbox every week.

Set Realistic Goals

Take a moment either on your phone or in a journal to jot down a few important goals for the week. They can be small things like spending quality time with your grandmother, or something larger like getting every kid to eat their vegetables. Setting realistic mini goals will help ease the stress of hosting and cooking a large meal for family—even if the turkey caught on fire, or your niece overflowed the bathtub.