Thanksgiving is 2 weeks away!  Is the exclamation point there to emphasize panic or joy?  I’m excited!  I’ve been teaching quite a few Thanksgiving-themed classes as of late and I’m feeling spirited.  One of my students said to me today that my Thanksgiving planning blogs are stressing her out.  Yikes!  Of course that was not my intention.  The whole point is to show you what you can do in advance, not what you must do in advance.  All these tips and strategies are most relevant to the hosts and hostesses who are preparing most or all of the meal themselves and who have a busy schedule leading up to the holiday.  If I didn’t get a lot of these tasks completed early, I don’t see how I could pull off this meal without tons of stress.

Here’s what you can get done this week:

  • Get your knives sharpened Especially your carving knife.  A razor-sharp knife is the most important tool in your kitchen.  In my area, you can get your knives sharpened at Sur La Table, the farmer’s market and at the local cutlery store at the mall.  I think Sur La Table charges $1/inch.
  • Make your grocery lists  I make three lists:
  1. Non-perishables (e.g., flour, spices, wine, nuts, dried fruit)  I buy these now.
  2. Perishables to buy one-week ahead (e.g., winter squashes, butter, hard cheeses, potatoes)
  3. Perishables to buy two days before (e.g., turkey, dairy, bread for stuffing, all other fruits and vegetables)
  • Buy to-go containers  I always make too much food and I like sending care packages home with my guests to enjoy the day after, especially our single friends.  This year I am definitely packing up all the extra desserts so that they aren’t tempting me the next afternoon when I’m shopping for holiday gifts online.  I love the idea of having people bring their own reusable containers, but for me it’s easier to get these disposables from my local Smart & Final.

  • Clean out the refrigerator  I’ll get to this over the weekend.  Now is a great time to get rid of food past its prime or to get creative with the last spoonful of nut butter or those four olives just to make more space in the fridge.  I have a second, inexpensive refrigerator in the garage which really comes in handy for big dinners.  If you don’t have the extra space, see if one of your neighbors is going away for the holiday and can store your chutney and jam collections for a few days.

  • Check your instant read thermometer   This tool the only way you’ll be able to tell if your turkey is cooked properly, so it’s important that it’s accurate.  If you’re unsure, stick the tip of the thermometer into boiling water.  If the temperature reads 212 degrees Farenheit, you’re good to go.


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  3. Hi Pamela,

    I am organizing shopping lists for the Thanksgiving dinner. I plan to try many of the recipes posted on your site…already sampled the shredded sweet potatoes and apples-DELISH! Just curious if you will be posting any of the following recipes:

    Breaded Cauliflower with Tomato Dipping Sauce
    Traditional Roast Turkey with Gravy
    Cranberry Sauce with Apples and Raspberries
    Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes
    Maple-Rum Glazed Sweet Potatoes
    Whole Grain Stuffing with Mushrooms, Leeks and Herbs
    Roasted Green Beans with Lemon, Shallots and Thyme
    Individual Harvest Chopped Salads or Butternut Squash Salad
    Apple and Tart Cherry Pie
    Gingerbread Cupcakes

    Thanks for all the great advice…I have organized an indexed binder, gathered recipes, and placed everything in page protectors. Planning has already reduced my stress level while preparing for the big day!

    • Good for you, Eileen! It’s a nice feeling to look forward to the holiday and not dread it. I am posting Turkey and Gravy this week, Cranberry Sauce, and I already posted the Butternut Squash Salad. Check the “2 Weeks and Counting” post and see some other ideas.

  4. Thanks Pamela…I am cooking for the whole family in our new house…feeling a bit overwhelmed with a toddler, 2nd grader, and a full time job. Here’s to planning! best, A

    • I get it! But what a gift you are giving your family by bringing them all together and creating new memories and continuing traditions. This site is about food, but really for me Thanksgiving is about being together so don’t stress too much. When my kids were really small, I used to build time into my T-day schedule for feedings, diaper changes, etc., but working is a whole other ball game. I’m getting lots done the Sunday before Thanksgiving and I’ll do what I can after dinner Monday and Tuesday. Taking off from teaching on Wednesday, though!

      • You are so right Pamela! We all have to balance whatever we have going on. Thanks for all the tips though…I really love reading from your site. I take a little something with me everytime I’m here. Wishing you and your family the best this holiday season! cheers, A

        • Same to you, Angela!

  5. Thank you for the weekly update. I ordered the turkey and made the pie crust! Feeling less stressed already.

    • Well done, Sunni!

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