Thanksgiving Meal Planner

I’ve been waiting a year to share this post with you. I didn’t realize until the night before Thanksgiving last year that my little method of planning out our meal, then written on notebook paper with a pencil, had been saving my Thanksgiving sanity for years. I planned then to share it this year. I’ve been so excited, I even made my notebook paper form into a pretty printable just for you.

What is one difference between a good holiday and a great holiday? A great holiday is when you have time to enjoy your family and friends. Having a good plan for your meal ahead of time gives you the best chance for a great holiday.

Thanksgiving Meal Planner with Free Printable

Save your Thanksgiving Meal Planner from this year and use it again next year. I’d recommend making a copy when you go grocery shopping, so you can cross everything off the list, lose it on accident (like I usually do), and toss it when done. Then you also have a pretty copy to keep for next year.

About Each Section of the Planner

Menu SectionPlan a well-rounded menu of all the traditional favorites or fun new recipes. If you share in the work with family or friends, keep track of who is bringing what dish. Even if you are all happily smooshed together in one house, it helps to make assignments to anyone willing to help. Let people have ownership of their meal item! Before you shop for the perishable items the day before, do an ingredient check for all your dishes and I’ve given you a place to check each dish off. And this might feel like a no-brainer, but it happens every time — you prepare something, but forget to actually put it not he table or in the buffet.  Mark each item after you actually bring it out, before you call everyone to the table.

Cooking SchedulePlan when you need to prep the different things and start cooking each dish. Put in the time you’d like to eat and then work backwards. Give yourself buffer time with everything. It is easier to keep something warm than to make it all cook extra fast. Also, it is important to note while you go through each recipe for the ingredients which recipes need to be started the night before or what you’d like to complete entirely the night before.

Grocery ListI make a big shopping trip way ahead of time for everything that will last, then come back 1-2 days ahead for perishables or last minute things. I know it is crazy going to the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving, which is why it is nice to only need a few items. I try to smile and give the crazy shoppers the benefit of the doubt on these crazy days. Maybe this year I’ll slip some extra copies of the planner into my purse and hand them out to anyone who has that deer in the headlight stare going on. We’ve got to help each other out! :)

Now all this goodness can be yours. Download the Thanksgiving Meal Planner PDF right HERE. This planner is for personal use and is not to be distributed anywhere else or on any other website.

Thanksgiving Meal Planner


Thanksgiving Menu And Recipes

Be sure to see my November 2013 Guide & Checklist for even more tips to get through the holidays with all of your cheer still intact!

Last year I shared our personal Thanksgiving Menu with a few recipes HERE.

If you have any Thanksgiving Meal tips, please share in the comments. Imagine if we pooled all of our collective sanity-saving tips, we could help a lot of people! Just for fun, here is one of mine:

Did you know you can cut your potatoes the night before and soak them in a stockpot of cold water in the fridge until you're ready to heat them on the stovetop?

Now it is your turn to share!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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8 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Meal Planner

  1. Tips: Another “Mashed Potatoes” tip is to cook them in a crockpot. Barely cover quartered potatoes with waterCook on Low 8-10 hours, or 6-8 hours on high. Drain. Mash. Keep warm until serving.

  2. Thanks Mary! Even after 30+ years of cooking Thanksgiving dinners I still get excited! It’s like a gift I can give my family. Also, thanks for the new recipes- have yet to try one of yours that’s not been a family approved keeper. Appreciate you much…

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