I reinvented Thanksgiving dinner last year, and not by choice. Cooking is my passion, and Thanksgiving dinner is one of my favorite dinners to fix for my family.
Last year, things changed. I was recovering from major surgery, forbidden from driving, forbidden from lifting more than 5 pounds, and needed to sit more than stand. My husband and our kids, ages 13 and 15, would need to cook.
As I organized the menu, recipes, and shopping list, I didn’t realize I was discovering a way to destress future Thanksgivings.
Here are the steps:
- Plan your menu. Do this as a family meeting, with everyone involved.
- Make a folder. Make a folder you can find later, named Thanksgiving Dinner.
- Collect recipes. Collect the recipes for each dish – yes, EACH dish. Print them if needed. Write extra instructions on the recipes if needed.
- Shop. Compile a grocery list, based on the menu and recipes If you’re baking a turkey, give yourself enough time for it to defrost in the refrigerator. Last year, my husband took me; it my first grocery store trip post op.
- Delegate the dinner. Family meeting time again – each person makes at least 1 dish the day before Thanksiving and the day of. Each is responsible for the cooking and cleanup of the assignd dish.
- Schedule the cooking. Make desserts and salads the day before. If baking a turkey, back schedule the meal around the time it will take to bake the turkey and other items such as dressing, sweet potatoes, and rolls.
- List your menu. List what needs to be cooked Thanksgiving Day and who’s responsible. A younger child can be assigned table setting. Maybe one family member could be assigned cleanup duty. Cleanup as you go makes a lighter load.
- Make the meal. This was the strangest part for me last year – sitting and supervising my family who can cook but generally rely upon me. We designated stations for each person to prep a dish, start to finish.
This year, when I started planning Thanksgiving, I pulled out last year’s folder and began with a family meeting to set the menu. We changed a couple of dishes and kept most. The grocery list and planning were the least stressful I had experienced.
My family may miss the before time, when I did most of the work.
However, I’m sure they don’t miss the stressed out, exhausted mama at the dinner table.