Thanksgiving is one of the many things that gets more complicated as we get older. As a kid, you didn’t have to worry about roasting an entire turkey, getting that stuffing just right, or managing the fact that Grandma loved pumpkin pie and Aunt Sally hated it. Now the family is coming to your house (gulp!) and — no matter how many side dishes your mom volunteers to bring — Thanksgiving depends on you. It’s okay, though. You can wow everyone with a delicious, simple-but-impressive quick Thanksgiving dinner, and you can do it in five hours.
There are plenty of common, time-consuming traps that are easily avoided. You’ll want to safely thaw your turkey ahead of time, of course, rather than attacking it with a blowtorch an hour before your guests arrive. Sitting down sometime soon (how about now?) and creating a timeline for the big event is a good idea, too. And don’t confuse “complicated” with “delicious." There are tons of great, no-stress recipes that you can freeze, make the day before, or create with just a few ingredients. Thanksgiving is an awesome holiday, a time when your family, friends, or a combination of both gather round to eat and hang out without the pressure of a present exchange. Embrace it — and make it as easy as possible so you can enjoy it, too.
1. Shop Ahead
It sounds like a no-brainer, but the day before Thanksgiving (or, so help you, the morning of) is no time to go shopping for ingredients. Plan ahead of time and go shopping accordingly before the local supermarket becomes a grab-the-last-turkey hell on earth.
2. Cut Up Your Bird
A whole turkey can take so long to cook. Real Simple recommends cutting your turkey up into eight pieces, or simply buying drumsticks, breasts, and so on, and then whipping up a quick-roasting turkey dinner in an hour and a half.
3. Try Easy Alternatives
Mashed potatoes are a classic side dish. They also involve many steps, take a long time, and use up valuable counter space. Try an easy but delicious alternative, like Damn Delicious' smashed potatoes, which don't involve any peeling or chopping.
4. Don't Forget A Casserole
Casseroles are awesome because they encompass so many different yummy ingredients and yet are usually really simple and inexpensive to make. You can go with a traditional green bean casserole or try something different.
5. Limit Your Ingredients
If one single recipe demands its own shopping list, then maybe you want to move on to a dish that involves less. You can easily a side dish using three ingredients that is just as delicious as the complex creations.
6. Give Your Oven A Break
Just because you have an oven doesn’t mean to have to use it for everything. There are lots of recipes that can be made in the microwave, toaster oven, or that don't require any cooking at all.
7. Choose One Make-Ahead Recipe
There are plenty of dishes that will taste fresh and just-out-of-the-oven even when you make them a day ahead. Pick one make-ahead Thanksgiving dishes and make it n advance of the big day. Just don’t do an entire dinner in advance, otherwise you’ll have the stress of Thanksgiving, just one day early.