This post was sponsored by AT-A-GLANCE as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
I've made Thanksgiving dinner for my family for the past few years now but this year marks the first since I bought my own home and I'm very excited to host them in this space. I'm also a little nervous but you know what kills nerves for me? Having a plan. I've gotten a few questions about Thanksgiving menu planning from y'all so today I'm sharing my method and a few tips that help keep everything on track.
What's On the Menu?
I begin with the end in mind because the final menu dictates the ingredients that should be on the grocery list. Another question to answer is "Who's coming?" because someone may be bringing along a famous dish that precludes me making something I had in mind. Additionally, you can take into account any dietary restrictions to keep in mind based on your guest list. Answering this question also helps me to scale the quantity of needed ingredients. Most of my relatives live here in Houston but for those that are coming in from elsewhere, I make sure to note their arrival and departure details in my AT-A-GLANCE planner so that I know when I need to do things like prepare the guest room or make an airport run. As far as the menu composition, I like to mix old family favorites and Thanksgiving staples with a few new dishes. Here's what I have in mind for this year's menu:
- Cajun Turkey with Gravy
- Cranberry Sauce
- Grandma's Spicy Dressing
- Collard and Mustard Greens
- Brown Butter Roasted Garlic Mac & Cheese (recipe coming next week!)
- Mashed Potatoes
- Candied Yams
- Garlicky Green Beans
- Seasonal Salad
- King's Hawaiian Rolls
- Bourbon Sweet Potato Pecan Pie
- Pumpkin Apple Spice Cake
- Key Lime Pie
- Cranberry Apple Pecan Bread Pudding
- Grandma's Pecan Pie
- Cranberry Apple Spice Mules
Pro tip: If someone has a superstar dish, let them contribute it to the spread and that's one less thing you have to make.
Make the Grocery List
Once the menu is set, I work backwards from the finished dishes to make my grocery list. I list out the proportions of what I need for each dish even if that ingredient has already been listed for another dish. For example, both the green beans and mashed potatoes will call for garlic so I'll end up writing it down twice. At the end of the list, I tally the amounts needed of each item and record those final numbers in the list I'll take to the store. I don't typically list out spices unless I need one I don't typically keep on hand or am running low. Once the list is set, I type it up in the notes app on my phone.
Pro tip: Group your list by items that are near each other in store. For example, produce first, followed by dry goods, then dairy, etc. This helps combat forgetfulness and makes your grocery trip more efficient.
When to Shop
This is where my AT-A-GLANCE planner really comes into play as I can't typically make just one grocery store trip. I think we are all familiar with forgetting something and realizing it only in the moment we need to use it! Spreading out my shopping trips helps with that. I scope out available calendar times in my planner and pencil in stops to get the things on the list I made in the notes app in my phone based on where I'll be around town. With this method, my planner and phone notes work in concert. Keep in mind that you might need some non-food items like chargers for place settings, plasticware, etc.
I grab non-perishables like canned pumpkin puree and prepared pie crusts throughout the season so I often have them on hand by the time Turkey Day rolls around. Fresh produce is the last thing I buy, generally two and three days before the holiday. One benefit of shopping earlier is having access to a more plentiful selection. You don't want the bottom-of-the-barrel sweet potatoes for your pie. 🙂 I hate the last-minute rush in stores and try not to get caught up in it. Grocery prices tend to drop as Thanksgiving approaches so, price-wise, there's no harm in waiting til the last minute, however, I generally do not in order to maintain my sanity and because I start prep work a couple of days before. If y'all are interested in my prep process, let me know and I'll write something up! I also share live snaps of the cooking party (loud music included) in my Instagram stories so you can follow along there, too.
Pro tip: Shop during off-peak hours to beat the rush (more hacks here).
If you're still reading, you've made it to the giveaway! In order to help facilitate your holiday planning, I'm giving away an AT-A-GLANCE planner to two readers. All you have to do to enter is subscribe (below) to Dash of Jazz and comment on this post with something you're planning for (also below). Existing subscribers just have to comment. 🙂 Enter by 5 pm CST tomorrow and I'll contact the winners shortly after to arrange shipping. Thanks for reading!