You CAN put Thanksgiving Dinner for 8 on the table, even if you're working full time. No stress! We've planned it all just for you, the timeline, the menu, and even the grocery list!
This year, 2020, Thanksgiving Dinner will look different in many of our homes. It may actually be less stress just because many families won't be traveling and gatherings may be smaller. But it can still be festive, fun and delicious!
This post is for you if:
- You're a procrastinator and want some help.
- You've never been in charge of Thanksgiving and don't know where to start.
- Since you work all day you don't think you can do it all. (You can!)
- You just want someone else to do the planning! (We're here for you!)
- Or maybe you just want some new recipes!
Thanksgiving Dinner Timeline
Part of the way we have Gr8 Fun when we get together is by planning ahead. So here you go....all planned for you!
- Saturday, go grocery shopping. That's right, you can buy everything for your dinner the Saturday before Thanksgiving, no last minute shopping with this menu.
- Sunday, make a couple of dishes.
- Monday, make the gravy. While it's cooling, put your feet up, grab a glass of wine and figure out your Thursday time-line.
- Tuesday, pick up fresh flowers (or have them delivered), then set the table. Or, if you choose to do a non-living centerpiece, maybe your table is already set!
- Wednesday evening, do a little more prep.
- And Thursday, finish up and sit down to a beautiful, homemade dinner.
What Appetizers should I serve at Thanksgiving Dinner?
Appetizers are NOT included in this menu. If you want appetizers, I recommend you task your guests with bringing a couple. That is the easiest and it makes people feel good to contribute.
If you aren't having guests this year and need to do the appetizers yourself, here are a couple of ideas.
PLEASE NOTE: The ingredients are NOT included in the grocery list for any of these. You will have to add them yourself.
- Our Spinach Balls with Simple Sauce can be made on the weekend and frozen.
- These Spiced Nuts with Rosemary are always a hit and can also be made a couple days ahead of time, or a couple weeks ahead and frozen.
- Cheese & Meat Board - this will add to your time in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day. Or you can task one of your guests or family members with putting it together if you have all the items.
- This Fig Walnut and Goat Cheese Terrine can be made a day or two ahead of time. It's always a hit!
- Debbie loves to serve her Spicy Pumpkin Soup in espresso cups to her Thanksgiving crew. This is Gr8 because it can be made the day before. Just add it to your timeline!
- And the easiest appetizer of all -- Chunks of Parmy Cheese with Balsamic Vinegar!
Thanksgiving Dinner Menu
- Roast Turkey, or just do a turkey breast, or roast a chicken.
- Stuffing - Use your family recipe or a boxed mix. Add the ingredients to the shopping list.
- Cranberry Apple Sauce
- Mashed Potatoes in the slow cooker!
- Gravy - We have a NEW make ahead recipe for you!
- Sweet Potato Casserole
- Green Beans, Bacon and Onion - Use frozen green beans for ease.
- Apple Pie with ice cream
Let's Not Forget Cocktails!
For those who imbibe maybe you want to serve a seasonal cocktail. We have some ideas for cocktails that can be made in batches ahead of time so there's no last minute mixing and shaking and stirring.
Less Stress Thanksgiving Dinner for 8
- Roasting Pan large enough to hold the turkey
- Rack for roasting pan
- Slow cooker
GROCERY & PANTRY LIST
- 12 pound turkey, fresh or frozen
- ½ pound bacon
- 3 yellow onions
- 1 small red onion
- 1 head garlic
- 5 pounds russet potatoes
- 2 ½ pounds sweet potatoes
- 8 large fresh sage leaves
- 14 large fresh thyme stems
- 2 lemons
- 7 Granny Smith Apples, medium to large
- 12 ounce bag fresh cranberries
- 1 quart milk, whole
- 1 ¼ pound unsalted butter
- 1 pint half and half, you'll have extra
- 1 pint heavy cream, you'll have extra
- 3 eggs
- 24 ounces green beans, frozen
- 1 quart vanilla ice cream, if you want to serve it with the pie
- 32 ounces turkey or chicken stock
- 1 small bottle port wine, you'll use ½ cup
- Dry white wine, Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay. You only need ½ cup.
- Ingredients needed for your stuffing
- 1 bag miniature marshmallows
- 4 ounces pecans, to chop (you'll need ½ cup)
Saturday - 2 hours
- Read through the recipes.
- Grocery shop.
Sunday - 1 hour
- If your turkey is frozen, put it in the refrigerator to thaw.
- Make the Cranberry Apple Sauce, cool, put into your serving dish, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
- Make the Apple Pie filling, Steps 4 & 5, place into a resealable plastic freezer bag, freeze.
- Make the pie crust dough for double-crust pie. After chilling, roll out two rounds, lay a piece of parchment over half of each round, fold in half; lay another piece of parchment or wax paper over half and fold over. Use sprinklings of flour to prevent sticking. You should have two triangles of rolled dough ready to be laid into a pie plate and unfolded. Lay flat in separate resealable plastic bags and freeze. (Or, just buy frozen pie crusts!)
Monday Evening - 1 hour 15 minutes
- Make the gravy.
- Then put your feet up and figure out your Thursday time line:
- What time do you want to eat?
- Work backwards to figure out when the turkey should go in the oven, remember, it needs to come out of the oven AT LEAST 15 minutes before serving. It can even sit for 30 minutes.
- Figure out when the other dishes should go in the oven.
- This is your time line for Thursday.
Tuesday Evening - 1 hour (or more, depending on how much detail you put into the table)
- Pick up flowers for the centerpiece. I love fresh flowers and always think I have time to arrange them (sometimes that's true and sometimes not so much). If you want to arrange them yourself, Gr8! If not, just pick up a pre-arranged bouquet.
- Set the table; you will be amazed at how nice it is to have the table set ahead of time.
Wednesday Evening - 1 ½ hours
- Remove the apple mixture from the freezer and place in the refrigerator to defrost overnight.
- Make the Sweet Potato Casserole, and make the topping separately. Cover separately and refrigerate. The recipe serves 12 to 16 and it's rich. If you like, it can be divided in half and baked in an 8"x8" pan. OR, you can send leftovers home with your guests!
- Follow the Gr8 Do Ahead Tips for the Green Beans, Bacon and Onion. This recipe is for 4 servings, please double for 8, the grocery list already includes the doubled amounts.
- Chop and cut up the ingredients for your stuffing and refrigerate. If you start with a cooked onion mixture, then go ahead and cook these up and then refrigerate the mixture.
Thursday Morning - 5 hours, don't panic! Some of this time is active and some is just oven time.
- Remove the pie crusts from the freezer to defrost. This should take about 45 minutes at room temperature.
- Prep the potatoes and put in the slow cooker.
- Lay one pie crust into the pie pan, dump the defrosted apple mixture in.
- Follow the recipe to complete the pie.
- Clean and prep the turkey. Put it in the oven or on the grill when your time line requires. In the meantime, you can keep it covered in the fridge.
- Make your stuffing and bake it per your time line.
At Least One Hour Before Eating
- Put the toppings on the Sweet Potatoes and bake for 30 minutes.
- Mash the potatoes per the instructions.
- Finish the Green Beans, Bacon and Onion dish.
- Remove the turkey from the oven.
- If you are making the gravy, do that while the turkey rests.
- If you are using a jar of gravy, heat it up. You can add some of the turkey drippings for extra flavor.
- Put the food on the table and give thanks for your Gr8 Family and Friends!
Optional Side Dishes and Desserts
If you choose to add any of these to your menu, be sure to add the ingredients to the shopping list and the prep to the timeline.
- Challah Bread - This can be prepared the night before and baked the day of, instructions are in the recipe.
- Slow Cooker Creamed Corn
- Macaroni and Cheese
- Wild Rice Stuffed Squash
- Mushroom Stuffed Collard Greens
- Easy Yams with Nutmeg Butter
- French Apple Cranberry Pie
- Pumpkin Pie
- Pecan Pie with Bourbon and Chocolate!