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Thanksgiving Recipe Hacks That Will Save Your Sanity

Photo by: iStock

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time of celebration – not stress! Don’t spend all Wednesday night and Thursday prepping, cooking and cleaning. If you’re the host of the Turkey Day show, you can still enjoy family time while presenting a meal that pleases. Take advantage of a few hacks that give you a break, without compromising your feast.

Use Your Kitchen Tools
Your Crock-pot isn’t just for busy days, it’s a lifesaver on Thanksgiving. Jenny Davey, a mom of two young girls, uses them to make a moist stuffing and keep various side dishes warm, including mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and sweet potato casserole. This saves room in the oven for the turkey and baked items, such as rolls and pies.

If your food processor is tucked away, pull it out to make sumptuous, smooth gravy. No matter how much you stir on the stove and keep the ingredients the right temperature, lumps seem to appear. Just pour the gravy into the food processor once it’s assembled and pulse for a few rounds. Lump-free gravy is ready! Add a couple drops of soy sauce to up the umami factor in the flavor as it whizzes around, too.

Then keep that gravy warm in a thermos until it’s time for the meal. Simply pour it into a gravy boat when you’re ready to put it on the table.

Focus on the Bird
The turkey is usually front and center on Thanksgiving, but it doesn’t have to be an all-day affair. If you’re having an intimate group of four or five guests, consider investing in one or two whole turkey breasts rather than the entire bird. You’ll save roasting and carving time, plus have fewer leftovers to pack away.

If you do like the tradition of the whole bird, try deep-fried turkey. Craig Armogida, a single dad who oversees Thanksgiving for his two girls and large extended family, says “deep fried turkey is fast and juicy.” He makes one every year along with stuffing. “Full cook time is less than three hours.”

Plan Ahead
Planning what you’ll eat is only one part of the process. Plot your cooking strategy to maximize efficiency on Thanksgiving Day. Mandi Winland, a fitness instructor in Colorado Springs, says she makes a spreadsheet to schedule her cooking process. “Using the time I want to eat, I work backwards and write down times that everything needs to come out of the oven, go into the oven and be put together. So, it’s a complete timeline with everything listed.”

You can similarly streamline the pre-Thanksgiving shopping process by creating an organized shopping list. Create categories according to sections in the store, such as “meats,” “canned goods” and “produce.” You’ll save time by grabbing all you need when you’re in the right section of the store, without having to backtrack.

Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef and a Certified Nutrition Therapist. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University. She’s the proud mom of two kids, who love dance, rock climbing and animals.

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