Time Management Tip: Preparing Thanksgiving Dinner

posted in: Time Management 4
Fall Scene, photography by R. Isip
When the leaves start to turn, it’s time to talk turkey…

It’s that time of year again…time for Thanksgiving!

One of the most difficult aspects in preparing a Thanksgiving meal is accurately timing dish preparation so that everything is ready at the same time.

Today’s tip gives you a few pointers to keep in mind as you prepare your yearly feast.

When’s mealtime?            

When do you want to eat? No matter whether you dine early or late in the day, you’ll have to start preparing the meal hours in advance (you might want to rethink that early afternoon dinner if you’re not a morning person). Set a time to work towards in your preparations.

Review kitchen resources.

Preparing a meal is much more than just managing time, it’s also managing the resources that are available to you. Take a quick look around your kitchen before you start to cook. Get a rough idea of materials available: pots and pans, number of burners on the range, number of ovens…physically speaking there’s only so much food you can put into one pot, pans you can place on a burner and dishes you can place into an oven.

Plan out a rough cooking schedule.

Make a list of the dishes you are preparing and have recipes on hand if you need them for reference. Make a note of which dishes you’ll need to cook or bake first, last or somewhere in between. Don’t forget to take into account the time it takes to prepare foods such as washing, cleaning, chopping, slicing, dicing, stuffing, kneading, etc. Based on this information, set a time at which you’ll start preparing food; when in doubt, give yourself more time than you might think you need. If you are pressed for space or time, do some advance food preparation such as preparing pies, cakes, cookies or rolls, chopping up vegetables or measuring dry ingredients the night before.

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Do hourly time checks.

Frequently review your cooking plan on Thanksgiving Day. Check your plan at the top or bottom of every hour to make sure items are being prepared, placed on the burner or into the oven and so on. If all burners and/or ovens are occupied, see if you can make use of the time you do have by starting preparations for another dish or washing up dirty dishes.

How about you? What tips and tricks do you use to make sure Thanksgiving dinner is served on time?

Want help planning your party or event? I have an eBook and online course that can help you plan everything, from to start to finish. Click here to learn more! 

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Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.
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4 Responses

  1. Natasha

    I start as much as 3 days before. Cranberry sauce keeps well, and is made on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Rolls are started the Wednesday before as well as the prepping of the stuffing and the making of the pies.

    • theorderexpert

      Wow, you’ve definitely mastered the art of time management for Thanksgiving! Hadn’t thought about doing the cranberry sauce that many days in advance. Thanks for your comment! Rashelle

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