Holiday Meal Prep

For the last two Thanksgivings, I’ve had Thanksgiving meal at my house.  Two years ago, our only guest was my mom and this year, it was just the four of us, so I haven’t done the extended family, large gathering thing.  But I didn’t want to skimp on any part of the meal just because there was a small number of us.  And, everyone knows that the best part of Thanksgiving dinner is the leftovers.  Am I right? Upon tackling preparing a meal with more than our typical three parts (protein, vegetable, fruit), I found myself needing to write down all of the pieces to make sure that I didn’t miss anything.

As I thought it through, I decided that I needed a menu, shopping list, cooking plan and serving plan.

I started with the menu, and from there, wrote down all of the ingredients needed to make each dish.

Menu.  Check.

Shopping List.  Check.

This printable is a good way to start your menu.  It’s a basic skeleton for most holiday meals, but can easily be edited to fit whatever your family does.  And it doubles as your shopping list.Holiday Meal Planning Menu & Shopping list - www.maximizingdaysblog.comI wanted to make sure that I had enough oven space and stove burners to cook everything, and if I didn’t, to either change the menu accordingly or figure out what I could make ahead of time.  This printable helped me lay that all out.


The last column may be a little extraneous, but because I was thinking through the other details, the next step was determining serving dishes.  This was especially necessary this year as most of my serving dishes were still packed in boxes, so I needed to figure out ahead of time what needed to be pulled out from the depths of storage.

The final step was figuring out when the actual cooking needed to begin for each item.  I started with the serving time and worked backward from there.  meal-cook-times

So, let’s say the meal is set to be served at 4PM.  List each dish that needs to be cooked that day in the dish column.  Jump to the ‘Time to Cook’ column and write the amount of time that each dish needs to cook, then do the math and write what time that means each dish needs to be on the stove or put in the oven. Then go the ‘Time to Prep’ column, and write the amount of time each dish needs to be prepped before it can be cooked.  Subtract that amount of time from the time you wrote in the ‘In Oven/On Stove Time’ column, and now you have the exact time each dish needs to be started.  If you’re like me, you may want to print two.  On the second one, you can write the dishes in the order that they need to be started.  That just makes good sense.  🙂

This is what my Thanksgiving Cooking Prep Sheet looks like:


Hopefully, these lists and tricks take the stress out of holiday meal prep and allow you to just enjoy the time.  And even if there still is some stress or a burnt turkey, you can still enjoy the time with friends and family rejoicing in a Savior’s birth who brings hope and promise of an eternity where the perfect banquet is being prepared (without the need for lists and arranging cook times).

1 Comment
  • Aunt Cheri ~ The Great
    December 19, 2016

    SERIOUSLY?? Holiday meals require Math?? “Hello…Meals on Wheels? Let me give you my address.” hahahahaha Love you Sissy!

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