mostlymakeaheadthanksgivingThanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, but it can be stressful trying to get all those dishes prepared and on the table on time. So I put together an easy, (mostly) make-ahead menu to help you save time and stress less. And that’s something anyone can be thankful for!

Let’s dig in!

Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Dinner

Most of these dishes can be made in advance and some make use of a slow-cooker. If you don’t have one, consider borrowing one (or two) from a friend. Slow-cookers are indispensible for ensuring everything gets done on time and cutting down on stress.

Appetizer
I don’t put too much food out before the big meal, but offering a little something for guests to munch is always nice. Make the cheese portion of this Turkey Cheese Ball from Crafts a la Mode a day or two in advance and add crackers and pretzels the day of (a great job for the kiddos or guests that want to help). Pair with some olives and nuts and you’re guests can nosh while you get everything on the table.

turkey-cheese-ball

Turkey
Yes, you can go ahead and make your bird before the big day with this Make-ahead Turkey and Gravy from Taste of Home. Or if you’re determined to do your turkey the day of, I’m liking the looks of this Simple Garlic and Herb Roast Turkey from Neighborfoodblog.

roast turkey

Ham
I’m making this Crock-Pot Maple Brown Sugar Ham from Do you Smell That this week because is ham is on sale and it just sounds so darn tasty!

Stuffing
Here are two options: Mom’s Make-Ahead Classic Stuffing from eHow for a classic dish. Or if you have a spare crock pot (or can borrow one) I think this Slow-cooker Stuffing recipe from Nourishing Joy sounds amazing.

stuffing-slow-cooker

Side Dish
Carmen’s Crowd-Pleasing Crock Pot Mac-n-Cheese is fun to say as well as being a sure-fire crowd-pleaser.

Carmen’s Crowd-Pleasing Crock Pot Mac-n-Cheese

16 oz macaroni
12-oz can evaporated milk
2 1/4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp salt
Dash of pepper
2 large eggs, beaten
24-oz cheddar cheese (Carmen says to never buys pre-shredded, so grab a guest to help you grate or use your food processor)
Extra Cheese to sprinkle on top
Paprika

Coat inside of slow-cooker with cooking spray. Combine all ingredients (macaroni through cheese), except the extra cheese – save that for later. Cook on low heat for 3 hours and 15 minutes, stir, then top with extra cheese and cook an additional 15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Sprink;e with paprika.

Potatoes
Thanksgiving just isn’t complete without a sweet potato dish. I’m planning to try this make-ahead Sweet Potato Casserole from Melanie Makes.

make-ahead-sweet-potato-casserole-6-compressor

Veggie: Traditional green beans are kicked up a notch with Mom Advice’s make-ahead Green Bean Casserole

make_ahead_green_bean_casserole_header

Dessert: My friend Kim’s Pumpkin Trifle (recipe below). Make the day before to really let the flavors set. It’s amazing, different than you’re traditional pumpkin pie and absolutely delish!

Kim’s Pumpkin Trifle

14oz. can sweetened condensed milk
15 oz. can pumpkin puree
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground clove
1 tsp. ground ginger
5.1 oz. pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix
3 cups heavy cream
12 oz. box ginger snaps

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, pumpkin, spices, pudding mix, and a 1/4 cup water.  Using an electric mixer, beat everything together until smooth and thickened, about 2 minutes.  Set aside.

Whip the heavy cream with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold the whipped cream into the pudding mixture until blended and no streaks of pudding remain.

To assemble, layer the cookies and pudding mixture in a serving dish in whatever fashion you like.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Even if you cook your turkey the day of, having all of your side dishes, including your appetizer and dessert, either already made or bubbling away in a slow-cooker can only help you stress less and enjoy your time with loved ones. And isn’t that ultimately what Thanksgiving is all about?

Blessings to you and yours!

Susan