Healthiest Thanksgiving: Your Make-Ahead Game Plan


ALEXANDRA ROWLEYIt's a big feast. Here's how to get ahead of the work.

“I combine a lot of make-ahead dishes with a few short steps at the end so that I can spend more time at the table than in the kitchen,” Maria says. Heres how you can make your Thanksgiving feast come together smoothly.

Starting today:
Collect bread for the stuffing. Maria begins gathering and freezing day-old bread months ahead of time.

Three days before:
1. Make cranberry relish and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

2. Toast bread for stuffing and store in zip-top bag.

3. Start defrosting a frozen turkey; it takes one day in the fridge for every 5 pounds.

The day before:
1. Prep bird according to recipe, wrap in foil, and place on a tray in the fridge.

2. Prep Brussels sprouts and carrots. Store them stacked flat in the fridge in zip-top bags.

3. Peel and refrigerate potatoes in cold water.

4. Assemble the stuffing and place in the fridge.

5. Spread caramelized nuts on piecrust. Store at room temperature with a piece of wax paper on top. (Dont wrap in plastic, or the nuts will become soggy.) Tight on oven space? Fill and bake pie.

6. Store at a cool room temp with wax paper on top.

The day of:
1. Bake pie early in the day if you havent already.

2. Remove bird from the fridge about 41/2 hours before the meal. Let sit at room temp for 30 minutes before roasting; preheat oven to 450º.

3. Cook Brussels sprouts and carrots while oven is at 450º. Set aside, covered loosely.

4. Bake stuffing. If you dont have a second oven, bake stuffing with turkey once youve turned the heat down to 325º. (You may need to cook an extra 10–15 minutes, as thats slightly lower than the recommended temperature). Cover with foil.

5. Cook and mash potatoes about an hour before the meal.

6. Let turkey rest 40 minutes before serving to give the juices time to settle.

7. Put Brussels sprouts and carrots in oven to reheat.

8. Make gravy while turkey is resting.