A Real Simple Thanksgiving Dinner
Does preparing the big feast feel like a huge feat? We know it can be overwhelming (even for us). So we dug through our archives to bring you an easy-to-follow game plan, complete with classic Real Simple Thanksgiving recipes and delicious variations. We’ve included everything from menu ideas, wine pairing suggestions, and, of course, there will be dessert. You’ll find a streamlined shopping list, a preparation checklist and 100 simple recipes. Whether this is your first time hosting thanksgiving or your fifteenth, we’ve got ideas and solutions to make this year’s biggest food holiday one you’ll truly be grateful for.
A couple of tips to get you started. First, get organized. Plan your menu in advance and know how many people you’re planning on hosting. Then, take stock of your pantry. This is a great time to go through your cupboards and see what you have and what you might need. Got two bags of solidified brown sugar? Time to toss those and get a fresh box. Next, make a shopping list and stick to it—this isn’t the time to splurge on pumpkin shaped cookies! (We’ve got better dessert ideas anyway). And remember to delegate when and where you can.
Basic Holiday Dishes With a Twist
Thanksgiving Prep Checklist
Spend more time planning and you’ll spend less time panicking, says New Jersey native Judith Bluysen, co-owner of Thanksgiving, an American grocery store, restaurant, and catering business in Paris. Each fall Bluysen and her team of five prepare more than 150 take-out turkeys and turkey dinners. She sticks to a schedule. Here’s her handy checklist.
Your How-To Timeline
The Day Before
- Prepare the stuffing (but don’t bake it).
- Blanch the green beans.
- Make the cranberry sauce.
- Make the pie.
Early Thanksgiving Day
- Prepare the turkey.
- Arrange the oven racks. (Place one on the lowest position and a second directly above it for the turkey.)
While the Turkey Roasts
- Prepare the sweet potatoes (but don’t bake them).
- Make the mashed potatoes.
- Remove the pie and the green beans from the refrigerator.
While the Turkey Rests
- Roast the sweet potatoes.
- Bake the stuffing.
- Make the gravy.
- Warm the cranberry sauce.
- Finish the green beans.
What to Sip
Wine2006 Lindemans Bin 95 Sauvignon Blanc, $8
A crisp, fresh white with the zesty aromas of grapefruit and melon.
2005 Poet’s Leap Riesling, $20
Soft and luscious, this medium-bodied white smells of apples and pears.
2005 Chateau Ste. Michelle “Cold Creek Vineyard” Chardonnay, $23
A bold, creamy white with tropical-fruit touches.
2005 A by Acacia Pinot Noir, $19
Cherry and spice notes are the draw of this light, seductive red.
2005 Sterling Vintner’s Collection Zinfandel, $13
A medium-bodied red with rich flavors of berry, currant, and black pepper.
2004 L’Ecole No. 41 Syrah, $24
This big red has hints of smoke, earth, and spice.
Duché de Longueville “Antoinette” Dry, $8 for a 750-Milliliter Bottle
An effervescent French cider.
Woodchuck Granny Smith Draft Cider, $8 for a Six-Pack
Tangy, with a hint of sweetness, this is a palate cleanser.
New Pumpkin Desserts
Why should the pie always be the star of the show? We whipped up 6 pumpkin-laced desserts that might just give Grandma’s pumpkin pie a run for its money.
Back-to-Basics Thanksgiving Shopping List
Besides the fact that an entire feast’s worth of grocery bags is too much for one woman to carry―or one trunk to hold―you’re more likely to forget a key ingredient or encounter ransacked shelves if you try to buy everything in one go at the last minute.
A month before Thanksgiving, make a master list of what you’ll need, then divide it into what’s perishable (dairy products, eggs, produce) and what’s not (canned goods, spices, baking ingredients). Buy everything that won’t spoil as far in advance as you can. Return for the turkey, the herbs, and the cheeses a few days before you begin cooking.
Here is a shopping list of the ingredients for the Back-to-Basics Thanksgiving Menu as well as a blank shopping list for your own recipes.
Open the Thanksgiving Shopping List.