How to Prep Your Thanksgiving Menu

Hello November! That means, Thanksgiving is around the corner. What is on your Thanksgiving menu???

Whether you are hosting, attending, or just keeping it small, your menu matters. Thanksgiving is a beautiful holiday to give thanks, be grateful for what we have, and also celebrate with a delicious meal. So what you serve is important.

When it comes to a menu here are some helpful tips to make sure that you have something on the table available for everyone. Also you don’t want to spend the holiday in the kitchen in the entire time, so I have some helpful tips to make this year an easy cooking holiday as well.

Thanksgiving Menu

The center piece of a Thanksgiving menu is the turkey, or the turkey and the ham. If you are having a large group (over 12 people) 2 protein options is a good idea. This gives your guests the opportunity to have options and will cut down on cooking time and size of your turkey. Or if you are like my family of 17+ people who love leftovers, we have 3 protein options.

For a group of 4 people you want a turkey size of about 4-6 lbs.

For group of 6-8 people you want a turkey size about 6-10lbs.

For a group of 10-12 you want a turkey size about 10-15lbs.

Save time and cooking space by ordering your ham. A ham can be smaller since usually the center piece of a Thanksgiving table is the turkey.

Turkey and everything you need to know

When is comes to a turkey you want to make sure you have it prepped, defrosted, and ready to do. You can start the turkey the day before with a brine. There are 2 groups of turkey cookers, the briners and the non-briners. Both are perfectly okay. A brine is basically a flavored salt bath to ensure that you are adding in flavor via osmosis into a protein which can dry out and lacks flavor. There are many different flavors for a brine: apple, dried herbs like rosemary thyme and sage, or a garlic and herb brine, and citrus and herbs to name a few.

If you are in the non-brine group that is okay as well. This will save you time. Flavor is critical for a turkey. I recommend adding into the cavity of a turkey are any and multiple of these ingredients: onion, garlic, lemon, orange, blood orange, apples, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, fresh sage, clove, allspice, celery, fennel, ginger, and you must salt and pepper your turkey.


The sides on the table are critical to your Thanksgiving menu. There are so many options when it comes to side dishes for Thanksgiving. But here are some tips…

You want to make sure there is color, flavor, and different textures. For example, having greens like steamed green beans with roasted almonds and a vinaigrette, roasted brussels sprouts, and green salad. Potatoes and sweet potatoes brings different flavors and colors to your table. You can prep ahead of time your sweet potato casserole and just pop it into the oven to warm it through the day of. Mashed potatoes you can peel, boil, and mash in the morning and just warm it through right before serving.

Adding in different breads as a side like corn bread, again brings color and and flavor. Pumpkin bread is a beautiful way to bring in some warmth and spice on to your menu. Both of these breads can be made the day before and served at room temp.

Stuffing is critical and again can be prepped into your baking dish with celery, herbs, and chestnuts the day before. Just add your broth and bake. Stuffing can be served at room temp, or warm.

Let’s Talk Dessert

If you are hosting, have a guest bring or bake the dessert. I am a traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving dessert, so it is pie only on my menu. But there are so many different kinds: pumpkin pie bourbon pumpkin pie, pecan pie, apple pie, ginger apple pie, blueberry pie, sweet potato pie, butternut squash pie, cranberry apple pie….

For the pies, whip up fresh whipped cream, don’t buy store bought. You can do this the day before with heavy whipping cream, vanilla, and a splash of sugar. Remember the pies are plenty sweet and the cream is just a dollop to finish your slice.

So these tips are here to guide and make your Thanksgiving holiday easier, more delicious, and most importantly focused on celebrating with others our beautiful blessings in life.

About the Author

Alexandra Golovac, Health Coach

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