A Train Wreck Thanksgiving Plan

Welcome aboard, train wreck.

Are you short on time and need some Thanksgiving shortcuts? Are you new to all of this preparation and have no idea where to begin? Here are some simple time-saving tips and suggestions to aid you if you’re a newbie. I’m certain you’ll be able to pull off Thanksgiving dinner. Even if you find yourself asking, “Um. Why is it only two weeks to Thanksgiving? I still have bags of candy from my kids. I mean, from taking my kids Trick or Treating. And we are going to have a house full of my husband’s family. Again.”

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Listen. Here’s the thing. This is stressful. Because I know these people. I know how particular they can be. I have one sister in law who is never happy. And only ever brings deviled eggs. Did I mention she’s the only one who eats these things? Like what is that? Who does that?

This is not a post for Martha Stewart fans, Joanna Gains stans, or members of the Ree Drummond cult. This is for the train wreck mom who can’t say no even though she just wants to read and dunk turkey slices in cranberry sauce. If that’s you, stick around. I’ma help you out.

There are several choices available to assist you in saving time and energy. Listen. I get it. We all want to be the one who can make everything from scratch and wow our families with these stunning dinner presentations, but for those of us who need some assistance or time savers, let’s have a look at what’s available. Because in the end, they’re all just there for a free meal they don’t have to help with or clean up. I mean seriously. Are you really trying to impress your Uncle Keith. The man eats three day old pizza with beer for breakfast. Gordon Ramsey he ain’t.

Turkeys are available in bags in the freezer area of the grocery store, and you cook the turkey in the bag FROZEN! You don’t even have to defrost the turkey; just remove it from the freezer, place it in a roasting pan, and bake it. They offer entire turkeys, turkey breasts, and boneless turkey breasts. They even have gravy packets and a timer that pops up. These turkeys are almost foolproof and a tremendous time saver. Butterball is the only brand I use. I’ve used them for feasts during Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas at every daycare I’ve worked at. They’re fantastic!

Staying in the freezer aisle, there are some fantastic frozen veggies available right now that are quite simple to cook. They come in bags that you microwave, the veggies steam in the bag, and voila, you have a vegetable that you can “dress” up like you slaved all day in less than 5 minutes. I heard the sigh. I saw the eyerolls. A microwave?! At Thanksgiving?! Before you burn the heather, put your pitchfork down and listen. Microwaves aren’t just for popcorn and last night’s dinner. And letting Chef Mike handle up on something helps reduce the amount of pots and pans and energy that you use. Cook the green beans in the bag, then mix with a splash of lemon juice and slivered almonds on top. Quick and simple! Green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, a medley, carrots, and corn are among the varieties available. You may effortlessly mix and match to make a delicious and lovely veggie dish for your family without using pots and pans. That means less work for you. Fresh veggies in steaming bags are also available in the produce department. Once again, this is a simple method to give vegetables with minimal effort or dishes to clean up. If you don’t want to heat them in plastic, just place them in microwave-safe serving plates and cover before cooking.

One of my favorite methods to give a basket of steaming buns for the table is to purchase frozen yeast rolls, which come in a pan that you bake and then arrange in a table basket. There are no dishes or pans to clean this time. And if you don’t have rolls, what are your picky eaters supposed to eat while complaining that there’s nothing to eat?

Without spending two hours peeling potatoes, heating water, cooking, and mashing, mashed potatoes may be produced in a variety of ways. My personal favorite mashed potato shortcut may be found in the meat or dairy area of the supermarket. There are various types of pre-made mashed potatoes available in plastic tubs that just need to be cooked in the containers. If you wish, you may add cheese or garlic to them. You microwave them, throw them onto a serving dish, and voila! You can make mashed potatoes with superb texture and flavor without using any pots or pans. If you don’t want to cook the potatoes in plastic, just place them in microwave-safe plates and voila!

Stuffing is something that every family makes differently; some want it baked and chopped into squares, while others like it fluffy in a bowl. Some people like to prepare their stuffing from scratch, while others prefer to use it from a box or bag. I’m going to tell you how I’ve been making it for years and how my family loves it. I used to prepare stuffing from a box and get by with it. I discovered a technique to spice up a box mix after reading publications and recipes, and no one has ever noticed that I didn’t spend hours slaving away in the kitchen preparing the stuffing. I finely cut a medium to large onion, as well as 8 stalks of celery, and fry in a skillet with half a stick of butter. I then make the stuffing mix as directed on the box, then add in the sauteed veggies, loosely put into an oven-safe baking dish, and gently toast the top. Done. I mix two cartons of stuffing together, one cornbread and the other turkey. It’s a hit with the family! There are several modifications to this dish, such using chicken broth instead of plain water, chopping up an apple and tossing it in, and much more. Enjoy yourself by using your imagination!

Some households eat both ham and turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. That’s us. We’re that family. My husband worked on a turkey farm in his younger days and it ruined turkey for him for life. In the meat area of the supermarket, I buy a little spiral-sliced ham that has already been cooked. I don’t finish baking it in the oven. I separate the pieces, lay them on a platter, and microwave them. For the table, I arrange the hot pieces on a dish. No one would ever guess (until now) that I don’t bake the ham myself. This is a tremendous time saving, as well as a method to save money on roasting pans and oven space.

Gravy comes in a variety of forms, including canned, jarred, and mix-ins. If you insist on making your own, that’s wonderful, but have a backup mix on hand just in case.

This may not be the way your mouthy relative cooks Thanksgiving. And if they’re in the kitchen with you while you’re cooking, you may get a look or a comment. My recommendation then is to throw salt at them and yell, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” They’re sure to leave you alone after that.

This may not be needed for you every year, but there are some easy methods to save time and energy while still enjoying your family by preparing most of the classic Thanksgiving items. When plans change at the last minute, remember that you still have time to cook a lovely and heartfelt supper, even if it means taking some shortcuts to avoid being frustrated and angry. I’m all for doing whatever it takes to keep me cheerful by the time the rest of the family comes over. I’ve utilized all of these supper shortcuts and was surprised with how much simpler some of them were, allowing me to not be fatigued by the end of the meal. And remember. Sometimes good enough is good enough.

Hopefully, this list gives you something to help you get through the hectic frenzy that is Thanksgiving. Again, if you like what I post, please like, comment, share, and subscribe. Please consider donating to help keep this going. $1 and I’ll ask you what your favorite book is so we can talk about it. $5 and I’ll write a review of a book you suggest. $10 and I’ll write a blog suggested by you. If you try any of the tips listed, please let me know what you thought of it. That’s all I’ve got for today, train wrecks. All aboard.

To help you figure out what you need to prepare, who’s coming, and what they’re bringing, I’m including this printable planner for you. I hope it helps make it all a little easier for you.


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