A week or so before Thanksgiving you want to finalize the dishes you’ll be making, draft a quick cooking timeline, and make your grocery list.
Bringing a (vegan!) dish somewhere? You can probably do your shopping in one trip and make your dish the day of or even the day before. On the other hand, if you’re hosting and making the majority of the feast, here are a few tips that help me stay sane when I’ve got a crowd to “wow” on the most anticipated food holiday of the year:
- Write out your menu. You may have it in your head, but when you put it on paper, it not only helps with the rest of the planning, it also helps ensure your menu is balanced in terms of flavors, colors, textures, and temperatures. We eat with our eyes first, and if everything on the menu is beige or brown, it doesn’t stimulate excitement and interest in the same way that a varied tapestry of colors does.
- Gather your recipes. If you make the same things each year, you might be able to skip this one, but if you’re adding new dishes to your repertoire, you’ll want to have recipes–even if they’re scribbles on the back of an envelope–in one place before you write your grocery list.
- Write your grocery list several days before you plan to shop, and separate it into perishable and non-perishable items. First of all, it’s almost inevitable that you will have either forgotten something or decide to add something to your list. Better to write it down, look at it a couple of times to let it percolate, and then make adjustments before you head to the store. Secondly, if you can make the time, it helps to shop twice; once for non-perishable items, or items that will keep for a week or so, and once for the perishable items that you need to get a day or two in advance. Sounds like more work, but I’ve found that when I break down the shopping, it doesn’t feel as overwhelming. No one hates going to multiple stores, loading and unloading the car, and putting groceries away more than me. Two small trips feel better and give me a second chance to shop in case, despite my list-making, I forgot something or change my mind about an item.
And remember, traditions may be difficult to challenge, but this holiday provides us with a wonderful opportunity to share a meal that can be made fully, or in part, without animal products. Whether you use simple substitutions to transform familiar favorites or introduce an exciting new entrée made with unfamiliar ingredients, when it’s made with love, everyone will dig in.
If the conversation turns to turkeys, and why the humane choice is to leave them off the table, you can inform the conversation with some important facts by reading this post about our beautiful and intelligent feathered friends.
Thank you for reading this blog, for your curiosity about vegan cooking, and for your willingness to create compassionate meals…for yourself and for others. For that, we are all deeply grateful.
Chef Linda’s Thanksgiving Menu