Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner for the First Time?

It seems like a lot of CafeMoms are in the same boat as AbyssShadows and cmjt: They're nervous about cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the first time. Can't say I envy you. I remember my first time. I was paranoid I'd under-cook the turkey and send everyone home with salmonella. I was worried the kids wouldn't like anything I made. I was panicked that I wouldn't be able to cook everything in time and my guests would be eating at midnight. Seriously, I was one hot mess. But everything ended up fine, once I calmed down.

Unfortunately, I can't cook dinner for you, but I can point you to ways and shortcuts to make it easier. There are recipes you can make ahead, items you can purchase from the store instead of making from scratch, and, yes, even turkeys with a pop-up button to ensure you've cooked them correctly. I've compiled the best tips for a smooth Thanksgiving dinner from CafeMom users...and beyond!


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CafeMoms had plenty of great ideas on how to cut down on the Thanksgiving dinner stress:

  • Momaloveof3 suggested having each guest bring their favorite side dish so all you have to worry about is the turkey and dessert. 
  • Eabrown swears by disposable pans and paper products to make clean-up super easy.
  • Save time and energy with store-bought appetizers like gourmet olives, and cheese and crackers, says reelo
  • Raven1107 recommends making dishes like stuffing and  vegetable casseroles ahead of time. Did you know you can even make pies ahead of time and freeze them?
  • Oven bags are a must for foolproof turkey, says mamapotter. It eliminates the need for basting.
  • Cat216 thinks store-bought gravy is the way to go.
  • My advice? Use the recipe on the back of the can for pumpkin pie and don't brine the turkey.

Check out these sites for more even more holiday cooking tips:

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