19 Thanksgiving Hacks to Save Time (& Sanity!) This Year

19 Thanksgiving Hacks to Save Time (& Sanity!) This Year
Image: iStock.com/GMVozd

mom kids in kitchen

In our humble opinion, there's no better holiday out there than Thanksgiving. Our thoughts are filled with food, family, festivities ... and a whole lot of work, particularly for the host. Thankfully there are plenty of hacks -- genius ideas to save both time and sanity -- to help one get through and so that there's more time for family. So don't worry -- we've gotcha covered ...

Pulling off the major feast is no easy feat, no matter how many people are helping out. Besides the food part, there's the entertaining bit, plus making sure the kids are happy. In order to spend the most time with loved ones and ensure that everything is as stress-free as possible, we've come up with some of the best ideas. 

More from CafeMom: 15 Thanksgiving Crock-Pot Recipes to Save the Oven for the Bird

Saving time with the cooking part doesn't mean sacrificing taste, of course. Everyone wants a juicier turkey, perfect stuffing, and an enjoyable day together. That's what these hacks will help with. From prep to cleanup, these ideas are excellent for sanity and time. It's all part of making sure to keep the thankful part of Thanksgiving.

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  • Use Foil in a Pinch


    No baking rack? No problem. Use aluminum foil to prop up the turkey on the bottom instead -- rolling several pieces like pins so the turkey can rest on top of it. This is so the air flow goes all around the bird and helps it stay juicy. 

  • Make Stuffing in a Muffin Pan

    muffin pan

    What's truly fantastic about making the Cooking Channel's Individual Thanksgiving Stuffing Muffins in a muffin pan is that that can be popped out easily when serving (no extra dishes). Plus, every serving has that crusty top and moist middle.

  • Print Out Recipes & Tape to Cabinets


    To make following recipes easiest, print them out and fasten them to kitchen cabinets with tape. This way all the recipes are there to refer to without losing pages or having a bunch of tabs open on your computer or device.

    More from CafeMom: 14 Epic Answers to the Most Annoying Questions Asked at Thanksgiving

  • Buy a Food Chopper

    chopped veggies
    iStock.com/Ozgur Coskun

    Thanksgiving isn't a food-making competition -- there isn't anyone to judge how well or fast anyone chops the veggies. For that reason, unless one is a seasoned chef who loves to chop (and can do it fast), invest in a food chopper to do all that work instead. 

  • Cook the Turkey in Parts

    cut turkey

    For a quicker cook time, and adding fun with butchery, cook the turkey in parts. Serious Eats has a great turkey butchery video to show how easy it is, and there's a bonus: Turkey is juicier this way!

  • Make a No-Bake Dessert

    Pumpkin-Spice No Bake Cheesecake

    Save time and oven space with a simple dessert like this Pumpkin Spice No-Bake Cheesecake. Best of all? It's healthy, too!

    Recipe: Skinnytaste

  • Easy Whipped Cream

    Pie With Whipped Cream
    I Am Baker

    No need for a mixer or even a whisk -- just put heavy cream and sugar into a jar and shake, shake, shake. Soon you'll have fluffy, dreamy whipped cream ready to serve. 

    Recipe: I Am Baker

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  • Free Up Refrigerator Space

    Cooler Packed With Food

    If your refrigerator is so jam-packed you can't even fit another single cranberry in, head out to the garage and dust off your cooler. Pack it with ice to store more food and create space. You can also ditch the ice and use it to keep food warm while other dishes finish cooking. Why didn't we think of this sooner?

  • No-Lump Gravy

    Thanksgiving dinner
    The View From Great Island

    Sometimes no matter what you do, there are still lumps in your gravy. To fix, just pour the gravy into a food processor and say so long to the lumps (and hello to that flavor!).

    Recipe: The View From Great Island

  • Get a Flakier Pie Crust

    apple cardamom pie
    Kitchen McCabe

    If you substitute half of the water your recipe calls for with vodka, you'll be amazed at how much flakier your pie crust becomes.

    You can also substitute bourbon, rum, or any other liquor you like. 

    Recipe: Kitchen McCabe

  • Don't Forget Your Slow Cooker

    crock pot
    The Magical Slow Cooker

    Oven space is prime real estate on Thanksgiving. To free up a bit more, consider cooking some dishes in your Crock-Pot. From green bean casserole to the bird itself, you can make plenty of delicious items on your list easily.

    More from CafeMom: 11 Thanksgiving-Inspired Desserts That Are Better Than Pie

  • Get Fluffier Mashed Potatoes

    Mashed Potatoes
    Damn Delicious

    Want fluffier mashed potatoes? Of course you do. To get them, add a pinch of baking soda to your regular mashed potato recipe and enjoy!

    Recipe: Damn Delicious

  • Rolling Pin in a Pinch

    Rolling Pie Dough With a Wine Bottle

    Don't have a rolling pin to roll out your dough? Wine to the rescue! Just use an empty (well-cleaned) bottle to roll it out. Bonus: You have an excuse to empty a wine bottle. 

  • Pretty Pie Made Easy

    pie with lattice crust
    Better Recipes

    Lattice-topped pies are lovely, but also a lot of work. This tip using a cooling rack to make your pie crust, however, makes it as easy as ... well, pie. 

  • Peel Garlic Easier

    Bulbs of Garlic

    Garlic adds goodness to so many dishes, but peeling it can be a major pain. This video shows how microwaving garlic can change that and make peeling it a snap.

  • Keep Gravy Warm


    Free up a stove burner by pouring gravy into a thermos. When it's time to eat, simply pour it into a gravy boat and serve. 

  • Be Prepared for the Leftovers

    Takeout Containers
    iStock.com/© Nick M. Do

    If you ever want to see your plastic and glass storage containers again, don't pack leftovers in them for friends and relatives to take home.

    Shop for inexpensive, disposable paper takeout boxes beforehand so you're ready with an alternative. 

  • Wash Potatoes in a Flash


    Instead of scrubbing away the day, just put potatoes in the top rack of your dishwasher and run the rinse cycle. Make sure to skip the detergent to avoid sudsy spuds. 

  • A Better Way to Mix in Butter

    Grated Butter

    Make mixing butter into recipes easier by freezing the butter first, then grating it in for smooth, even distribution. 

thanksgiving holidays holiday entertaining

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