The Prep in Preparation

A cook knows the prep work is the key to any successful meal, but it is especially important when planning for a large holiday gathering such as Thanksgiving. I tend to get a bit anxious about getting everything done, but I have found my very best friend in meal planning is my list, actually several lists. Over the years I have served many holiday dinners, so I have many of the menu lists I have made for those occasions. Not only is it fun to look back over the lists and remember and reminisce about what was served, those lists are invaluable in helping me decide what to cook for the current holiday. Once I get a new menu list made, then I can make the dreaded shopping list. My next list is the prep list, or the order of getting things done.

Being a list maker keeps me on track with my cooking and helps break a big job down into more manageable smaller jobs. I'm not sure how I became a list maker. I can't remember my mother ever making a list for a holiday meal, but I can also remember lots of times at her house that items were forgotten in the refrigerator and never served, or something was left in the microwave unfinished. We've had some good family laughs about her forgotten dishes.

Some of the most basic prep work for my Thanksgiving meal has been done, for example, my cornbread for the crock pot dressing is ready and in the freezer.

The recipe for my cornbread can be found here.

Another prep task I have completed is my pie crust. My recipe makes three single crusts that can be frozen until ready to use.

After storing each crust individually in zip top bags, I then stack them in this plastic pie keeper to protect them before placing them in the freezer.

I like to have these pie crusts in the freezer even when I'm not planning for a holiday meal. They are quick to make, easy to store, and just about as convenient as a store-bought crust, only better.

My next prep work is to chop the celery and onions I'll be needing later. I also want to bake a Bundt cake today that can be wrapped and frozen. 

My holiday meal still has much prep work needed, but I think this is the time to apply the sage advice, "Plan your work, and work your plan."

What's your best prep advice in preparing a holiday meal?


  1. Your lists and make-ahead items sound exactly like mine. My family likes apple pie in addition to pumpkin and I make three of them (one a week leading up to Thanksgiving) and freeze them. I take them out on Wednesday evening to thaw and on Thanksgiving, pop them in the oven for a quick crisping.

    Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  2. I love doing things ahead, too, Anita. I'm going to try out your pie crust recipe right now.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you. xo