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“Why Didn’t I Think Of That?” – Thanksgiving Edition

thanksgiving hacks

Here on my blog, I strive to share simple, everyday tips and tricks that can help make your life a little bit easier. But sometimes, the tips that I want to share aren’t something I can write a whole blog post about! And since I simply cannot waste a good idea, I tuck them away to use at a later date.

Today I’ll be sharing some of those tips and tricks with you in a very special Thanksgiving edition of my ongoing series “Why Didn’t I Think Of That?”

To peruse other installments in the “Why Didn’t I Think Of That?” series, follow the link at the bottom of this post!

thanksgiving hacks

1. Bring A Cooler

Whether you’re being invited to Thanksgiving dinner or are hosting one yourself, your cooler can be a really useful tool to keep handy! Use it to keep your dish warm if you’re taking one to dinner. (Bringing a sauce? Put it in a thermos!) And after the meal is over, you can fill up your cooler with warm, soapy water to make extra space for soaking dirty dishes!

pumpkin pie

2. Hide Pie Cracks

I hate when my pies crack while they’re baking! So when my pumpkin pies come out of the oven with a cracked surface, I use an easy trick to hide the evidence! I simply slice the pie up before dinner, and top each piece with a big dollop of whipped cream. No one is any the wiser about my less-than-perfect pie, and it makes it easier to serve dessert too!

cranberry sauce

3. Cranberry Sauce Fix

Cranberry sauce is a Thanksgiving staple for a reason! There’s nothing better than tart and fruity sauce to balance out all those rich and savory flavors. But it can be hard to get the balance of sweetness and tartness just right. If your cranberry sauce is a bit too sweet, just add a splash of lemon juice to balance it out!

thanksgiving hacks

4. Ice Alternative For Drinks

If you’ll be serving sparkling wine or cider at your Thanksgiving gathering, make some frozen grapes ahead of time to use as ice cubes! They’ll keep your bubbly drinks cold without watering them down. Just place some washed grapes on a sheet tray and stick it in your freezer. Once the grapes are frozen solid, transfer them to a freezer bag to store until the big day.

funeral potatoes

5. Make-Ahead Casseroles

One way to save yourself time and stress on Thanksgiving is to assemble any casseroles ahead of time. You can assemble them up to a week in advance, then store them in your freezer. The day before Thanksgiving, put the frozen casseroles in your fridge to let them thaw overnight. (You can also cook them from frozen; just add 30-45 minutes to the cook time and make sure to keep an eye on them while they cook!)

thanksgiving hacks

6. Make-Ahead Pie Filling

In addition to casseroles, you can also make fruit pie fillings ahead of time! Just prepare your fruit filling, then scoop it into a lined pie plate and freeze it. Transfer the frozen pie filling to a freezer bag. Then on Thanksgiving, all you have to do is line a pie tin with your favorite crust, pop the frozen filling disc into it, and bake!

Get more details and instructions on how to freeze fruit pie fillings at the link below.

Related: How To Make And Freeze Fresh Fruit Pie Filling

thanksgiving hacks

7. Prep For Success

Preparation is the key to making your Thanksgiving cooking run smoothly! Act as your own prep cook by chopping, dicing, or slicing all of your vegetables the day before. Put each ingredient in a separate storage container or bag, and label it so you know what it’s for. You can also measure out dry ingredients for baking projects in the same way.

thanksgiving hacks

8. Good Gravy!

Gravy purists, avert your eyes—because I’m about to suggest making your Thanksgiving gravy ahead of time. I know, to some it’s a cardinal sin. But it’s a great way to save time! Make it up to several days before Thanksgiving and freeze it. On the big day, just thaw it out, warm it up, and add some of the drippings from your electric roaster turkey for extra flavor. Easy!

Thanksgiving Printables

9. Use A Checklist

Keep yourself on track by following my Thanksgiving checklist! You can download a printable copy for free at the link below. (You can also download a really handy cooking schedule there too!)

Related: This Is The One Checklist You Need For Thanksgiving Dinner

The “Why Didn’t I Think Of That?” Series

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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  • […] Read More: Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven | Part Eight | Part Nine | Part Ten | Part Eleven | Part Twelve | 1st Holiday Edition | 2nd Holiday Edition | 3rd Holiday Edition | Father’s Day Edition | Thanksgiving Edition […]

  • Making enough tasty turkey gravy has always been a conundrum for me. One year, after picking the meat from the turkey carcass, I broke the bones up and roasted them a bit in the oven. Then put them in a large stock pot, with a few quartered onions and carrots, cover with water and simmer for a few hours. Salt and pepper maybe a bit of sage. When done, strain thru a clean tea towel and cool. I then poured into marked freezer containers. Yes, it was good a year later and served as a good base for the following year’s gravy. Also came in handy throughout the year when making soups.

    • I do this every time I roast a chicken. I always take the carcass and make chicken stock. Then I freeze it.
      I also do this with every turkey we cook at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

  • I make my turkey & gravy the day before. I slice the meat, & I store them in my closed in back porch (auxillary fridge) overnight. I make all the other food on Thanksgiving & keep it warm. The turkey brought to room temp to correspond to when guests arrive & start in on the appys that they have brought. When they’re getting done with the appys, I heat the gravy to serve with the turkey. Heats it nicely. Pressure relieved.

    • Sounds like my house. We have an unheated Sunroom that we use for chilling food, when the weather gets chilly. It’s kind of nice during the holidays , with our fridge being over -crowded.

  • These are great tips, Jillee! I especially love the frozen grapes in drinks idea, I could see using that many times of the year! The cooler is also a great idea. Especially when people are bringing dishes to your home, it is a great place to keep things warm until meal is ready without taking up oven space! Frig space gets tight as well, so one cooler for warm foods and one for cold foods would be especially helpful, just be sure and label them accordingly. Another idea is to use those insulated bags used for keeping groceries cold in your car. The thermos idea for sauces is also genius! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family?

  • Frozen fresh cranberries are great for keeping wine, champagne and sparkling cider chilled! I buy several bags this time of year and keep in freezer to use all year long!

  • You can also buy the gravy already made from the catering section from stores. My mom has started making her stuffing the day before – these last few years. Since I have a few siblings that live close to us , we usually host it our parents house. It’s the only place with enough space for everyone. Luckily everyone brings some of the food. We haven’t tried the gravy in the bags yet. I’m going to tell my mom about it.

    • She said in the blog, make it yourself, with possibly a chicken bouillon cube, ahead, freeze it, then add turkey juices on the day. I’d make it VERY thick so that the juices will thin it down to exactly the right consistency.

      • Roast them in the oven with carrots and onions and use the drippings. The nice thing is that making it ahead, you have time to chill the drippings/broth before adding the flour etc. so can remove a lot of the unnecessary fat. We always do our turkey on the grill and depending on weather, etc. drippings can be “dicey” and the last thing I want is no gravy for my stuffing!

    • I have made my gravy ahead of time for years. The secret? Get frozen turkey wings!
      Roast them in the oven with carrots and onions and use the drippings. The nice thing is that making it ahead, you have time to chill the drippings/broth before adding the flour etc. so can remove a lot of the unnecessary fat. We always do our turkey on the grill and depending on weather, etc. drippings can be “dicey” and the last thing I want is no gravy for my stuffing!

    • Jenni and Peg have great ideas. My only contribution would be if you are planning to use broth, get turkey broth. You can find it in the store this time of the year easily. The make ahead is a good idea for those of us who have trouble making gravy perfect when it is needed/wanted right now to eat while the meal is still hot.

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