10 Simple Hacks for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving
Planning a Thanksgiving meal can be stressful — and when you’re making last-minute trips to the grocery store or worrying over how to cook the turkey, it’s hard to actually enjoy the holiday. We can help: Use these clever tips and tricks to guarantee a flavorful, fun-filled Thanksgiving.
1. Plan your menu
It may sound obvious, but it’s the easiest way to prevent pre-Thanksgiving panic. Keep your menu traditional or dazzle guests with something a little different. Brighten classic dishes like turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes with colorful (and delicious) garnishes like fresh herbs, citrus zest, chopped nuts, drizzled butter, pomegranate seeds and more.
Get more ways to add color to your Thanksgiving menu here.
2. Make a game plan
After you know what you want to serve, get organized by making a Thanksgiving timeline. Figure out what needs to happen when — like reserving your turkey, buying groceries and prepping ingredients — and you’ll feel much more relaxed on the big day. Check out this week-by-week, day-by-day Thanksgiving planning guide.
3. Calculate exactly how much food to buy
Knowing the exact amount of turkey, potatoes and other ingredients to serve will make your trip to the store more efficient. Not to mention, it will also prevent you from buying too much and overspending. First, find out how many guests are attending, then use our handy servings calculator to plan your shopping list.
4. Stock ingredients for special diet swaps
If any of your guests follow vegan, gluten-free, paleo-friendly or keto-friendly diets, you’ll want them to be able to join in on the meal too. Ideally, you want to serve everyone the same food — so figure out how to make ingredient swaps for the dishes you’re already planning.
Whole Foods Market holiday chef partner Jenné Claiborne has a few ideas for vegan guests. “If you’re making mashed potatoes, you can replace the butter with a vegan butter substitute, and if you’re using milk, try replacing it with a vegan milk substitute.”
5. Buy a better bird
This year, take the guesswork out of buying your turkey by reserving one from Whole Foods Market. Why not try an organic or heirloom turkey? We’ve also got plenty of classic birds that meet our Meat department standards for animal welfare and no antibiotics, ever.
6. Keep the appetizers light
Thanksgiving fare tends to be heavy and rich, so do your guests a favor by balancing the meal with produce-forward snacks. Serve a crudités platter with hummus, Greek yogurt dip or our Muhammara Spiced Red Pepper Dip — the more veggies, the better.
7. Dry brine your turkey
Skip the stress of bland, overcooked turkey by dry-brining it. This simple technique packs meat with flavor and locks in moisture. It’s so simple too — all you really need are kosher salt and brown sugar, but you can also add spices and herbs like whole cloves, cumin seeds, peppercorns, nutmeg, bay leaves, fresh sage, citrus zest and more.
Try it: Brown-Sugar Brined Turkey
8. Bake a practice pie
If you’re a novice baker, Pie Queen (and Whole Foods Market chef ambassador) Nicole Rucker suggests making a practice version. “Plan ahead and start baking and trying stuff out a couple of weeks ahead of time.”
But what if it fails the day before? Reserve a Thanksgiving pie from Whole Foods Market — we have all the classics and chef-inspired ones too.
9. Don’t forget the wine
This is important. Need a recommendation? Check out our Master Sommelier's top picks for the season in our Holiday Wine Guide.*
10. Don’t make every single dish from scratch
Whether it’s the turkey, sides, dessert or the entire meal, let us help you check something off your list so you can enjoy more time with family and friends. Reserve meals or à la carte items online here.
*Must be 21+. Please drink responsibly.