Thanksgiving Dinner: Top Tips and Planning Secrets!

Thanksgiving dinner is close. I can hardly contain my excitement! I love Thanksgiving and all the food that comes along with it. Because cooking this amazing meal can be a challenge, I’m sharing my top tips for planning your Thanksgiving!


I love a good roasted turkey and I can’t imagine Thanksgiving dinner without one. It’s funny, when I lived close to home my mom frequently roasted a turkey for Sunday dinners and family gatherings. Now I don’t eat roasted turkey that often, but I live for Thanksgiving! My first tip is to roast your turkey simply, without all that pomp and circumstance. I always spread a little butter under the skin and season my bird with pepper, lemon, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Also note that most ovens will over cook the top of the turkey way before the inside gets cooked. Therefore I tent my turkey with aluminum foil to combat this. I normally take it off for the last hour of cooking.

I’m a traditionalist when it comes to planning my Thanksgiving meal. I already know how I’ll cook my turkey and I already have it frozen in my freezer. Get your bird early, then the next step is figuring out side dishes. The biggest secret to planning your dinner is deciding menu items well in advance. Stuffing and mashed potatoes are a must in my house! Last year I made a veggie sausage and herb stuffing. I adapted it from this stuffing recipe and used vegetable broth as opposed to chicken broth. Its super simple and so delicious!

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Another big secret of mine is that I make almost everything ahead of time. Wednesday is cooking day! Don’t worry about reheating the next day. It will still be delicious and no one will be able to tell! Anything that you have to bake, like the stuffing, gets finished on Thanksgiving. Do not bake ahead of time. Just get it all prepared and in its baking dish. My mom taught me this secret. It’s what she does all the time and it makes the whole experience so much more enjoyable!

Next up are the potatoes. I love mashed potatoes. They aren’t something I indulge in often and I found an amazing recipe last year using Yukon gold potatoes, four tablespoons of vegan butter, a head of roasted garlic, black pepper, and a little sea salt. That’s it! It’s super simple and so delicious. The butter makes it very creamy, so you don’t miss the milk in it. These potatoes are perfect and extremely creamy on their own. The recipe I use also calls for topping with chives, which are a perfect complement. Garnish is very important to Thanksgiving dinner, which is my next tip! Never skimp on the presentation of your food.


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Another must on my table is pumpkin pie! I love pumpkin pie and this is the only time of year that I actually eat it. I used to make a traditional version, but last year I made a vegan pumpkin pie and loved it! This is the recipe and its easy to follow. Another meal tip, branch out from tradition when it comes to desserts. This pie was so AMAZING and I’m definitely making it again!

I always go back and forth on what else I should make, and I’m sure you’re wondering how to decide. Do you go sinful and make a baked macaroni and cheese, or stay healthy with either a Brussels sprouts dish or green bean casserole? I normally pick a healthier dish, because the entire meal is already so sinful. Plus you need to save room for dessert! Last year I made homemade biscuits, but this year I plan to make popovers instead. My final tip has to do with preparation. The bread is the only thing other than the turkey that I’ll make day of. You want fresh bread kids!


I’m big into catering to both my favorite dishes, as well as my friends’ and husband’s desires, for Thanksgiving dinner. Luckily we all love good homemade meals and that’s what I always plan on my menu! Do your shopping early, so you don’t have to go near the grocery store during those few days before the holiday. It’s so much easier that way!

What are you planning for your Thanksgiving meal? Share your favorite recipes with me and I’ll give them a try in my kitchen, the post pictures to compare!







Mandi Mellen is Lead Editor, Staff Writer, and Featured Vlogger at BuzzChomp. She’s an actress, writer, and producer. Get lost in her youtube comedy channel PillowTalk TV. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or Instagram



Photo Credits: Yours truly!

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