Thrifty Thanksgiving for Tough Times – Make Ahead Thanksgiving Timeline

This series of articles is designed to help families put a frugal Thanksgiving meal on the table.
Start at the beginning: Frugal $50 Thanksgiving Meal

Thrifty Thanksgiving for Tough Times - Make Ahead Thanksgiving Timeline from The More With Less Mom

Make Ahead Thanksgiving Timeline

This isn’t strictly a timeline, but more an order of cooking. It is the companion to Thrifty Thanksgiving for Tough Times – Frugal $50 Thanksgiving Meal.

Even working parents can make the Thanksgiving feast from scratch, and still have time to enjoy the family on the big day, if they make most things ahead.

I don’t have a lot of time so I reverse engineer my Thanksgiving plan based on dinner time and oven usage. For the way ahead stuff I find days that I actually have time, often but not always on the weekend, and freeze stuff.

All of the recipes from the Frugal $50 Thanksgiving Meal are here for easy printing. In case you’re paranoid, like me, or just unlucky, and the internet will go down as soon as you need a recipe.

Way ahead

Pull stock turkey/chicken from freezer 5 days before making stock (I first see really cheap frozen turkeys the last week of October, so splitting the cost over multiple months can help with the budget)

Pie Crusts
Make ahead: 30 days-day before; freeze as dough, shell, or entire pie. Thaw 24 hours before baking.
Do-Ahead Holiday Baking: 3 Ways to Make Pies and Pie Dough in Advance
Perfect Pie Crust from The Pioneer Woman

Bread for stuffing
Make ahead: 30 days – day before. Cool completely (condensation and wet is bad bad bad). Wrap in two clear plastic bags. Seal using masking tape, freeze. Thaw min 3 hours.
Turkey Stuffing Bread from Taste of Home

Rolls
ake ahead: 30 days – day of. Rolls can absolutely be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen. Cool completely (condensation and wet is bad bad bad). Wrap in two clear plastic bags. Seal using masking tape, freeze. Thaw min 3 hours. To serve hot, wrap in parchment paper and foil, place in 400 degree oven for 3-4 min.
Spoon Rolls from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker

Pumpkin Pie
Pull pie crust from freezer 24 hours before
Make ahead: 30 days – day before. Cool completely (warm pie in the fridge makes for soggy crust), cover, refrigerate up to 3 days. Or cover/wrap, freeze, bake frozen adding 20 min to bake time.
World Premier Pumpkin Pie Recipe From “Beyond” Scratch at Mountaineers Books

Apple Pie
Pull pie crust from freezer 24 hours before
Make ahead: 30 days – day before. Cool completely (warm pie in the fridge makes for soggy crust), cover, refrigerate up to 3 days. Or prepare, freeze, bake frozen adding 20 min to bake time.
My Grandma’s Apple Pie Recipe from Phyll’s Frugal Finds

Carrot Cake
Make ahead: 30 days – day before. Cool completely, frost if desired, cover, refrigerate 2-3 days. Or cool completely, cover/wrap, freeze, thaw, frost.
Cici’s Carrot Cake and Homemade Cream Cheese Icing from Frugal Upstate

Cheesecake
Make ahead: 30 days – day before. Cool, freeze uncovered, wrap in foil, place in freezer bag. Can be frozen several months.
Cheesecake from The Frugal Girl

Turkey for stock
Pull turkey for stock from freezer 5 days before
Make ahead: 30 days – 2 days before. Use bones and giblets to make stock the same day.
How To Roast a Turkey from Food for My Family

Stock/Broth
Make ahead:
How to Make Chicken Stock from Simply Recipes
Make-Ahead Stock Is the Secret to Turkey Gravy from Zester Daily

Gravy
Pull stock/fat from freezer 24 hours before, if frozen
Make ahead: Refrigerate or freeze, reheat on low.
Homemade Gravy from All Things Frugal

Make Ahead

Pull whatever’s left from freezer to fridge 24 hours before

Cranberry Sauce Tuesday
Make ahead: Refrigerate up to 3 days (some people say 5)
Orange Cranberry Sauce from the Frugal Chef

Turkey Wednesday
Pull turkey from freezer 5 days before. Bake 20 min day of.
Make ahead: 1 day ahead, carve, refrigerate drizzled heavily with stock for moistest turkey ever
How to reheat turkey leftovers and keep them moist from Simple Bites

Sweet Potato Casserole Wednesday
Make ahead: You can make your casserole the day before and refrigerate the sweet potato mixture and topping separately. Bring to room temperature before continuing. Bakes 30 min day of.
Sweet Potato Casserole from Fabulessly Frugal

Chocolate Pie Wednesday
You can make the pie crust way ahead. Make the custard ahead, refrigerate. Day of bake crust 20 min, make meringue, assemble, brown meringue 10 min.
Grandma’s Chocolate Pie from Homesick Texan

Day of

Spinach Dip Thursday
Chills several hours.
Healthier Spinach Dip from Good Cheap Eats

Mashed Potatoes Thursday early
Make potatoes early and leave them in the crock pot on warm.
Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes from Frugal Families

Egg Nog Thursday
Holiday Eggnog from Passionate Homemaking

Stuffing/dressing Thursday
Pull stuffing bread from freezer 24 hours before. Bakes 1 hr.
Plan way ahead and make a loaf of bread just to make it stale for your stuffing.
Thanksgiving Stuffing from Cookie Monster Cooking

Green Bean Casserole Thursday
Simple Green Bean Casserole from Scratch from The Minimalist Cook Bakes 30 min.

Brussels Sprouts Thursday
Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar from One Hundred Dollars a Month

Turkey
You already cooked the turkey you just have to heat it! Bakes 20 min.
How to reheat turkey leftovers and keep them moist from Simple Bites

I hope this makes your family feast go smoother. Happy holidays!

Thrifty Thanksgiving for Tough Times Series:
Frugal $50 Thanksgiving Meal
From Scratch Thanksgiving Menu
From Scratch $50 Shopping Cart
Store Bought $50 Shopping Cart
Thanksgiving Blessing Bags
Quickie Thanksgiving Recipes
Frugal Dinner Recipes and Costs
Frugal Dessert Recipes and Costs
Price List
Make Ahead Thanksgiving Timeline
Next: Thanksgiving Links
Thanksgiving Leftover Recipe Links
Thrifty Thanksgiving Pinterest Boards

* Also see our Care Package for the Hard Times Kitchen series

We hope you enjoyed our Thrifty Thanksgiving for Tough Times – Make Ahead Thanksgiving Timeline

Vintage postcard image from Graphics Fairy

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