Plant based Thanksgiving meal plan, and Tips to creating your own STRESS-FREE Thanksgiving game plan.
Even before I was plant based, I felt an immense pressure to be some kind of domestic goddess on thanksgiving. The other 364 days of the year can be easy, thrown together, one-pot type meals. Thanksgiving has to be perfect. So many separate dishes get involved, and they all have to come out at the exact same time, and still be warm.
We also want to spend time OUT of the kitchen, relaxing, and loving on our families (which is what thanksgiving is really about). Does the thought of putting on a thanksgiving production stress you out? You need a plan! As my grandmother would say “failure to plan is planning to fail”.
A week in advance I start to pick out the recipes I want to serve for my thanksgiving feast. Below I’ve mapped out my exact game plan, with recipes from some of my favorite vegan food bloggers. Use my entire plant based plan if you’re serving the family that way, or maybe you only have one veggie at your table, and you’d like to incorporate a couple of plant based sides not only they will love, but the whole family. Or maybe you’re choosing to not go plant based this holiday, but still need guidance in creating a game plan of your own. Read on.
Creating your own game plan:
- On a sheet of paper, list the recipes you plan to make. When picking out your recipes, make sure to read through each of them entirely to make sure they aren’t too over the top or time consuming for your plan.
- Write the total cook time for each individual recipe next to it.
- Re-order the recipes in order of longest to shortest cook time. Determine the approximate prep time for each recipe and include prep time as a separate note next to cook time.
- Identify what recipes can and should be made or prepped ahead. Take note items that need to be cooked then chilled, or items that need to be soaked in advance. I also like to prep many things ahead for quicker easier cooking the day of, for example pre-chopped vegetables, and pre-measured spices or dry ingredients.
- If you plan to make or prep any items ahead, decide when and block out time slots in your calendar so you are reminded.
- Write down the time you want to serve dinner.
- Looking at the recipe with the longest cook time, determine what time it needs to start cooking. Write that time down in the middle of the page.
- Start working backwards with your to do list for each item the exact time they need to go in the oven or on the stove.
- Then organize your timing with all the prep work moving backward in time from the cook times. Some things can be prepped in advance and set aside to be put in the oven or on the stove at the right time. Don’t forget to schedule in the time you will start pre-heating your oven too. Write down all the details for all your dishes.
Moving on to MY thanksgiving game plan. Starting with my menu: (you may notice, I REALLY LOVE mushrooms)
Appetizer of creamy spinach artichoke stuffed mushrooms I plan to serve by 4:30. I will use the recipe from………… for the creamy filling (without baking), de-stem baby Bella/Crimini mushrooms, fill them with the dip and bake on a baking sheet according to the timing for baking the dip. I also plan on using fresh spinach over frozen for the recipe (but remember it cooks down A LOT, and you need 2 cups of cooked spinach)
Dinner: (to be served at 6) Click to links to be brought to the recipes by some of my favorite plant based food bloggers.
–Creamy mashed potatoes: I plan on leaving the crispy shallots out to simplify the recipe.
–Mushroom gravy. I plan on adding nutritional yeast and soy sauce or tamari to the recipe, and maybe using brown rice flour instead of white flour.
–Portobello Wellington, without the baby carrots and red potato sides.
–Sourdough stuffing. I plan on substituting half of the sourdough bread with Rye (I like the blend), and adding leeks to the recipe.
-Spring mix salad with roasted butternut squash, fennel, fresh sliced red onion, walnuts, parsley and pomegranate arils. I roast the butternut squash and fennel, but then allow it to cool before topping the salad.
Prepped the weekend before:
Prepped two days before:
-Print all recipes.
-Determine all ingredients needed and do your shopping.
Prepped the day/night before:
-Soak cashews for all recipes that need them (1 cup for these recipes).
-Coconut whipped cream (sets better when given fridge time after making).
-Spinach artichoke dip mixture. (don’t bake)
-Red wine sauce for Portobello Wellington.
-The Duxelles for the Portobello Wellington.
-Bake onions for green bean casserole.
-Bake the butternut squash and fennel for your salad.
-Chop your bread for stuffing and toast in oven. Store in a zip lock bag on the counter.
-Cut all your veggies and bag or box separately. Chop green beans, garlic, mushrooms and slice onion for green bean casserole. Chop butternut squash, slice red onion and fennel for salad. Cube your potato for the mashed potatoes. Dice your celery, onion, leek, garlic, mushroom, and parsley for the stuffing, Leek, onion, celery and garlic can be stored together as they will be tossed in the pan at the same time. Chop mushrooms, garlic and onion for gravy (can also be stored in same zip lock or Tupperware). Chop your Brussels sprouts.
-De-seed your pomegranate for salad.
Be sure to take notes on all your printed recipes what steps have already been done. Whatever prepped items you don’t finish the night before, be sure to start your cooking in the morning the day of thanksgiving so that all items are chopping and prepped BEFORE the actual cooking needs to begin according to your timeline. All the pre prep is a stress free environment, with very little time restraints, so I love putting on a podcast, music, or if your guests are already in town having great conversation with them as you prep. I also find it helpful to make sure your dishwasher is empty and ready for its big day the night before.
Thanksgiving day timeline:
3:00 PM-dish your cranberry sauce and set back in fridge, get out all your serving dishes, cooking vessels, and recipe ingredients. Give somebody else the job of setting the table before 6 pm. It is also helpful to assign a dishwasher ahead of time so everybody knows their role, and asking them to keep an eye on the dishes piling up throughout the day so they aren’t stuck with a massive dish duty after dinner (or split the task between two dish duties)
3:30-Assemble salad, set back in fridge.
3:40- Prepare and assemble green bean casserole, set aside.
4:00- Prepare Stuffed mushrooms. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
4:10- Put stuffed mushrooms in oven, and prepare stuffed wellington.
4:30- Serve stuffed mushrooms appetizer.
4:40- Prepare stuffing, set aside.
5:00- Prepare mashed potatoes.
5:10- Put stuffing in oven, and then prepare Brussels sprouts.
5:30- Put Brussels sprouts in oven.
5:35- Put Portobello wellington in oven. Then prepare gravy.
5:40- Put green bean casserole in oven.
5:50- Stuffing out of the oven to cool.
5:55- Everything comes out of the oven to cool. Dish gravy, Brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes.
6:00- Serve Dinner!
Whenever you and your guests are ready for dessert, it is all ready for you, serve and enjoy!
Wishing you and your family a stress free and very grateful thanksgiving. Spread the love and raise your vibration. Share your thanksgiving dishes in the comments below!