The Beginner’s Guide to Thanksgiving Cooking

Whether you’re cutting back on travel or hosting Thanksgiving for the first time, the task of making the meal by yourself can be daunting. Follow these tips on how to successfully cook this Thanksgiving. You’ve got this! 

Southeast Dairy Association - Easy Green Bean Casserole

Simplify your menu. You don’t need 20 sides, especially on your first attempt. List out the dishes you must have and remember these musts should be because you like them, not because they’re a tradition. Use these dairy recipes to help you focus on more complicated musts, like your great-grandmother’s sweet potato casserole.  

Collect recipes. You’ll need to figure out what to buy at the store, how much time to allot for each dish, what order everything should be made, as well as what—if anything—can be cooked together in the oven. 

Shop in advance. Heading to the store the day before Thanksgiving means that if you manage to find a turkey, it’ll either be smaller than a chicken or larger than a house. And that’s before you try to thaw and cook it in time! For variety, make sure to head to the store early, beginning to collect items up to two weeks before with a perishable grocery run early in the week. 

Southeast Dairy Association - wright hashbrown casserole

Don’t make everything the day of Thanksgiving. As you wake up with your coffee, dishes like chicken pot pies and casseroles can be assembled and ready to cook the morning of, only needing to be heated and not dropped at mealtime. Items like mashed potatoes, fruit pies, or gravy will take up your Thanksgiving morning. 

Ask others to bring a dish. You won’t be eating alone, so whether it’s you and a roommate or a reunion of your cousins, ask others to bring part of the meal. Picking up punch at the store, throwing some dinner rolls in the oven or making a dessert from scratch, a little help here and there makes the task less monumental.  

For more recipe ideas to try this Thanksgiving, explore these dairy recipes