How to Schedule the Oven for Thanksgiving

One of the biggest challenges of Thanksgiving meal prep is getting everything out of the oven and onto the table at the right time. Even with the extra cooking space of a large oven or the double-temperature capabilities of a flexible dual oven, adequate planning is essential. A well-thought-out oven schedule will help you tackle the day's menu and get everything on the table at the perfect temperature and at exactly the right moment.

Finalize the Menu

Jot down the list of dishes you plan to make for your Thanksgiving meal and add notes that indicate dishes your guests will bring. After you review and finalize the menu, transfer it to your smartphone by way of a list-making app like ToDo Next Task List or To Do List. These tools give you a hand at mapping out a trip to the grocery store and will keep your meal plan organized—and backed up online—until the last bite is served.

Prep Ahead and Freeze or Fridge

After the menu is finalized, determine which parts you can prepare ahead of time. Some things—like pie crusts and soups—can be made weeks in advance and frozen. Other dishes—like casseroles, creamy dips and salad dressings—taste best when made a few days in advance and left in the fridge so flavors have a chance to meld. The idea is to make as much as you can beforehand so you're not left in a panic on the big day.

Make a Timeline

With the menu finalized and your make-ahead plan in place, focus next on a timeline that schedules oven space throughout Thanksgiving Day. Don't forget to pencil in adequate warm-up time for the dishes you've made ahead of time and direct some attention to your guests' dishes to fend off any cooling from the trip over. When you finish, program each entry as an appointment—with notification alarms—in your smartphone's native calendar app so you don't have to keep track yourself.

Put Other Appliances to Work

When the race for oven time is at its peak, call upon your other appliances to keep you moving steadily toward the finish line. A microwave is great for warming up casseroles or mashed potatoes, and a model with built-in convection can double as a second oven. Your slow cooker is another multitasking wiz, great for cooking and warming a variety of dishes—including stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy.

Photo Credits: Anne Dale/Demand Media

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