The Oven Space/Time Continuum: How Do You Schedule Oven Time for Your Thanksgiving Dinner?

Between turkey, pies, stuffing, and sweet potatoes, it seems like almost everything for the traditional Thanksgiving meal needs a spot in the oven. How do you make it all fit?

How do you schedule your oven time? I have one very small apartment-sized oven; you can't fit two 13x9 pans side by side on the racks, and a jelly roll pan barely fits. So I can't double-up on dishes very much. I imagine that many of you are in similar situations, so here's a place to talk about your oven scheduling dilemmas!

And here are a few tips, too.

• Make the pies (and any other desserts) the day before. A pumpkin or mince pie is perfectly good the day after it has been baked; in fact, I really prefer day-old pies. The flavors have matured and grown more interesting. You can always warm the pies in the oven on low during dinner, if you want to serve them warm.

• Put your slow cooker to use! If you don't have a slow cooker, beg one from someone else and use it to keep mashed potatoes warm, or sweet potatoes or stuffing.

• Remember the turkey needs to rest. It should rest for awhile after you take it out of the oven, and then it will need to be carved before bringing it to the table. This leaves you at least 30 minutes to stuff everyone's casserole dishes in the oven to warm.

• And, after all that, keeping your dishes covered will really preserve their heat. I made a stuffing-panade the other night and it was finished at least an hour and a half before dinner was served. I kept it covered on the stovetop and it was still plenty warm when served at suppertime. Of course, you do need to be careful with this sort of decision; some dishes really should be served almost immediately or else refrigerated. Use good judgment and refer to the USDA food safety regulations when in doubt.

So, what does that leave you with? Make your pies the day before, then make up a couple pans of potatoes and stuffing. On Thanksgiving Day, roast your turkey, then pop your potatoes and stuffing in the oven after the turkey has baked. Warm the pies during dinner, and you're set.

That's one approach, anyway! What about you? How do you schedule oven time on Thanksgiving?

More Thanksgiving De-Stressing Tips:
Cooking for a Crowd: How To Cook a Stress-Free Feast
Stress-less Dinner Tip: Set the Table the Night Before
Stress-less Dinner Tip: Set Up a Dessert Station

(Image: Faith Durand)