These 5 Super-Simple Prep Tips Will Make Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner an Absolute Breeze

published Nov 16, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
thanksgiving table with menu of dishes: some sliced quick bread on cutting board, a nice green salad, a bowl of garnished mushroom soup, a stuffed roasted pumpkin, sliced open, gold servingware and flatware, and glasses of wine
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Prop Styling: Andie McMahon

Barbara Costello calls herself an “Internet Mom” online, and this year, she’s extending that mom energy to the rest of us just in time for Thanksgiving. In a recent Instagram post, Barbara (who goes by “Babs”) shared five tips — from prepping to moving things out of the way — that are sure to simplify your cooking process on the big day. And what cook couldn’t use a less stressful holiday dinner?

Dressed in a cozy sweater and standing in what seems to be her kitchen, Babs began laying down the rules of the holiday land that you’ll probably want to keep handy for years to come.

First, she revealed that, instead of measuring as you go, you can actually make your cooking process less hectic with the “mise en place” method. This calls for you to write each recipe down on a card, pre-measure each ingredient you need for that recipe, and place them all on a cookie sheet or tray. This way, when you’re ready to prepare that dish, everything is already gathered in one place.

Next, for those who are prone to running out of stovetop space when making dishes, Babs suggests placing your cooked mashed potatoes in your slow cooker to keep them warm. And if you have some gravy to match, you can use a thermos to keep it warm.

Making space for the items you’ll need to store or cool in the fridge will no longer be a problem either as the content creator notes that all you have to do is simply place any refrigerated items you won’t be using on Thanksgiving in a cooler with ice. The fact that you won’t be opening that cooler to get things out means the internal temperature will stay low enough to keep your perishables safe.

Conversely, if you need more space to keep dishes warm, you can convert a cooler into a hotbox. To do so, pour 2 to 3 quarts of boiling hot water into a cooler, leaving it closed for five minutes. Then, pour out the water through the built-in spout, line the cooler with aluminum foil, and place your foil-covered dishes in the warmed cooler.

And last, but certainly not least, if you’re cooking potatoes for a really large group, she approves of using your dishwasher to save a little time and labor. Simply place your potatoes directly onto the top or bottom racks, then run the quick rinse cycle without soap. (This works just as well for white potatoes as it does for sweet potatoes.) And voilà! You’ve gotten some time back and nailed your Thanksgiving prep like a pro!