Menu planning for the holidays HELP PLEASE!

Discussion in 'Holiday Cooking' started by DebbiGall, Jan 7, 2018.

  1. DebbiGall

    DebbiGall Santa's Elves

    I've been on the boards here since they were over at organized Christmas,
    I have A.D.D. I have been treated for it since I was a child with medication.
    Menu planning is a constant worry for me I agonize over it for months before a holiday.
    I would like to have a menu plan for Thanksgiving Christmas and Easter I save my menus and use them and the grocery list over and over.
    this past Christmas was a disaster, I had 3 pasta dishes, I tried 2 new recipes and the person that was going to bring the broccoli and rice brought pasta too,
    any help with a workable menu would be awesome.
    I have turkey on thanksgiving and ham on Christmas and tamales on Easter. it's the sides that trip me up.
  2. Holiday_Mom

    Holiday_Mom Well-Known Member

    Hi Debbie,

    I break things down into steps to make it easier for myself. Here's what I would do for Thanksgiving.

    1. I would take a sheet of lined paper and make a list of all the foods that are on the table at Thanksgiving. Then I would read off my list to my family to see if anything is missing and then add it to my list.
    2. Next I would make type the list into Google Docs. (Google Docs allows me to access the information from any computer. If my pc crashes, then I'd be able to access it from another computer since it is in the cloud.) I would save it under Thanksgiving 2017.
    3. For the dishes that I make, I would go to my recipe book and type the recipe into the Thanksgiving 2017 document. If I doubled the recipe, then I would make a note of it.
    4. Now I have the menu and recipes from Thanksgiving 2017 in one location.
    5. I would add a {Notes} section at the bottom of the document. This is where I would keep track of things that worked and didn't work for Thanksgiving 2017. I would also put down the cost of the turkey per lb. and when I bought it, etc. If a grocery store was running a sale on something, then I would note that too. That will help me in planning for Thanksgiving 2018.
    6. I would print off the Thanksgiving 2017 document and place it in a "Holiday Menu Planning" binder.
    7. In September/October time frame, I would review my Thanksgiving 2017 document in Holiday Menu Planning binder.
    8. I would create a new Google Doc called Thanksgiving 2018. I would copy and paste the Thanksgiving 2017 document into the new document called Thanksgiving 2018. Now I would have a working copy for Thanksgiving 2018 based on Thanksgiving 2017. The old menu is still available but a new one is being created and added to as needed.
    9. I would contact those who bring a dish and find out what they were planning to bring for Thanksgiving 2018 and then make a note of it. Any notes made on the hard copy would get transferred over to Google Docs too. In Google Docs, I would use a different color or highlight changes/notes that are being done in 2018. A different color will grab my attention if something is new/different/changed.
    10. After Thanksgiving 2018, I would sit down and make a list of the things that worked/didn't work, etc. and enter it into my notes in a different color.
    I would apply the same principal to Christmas and Easter.

    I hope this helps!
  3. Ahorsesoul

    Ahorsesoul Santa's Elves

    Holiday_Mom likes this.
  4. Holiday_Mom

    Holiday_Mom Well-Known Member

    Hi Debbie,

    I wanted to show you my Thanksgiving 2016 notes last night but I lost internet and cable service last night. I wrote it out in 2015 and then reused it in 2016. I reused the 2016 Thanksgiving menu/schedule for the 2017 Thanksgiving and added notes to it too. Each year, I build on the other year and I reread the past menus and schedules to help me remember what worked/didn't work.

    The detailed cleaning schedule was based off of my Christmas Eve Preparation Timeline. I copied and pasted what I wanted to do for Thanksgiving from the Christmas Eve list. Over time, I deleted things that only pertained to Christmas and I added things that made sense for Thanksgiving.

    Here's a copy of what my 2016 schedule/menu looked like:

    Thanksgiving Preparation

    Two - Four Weeks Before:
    Food Prep:
    • Make Stuffing and freeze
    • Sweet Potatoes and freeze*
    • Mashed Potatoes and freeze
    • Creamed Spinach and freeze*
    *If not done by Nov. 15th, then plan on buying Birds Eye creamed spinach and using canned yams for Thanksgiving.

    2016 Thanksgiving Menu:

    • Turkey 18 - 20 lbs.
      Stuffing {If serving 12 people, then double the recipe. - 2016}
      • 10 slices of bread (5 white and 5 wheat)
      • 1 lb. of Bob Evans sage sausage
      • 1 onion
      • 3 celery stalks
      • 1 apple
      • dried cranberries
    • Mashed Potatoes {Had about 2 cups of leftovers.}
      • 5 lbs. of Russet Potatoes
      • 2 pkgs. of cream cheese
      • 2 c. of cream
      • ¼ lb. butter
    • Sweet Potatoes {If serving 12 people, then double the recipe. - 2016}
      • 4 lbs. sweet potatoes
        ¼ cup brown sugar
    • Creamed Spinach {If serving 12 people, then double the recipe. - 2016}
      • 1 c. half and half
        4 oz. cream cheese
      • 1 onion
      • 4 (10 oz) boxes of frozen spinach
      • ½ c. Parmesan cheese
    • Green beans {Jay brought green bean casserole. - 2016 Note}

    • Cranberry Sauce {Made 2 lbs. Might make 4 lbs. if serving 12 people. - 2016 Note}

    • Gravy {Made pan gravy. Then added 3 jars to the crock pot. - 2016 Note}

    • Rolls {20 Croissants}

    • Dessert

      • Apple Pie {TJ brought the pie}
        Blueberry Pie {TJ brought the pie}
      • Fruit Tart {Jay brought a tart}
      • Pat made an apple blossom phyllo dough dessert for 12.
      • Pumpkin Pie - {Pumpkin Pie (1 15 0z can of pumpkin, 1 can of evaporated milk will make two 8 in pies; - 2015}
      • Apple Crisp {Had enough so we saved this for the weekend. Pile apples high in pan. It will shrink while baking. I used a 9 X 11 Foil Pan. - 2016}
        • 8 apples,
        • Butter,
        • brown sugar and Cinnamon
        • flour
    • Cranberry Sprite and Green Tea Ginger Ale {2016}

    • Cranberry Bread {2 loaves}
      • orange juice
      • cranberries

    Christmas Cookie Baking Supplies (Minimum amounts listed)
    • Flour - 5 lb bag of flour
    • Sugar - white, brown and confectioners
      • 2 cups of white sugar
      • 2 ¼ cups of brown sugar
      • 4 cups of confectioner’s sugar
    • Shortening/Butter - 3 lbs.
    • Eggs - 9 eggs
    • Vanilla extract
    • Baking Powder
    • Baking Soda
    • Salt
    • Chocolate Chips - 2 bags

    Week of Thanksgiving:


    • Polish tea set.

    • Make place cards.

    • Declutter computer cabinet top.
    • Clean bathrooms.

      • Clean toilet and sink.

      • Empty trash can.

      • Check toilet paper.

      • Refill soap.

      • Windex mirrors and windows.

      • Dust furniture and window sills.

      • Wash floor.
    • Clean Dining Room, Living Room and Family Room.

      • Wipe down dining room chairs.

      • Dust chandelier.

      • Dust Floor.

      • Vacuum Floor.

      • Dust heating vents, woodwork, furniture and window sills.

      • Windex windows.

      • Declutter buffet.

      • Wash Family Room tile.
    • Clean Kitchen.
    • Wipe down counters.

    • Wash floor.
    • Windex windows.

    • Empty trash cans.

    • Dust heating vents and woodwork.

    • Declutter hutch and counter.

    • Clean off refrigerator door.
    • Clean Mudroom.

      • Sweep floor and wash if necessary.

      • Dust heating vents and woodwork.

      • Clean up half wall.

    • Clean Hall.

      • Wipe down banister.

      • Dust heating vents and furniture.

      • Dust mop/Vacuum floor.
    • Take chairs out of closet.

    • Take extra jackets out of closet.

    • Put extra hangers in closet.

    • Sweep closet floor.

    • Take out frozen entrees on Tuesday night and place in cooler to defrost.

    • Take out frozen Turkey 5-6 days before cooking and defrost in the refrigerator.{2016 notes}
    • Make pie crust on Tuesday or earlier and keep refrigerated between wax paper.{2015 notes}
    • Make Apple Crisp Topping on Tuesday or earlier and keep refrigerated.{2015 notes}
    • Make Apple Crisp and Pumpkin Pie on Wednesday.{2015 notes}

    Thanksgiving Day


    • Put clean Dining Room tablecloth on table.

    • Place butter without the wrapper on butter dish with butter knife.

    • Gather pewter serving dish with cloth napkin for rolls.

    • Get all serving utensils out on buffet.

    • Place wine and corkscrew on buffet.

    • Place bottle opener for beers by refrigerator.

    • Put half and half in creamer.

    • Place sugar in sugar bowl.

    • Make coffee and put in carafe.

    • Add more salt and pepper to shakers if necessary.

    • Set table:

      • Bread Plates, dinner plates, water goblets, napkins, forks, knives, and spoons go on the table.

      • Place extra serving utensils/cups/saucers/dessert plates/wine glasses on buffet.
    • Put out hand towels in bathroom.

    • Check toilet paper in bathroom.
    • Check on food in cooler.
    • Clean and dry turkey. Season and put in oven by 10:30 am. Cook until 150 degrees on meat thermometer. Check around 1 pm and every half hour thereafter.


    • Mashed Potatoes {Baked at 375 for 30 minutes uncovered and then another 30 mins. Uncovered at 350 degrees. Still cold in the middle so I covered it and then put in another 30 minutes. (when frozen)}

    • Sweet Potatoes {Baked at 375 for 30 minutes uncovered and then another 30 mins. covered.}

    • Creamed Spinach {Baked at 375 for 30 minutes uncovered and then another 30 mins. Covered.}

    • Turkey 20 lbs. - {If using the crock pot again, start warming gravy at high around 1 pm and then add turkey breast. - 2017}
    • All side dishes should be doubled if serving 12 people. {2016}
    AuntJamelle likes this.
  5. DebbiGall

    DebbiGall Santa's Elves

    This is great! you've put a lot of thought into it. your very organized. thank you.

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