Todays is Day 4 of my Cheap, Fun, Organized Christmas plan—which includes Thanksgiving, of course!
Monday is a mom’s first day of the week! Weekends are for family fun (and major chores!) and too busy for meal prepping! I always plan my menu and shop for the week on Saturday or Sunday so I can cook up a storm on Monday morning— #MealPrepMonday!
Thanksgiving is less than 3 weeks away! Besides meal prepping for my family’s meals for this week, I’m throwing in two Thanksgiving meal prep tasks—the more I get done now, the less I have to do the week of Thanksgiving! Stay totally organized this Thanksgiving!
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Both of today’s Meal Prep Monday Thanksgiving prep stations are perfect jobs for your kids! Even a two-year-old can tear bread into pieces, and a preschooler can push buttons on a food processor! Any kid over the age of 6 should be able to cut the ends off an onion and chop it into quarters, and anyone who doesn’t need a step stool to see into the pan can man the stove! Do NOT let your kid use the stove if he needs a step stool unless you are holding on to his waist the ENTIRE time!
Thanksgiving Meal Prep Monday: Thanksgiving Stuffing! (Thanksgiving Dressing?)
Nobody stuffs the Thanksgiving turkey anymore, but I still can’t call it dressing—dressing is what I put on my salad!
What to prep today to make Thanksgiving morning easier!
1. Chop celery, onions, and parsley in the food processor.
I put each item in my food processor in this order so I only have to wash it once:
- Chopping blade: chop parsley and fresh herbs; remove to a paper plate (one less dish!).
- Chopping blade: chop onions; add to pan.
- Slicing blade: slice celery.
Stove top prep:
- Add 1-2 Tbsp olive oil to your pan and cook onions over medium-low heat just until translucent, about 2 minutes, then add celery and cook until the celery is also translucent, about 2 more minutes.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the parsley.
- Microwave the onions and celery together in a large bowl for about 3 minutes.
- Stir in the parsley; the heat of the onions and celery will cook the parsley.
You just want to cook the veggies enough that they don’t get slimy when you defrost them. If you like softer veggies in your Thanksgiving stuffing, cook them a few minutes longer. Remember, the veggies will cook in the stuffing for another hour on Thanksgiving Day.
How to store your Thanksgiving dressing veggies mixture!
- Let the mixture cool, then put it into a freezer bag. Refrigerate for a few hours, then freeze. (Refrigerating the stuffing mixture before freezing it will keep ice crystals from forming!)
How to prep other ingredients:
- If your Thanksgiving stuffing recipe has mushrooms or apples in it, prep those a day or two before Thanksgiving and refrigerate; the texture gets a little weird when you freeze mushrooms, and apples can get mushy.
- If you’re making a Thanksgiving stuffing recipe with sausage, brown it while you’re chopping the vegetables and cook everything in the same pan. The fewer dishes, the better!
- You can freeze add ins like cranberries (fresh or dried cranberries) and orange zest along with the celery/onion/parsley mixture.
Meal Prep Monday bonus:
- I use the celery/onion/parsley mixture in tons of dishes—it’s a great base for many soups, stews, gravies, and casseroles. But I only like the big, chunky texture in Thanksgiving stuffing and chowder. For every other recipe, I mince the mixture. Simply add the amount you want to mince back into the food processor with the chopping blade and mince, then cook that batch for a couple minutes after you’re done cooking the chunky batch.
- Make a double or triple batch if you have the freezer space (or if you’re going to use the mixture this week). That’s what Meal Prep is all about: prep today for fast food tomorrow!
2. Bread or Cornbread
Bread crumbs aren’t dirty, but they are messy, and baking bread is time consuming! It’s so much better to get it done today so you can simply stir up your dressing recipe and bake it on Thanksgiving Day!
- Thanksgiving stuffing is a great way to use up any bread odds and ends hanging out in your freezer—a mixture of whole wheat and white breads is beautiful and tastes fantastic!
- You probably don’t have enough bread to make a huge batch of Thanksgiving dressing though, so make a fresh batch today and save time and mess Thanksgiving week.
- If you’re using homemade or fresh store bought bread or cornbread in your Thanksgiving dressing recipe this year (as opposed to a bag or box of premade croutons), make or buy the bread/cornbread and cut it into cubes, then leave it out to get stale today. You can leave it loosely covered (and away from pets, please!) on a counter or in a cabinet until Thanksgiving morning when you mix up your dressing!
- I live in Phoenix, so there’s no chance my stale bread will mold. If you live somewhere with high humidity, dry the bread cubes in the oven on the lowest setting so they don’t brown, cool, then bag the cubes and store them in the fridge or freezer.
- It’s so much cheaper to make your own bread for Thanksgiving stuffing! I can make enough organic bread cubes to make a huge batch of stuffing for less than $1!
Which bread makes the best Thanksgiving stuffing? Sourdough, white bread, or cornbread?