Food + Drink

8 Ways to Make Thanksgiving Stress-Free with Julia Turshen

One thing we love about Julia Turshen’s cookbook Small Victories is the relaxed attitude. Missing an ingredient? Leave it out, Julia often suggests. Don’t have something on hand? She probably lists an alternative.

“Stress makes food taste bad, so try not to worry so much,” she writes. Just reading her recipes has a calming effect on us, so we knew we’d be remiss not to ask Julia, the ultimate cool cucumber, for Thanksgiving tips.

8 Ways to Have a Stress-Free Thanksgiving

While Thanksgiving can inspire a lot of stress for most home cooks, a few small victories can help make the day feel less overwhelming.

1. When you write your menu and grocery list this year, make a copy of it (mine is in my email archives) and use it again and again.

The best thing about traditional foods is that they don’t change, therefore there’s no need to rewrite the same list year after year. Even if you switch up a few dishes, you can just edit the list, not start it from scratch.

Small Victories

2. A turkey is basically just a big chicken. It’s not a big deal, it’s just a big bird.

Also, two small turkeys are easier to handle, cook evenly, and carve than one large one. Lastly, a roasted turkey stays hot for a long time, plus the longer it rests, the juicier it will be. So, it’s okay not to time it so it comes out of the oven right before you sit down!

3. Gravy doesn’t need to be made last minute. Make it ahead!

4. The hardest part of any meal isn’t preparing any single dish, it’s nailing the timing.

The best way to handle this? Don’t be afraid to choose things that are great at room temperature! Side dishes are especially forgiving (think hearty salads and roasted vegetables). Serving them at room temperature means they can be made ahead and just left out and are one less thing to worry about.

5. Just about every dish has some part of it that can be prepared ahead of time.

Don’t start cooking on Thursday morning. Start as soon as Monday! Tear bread for stuffing and let it get dry and kinda stale so that it will absorb everything you add to it. Blanch green beans and put them in a plastic bag and at the last minute just heat them up in a big skillet with butter and garlic. Make salad dressing and put it in a jar.

Small Victories

6. When people ask what they can bring, tell them.

Wine, pies, side dishes, ice…everything can be assigned. And when people get to your house, put them to work. Have someone make sure everyone has a drink. Let people help you clear dishes and wash them and dry them.

7. On the other hand, if you are a guest, bring something and ask what you can do.

Even if someone tells you not to bring something, bring something. Maybe even breakfast for Friday morning.

8. Go out to dinner on Wednesday night or order takeout.

Small Victories Julia Turshen


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