Thanksgiving In 5 Hours, From Shopping To Serving

It's Thanksgiving morning and you've just settled in with your pumpkin latte to watch the parade when your phone rings. "Aunt Jane has gotten sick and won't be able to host this year," says the voice on the other end. "You have a big dining room, would it be too much trouble if everyone came to you?" After almost choking on your coffee, you agree. How hard could hosting 18 people in your home in five hours be? Don't worry – we have you covered with a way to manage your time so you can have dinner on the table by the time guests arrive.

Click here to see the Best Store-Bought Stuffing Taste Test (Slideshow)

10 a.m.

First stop, the market.

No time to make a whole turkey, so pick up two 3-pound boneless turkey breasts. They feed about 10 people each and cook in about 1.5 hours. Grab 2 pounds of butter, a pint of whipping cream, and 1 pint of whole milk. 

Next stop, the disposables aisle, you are NOT going to want to scrub pans when this day is over! You'll need four (one large one for the turkey breasts, one for the stuffing, one for the mashed potatoes,  and one for the sweet potatoes).  Get one roll of heavy-duty aluminum foil — you're totally screwed if you run out! 

Grab two bags of cubed stuffing mix, poultry seasoning, cinnamon, maple syrup, powdered sugar, 2 quarts of chicken stock, and three cans of whole-berry cranberry sauce (hey, don't judge)!

Next stop is the bakery department. Pick up two bags of rolls and a couple of pumpkin pies — you'll doctor it when you get home.

Finally, you careen into the produce aisle where you grab two big bags of Brussels sprouts, two bags of peeled and cubed white and sweet potatoes (thank God someone else did the legwork), two lemons, one package of sliced button mushrooms, and two of those blessed pre-chopped mixes of carrots, celery, and onions. Grab some hummus, a bag of baby carrots, and some pita chips.

That should have taken you one hour if you didn't stop for the extra shot of espresso at the Starbucks café in the market. 

Print out this Shopping List:

  • Two 3-pound boneless turkey breasts
  • 2 pounds of unsalted butter (8 sticks)
  • 1 pint of whipping cream
  • 1 pint of whole milk
  • 1 pint orange juice
  • 4 disposable aluminum tins: 1 large, 3 deep 12-by-10-inch rectangular tins
  • 1 roll heavy-duty aluminum foil
  • 1 pound mixed salted nuts
  • 1 container hummus
  • 1 bag pita chips
  • 2 bags cubed stuffing mix
  • 1 small container poultry seasoning
  • 1 small container cinnamon
  • 8 ounces maple syrup
  • Small container powdered sugar
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 3 cans whole-berry cranberry sauce
  • 2 bags of good bread rolls
  • 1-2 pumpkin pies
  • 1 bag baby carrots
  • 3 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 2 bags each peeled and diced sweet AND white potatoes
  • 1 orange
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 package sliced button mushrooms
  • 4 cups fresh diced carrots, celery, and onion mixture

Clik the next page to see the timeline for your next four hours.


Here's the timeline for your next four hours. Print it out and tape it to your kitchen cabinet!

11 a.m.

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. SWEET POTATOES: Add sweet potatoes to a disposable pan with 1 cup of orange juice. Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ cup maple syrup, and 1 tablespoon salt. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the lower rack of your oven for 45 minutes. 

3. MASHED POTATOES: Boil potatoes in salted water for 18-20 minutes or until fork-tender. Drain and add two sticks of butter (yeah, two sticks, don't skimp out) and 1 cup milk. Mash and add salt and pepper to taste. Place in a disposable foil container, cover with a thin layer of milk (this helps to keep them from drying out), and aluminum foil. Hold on the stove until about one hour before your guests arrive (that would be around 2 p.m., around the time you jump in the shower).

12 p.m.

4. TURKEY: Place turkey breasts in disposable foil containers. Rub a couple of pats of butter over the skin and season with salt and pepper, juice from one lemon, and 2 tablespoons poultry seasoning. Add 1 cup of the chopped carrot, celery, and onion mixture to the bottom of the pan and 1 cup of chicken stock. Place in the upper rack of your stove for 1-1½ hours. 

5. STUFFING: Melt 1 stick of butter in the microwave. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 cup of carrot, celery, onion mixture, and 1 cup sliced mushrooms to a large sauté pan and cook for 2-3 minutes on medium-high heat until vegetables begin to sweat. Remove from heat and add both packages of cubed stuffing mix, melted butter, and 3 cups of chicken stock. Stir to combine and place in a disposable container, cover, and keep on top of your stove. Wipe down the pan, but don't wash it, as you'll be using it for the Brussels sprouts.

1:30 p.m.

6. Remove liquid from turkey and hold in a measuring cup; you should have a total of 2 cups of liquid. If you're short, add additional chicken stock. Cover turkey with foil, remove from the oven, and keep on stovetop.

7. PIE: Whip 2 cups heavy cream with ¼ cup powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon in a bowl for 4-5 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Return to the fridge until you're ready to use.

8. CRANBERRY SAUCE: Open cranberry sauce, mash with the back of a fork, and add the zest and juice from half an orange. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate until guests arrive.

9. After 45 minutes to an hour, remove sweet potatoes from the oven; keep covered and on stovetop. Add mashed potatoes and stuffing to the oven and bake for 45 minutes.

2 p.m.


10.  GRAVY: Whisk  2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons flour in a high-sided pot for 2 minutes on medium heat until a paste forms and begins to just slightly brown. Slowly add liquid and continue whisking. Season to taste with salt and pepper, remove from heat, loosely cover with foil, and set aside.

11. BRUSSELS SPROUTS: Wash and trim the ends of each Brussels sprout and quarter. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in the same pan (see above) on medium-high heat. Add quartered sprouts and ½ cup chicken stock and sauté for 10-12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.

12. ROLLS: Wrap rolls in aluminum foil and throw in the oven when your guests arrive. You will have some leftover butter unless you went crazy on the mashed potatoes, so spread it into a small bowl and put on the table.

13. Uncover sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes and bake an additional 10 minutes.

14. Slice turkey breasts and arrange on a platter with stuffing. Warm and serve gravy.

3 p.m.

Find a Pandora Thanksgiving playlist, and pour yourself a (big) drink as your guests arrive. Let them help you set the table and arrange the pre-feast nibbles. They can set out the hummus, carrots, and crackers on a decorative platter, and pour nuts into a pretty bowl.