Thanksgiving Tips: What dishes can I make ahead of time?

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- So you’ve been tasked with hosting Thanksgiving dinner, and just thinking about all the dishes you have to prepare can feel daunting. Luckily, a lot of items on your Thanksgiving menu will stay good in the freezer or refrigerator for several days, giving you more time to enjoy with your friends and family on the big day.

Ease the Thanksgiving stress by making these side dishes ahead of time:

  • Sweet Potato Casserole
    Covered sweet potato casserole can last in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. If freezing, prepare the casserole completely, but leave off the topping and don’t bake it. Cover with a double layer of aluminum foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then you’re ready to bake!
  • Cranberry Sauce
    Opting for homemade cranberry sauce instead of canned this year? Prepare this dish ahead of time by making the recipe, letting it cool, and then freezing it. Thaw in the fridge overnight, and stir well before serving.
  • Gravy
    Making your gravy ahead of time will save you the headache of rushing to make it once the turkey comes out of the oven. Keep in mind, if the recipe you are using calls for milk and cream, don’t add it until you reheat the gravy on Thanksgiving, or else it might separate. Pre-prepared gravy will stay good for up to two days in the refrigerator.
  • Mashed Potatoes
    Like sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes are another starch dish you can tick off your Thanksgiving to-do list early. Cook and mash potatoes with all the butter, cream, and add-ins you would normally use, cover, and store in the fridge. Stored correctly, mashed potatoes should last 3-5 days in the refrigerator.
  • Stuffing
    When it comes to stuffing, you can make it ahead of time, but don’t bake until the day of. Assemble all your ingredients and let the stuffing cool completely before putting it in the refrigerator or freezer. Cooked stuffing can last 3-4 days in the refrigerator. If you choose to freeze it, let it thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours and stand for 30 minutes at room temperature before it goes in the oven.
  • Pies
    It’s likely that your guests will be expecting some kind of dessert to satisfy their sweet tooth after dinner, so this year you decided to try your hand at baking homemade pies. Give yourself time to get it right by making them ahead of time. Fruit, pumpkin, pecan, and custard pies can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Here are a couple of dishes that you shouldn’t make before Thanksgiving Day:

  • Rolls, or other types of bread
  • The turkey
  • Anything with fresh greens

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