This step is first because family recipes are one way we keep the traditions of our family from generation to generation. This hits me particularly close to home because we’ve lost many family members who contributed to holiday meals. Handwritten recipe cards can be a special keepsake. Look at different ways you can collect, save and share family recipes from the Thanksgiving feast. The supplement for this badge program has some examples of recipe cards you can use.
2. Traditional meal.
What is in your traditional meal? Ours includes turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy. After that, everyone brings their favorites. Look at what you traditionally make. Does your family prefer one person’s way of making one of these items over another? For example, my brothers swear even though we all make stuffing the same way that my mother makes it “the best.” If so, make that item with them and see if they do something different that’s not on the recipe. You might find a hidden family secret.
3. If it’s new, test it first.
So, you’ve decided to put the holiday on its head and make something completely new. Always make it at least once before the event. You don’t want to have your family politely telling you how good it is while the dog is eating it under the table.
4. Ask for help.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. My mother, sister and I split up the bulk of the cooking. That allows us to have time for our families as well. You want to make sure the holiday is fun for you too! Look at what you need to accomplish and what you need help with . . . even if it’s something as simple as chopping vegetables.
Do you have family members that can’t wait and are drooling while you’re trying to finish up the meal? Appetizers are a great way to slow them down. Fresh veggies with dip, nuts and chips can be available for the snackers. Do you have favorite appetizers that go with your Thanksgiving meal?
6. Sides: Vegetables.
Your vegetables might be plain or mixed with other ingredients. Since vegetables tend to be a sticking point with kids, allowing them to help make these sides usually increases the chance they’ll actually try it. Some vegetables we make at our house include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Green bean casserole
- Corn (with just a bit of butter)
7. Sides: Fruits
Kids are more likely to eat fruits. One fruit that takes center stage is cranberries. However cranberries tend to be bitter by themselves. Canned cranberry sauce is the easy way out. We like to add oranges and make relish with fresh cranberries. I also have a recipe for my grandmother’s cranberry fluff. Do you make other fruit dishes for the holidays that are not desserts?
8. Sides: pasta, rice and more.
When we hit the non-vegetable and fruit sides, the choices become more varied. Macaroni and cheese, while not really a Thanksgiving item, is great for picky kids who shy away from the traditional Thanksgiving meal. We have it almost every year. Look over the menu and provide a side that will make those picky eaters happy.
We purchase rolls each year. This may not seem like a tradition to you, but my husband worked at a bakery making what he called “brown and burns”. For us, we serve them as a reminder of my husband. You can instead make breads, rolls, biscuits, cornbread or whatever keeps traditions alive in your family. Do you have a bread-type item that you make every Thanksgiving?
Start with the traditional list below. Add in those items that are traditional for your family. Choose one or two to make when it is not the holiday to see if you can improve / adjust the recipe to make it more personalized to your family.
- Pumpkin pie / roll
- Apple pie
- Pecan pie
- Mincemeat pie
11. Prepare for leftovers.
Be sure you have enough containers to send food home, put in the freezer, prepare future meals, etc. You may have someone ask for extra of something because no one else in their house likes it. Small, recycled containers with lids are a great way to share and you can mark on them.
12. Start your own tradition.
Tired of turkey and stuffing? Not a ham fan? Check out other cultures and create your own unique feast. You might even make it a contest for everyone to choose new foods to add to your traditional fare.
- Recipe cards to print and use for Thanksgiving sharing
Sites to Explore