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Wellness Wednesday: Plan your Thanksgiving meals now

Thanksgiving dinner
Posted at 8:22 AM, Nov 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-03 10:22:19-04

IDAHO — November is here to kick off the holiday season, and if you're already stressing about Thanksgiving dinner, we've got tips to help you get ready for the big day well in advance.

Before you even start planning out a menu, think about timing out your day and creating a schedule built around dinnertime.

"I always like to encourage people to build an activity into their day so getting outside if the weather is nice, getting some fresh air, moving a little bit, and maybe doing something with family and friends," says Albertsons dietitian Molly Tevis.

While turkey will likely be the main star of your dinner show, there are ways to make the rest of the meal a little healthier while not skimping out on tastiness.

"We want to aim for lots of color. We always have our traditional foods, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls but adding in lots of color from lots of different vegetables," Tevis explains. "Maybe try a new side dish or have some vegetables ready to go, chopped up, so they're easy to eat and eye-appealing."

Tevis says it's all about working in a variety of foods to keep nutritional balance and traditions going during Thanksgiving. Many of the dishes to help create that balance can be prepped in advance of the big day as well.

"You can take a big load off of your busy day and be able to enjoy it more with family and friends if you prep a little bit in advance. A lot of the dishes can be made a couple of days in advance, like cranberry relish or even casseroles. You can have them ready to go in the fridge and then just throw them in the oven," says Tevis.

For the actual meal, there are also some things to remember so you can fully enjoy the fruits of your labor.

"Just slow down. Thanksgiving and the holidays are about spending it with family and friends so enjoy the company of others. When we slow down and enjoy our food, we generally eat less. Plus, we can appreciate what's in front of us a little bit more," Tevis explains.

As for your waiting guests on Thanksgiving Day, Tevis says have some grab-and-go type snacks for them to graze on before dinnertime.

"We don't want to skip meals before our biggest meal of the day if you're having a big Thanksgiving meal. Having some snacks or some ready-to-go meals out and about so family and friends can grab them and make sure they're not skipping meals before you sit down," says Tevis.

Tevis says for her grab-and-go snacks, she likes to offer up veggies and protein as dense foods that will curb appetites so guests aren't overly hungry and overeat during dinner.

Some ideas you can try include a snack board for pre-dinner and an easy cranberry sauce for your meal. Tevis says don't forget to use up those leftovers in recipes like this savory breakfast strata or turkey-cranberry panini.

For more ideas, head into your local Albertsons.