When should I order my Thanksgiving turkey? What side-dishes can be made ahead? Can my pies be made the day before? Here are the answers to your Thanksgiving dinner timeline questions with my complete list of tips plus 30 plus healthy recipes to help you plan your menu.

Healthy Thanksgiving Planner


I had all intentions of making my Thanksgiving shopping list last weekend, but somehow I didn’t get to it. Have you already done it? Do you know what you are making? Bringing? Here are more than 30 recipes to help you plan you menu all from my very own archives.

Below you’ll find the recipes, but before we get to that I just wanted to share my own plan and timeline.

Thanksgiving Planner ~ Timeline

1 week to 5 days before: (aka Thursday- Saturday morning) Make a lot of lists. Including shopping list and prep lists. I usually have to make a few shopping lists. I’ll do one big shop this weekend, and then a small one on Tuesday or Wednesday for the last minute fresh items. I also know that it is rare that I can get everything at one store. So I’ll make a small list of specialty items that I know I may have to hunt for.

Buy the Booze! Have fun talking to your wine guy or gal about what you’ll be serving. I love to have a sparkling rose on hand and fixins for some sort of festive cocktail. Stick it in the basement, or wherever you want. Beer freezes at around 28 degrees so don’t leave it outside if it is going to be cold in your area. I also stock up on seltzer and juices. And maybe a bottle of sparkling grape juice too for the kiddos. Now is the time to make sure you have all the cooking equipment you need, and stem ware etc.

 Since we are having out of town guests I will also be making lists for our other meals, and making sure that the linens are ready to go. If you’re in the same boat, I would recommend that you freeze anything for the time they are there, or make a batch of what you’ll have to eat other than left-overs. I’m making this awesome sweet potato soup with peanuts and coconut and freezing it.

Now is also a great time to bake and freeze muffins and quickbreads. Just plan to defrost on Thanksgivng day and then rewarm in the oven to refreshen.

Sunday before 1 pm: Go grocery Shopping. Saturday is crazyness. This is the rookie hour at the grocery store and may send you into a fit of rage if you try to shop on Saturday. Wait a day, let the stores restock, and then go. As you know, it will still be more crowded than usual.

Sunday evening: Make pie doughs, wrap and refrigerate. Make salad dressing. Make cranberry sauce.

Monday: Pick up the bird that you ordered from your favorite farmer down the road and start the process of brining. Do any small prep jobs that can be done in advance, including toasting nuts, mixing dry ingredients for baking recipes. Make sure napkins are ironed. Make croutons and crostini and store them at room temp in a sealed container once completely cool and dry.

Tuesday: Make any other sauces, soups and dips. Including pesto and white bean puree for the appetizers. Make cornbread for stuffing. Pick up and arrange flowers.

Wednesday: Bake Pies and Prep stuffing. Trim green beans and brussels, peel potatoes and store them in cold water. If making vegetarian entree or casseroles that can be made ahead, you can make that now. If serving anything that needs to be roasted do it today. Buy ice. And before bed, get your turkey in the brine. It will need to be in for 10 to 16 hous.

Thursday: Workout. Put on your apron, but keep your running shoes on. Roast Turkey. Make the sides, and get lots of helpers. Breathe. Make liberal use of your timers and thermometers. (That’s an affiliate link.) Have fun. Enjoy yourself.

Search all Thanksgiving Recipes Here

Drinks and Starters

Vanilla Pear Moscow Mules | These light and gingery cocktails are going to be a new tradition!

Chocolate Chili Spiced Pecans | Spiced pecans with cocoa, chipotle and chili powder for a gift from the kitchen or appetizer. Gluten-free and only 20 minutes to make.

Low Fat Ranch Dip | You guys are going to love this Low Fat Ranch Dip, made with cottage cheese and buttermilk powder.  It is super easy and makes a healthy appetizer for a party or just great for snack time with the kiddos!

Grilled Bread Antipasti with White Bean and Leek Puree | It is a classic Italian antipasto of grilled bread topped with savory white bean puree and garlicky greens. I love the way it can easily be adapted to what I have on hand.

Cranberry Pesto Crostini with ChevreServed with crostini and chevre, it is a simple and flavorful appetizer perfect for the holidays. It takes mere minutes to make and the taste is majorly addictive. Seriously, I couldn’t stop eating these. Yum!

First Course

Roasted Garlic Cheddar bisque | The soup is filled with awesome cheddar cheese and roasted garlic making it the perfect Fall comfort food and gluten-free meal!

Chopped Winter Salad | This Chopped Winter Salad with apples, celery, radishes and carrots is colorful, crunchy and clean-eating friendly! I am re-sharing it today and I have a bit of cool stuff to share about the health benefits of apple cider vinegar, which I used in the shallot cider vinegar dressing on this salad.

 Roasted Grapes Crostini with Goat Cheese and Walnuts | These slow-roasted grape crostini with goat cheese and walnuts with a drizzle of honey are truly sublime. They’re a yummy vegetarian appetizer for a fall gathering or they’re also great to serve for a cheese course.

Carrot Ginger Soup with Oregano Croutons | This Carrot Ginger Soup with Oregano Croutons is the perfect mid-Winter vegan soup! And it is only 123 calories per serving. Granny smith apples, fresh ginger and thyme add wonderful layers and depth of flavor and the aromatic and crunchy oregano croutons make it extra special.

Arugula Salad with Butternut Squash and Maple Vinaigrette | Arugula salad with roasted butternut squash, apple, walnuts and cranberries with maple vinaigrette made with cider vinegar and shallot.

Cranberry Vinaigrette | Cranberry vinaigrette recipe with fresh thyme and shallot. Vegan-friendly, paleo and gluten-free.

Thanksgiving Main Course Recipes

the roasted turkey on a platter from the side

Here is the best Thanksgiving Turkey! It is brined and then roasted with garlic and herbs. 

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Quinoa Pilaf with Pumpkin it comes together in one pot, and reheats beautifully.

This savory galette is a great meat-free alternative to Turkey or this Swiss Chard Tart with Chevre and Leeks | This Swiss Chard tart with Chevre and Leeks is a must make if you are looking for a fancy vegetarian entree for the holidays. It is filled with a ton of swiss chard, fresh crumbled goat cheese, golden raisins in a crispy crumbly almond tart shell. It is so hearty and festive perfect for special occasions.

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese with Gruyere and Rosemary | This macaroni and cheese with butternut squash is a healthy make-over of classic macaroni and cheese nommed-up with whole-grain pasta, gruyere cheese, rosemary and loads and loads of butternut squash! I’m telling you, it’s the most perfect comfort food casserole ever!!

Thanksgiving Stuffing/Dressing Recipes

Sausage Cranberry Stuffing  | This is the recipe that earned me the nickname of “the Stuffing Lady.” It is that good!

Gluten-free Walnut Kale Quinoa Stuffing | You don’t have to be gluten-free to appreciate this recipe! It has classic stuffing flavors everyone will enjoy!

Cornbread Stuffing with Apples and Pecans| complete make-ahead instructions, a short-cut and a gluten-free option and a vegetarian version as well.


Orange Vegetable Side Dishes for Thanksgiving

Garlic Herb Butternut Squash | Join the fans of this dish. It never fails! 

Roasted Butternut Squash with Paprika and Turmeric | You’re gonna love this vegan and paleo recipe for roasted butternut squash with smoked paprika and turmeric. Not only is it gluten-free but only takes 10 minutes to get it in the oven.

Curry Roasted Acorn Squash | Roasted acorn squash with coconut oil, brown sugar and curry

Easy Sweet Potato Casserole  | This sweet potato casserole with cruncy sugared pecans is a healthy make over of the classic Thanksgiving side dish. It’s vegetarian, gluten free and kid friendly making it the perfect addition to your Holiday table!

Vegetable Mash | This is a savory and creamy alternative to mashed potatoes made with root vegetables with garlic and herbs.

5 Spice Mashed Sweet Potatoes | They couldn’t get much silkier- and not a marshmallow in sight.

Green Vegetable Side Dish Recipes For Thanksgiving

Dirty Green Beans | It’s steamed green beans tossed with fermented black beans (which are fermented and salted black soybeans), shiitakes and garlic. They are totally umami {and a little dirty!}

Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnuts Oregano and Sage  | Steamed Brussels sprouts tossed with garlic, olive oil and butter and flavored with fresh chopped sage, oregano and toasted hazelnuts. A healthy and delicious low-carb, gluten-free and vegetarian side dish for thanksgiving (or the holidays.)

Green Beans with Walnuts and Balsamic | One of my favorite vegetable side dishes of all times, and a reader favorite. Green beans simply prepared with garlic, walnuts and balsamic vinegar. you can’t go wrong! Naturally gluten-free and vegan!

Cheddar Green Bean Casserole | This cheddar green bean casserole is a from-scratch version of the classic. Perfect for Thanksgiving or your holiday meal. And it’s vegetarian!

Simple Skillet Green Beans | One of the most popular, and super simple recipes I have ever shared!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon| With a drizzle of Maple syrup! You do not want to miss this one my friends!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic| Silly easy, but so ddang good with other classic Thanskgiving recipes.

Green Bean Corn Salad | Simple salad made with green beans and sweet corn with cider vinegar and shallot dressing with fresh chopped basil. An easy vegan side salad. {Gluten-free}

More Thanksgiving Side Dish Ideas

Herb Smashed Mashed Potatoes | First of all, leave the potato skins on, because it’s easier and healthier for you. Then steam them until they’re very tender. Then lastly, tumble them with a bit of butter, sharp and tangy farm fresh yogurt and tons of chopped herbs.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes | If your family is anything like mine, your Thanksgiving table would not be complete without mashed potatoes. Well, then you don’t want to miss these Healthy Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes! They may be lighter in calories with non-fat plain yogurt, but they are far from light on flavor with layer upon layer of yummy garlic!

Cranberry Sauce with Apple and Orange | This Cranberry Sauce with apple and orange has less sugar.  It’s a healthier version of the Thanksgiving classic and it’s vegan, gluten and wheat free!!

Parmesan and Leek Savory Muffins | These Savory Muffins are ready in 50 minutes and make the perfect make-ahead side. You can freeze them and just thaw rewarm for serving!

Mom’s 10 Minute Cranberry Relish| Made with raw cranberries and ground up orange. It is shockingly good and balances the whole meal.

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes| Because at the end of the day it’s really all about the gravy to mashed potato ratio isn’t it?

Thanksgiving Desserts

No Corn Syrup Maple Pecan Tart | Here is a healthy twist on pecan pie for Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. This version has dried cherries and is sweetened by all-natural pure maple syrup. So that means no corn-syrup!

Chocolate Swirl Pumpkin Pie | This Chocolate Swirl Pumpkin Pie will be your family’s new Thanksgiving tradition! It is made with a rich chocolate swirl and creamy spiced pumpkin pie in a home-made whole-wheat crust!  

Cranberry Maple Apple Crumb Pie | I’ve been so excited to share this Cranberry Maple Apple Crumb Pie recipe I have been working on for Thanksgiving. It has a deep dish whole-grain crust. It is sweetened with maple syrup and has a crunchy nut crumb topping.

If you are looking to up your pumpkin pie game try this Maple Bourbon Pumpkin Pie. It’s from my cookbook and has a flaky all butter crust.