Meal Planning Monday ~ Thanksgiving Countdown

Happy Thanksgiving Dinner countdown is on and it’s time to get those menus planned! Hello, it’s Heather from Real: The Kitchen and Beyond. Every year I anticipate Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a time to gather ’round the table with loved ones and remember how grateful we need to be for all that we have. It’s also a time I agonize over the Thanksgiving Dinner menu. I love planning and making this meal and narrowing down the array of side dishes and desserts isn’t easy.


I am not going to lie, I especially love Thanksgiving dinner tables loaded down with food. Every year as we make way too many dishes, I am reminded afresh of how blessed we are to be able to enjoy a table full of family, love, and food. The two biggest things I have found that help fill that table with less stress and a more frugal budget, is to keep the dishes simple and have everyone bring a favorite dish. This also helps keep the meal easy prep! Here are some of our favorite Thanksgiving dishes that make it to the table every year.


All About the Turkey

What is better than a beautifully roasted turkey with crispy flavorful skin? Here is my favorite roasted turkey recipe and a few prep tips for making that bird the main star.



Bountiful Sides

Amish Mashed Potatoes

Easy Healthy Sweet Potatoes

Gluten Free Sausage Cranberry Stuffing

Easy Lemony Asparagus – roasted with a little olive oil, salt, and the juice of 1/2 lemon squeezed over top

Creamed Corn (I confess, from the can)

My mama’s crescent rolls

Green Bean Casserole ( My favorite way to make it is to dump a 16 ounce bag of frozen green beans in a casserole dish and mix with a batch of homemade mushroom soup, then bake at 350 degrees until bubbly.)

Homemade Cranberry Sauce (see easy recipe below)



Delicious Desserts

Homemade Apple Pie

Cranberry Ginger Crumble Bars

Pumpkin Pie



Homemade Clementine Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce has always been that one dish that can’t be left off the table. From cans of jellied cranberries to this homemade clementine cranberry sauce, the color and flavor has to be on my plate. This clementine cranberry sauce has all the tartness of cranberries with sweetness from the sugar and clementine to mellow it out, yet still have bright flavors. Enjoy!




  • 4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

  • 1 clementine

  • 3/4 cup sugar


  • Zest and juice clementine, keeping both the juice and zest for the sauce.

  • Put cranberries in a wide-bottomed pan ( sauté pan or wide bottomed stockpot works)

  • Mix sugar, zest, and juice into cranberries.

  • Cook over medium heat, slightly chopping up cranberries once they get soft. (Use a hand masher or immersion blender.)

  • Heat until thick and bubbling.

  • Transfer to a bowl and chill before serving.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Makes: Approximately 2 cups



Heather McCurdy writes at Real: The Kitchen and Beyond where the food is (mostly) real and the making’s easy. She believes any one can cook. Just follow the steps, starting at #1. Read, follow, taste, venture out. Don’t be afraid to fail, then try again. Her other hats are homeschooling, editing fiction, ghostwriting, and culinary marketing. Oh, and she believes life is always better with dessert.






  1. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says:

    I host Thanksgiving every year and our menu never, ever changes. Everyone is ok with it, though :)

  2. I am a huge lover of Thanksgiving dinner. I even make it on Sundays sometimes just to indulge.

  3. Tamara says:

    I like your style! I love the turkey and gravy, I love the green beans and mashed potatoes, and I’m not sure I’ve ever had corn but I love that idea!

  4. Pam says:

    Yum, I love cranberry sauce with oranges in it and this with clementines sounds delicious. I can’t wait for Thanksgiving this year.

  5. I love Thanksgiving so much we might just have to celebrate again :)
    This cranberry sauce looks delicious. Perfect blend of sweet and sour all in one.

  6. This sounds like a tasty menu and it covers all of the bases! I’d love to try Cranberry-Ginger Crumble Bars for dessert!

  7. Star Traci says:

    I am all about the stuffing but I love it all. I am a dark meat girl with the turkey. That Clementine Cranberry sauce looks FABULOUS. My family likes the jellied sauce from cans but I prefer the whole berry sauce. Adding the oranges sounds amazing. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    Oooh I’m going to take a look at your gluten-free stuffing. That would be most appreciated at our Thanksgiving table.

  9. Keikilani says:

    I love cranberries and oranges! And homemade cranberry sauce is the only way to go.

  10. Liz Mays says:

    Ooh there are some awesome ideas here. I still don’t have my Thanksgiving menu set in stone so this is helpful.

  11. We often have some of the items what you’ve listed in your menu, but I think I will look for different recipes this year! Thank you for sharing it!

  12. Censie says:

    I love cranberry sauce. This looks like a great recipe. Thanksgiving dinner is full of great goodies.

  13. Debbie L. says:

    I love cranberry sauce. I have never made my own – your recipe sounds delicious. I will give it a try. Thanks

  14. Carol Bryant says:

    We always have an intimate Thanksgiving and I am looking forward to relaxing and eating – this menu you have planned sounds lovely.

  15. Brandy M. says:

    Love the idea of the clementine cranberry sauce. My mom makes a similar one and the bowl is licked clean every year!

  16. Bri says:

    Cranberry sauce is big in my house and this looks like a great recipe to try. I have to start making my Thanksgiving menu.

  17. This sounds like a great Thanksgiving meal. Maybe we should come over to your house!

  18. Rosey says:

    I do love a tasty cranberry sauce. Hurrah for Thanksgiving!

  19. Oh I just love your menu. We won’t be having a big Thanksgiving dinner this year since it’s just me and the kids but it’ll still be good.

  20. Tonya C says:

    Luckily I split cooking duty with my brother-in-law each year so cooking is a breeze! Thanks for these recipes!

  21. I love fresh cranberry sauce. We eat at my aunts and she serves the canned cranberry sauce – yuck! I think this year I will make homemade and bring it!