Thanksgiving Survival Tips for Busy Families

a family enjoys a thanksgiving dinner
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If the thought of Thanksgiving and the upcoming holidays causes feeling of anxiousness and dread rather than joy, you’re not alone. The holiday season can be the most stressful time of the year for many, especially busy families with all the extra activities. We’d like to offer you some basic tips for keeping your Thanksgiving healthy, safe, and FUN! Remember, while food is certainly a central part of our uniquely American holiday, it’s not the only part.

Plan. Make lists.

Then plan and redo lists. Even if you aren’t usually a planner, especially when it comes to food, planning even a little now can help you relax on Thanksgiving Day and avoid sending someone out to the grocery store for a last-minute item.

  • Clean out the refrigerator and freezer and eat those leftovers to make room for holiday foods. Store away infrequently used items on your counters as well.
  • Buy non-perishable items now such as canned items and baking mixes, as well as vegetables like potatoes and onions. While it’s tempting to buy everything at once, buying in smaller trips can be less overwhelming than trying to navigate a mile-long list with a huge shopping cart and small children in tow.
  • Decide whether to buy a fresh or frozen turkey. Allow one day for each 5 pounds of weight for a frozen turkey to thaw in the refrigerator. If using a fresh turkey, consult the tag for the “use by” date, or wait to purchase until 1-2 days before cooking.

On the BIG day.

Remember, it’s not all about the meal. Let people help so you don’t do it all yourself. Even small children can help set a table, make place cards or other decorations, help prepare simple appetizers, or clean vegetables. A few more ideas:

  • If you’re having guests, let them bring some of the food. Appetizers and desserts are the best choice since they can usually be done ahead.
  • Be sure to keep foods at the proper temperature before and after eating. Keep warm foods warm and cold foods cold until eating. Once the meal is finished, deal with leftovers as quickly as possible. It is not necessary to let food cool to room temperature before refrigerating, and food poisoning bacteria grow more quickly at room temperature. Place in microwave-safe containers or freezer containers for easy reheating. Use leftovers within four days or freeze.
  • Think about the best time for your big meal, planning around your family and their needs. For example, if your infant or toddler usually naps from 2-4 pm, think about whether you want to have the meal during that time without them or include them at the table.  If you decide to eat at an “off” time (not during your usual meal times), plan healthy snacks or appetizers to keep everyone from getting cranky due to low blood sugar.
  • Try to leave time after your meal for some outdoor activity – weather permitting. Take a family walk, go to a park, or throw a frisbee or football before everyone plops down in front of the TV.

The Morning and Day after.

  • Practice holiday (food) forgiveness. Holidays are about spending time with friends and family, celebrating the season and partaking in delicious cuisine. But for people trying to watch what they eat, holidays — especially Thanksgiving — can be difficult. If you did end up eating more than you had hoped (or planned) to, let it go and move on. One meal won’t undo all your hard work. Take an extra-long walk or spend more time at the gym over the next few days.
  • Take advantage of those leftovers! Now that your Thanksgiving leftovers are in smaller portions in the freezer or refrigerator, use them for future family meals. Just a quick reheat to 165°F in the microwave and those leftovers will be a great timesaver. Or use them to make a great soup or true a new recipe.
  • Begin thinking ahead to the coming holidays. Take an hour or two with a cup of something hot and soothing and use the time to mark upcoming dates on your calendar and start lists of things you don’t want to forget. Getting it on paper – or your device – gets it out of your brain!

Integrity Urgent Care will be closed at all our locations on Thanksgiving Day so that our staff may spend the day with their families and friends but will open again bright and early on November 23rd at 8 am. Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at Integrity Urgent Care! We’re thankful for all of you!

Gravely M. You can do it: Thanksgiving for busy families. US Department of Agriculture [online blog]. 8 Nov 2018 [Accessed 13 Nov 2018].
Laliberte M. This is what happens to your body when you binge on Thanksgiving. Reader’s Digest [online]. [Accessed 13 Nov 2018].
Miller J. Practice holiday (food) forgiveness. WebMD [online]. [Accessed 13 Nov 2018].

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