Thanksgiving, like all holidays, can be a frenzied time. In between weekend hockey, a jam-packed school schedule and laundry-a-palooza busy parents must somehow pull off an epic festive dinner. Before panic sets in, and you order takeout (although pizza would be a fun new tradition) try these tips to save time and energy in the kitchen.

Team Up

Share kitchen duties. Delegate, and give everyone in the family, from smallest to tallest, a job, or two. The youngest kids can set the table, older children can prepare and chop vegetables and parents can keep watch to make sure the Turkey doesn’t burn. I may, or may not be speaking from experience, ha!

Why not a Thanksgiving potluck? Invite friends to bring a main dish, appetizer or dessert. People are sure to help with the dishes before they leave if they plan to take their serving platter home!

Double Batch It

I live (and survive) by the mantra “cook once, eat twice.” This Thanksgiving I’ll be making a Mardell-family staple, “Golden Gruyére Gratin,” and I’ll be doubling the recipe. This, like many dishes can be made ahead and frozen to cook another day. Baked mac & cheese, chilli, turkey tetrazzini – are all on my freezer-friendly list.

When the freezer is stocked with a few “oven ready” meals, it can really take the pressure off on a hectic weeknight. Add a quick side of diced fruit or salad, and dinner is ready!

Reinvent Leftovers

Not everyone enjoys leftovers; however, when they’re reinvented into a new dish, even the most finicky family member is sure to become a fan. Leveraging leftovers is a great way to save time, and money. It’s a win-win. Here are a few of my favourite ways to make the most of leftovers.


Ingredients to Add:

New Dish!

Jasmine Rice

Milk, eggs & raisins

Creamy Rice Pudding

Steamed Vegetables

Eggs, cream & herbs

Savoury Breakfast Frittata

Carved Turkey

Diced tomatoes, stock, lime & cheddar

Zesty Southwest Soup

Mashed Potato

Canned fish, dill & capers.

Oven-Baked Crab Cakes

Roasted Vegetables

Chickpeas, Greek yogurt & cumin.

Roasted Vegetable Hummus


I’d love to know what you’re making this Thanksgiving, too. Tweet your favourite leverage leftover dish to @GetJoyfull, and let’s save time, and energy together!

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Written by a Registered Dietitian.

Golden Gruyére Gratin
Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
85 minutes


1 1/2 lbs (750 g) Yukon Gold potatoes
1 1/2 lbs (750 g) sweet potatoes
2 cups (500 ml) 2% milk
1/4 cup (60 ml) butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp (30 ml) fresh herbs, minced
1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
1/2 tsp (2 ml) pepper
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) grated Gruyére cheese


  1. Wash both types of poatoes then peel and cut into 1/8-inch-thick (0.3 cm) rounds. Place cut potatoe slices in a bowl of cold water to prevent browning.
  2. Combine milk, butter, and garlic in a medium saucepan. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add salt, pepper, & herbs. Stir gently.
  3. Butter a 13x9x2-inch (33x22x5-cm) glass baking dish. Drain potatoes really well. Layer half of Yukon Gold and half of sweet poato rounds in bottom of baking dish. Top with half of milk mixture and half of grated cheese. Repeat.
  4. Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Cover gratin tightly with aluminum foil. Bake 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15-30 minutes until gratin is golden and sauce is well absorbed.
  5. Let stand 10 minutes and serve.