How is it almost the end of 2017? I’m sure I’m not the only one wondering… Anyway, since we’re almost in November, I thought I’d take a moment and write a post to get ready for Thanksgiving! The origins of this particular American holiday are problematic, and we should all take time to think about the myths we’re told throughout our childhood history lessons (and do better for the current young generation). Still, though, I’ve always liked this particular holiday for its food and the opportunity to connect with family and friends.

This year, my mom’s going to be flying back from Japan a couple of days before the holiday and won’t be able to cook – so I’ll be doing all the cooking. Cue the anxiety. Just kidding, it’ll be delicious and fun, and I’m looking forward to it! I’m going to share some tips on how to prepare your Thanksgiving feast menu.

Make a list of the things you enjoy eating, and also pay attention to any new yummy food you consume when you’re out. Most recipes are super easy to recreate at home – and for a much better price. For example, just today, I tried some Trader Joe’s samples (of puff pastry with feta and caramelized onion) and now am planning to recreate homemade versions for Thanksgiving appetizers!

Is a turkey too much work? If so, make a small turkey or make a chicken instead; either way, buy the bird at a store. Or…focus on the sides! Everyone knows they’re the best part anyway.

Related to #2, find ways to make some of your dishes easier. You could make everything from scratch, but you should definitely feel free to take short cuts. Stuffing out of a box, for example, can be dressed up using some of your favorite chunks of bread with extra herbs, sliced mushrooms, carrots, onions, celery, pancetta, garlic and corn.

Lightly dress up some of the traditional staples like mashed potatoes (add butter and a mix of garlic, rosemary and thyme, for example) and cranberry sauce (make your own! With frozen cranberries, some organic orange rind and sugar).

I don’t know what your holiday meals are like, but mine incorporate many different kinds of food. While we have some of the traditional Thanksgiving fare, we also have a bunch of Japanese food, Japanese-Chinese food (like Japanese versions of potstickers and fried rice), and some French food (onion tart usually). What I’m trying to say is that you don’t have to stick to the “traditional” dishes. Make what you want, so that you can eat what you want! Try a new recipe or recreate an old favorite!

Happy cooking, happy eating, and happy family/friends time!