Plan Holiday Meals Around Everyone’s Restrictions

Side dishes for thanksgiving dinner. Green beans corn and sweet potatoes.

When you’re cooking for a large crowd planning a menu that works for everyone can be tricky. You have to consider the allergies, sensitivities, and lifestyle choices of everyone who will attend. There’s no easy hack for making sure everyone feels included when they sit down for Thanksgiving dinner but following the tips below can help you pull it off.

Plan Ahead and Know Your Guest List

The importance of planning ahead for a diverse crowd cannot be stressed enough. There’s nothing that can substitute for careful preparations. If you wait until a few days before the meal to start planning you are bound to forget a few things and leave someone out. Start by creating a guest list that includes all of your guest’s dietary restrictions.

Cook a Lot of Different Dishes

Just because one person on your guest list can’t partake in a particular ingredient doesn’t mean you have to deny everyone else. It just might take a few extra menu items. If you have a family with a lot of dietary restrictions, its better to cook a wide variety of dishes than attempting to make a few dishes that everyone can eat. For instance, prepare a roast turkey and a tofurkey so there is something for meat eaters and your vegetarian or vegan guest. Then prepare an array of sides.

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Deconstruct Elaborate Dishes

You should have a variety but making sure everyone has something they can enjoy doesn’t mean preparing 20 different dishes. You can save yourself time and table space with careful preparations and a little deconstruction. Instead of cooking one elaborate dish, make several simple dishes that can be combined, eaten separately or avoided all together. For instance, you should deconstruct menu items like your famous pecan strudel sweet potato casserole. Serving the pecans on the side allows your family members with tree nut allergies to partake. Making the brown sugar strudel separately too, means that anyone sensitive to sugar can enjoy it as well. The same goes for your honey glazed turkey with cornbread stuffing. Serve the glaze (sugar) and the stuffing (gluten) on the side.

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