What Do Food Network Staffers Eat the Night Before Thanksgiving?

We asked Food Network staffers what's on their tables the night before the big turkey feast. Some of the answers may surprise you!
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It's no secret that Thanksgiving requires a ton of preparation, from planning the menu and shopping for ingredients to ensuring the bird, side dishes and dessert turn out exactly the way you want them. For many of us, that means getting a head start on planning — sometimes as far as a month in advance. If any night is the most critical, it’s the night before, when many Americans will bake pies and prepare reheatable dishes, like casseroles and soups, so that Thursday morning doesn’t dissolve into chaos. Once those tasks are finished, we’re left with little time to figure out dinner on Thanksgiving eve. What do most people eat? Takeout Chinese? Quick pantry pasta? We polled Food Network staffers to find out what exactly they’re planning to rustle up the night before the big feast. Some of the answers might surprise you!

“Listen, I know we’re supposed to make things easy for ourselves on the night before Thanksgiving, but my family’s just not about that life. Instead of ordering easy pizza or takeout (or — gasp! — eating something healthy), you’ll still find us in the kitchen, cooking up something a few notches spicier and livelier than the stick-to-your-ribs fare we’ll be indulging in the next day. Though we might resent the additional shopping, chopping and dish-cleaning in the moment, we’re just too happy to be together again eating a home-cooked meal (and not cooking it in a tiny NYC kitchen), and we’re just not going to wait until Thursday to do it. Call us overachievers — we’ll be the ones sitting here eating Tyler’s Ultimate Paella on Wednesday night."

— Allison Milam, Associate Editor

"The night before Thanksgiving is always the calm before the storm. Every year we keep it simple and order pizza or make something on the grill, like Bobby Flay’s Perfect Burger (above). For the appetizer portion of the night, we always have the usual suspects: chips and salsa, cheese and crackers, but we’ll also have a few hot things, like Mini Quiche or Ina’s Roasted Italian Meatballs. We usually try and stay away from dessert the night before Thanksgiving — have to save room for the big event.”

— Joel Raneri, Programming Coordinator

Food Network Kitchen's Collard Wrapped Bean Burritos For Bunless/Breadless Sandwiches As seen on Food Network

Photo by: Stephen Johnson ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Stephen Johnson, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

“My family goes heavy on the carbs every Thanksgiving. Whereas most people have one potato side dish, we’ll have two or three. In the age-old stuffing debate, we’re completely divided: Half of us prefer it cooked in the bird, and half like it baked outside and crunchy as can be. Our solution? Serve it both ways. And, when struggling to decide between apple pie or pumpkin pie, we’ll often throw up our hands and concede to making both. In order to prepare for this shameless day of overeating, I try to eat something really, really light the night before — think big crunchy salads or mock pasta dishes made with spiralized vegetable noodles. This year, I’m excited to try out Food Network Kitchen’s  Collard-Wrapped Bean Burritos, stuffed with creamy avocado, brown rice and black beans.”

— Emily Lee, Digital Content Producer

"With the baking pies taking up valuable oven space and nearly every available kitchen surface covered with sheet pans full of drying bread cubes for stuffing, Thanksgiving eve dinner at our house needs to be simple. The fewer ingredients, pans and utensils used, the better. So we often reach for pasta, something like this Pasta Puttanesca. Not only can it be ready to eat in just 17 minutes, but it comes together with only two key pieces of equipment: a pot and a skillet. Plus, the briny, umamilike flavors of anchovy paste and olives are a nice departure from what we'll be eating a lot of the next day: turkey and butter."

— Maria Russo, Online Convergent Editor


“As many times as I’ve tried to eat healthy the night before Thanksgiving, I always run into a little problem. The first year I served Ree Drummond’s Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pie it became such an instant family classic that I was tasked with making it every year. As I whip the cream and fold in the peanut butter the night before, I tell myself I won’t even taste it this year. Two hours later, I wake from a happy food coma. You MUST try this dessert (and don’t forget to lick the bowl).”

— Meaghan Cameron, Site Manager


Photo by: rez-art ©rez-art

rez-art, rez-art

“The night before Thanksgiving, I’m usually holed up in my parents’ house, settling in for a relaxing weekend. And that means raiding their fridge for all of the food I can only get at home: cold salads from the local specialty store, leftover takeout from our favorite Chinese restaurant and lots of cheese (a habit I certainly inherited from my father). And we’ll also usually order a pizza — why not, right?”

— Lauren Piro, Food Network Editor
Photo: iStock

"Borrowing a page from this month’s Food Network Magazine, I’m heading to Maui for Thanksgiving with my family. We’re planning a classic turkey day dinner, but the night before Thanksgiving is island time. My family has been going to Mama’s Fish House, one of FoodNetwork.com’s favorite mom-and-pop spots, for decades. Right on the water, it serves classic locally caught fish with Pacific views and perfectly potent cocktails. My go-to is the mahi mahi with a macadamia nut crust — and a mai tai to kick it off.”

— Erin Hartigan, Site Manager


Photo by: Kang Kim

Kang Kim

"To train our stomachs for the gargantuan turkey-and-carbohydrate massacre, my cousins and I seek refuge in that magical waffle diner where people in the South go to eat during the holidays because it's the only thing open year-round — blizzard apocalypse or no. None of us live in Georgia anymore, sadly, and this restaurant doesn't exist where we live now up north and out west — so it makes sense that, as much as the familiar tastes of stuffing, cranberry sauce and broccoli-cheese-rice casserole remind us we're home, it's really the perfectly crisp-but-chewy  pecan waffle with scattered and smothered hash browns (‘scattered’ as in spread out across the griddle for maximum surface-area crispage, and 'smothered' as in piled high with grilled onions) that remind us, truly, whence we hail."

— Eric Kim, Programming Coordinator

Let us know what you plan on eating the night before Thanksgiving in the comments section below!

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