No-Cook Cooking: Making this different Thanksgiving a good one | Food & Cooking

Don’t like the idea of leftovers? Think of it as meal planning instead. If you’re on your own this year, possibly for the first time, roasting your own turkey is a great way to build some confidence in the kitchen and fill some freezer bags with lean protein to build nutritious meals around later.

If you’re hoping to replicate your family’s traditional meal on your own for the first time, now’s the time to start mapping out which tasks can be done the day before, such as baking a cake or chopping celery and water chestnuts for stuffing. You get to decide what dishes you’ll cook from scratch and which ones the grocery store can take care of for you.

Simple giftsIf you are on your own this year, seize the silver lining: You are free to riff on the traditional family meal. Your kitchen operates by your rules. If you can’t eat your uncle’s legendary stuffing because it’s loaded with onions, leave them out. Can’t stand pumpkin pie? Try cherry cobbler, deep-dish apple pie or caramel cheesecake.

If you are an improvisational, pinch-of-this kind of cook, and you’ve always wanted to tweak the traditions, this is your year. Choose your own Thanksgiving adventure.

If you aren’t a fan of green bean casserole, slice up some Brussels sprouts to sauté with chopped collard greens and kale, or roast a low-maintenance sheet pan of seasoned root vegetables. If you’d rather hear the satisfying thud of canned cranberry sauce sliding from can to serving dish than simmer cranberries and orange zest on the stovetop, you won’t hurt anyone else’s feelings.