5 Thanksgiving Hostess Hacks for Stress-free Thanksgiving Hosting

My family's secrets for the best Thanksgiving meal start with Kraft! Our two favorite make-ahead Thanksgiving dishes start with Heinz Homestyle Savory Beef Gravy, Velveeta Original Loaf and Stove Top Chicken Stuffing Mix —all available at Dollar General.

My home is the hub for Thanksgiving dinner. It’s where everyone gathers together for a delicious southern holiday feast of turkey with all the fixings and plenty of desserts.

It’s only been a few years that my husband and I have been hosting holiday dinners at home. The reason is, in our family, you actually have to go through a vetting process before the honor of holiday cooking is bestowed upon you.

When I married into my husband's southern family, I quickly learned that Thanksgiving dinner is highly anticipated and is not a true Thanksgiving without the right ingredients.

In our family, Kraft products are the foundation ingredients of two of our star holiday dishes, and you will probably get some mean looks if you try to swap out and use other brands.

Our secret to the best three cheese baked macaroni is sharp and mild cheddar cheeses combined with Velveeta Original Loaf.

The Velveeta Original Loaf is made from aged natural cheddar cheese with a mild and creamy flavor that melts perfectly for this side dish.

For the best southern cornbread stuffing, we combine Heinz Homestyle Savory Beef Gravy, Stove Top Chicken Stuffing Mix and a few other ingredients before baking. The smooth and robustly seasoned gravy, made with real beef stock, adds the perfect balance of flavors to this casserole.

Heinz Homestyle Savory Beef Gravy helps me save time creating Thanksgiving sides and dinners throughout the year. The secret to this stuffing is the combination of the gravy, savory sausage, sweet cornbread and stuffing mix. Stove Top Chicken Stuffing Mix is made with herbs, spices and real chicken broth that helps round out the savory Southern flavors my husband's family loves.

Growing up in New York, my family cooked stuffing differently using Stove Top Chicken Stuffing Mix, but it was important for me to master the recipe in this way. I did so by cooking alongside my husband's stepmother and aunts. That's how I learned how to make these two recipes the way my husband enjoyed them growing up. Now the very southern style Thanksgiving dishes my husband grew up eating, our kids get to enjoy as well.

Today I’m sharing those two flavorful southern holiday sides using ingredients from Dollar General that won’t break the bank.

In addition, you get my top 5 Thanksgiving Hostess Hacks for Stress Free Thanksgiving Hosting.

First let’s get into the 5 tips. Scroll to the bottom of this post for the recipes.


5 Thanksgiving Hostess Hacks for Stress-free Thanksgiving Hosting

1.   We shop the sales at Dollar General as early as 12 months ahead to find the lowest prices on Thanksgiving staples like Velveeta Original Loaf, Heinz Homestyle Savory Beef Gravy, and Stove Top Chicken Stuffing Mix. These all have long shelf lives, stay well in the pantry, and are easy to find on the Dollar General pantry aisle.

2.   Start 7-10 days in advance by creating a written menu and a meal prep plan.

3.   Begin purging the fridge of leftovers and other items to make space for the Thanksgiving food prep.

4.   Begin thawing the turkey, ham and other frozen ingredients in the refrigerator three days in advance.

5.   Make pies and sides as early as two days ahead of Thanksgiving. Collards, green beans, sweet potato pies, and stuffing are made in advance since they heat well on the day of the event, freeing up your time in the kitchen when guests arrive.

Three Cheese Southern Baked Macaroni


•          16 oz. of macaroni or penne noodles

•          1/2 cup. sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)

•          1/2 cup Mild cheddar cheese (shredded)

•          4 oz. of Velveeta Original Loaf

•          2 large eggs

•          2 cups of milk

•          1/2 stick of butter

•          salt & pepper


1.   Preheat oven to 400°F.

2.   Fill a large pot with 6 cups of hot water, a tablespoon of salt, and bring to a boil.

3.   Place macaroni into boiling water and cook for 12 minutes, remove and strain in a colander. Set the macaroni aside and return the empty pot to the stove.

4.   Crack two eggs in a small bowl and mix.

5.   Place salt, pepper, butter, eggs, milk, Velveeta Original Loaf, and both cheddar cheeses into the empty pasta pot and mix over medium heat until slightly melted.

6.   Return the macaroni noodles to the same pot and mix well until cheese is fully melted. Add in the eggs. Mix well.

7.   Pour the macaroni and cheese into a greased baking dish. Bake for 60 minutes until the macaroni reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit and the macaroni is golden brown. Allow the baked macaroni to cool 10 minutes before serving.


Southern Cornbread Stuffing


•         Heinz Homestyle Savory Beef Gravy

•         Stove Top Chicken Stuffing Mix

•         Ground Pork Sausage

•          12 oz. Chicken Broth

•          1 tbs. Red Pepper Flakes

•          1 tsp. Celery Salt

•          1/2 tsp Sage

•          1/4 tsp salt & pepper

•          1/2 tsp onion powder

•          1/2 tsp all purpose seasoning

•          Cornbread


1.   Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2.   In a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients for cornbread. Pour into a lightly greased 9-inch round pie pan or a 9-inch baking pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Before using, allow to cool, then crumble into small pieces.

3.   In a pan on medium heat, cook the pork sausage roll, making sure to separate it into crumbles as it cooks. Cook until browned and cooked through. Drain off the pan drippings.

4.   Add sage, all purpose seasoning, salt, pepper, onion powder, celery salt, and red pepper flakes to the cooked sausage and mix well.

5.   In a large baking dish, combine the crumbled cornbread, Stove Top Chicken Stuffing Mix, and cooked sausage.

6.   Whisk together Heinz Homestyle Savory Beef Gravy and 12 ounces of chicken broth, then pour it into the baking dish. Be sure to moisten the entire mixture.

7.   Stir the mixture together until all of the dry ingredients are moist. The mixture should be moist, but not sopping wet. Add more broth if needed.

8.   Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, or until it turns brown on top.



This post has been sponsored by The Kraft Heinz Company. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Post Written by: Saidah Washington of Aprons and Stilletos

Instagram: @apronsandstilletos
Facebook: @ApronsAndStilletos


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