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I know, I know. In this world of Instagram and Pinterest perfection, it might be a little surprising that I’m advocating using a pre-cooked Thanksgiving dinner. And also surprising because I did an entire post with a schedule for cooking Thanksgiving.
But hear me out.
This year, my baby girl Alex is hosting Thanksgiving at her new house. Yep, she’s finally ready to tackle Turkey Day. And while that gives me all the feels, it also made me realize how relieved I am about not having to do all the work for Thanksgiving.
And that made me wonder if Thanksgiving couldn’t be that easy every year? (OK, maybe not every year. I really do enjoy pulling together a holiday gathering.)
Social Media Shows Us the Potential for Perfection
Is it really the worst thing in the world to outsource the work once in a while? Instagram and Pinterest are full of beautiful images of perfect tables, perfect food, and perfect decorations. But is that really how it goes down for the majority of us?
I’m thinking no.
Please don’t think I’m knocking social media. I spend just as much time on there as anyone else. It’s a great place for inspiration.
But it can give us the feeling of not measuring up. Which pressures us to do more, try more. The court of public opinion delivers its verdicts via social media. And in a way, it’s far more powerful than our actual judicial system.
Again, this isn’t really a rant about the evils of social media, I swear. I just think that we all, and I am included, tend to tailor our actions based on what we see on Instagram and Pinterest more than we’d care to admit.
So maybe this year it’s OK if you give yourself permission to skip the stress of preparing an Instagram-ready Thanksgiving feast and just order the damn thing and be done with it.
More Time for Family and Friends
My biggest problem with hosting Thanksgiving dinner is how much time I spend in the kitchen. And that’s time I could be spending with family and friends.
My family got together recently and we were reminiscing about the good old days of holidays at Grandma’s house. It was an all-day affair. We’d eat early, and play games all afternoon. At dinnertime, we’d drag out the leftovers, eat, and play some more games.
When I host Thanksgiving, I feel like I’m either cooking or cleaning up. And then I’m exhausted and just want to sit on my butt to catch my breath.
My grandma was a wonder. She handled it all and still made time for her family. Not everyone is wired that way. And times were different back then. There were fewer things to steal our attention.
A pre-cooked Thanksgiving gives you back that precious time spent in the kitchen so you can focus on the things that are really important, like opening a can of whup-ass during Monopoly.
What If You Don’t Like To (or Can’t) Cook?
We’ve all seen the movies and TV shows about Thanksgiving dinners gone terribly wrong. Something catches fire or gets overcooked or is just plain bad.
If you just flat out don’t like to cook or are inexperienced with cooking a big dinner, this could be your secret fear.
Guess what? If you order a pre-cooked Thanksgiving dinner, those worries just melt away, like the obnoxious amount of early snow we’ve had in Illinois this year.
Cooking isn’t everybody’s thing and that is OK. I get that some people think it isn’t worth it to deal with the mess, the time, or the stress of cooking when there are plenty of other options available. I feel the same way about fried chicken. There is no point at all in making it at home when I can buy it.
If you’re in this group, there is absolutely no shame in it whatsoever. Even if your great aunt Martha tries to make you feel guilty about it.
And you know, if you put that pre-cooked food into your own dishes, great aunt Martha is none the wiser. Just sayin.
A Pre-Cooked Thanksgiving Dinner Might Be Cheaper
Your grocery list for a big home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner can get loooong.
And it really adds up when you add in all the random stuff you need that you normally don’t keep on hand. I don’t know about you, but I don’t keep bags of dried bread cubes laying around all year long.
I’m going to include a list of places that are offering pre-cooked Thanksgiving meal kits at the end of this post, and some of the prices might surprise you.
Even a smaller homecooked dinner that feeds 4-6 people could easily run you $100 at the grocery store when all is said and done.
And if you want to add in the cost of your labor…well, that number gets much higher.
But even if the cost of a pre-cooked meal is a little higher than what you’d spend on ingredients to cook it yourself, less stress and more time balance it out in my mind.
Places to order Pre-Cooked Thanksgiving
And now, here’s something I hope you’ll really like. Why am I quoting Rocky and Bullwinkle? It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Bob Evans has the one most of the popular pre-cooked Thanksgiving meal kits, at least in my area. And there are options!
The Premium Farmhouse Feast feeds 8-10 people for $119.99. This kit includes turkey AND hickory-smoked ham, corn, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, green beans with ham, cranberry sauce, mac and cheese, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, and apple pie! There’s something for everyone in this kit and that’s a fantastic price for all that food.
There are 2 options for their Farmhouse feast. One serves 8 and costs between $74.99 and $84.99 depending on your choice of a main dish. It includes turkey or hickory-smoked ham, dressing, corn, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans with ham, cranberry sauce, rolls, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin pie.
The other option serves 4 and costs $49.99 or $54.99 depending on your choice of meat. It comes with the same options as the bigger meal, but the portions are scaled down to feed 4.
You can order up to Thanksgiving Day but it’s only available while supplies last so you should order soon.
Boston Market also offers some amazing pre-cooked Thanksgiving feasts that you just need to heat up.
For $119.99, you can feed 12 people and it includes an appetizer and dessert! This meal includes AN ENTIRE ROASTED TURKEY, spinach artichoke dip and crackers, mashed potatoes and gravy, veggie stuffing, cranberry walnut relish, rolls, apple pie, and pumpkin pie. Damn, that’s a good deal.
For $99.99 you can get the basics – the whole roasted turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing and rolls. It seems worth it to me to spend the extra $20 and get the other goodies though.
If you’re only feeding 4 to 6 people, for $84.99 you can get a roasted turkey breast and all the appetizers, sides, desserts from the 12 person meal.
Or you can get the basic meal with a roasted turkey breast, mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, and stuffing for $69.99.
Don’t have a Boston Market near you? You can order online by 11/18 and have it delivered right to your front door!
Cracker Barrel offers 2 Thanksgiving meals to serve up to 10 people or up to 6.
The larger meal is $109.99 (this could vary based on location) and includes 2 oven-roasted turkey breasts, cornbread dressing, turkey gravy, cranberry relish, choice of 3 sides (all of which are delicious), sweet yeast rolls, pumpkin pie, and pecan pie.
The other meal is $67.99 includes turkey, a sample of sugar-cured ham, cornbread dressing, turkey gravy, cranberry relish, your choice of 3 sides, and your choice of bread.
Cracker Barrel recommends ordering at least 24 hours in advance of pickup.
Hy-Vee offers a lot of different options for your holiday meals. Too many to list here! There’s everything from the traditional feast for $89.99 (serves 8) to the Holiday Family Gathering for $299.99 (serves 20).
They also offer some non-traditional dinners of prime rib, BBQ, chicken alfredo, ham, and lasagna!
No matter the tastes or size of the crowd you’re feeding, Hy-Vee is sure to have a pre-cooked meal for you.
Order online and pick it up in the store.
Meijer is offering a great deal for a deluxe turkey dinner. For $49.99, you get a 10-12 pound pre-cooked Butterball turkey, turkey gravy, homestyle stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, King’s Hawaiian rolls, and cranberry relish.
Dessert is not included but Meijer has a wonderful bakery where you can pick up some tasty pies or cakes.
Order at the deli counter or by calling 1-866-518-4293. You must order by Wednesday, November 21 for Thanksgiving and supplies are limited so order soon.
Just Know You Have Options
It can feel like ordering a pre-cooked Thanksgiving dinner is a fail. I’ve known people who were embarrassed to admit they went the pre-cooked route. And yet others were like “Hell yes, I ordered it from Bob Evans. It was the best decision I ever made.”
Don’t be worried that your family and friends will be disappointed with “take-out” for Thanksgiving. You have the right to make a decision based on your own feelings and situation. If you’re just not up to preparing a big Thanksgiving feast this year, don’t feel guilty. You have options.
The most important part of Thanksgiving is the quality time you spend with family and friends. I think this is true of Thanksgiving more than any other holiday. You may have to referee a fight between relatives over politics but as long as the food is covered, everything will turn out just fine.
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