For years, my father-in-law’s second wife served boxed stuffing at her holiday gatherings, spiced up with cut-up precooked turkey sausage. When I offered to make some homemade stuffing one year, she waved me off. “No one can the tell the difference, anyway.” But I can tell, I thought. Am I alone?
This made me wonder. How do real mashed potatoes, gravy, fresh green beans and cranberry sauce stack up to their processed cousins? What about a frozen supermarket turkey versus a fresh, organic bird?
There’s only one way to find out.
I made two dinners with classic holiday side dishes — mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green beans and cranberry sauce. The catch: one featured all homemade sides, and the other were made from a box, can or jar.
I needed objective judges. Fortunately, there’s a group of pros more than up for the task: the guys on Shift A at the Station 1 in Holmes Beach, Florida.
The next few pages break down each of the dinner components by hassle factor, price, time and specific flavor comments from the firefighters. You’ll find links to most of the recipes, too.