We are in the final sprint of an exhausting year. Many of us are separated from family and friends. The pandemic has forced us all to spend more time in our homes and our kitchens than ever. So if you don’t feel like cooking a big holiday meal, it’s OK. As someone who encourages people to cook, you might expect a different message for me, but give yourself a break. Maybe this is the year to try something different. Consider these options.
Support a Local Restaurant
Many eateries that might normally be closed are offering full Thanksgiving meals or meal kits for delivery or pick up this year, often with a twist on their signature cuisine. Inquire directly with some of your favorites to see if there are offering holiday meals or kits, or check out your local eater.com site or food section. Shake things up with a jerked turkey from a Jamaican joint or a smoked turducken from a BBQ spot. While you’re at it, throw some love to local bakeries for pies and other holiday sweets, as well.
Heat and Serve Meals
Many supermarkets offer up heat-and-serve meals. Years ago, I did a comparative tasting on a few for a food client. The sides from large chains tend to be on the bland side. If your budget allows, check out local supermarkets or higher-end markets, too.
Turkeys in these packages tend to be cooked, then frozen, and thus can take hours to reheat, often as long as making a bird from scratch, so allow time for it. These tends to provide good deals ($9 per person and up), and save you time shopping in a busy supermarket during a pandemic. You still have the option of making one or two family favorites to round out the meal.
Holiday Meal Kits
A hybrid that allows you the joy of cooking without the non-joy of shopping. Again, check with local restaurants to see if they’ve got a meal kit on offer.
Hello Fresh: Their turkey dinner bundle serves 8 to 10 people, so if you’re a small group, you’ll have a lot of leftovers. If you’re not into turkey, they offer a beef tenderloin dinner for four to six. $16 per person
Home Chef: Customize your meal, as every dish is al a carte. The main protein is a roast turkey breast to serve six, not a whole turkey, but that’s a good thing if you’ve got a small crew. Varies
Blue Apron: This year, Blue Apron partnered up with James Beard award winner Chef Edouardo Jordan from Seattle, who focuses on Southern-focused dishes. His meal serves six to eight and features roasted pork tenderloin anchoring the meal instead of turkey. Sides include cheesy mashed potatoes, braised greens and carrots with a ginger-honey dressing. About $14 per serving.
Martha & Marley Spoon: Martha Stewart offers a variety of side dishes. No turkey, but roast chicken and mashed potatoes are on the menu for November 23rd. About $17 per person.
Purple Carrot: Skip the turkey and go fully plant-based with roasted squash as a savory main, rounded out by fresh takes on traditional sides. After all, yur grandma probably didn’t put kimchi butter in her Brussels sprouts. About $18 per person.
Fancy & Delivered
Williams Sonoma: This upscale kitchen store which will ship you everything from and in full Cajun fried Turkey with all the trimmings. $35 per person and up.
McKenzie Ltd.: Get a complete meal with your choice of a Cajun-style deep fried turkey or turducken with all the traditional sides. $28 per person and up.