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 and get Thanksgiving to go. Most of these places also offer a la carte options, so if you’re tagged with a dish for a potluck Thanksgiving but don’t have the time or the will to shop and cook, you can always (literally) phone it in and pick it up. Consider these options. (Updated November 2022)
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.
Popular Restaurant Chain Options
Bob Evans has two options, a hot meal to go or a chilled one to reheat and serve later. Each option serves six for about $85. The Honey Baked Honey Ham Company offers both ham and turkey, plus various sides. If you’ve got a Boston Market in your area, they are open on the holiday and provide both full heat-and-serve meals and a la carte options. Cracker Barrel also provides a variety of full meal options starting at $15 per person. If you’re going this route, it’s a good idea to order ahead of time and expect a wait.
Supermarket 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, notably Whole Foods.
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 it’s not exactly a time saver. For a story, I picked up a heat-and-serve meal from The Fresh Market and it took nearly four hours to reheat the turkey. It tasted fine, but I was taken by surprise that a pre-cooked turkey would take that long to reheat.
Supermarket and gourmet market options tend to provide good deals ($10 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: Blue Apron offers a variety of holiday dinner options at an average of about $14 per serving.
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
Amazon.com: Well, of course you order a turkey via the world’s biggest retailer. The most highly rated turkey comes from Kansas City-based Burgers Smokehouse which offers fully cooked ready to heat hickory-smoked birds starting at around $115 for a 12- to 14-pound bird. Kansas City Steaks offers a whole turkey meal for about $150.
Omaha Steaks has a Thanksgiving Roast dinner for those who want beef and not the bird. Good option for procrastinators with a Primer membership, or for someone who wants to ship a holiday dinner to a friend or relative long distance.
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 stuffed chicken breasts sides. $28 per person and up.
More Thanksgiving coverage
Note: If you order anything from Amazon.com, I will earn a small commission. I have no affiliation or relationship with any of the other companies.