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Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner? Thanks But No Thanks!

One of the best parts of Thanksgiving is the food! Turkey, sweet potatoes, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, dinner rolls — I can go on and on and on. I want all this deliciousness in my belly, but do I actually want to make all this deliciousness?


The truth is, neither my husband nor I have family recipes or traditions associated with Thanksgiving. In my case, I lived the first 12 years of my life in Taiwan, and Thanksgiving was an entirely new concept to me when we moved to the United States. In his case, his family simply wasn’t big on holidays. So we don’t have a special spice blend for the turkey or a certain side dish that evokes a happy childhood memory. It used to make me a little sad that we have this void where others have memories, but I’ve learned to embrace the freedom it offers especially where the food is concerned!

When we were dating and on a student budget, we had the turkey sandwich with cranberry spread. When we started working, we went a little bit “fancier” entirely relative compared to previous experience with turkey pot pies and boxed stuffing on the side. When our friends invited us to join their families, we showed up with pies and/or flowers we’re not heathens! and ate happily. When we were celebrating our first Thanksgiving as a married couple, we decided to have a full meal.

…from Whole Foods.

giphyThen the pre-cooked meal sort of became our tradition and one that we still observe now, six years and one kid later.

I love not having to hunt down the best recipes or go grocery shopping or cook for hours. I love having the extra time to nap and the extra money I saved and the leftovers all to myself.

You might be thinking that a pre-cooked meal is expensive or the food is blah, but let me tell you that it simply isn’t the case! In fact, I’ve compiled a short list of reasons about why you should consider ordering a pre-cooked meal for Thanksgiving, both for your convenience and because I love lists:

  1. The cost. I’ve ordered Thanksgiving meals from various grocery stores around town, and the price for a meal (10-12 lb turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, and three side dishes) ranges from $70 to $120 and serves 6 to 8 people.
  2. The time. The cook time for pre-cooked meals is 2.5 hours! This is a fraction of the time it would take to make the meal from scratch, which based on anecdotes and television portrayals, can take anywhere from 8 to 12 hours.
  3. The quality. The beauty of a pre-cooked meal is that everything is cooked. As in, I don’t have to worry about giving my guests Salmonella and fussing over the meat thermometer. The stores truly have this down to an art  all of the pre-cooked turkeys (and one pre-cooked goose) we’ve had were awesome!
  4. The convenienceI usually pick up the meal the day before Thanksgiving, zipping in-and-out of the store while others are searching for the last missing ingredient or waiting in the long lines.
  5. The ambianceBecause the meal requires reheating, I still get that amazing delicious smell throughout the house!

Most importantly and this is so important that it deserves its own paragraph instead of a number I get to spend the holiday weekend connecting with family. Isn’t that what Thanksgiving is really about anyway? To celebrate what we are thankful for with the people we are grateful for, without the stress and the mess.

Every family is different, and a pre-cooked Thanksgiving meal isn’t for everybody. If you enjoy bonding with your family through the preparations of the food, then I’m surprised and happy that you read this post to the end instead of skipping it (thank you!). If you are a mom of little ones, a mom feeling burnt out, a mom tired of always having more to do — consider getting a pre-cooked meal for your family this Thanksgiving so you can sit back, relax, and have someone else do most of the work.


You can order a pre-cooked holiday meal from most grocery stores, including but not limited to: Raley’s, Safeway, SaveMart, Scolari’s, Smith’s, and Whole Foods. Costco and Trader Joe’s get an honorable mention for having a variety of prepared sides! 


About Angela Francis

Angela Francis
Angela's original life plan was to have five cats and no kids. After catching the baby fever, she now has one cat and one kid – a compromise her and her husband are quite happy with. Some of her favorite things are: coffee, cats, conversations, cookies, and cardio boot camps. She is also a big fan of alliterations.

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