If you've decided not to cook for Thanksgiving this year — or at least not to cook much — you're hardly alone.
Thanksgiving feasts are likely to be less traditional and gatherings smaller this year to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Which means it could be the right time to try outsourcing all or part of your meal. The good news is that there's no shortage of national chains and local restaurants offering Thanksgiving dinners to go.
Whole roasted turkeys, spiral hams and apple pies can be ordered a la carte or as part of entire meal deals. In most cases, all you have to do is pick up your meal at the store (some chains offer delivery for an extra fee), thaw, reheat and serve. Many of these options will be popular, so be sure to order online or call as soon as possible.
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Your local area is likely to have independent restaurants offering their own versions of grab-and-go Thanksgiving dinners. It's great to support community-based restaurants, so check on what's available near you.
If you decide to go with a national chain, here's what's on the menu.
This Ohio-based chain, which has nearly 500 outlets in the U.S., primarily in the Midwest, Southeast and mid-Atlantic states, is an affordable way to put Thanksgiving on the table.
All meals are picked up cold and require roughly two hours of heating. Ham lovers will like the Farmhouse Ham Feast, which can be ordered for four or eight people and comes with pre-sliced hickory-smoked ham, bread and celery dressing, corn, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans and ham, rolls and pumpkin pie. Turkey and combo turkey-and-ham meals are also available. The online ordering page makes it easy to customize your meal with extra servings of side dishes, too. In-store or curbside pickup and delivery are available.
Expect to pay: From $54.99 for 4 people
Homemade hack: Take a pass on store-bought whipped cream and make the fresh variety by whipping heavy cream and a touch of sugar for the best pumpkin pie topping around.
The quick-service purveyor of comfort food and rotisserie chicken that's been a suburban feature since the 1980s has several good options for complete Thanksgiving dinners, whether you're looking to serve four to six people or a table of 12 (or even just yourself, with ample leftovers).
Boston Market's Complete Boneless Roasted Turkey Breast Meal comes with spinach artichoke dip for a starter, boneless roasted turkey breast and all the classics side dishes — mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce and stuffing plus rolls and your choice of an apple or pumpkin pie for dessert. Other packages include whole roasted turkeys, honey-glazed ham or prime rib. Give yourself two hours to heat everything up before serving and pick up your meal a day or two before Thanksgiving to avoid the crowds. In-store pickup or delivery (frozen meals can be shipped).
Expect to pay: From $89.99 for 4 to 6 people
Homemade hack: Buy a round loaf of bread, hollow out the center, and serve the warmed-up spinach dip inside.
If you're a member and planning to hit the store in person, Costco is a great place to save money on all your Thanksgiving staples, including turkeys (just 99 cents a pound is the chain's standard, but you'll have to do the cooking yourself, of course) and the chain's famous four-pounder pumpkin pies, which go for just $5.99 each.
Costco also offers a convenient delivery option, so you can order ahead of time. Purchase the Schwan's Thanksgiving Meal, which serves eight and comes with a ready-to-roast turkey breast (no thawing needed), mashed potatoes, gravy, roasted sweet potatoes and whole green beans that can be heated up in the microwave. Can it get any easier?
Expect to pay: $89.99 for the Schwan's Thanksgiving meal ($104.99 if you order after Nov. 19)
Homemade hack: Toss the sweet potatoes with lemon or lime juice before heating them for a festive citrusy taste.
With more than 600 locations across the U.S., Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is a highway classic that draws people in for Southern-style comfort food and a respite from the road in those porch rocking chairs. The chain's Heat ‘N Serve Thanksgiving Feast ticks the boxes with options for four to six people or up to 10 that include some of Cracker Barrel's signature side dishes, like mac and cheese and green beans.
If you'd rather not have to do the pre-heating yourself, order the Thanksgiving Hot and Ready Family Meal for four to six people. It includes turkey breast with dressing and gravy, sugar-cured ham, cranberry relish, green beans, mac and cheese, dinner rolls and your choice of mashed potatoes or sweet potato casserole. Meals are available for in-store pickup only.
Expect to pay: From $76.99 for 4 to 6 people
Homemade hack: Before serving, spoon the mac and cheese into a casserole dish and top with buttered bread crumbs, then place under the broiler for two minutes (or until the top is golden brown).
The chain famous for its Grand Slam breakfasts has you covered for Thanksgiving dinner this year, too, with its Family Style Turkey & Dressing Dinner Pack. The heat-and-serve meal serves a party of four and comes with a spread of carved turkey breast, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce and your choice of broccoli or corn. You can order by calling your local Denny's, via the Denny's On Demand delivery app or online at dennys.com anytime from Friday Nov. 20 through Wednesday Nov. 25 at 6 p.m. ET, and the meal will be available for pickup or delivery through Thanksgiving Day.
Expect to pay: An average of $38.66 for four people, but prices vary by market
Homemade hack: Denny's meal doesn't come with dessert, so consider picking up your favorite frozen pie from the grocery store and a pint of gourmet ice cream for a sweet finish.
Harry & David
Known for its gourmet gift boxes, this Oregon-based company delivers its Turkey Feast with Harvest Centerpiece completely frozen, so you'll need to give it ample time to thaw before reheating it for a perfect Thanksgiving Day meal. Then sit back and let the compliments roll in.
The gourmet spread comes with a fully brined and cooked 10-pound turkey (the meat is pinkish and similar to smoked turkey), apple sausage stuffing, creamy Brussels sprouts with bacon, New York-style pumpkin cheesecake, turkey gravy and spiced cranberry chutney. You'll even get a cute ceramic pumpkin centerpiece stuffed with faux cedar branches, cinnamon sticks and other props you can assemble for your holiday table (and take full credit for, too, of course). Delivery only.
Expect to pay: From $269.99 for 4 to 6 people
Homemade hack: For color, present your heated turkey atop a bed of fresh greens (leafy lettuces or kale). Place halved lemons and tangerines (lightly broiled until golden) and quartered pomegranates around the bird to add to the gourmet look.