Chill Out This Thanksgiving With These 8 Heat-and-Serve Meals for 12
Thanksgiving is hands-down, unequivocally and undeniably my favorite major holiday of the year. (National IPA Day is still waiting to be recognized as “major” by some.)
Too many holidays require things that are exhausting and stressful. Do I have enough money for all of the gifts? What costume should I wear? Is that leprechaun going to attack me? Not cool, man.
Thanksgiving is free from all of that. On Thanksgiving you eat a great meal, then you watch some football, take a nap, eat some more food, watch some more football and just chill with family and friends.
That’s a holiday!
That’s all well and good if you’re not the one who has to make that massive feast. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to be the one who does all the cooking this year. There are plenty of options to have your Thanksgiving dinner ready-made by your favorite grocery store or restaurant.
It just depends on what you’re willing to spend.
Order In Your Thanksgiving Meal
The average Thanksgiving meal has 12 people ready to dig in, according to the Pew Research Center. That’s a lot of mouths to feed. Sure, some of them, like the young ones and your weird uncle, may be at the kids’ table, but they’ll want food nonetheless.
So, what are your options when you want to skip the gourmet cooking and let someone else do the heavy lifting? There are plenty of ready-made Thanksgiving dinners available, giving you tons of prices and menu options to choose from.
Here are eight companies ready to stuff your family for the big day.
If you live in the south, you probably know and love Publix. It loves you right back with the pre-made Publix deli large turkey dinner. All you have to do is buy it, take it home and heat it up, and it’ll feed 14 to 16 people.
This meal rings in at $84.99, which comes out to $5.31 to $6.07 per person.
- One 16- to 18-pound fully-cooked Butterball turkey
- 5 pounds of dressing
- 5 pounds of mashed potatoes
- 64 ounces of Publix gravy
- 56 ounces of marshmallow delight
- 32 ounces of Publix cranberry-orange relish
Some items require up to 150 minutes to heat. Heating instructions are included.
Again, it’s pretty basic but with a fun twist on the cranberry sauce and the marshmallow delight, which is essentially a fruit salad with marshmallows, pineapple, cherries, coconut and sour cream. Tasty.
The Traditional Oven-Roasted Turkey Dinner serves four to six people, so we’ll have to order two of them. But it comes with the basics, and the price is pretty competitive. It’s perfect for the smaller family or those who don’t want to get too fancy.
The price for four to six people is $49.99. Since we have to buy two of them, our total will be $99.98, which comes out to $8.33 per person for 12 people.
This meal includes:
- Two 10- to 12-pound fully cooked Jennie-O turkeys
- Two 12-packs of King’s Hawaiian Rolls
- 48 ounces of mashed potatoes
- 60 ounces of cornbread stuffing
- 48 ounces of homestyle gravy
- 28 ounces of cranberry sauce
Boom. There you have it. Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing and cranberry sauce. That’s pretty much your standard Thanksgiving menu. No frills, no fuss.
Nothing says “homestyle” like Cracker Barrel. With its Heat n’ Serve Holiday Family Meal To-Go, you know you’ll get comfort food — and plenty of it.
This down-home meal feeds up to 10 people for $99.99, which comes out to $10.00 per person. Keep in mind that it only feeds 10 people, so you may run short if you have 12 mouths to feed.
The meal includes:
- One oven-roasted turkey breast
- Cornbread dressing
- Turkey gravy
- Cranberry relish
- Your choice of three country sides
- Sweet yeast rolls
- Pumpkin pie and pecan pie
It’s pricy per person, but Cracker Barrel’s Thanksgiving meal gives some good options. You get to pick your favorite sides and get two pies. Nice.
Boston Market prides itself on its homestyle food, so when Thanksgiving rolls around, it’s not about to step back. It gets in on the action with its complete Thanksgiving meal for 12.
The price for up to 12 people is $119.99, putting it at $10.00 per person.
The meal includes:
- One roasted turkey
- Two orders of vegetable stuffing
- One order of spinach artichoke dip with crackers
- 24 ounces of cranberry-walnut relish
- Two orders of mashed potatoes
- 12 dinner rolls
- Two orders of gravy
- One apple pie
- One pumpkin pie
Cranberry-walnut relish? Spinach artichoke dip? The downside may be that your family will know that you couldn’t pull that off yourself! If you can convince them, kudos to you.
Again, this is a heat-and-serve meal, so leave about two hours to warm it up.
The Fresh Market
Fresh Market is known as an upscale grocer, but it doesn’t stretch the budget with its deluxe holiday dinner. If you want variety in your meal, you’ll get it with this one.
The cost to feed 12 to 14 people is $139.99, which comes out to $10 to $11.67 per person.
The meal kit includes:
- 10- to 12-pound fully cooked turkey
- 3-pound boneless spiral ham
- 4 pounds of Yukon Gold whipped potatoes
- 3 pounds of traditional herb stuffing
- 30 ounces of homestyle turkey gravy
- 2 pounds of corn soufflé
- 2 pounds of smokey green beans in bacon sauce
- 16 ounces of cranberry relish with walnuts
- 24 soft yeast rolls
Wait. Turkey and ham? That’s crazy talk! Plus, the sides look amazing. If you have a Fresh Market nearby, this could be a great option.
To feed 12 people with Bob Evans Turkey Farmhouse Feast, you’d need to order one eight-person meal and one four-person meal. Together, they run $129.98, putting your bill at $10.83 per person.
The meal includes:
- Two slow-roasted whole boneless turkey breasts
- Bread-and-celery dressing
- Homestyle mashed potatoes
- Buttered sweet corn
- Green beans with ham
- Cranberry relish
- 12 rolls
- Two pumpkin pies with whipped topping
- One loaf of pumpkin bread
The meal is packed cold, but easy heating instructions are provided on the Bob Evans website.
If you’re lucky enough to live in the Midwest where you can shop at Hy-Vee, you have a great holiday meal option with its family feast turkey dinner. Those outside the Midwest don’t know what they’re missing from this Iowa-based grocery store chain.
The price for up to 12 people is $129.99, which comes out to $10.83 per person.
The meal includes:
- 14- to 16-pound Butterball turkey
- 48 ounces of turkey gravy
- Two large sides of mashed potatoes
- Four large sides of your choice
- 24 dinner rolls
This is a no-frills, basic Thanksgiving meal, but there’s plenty of it! How much is 48 ounces of gravy? That’s 6 cups of savory delight plus over one pound of turkey per stomach. Perfect for bulking up for a hard, Midwestern winter. The instructions say to plan for 2 ½ hours to reheat the meal.
Whole Foods Market
Okay, you’re ready to pull out all the stops. Go big or go home is a great motto for this holiday. Whole Foods’ festive feast for 12 isn’t cheap, but it’ll blow the doors off your Thanksgiving — as well as belt buckles and buttons.
The price for up to 12 people is $249.99, which comes out to $20.83 per person for 12 people.
- 16-pound roasted turkey
- 4-pound brown sugar spiral-cut ham
- 6 pounds of creamy mashed potatoes
- 6 pounds of organic traditional herb stuffing
- 3 pounds of organic turkey gravy
- 2 pounds of organic cranberry-orange sauce
- 2 pounds of green beans with crispy garlic and parsley
- 2 pounds of roasted butternut squash
- 2 pounds of organic creamed spinach and kale
- 1.88-pound pumpkin pie
- 1.88-pound apple pie
Yeah, that’s a meal for 12 with 20 pounds of meat. All in all, it’s 46.76 pounds of delicious food. That’s almost 4 pounds per guest. At $249.99, it’s a more expensive option, but you’re getting a lot of food for your buck.
Remember, holidays should be fun and relaxing, not tiring and taxing. Sometimes it pays to spend a little money to buy back your time.
So this Thanksgiving, take a load off and let someone else do the cooking. Besides, your football team needs your help cheering, and it’s hard to do that from the kitchen.
Tyler Omoth is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder who loves soaking up the sun and finding creative ways to help others. Catch him on Twitter at @Tyomoth.