Giving thanks for the Thanksgiving meal in a box

On the eve of Thanksgiving, one woman learns to never scoff at a prepared turkey dinner when the other option is stale jello.

Tony Dejak/AP
In this Thursday, March 27, 2014 photo, a woman walks out of the Whole Foods Market in Woodmere Village, Ohio.

Last week as I pulled into a spot in the parking lot at the grocery store, I noticed a banner for pre-made Thanksgiving dinners draped over the front door. I scoffed, and wondered why anyone would order their entire Thanksgiving feast from the store, ready made and wrapped up in a box to go.

According to the November issue of Real Simple magazine, 3 out of 10 Americans included at least one pre-made item on their Thanksgiving table in 2013. The fact that I had time to read that statistic while my visiting parents watched my toddler is worthy of a separate Thanksgiving post altogether.

As I thought about those who would buy an entire Thanksgiving meal, I wondered why they might not re-set priorities and simplify the menu down to something they could make at home. 

It seemed to me that if you wanted a simple Thanksgiving, perhaps you should trim your trimmings and prepare something that doesn’t require the help of the deli team at the grocery store.

Then I learned, just in time for Thanksgiving, that sometimes re-setting priorities is exactly what leads to needing the deli team.

Less then a week after shaking my head at the grocery story banner, I would like to give the biggest thanks this year for a prepared meal that feeds eight, wrapped up in a box ready for pickup at the Culver City, Calif. Whole Foods store.

I would like to thank Susie from the prepared food department, who listened to me rattle on over the phone about my reason for calling from Virginia less than 24 hours before Thanksgiving day to inquire about what they had left. Long story short, I have a close family member in the hospital, and because of the circumstances, my family in Los Angeles had to cancel their travel plans to the east coast. 

Some might debate which is worse, staying in the hospital over the holidays or taking a flight cross country to the chilly east coast on one of the worst travel days of the year, but when it comes to family, my loved ones would probably choose family over a suntan.

As I thought about my family in L.A., shuttling to and from the hospital and missing their loved ones back east, I decided to see if we could at least find them a meal for Thanksgiving.

Turns out, they should have leftovers for months. Whole Foods could only supply a meal for eight, that includes a 10-12 lb. turkey, 78 oz. of stuffing, 64 oz. of mashed potatoes, 30 some-odd ounces of gravy and a Big Gulp-sized serving of cranberry relish. For good measure, we added a vegan pumpkin pie for dessert. 

This meal is for two adults and two small children.

In addition to knowing they won’t have to worry about cooking and will enjoy leftovers until Valentine’s Day, I have learned my lesson to not judge others who might purchase a store-made meal for the holidays. 

As a parent, I have learned that life will always charge ahead, sometimes straight through your plans, if you were organized enough to make plans in the first place. At times when things end up in the air, it is a blessing to know there is a gallon of gravy at the ready so you can keep your priorities straight.

Happy Thanksgiving to all, may your turkey be tasty, your family be plentiful, and your trimmings as tasty as the 78 oz. of stuffing waiting in Culver City.

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