How to throw together a smaller, no-fuss Thanksgiving dinner at the last minute

Laveta Brigham

Let’s talk turkey. Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is urging Americans to stay home and skip gathering with extended family and friends this year as coronavirus cases surge across the country. In fact, a Harris Poll of more than 2,000 people […]

Let’s talk turkey.

Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is urging Americans to stay home and skip gathering with extended family and friends this year as coronavirus cases surge across the country. In fact, a Harris Poll of more than 2,000 people commissioned by Omaha Steaks found that more than half plan to celebrate Thanksgiving with five or less guests this year, which is down from 12 guests in a typical year. So, many people are now probably scrambling to put together a much smaller turkey dinner than they expected to make — and some serial holiday guests may be attempting to make the big meal themselves for the very first time.

Relax. We’ve got this.

There are plenty of options, including contact-free ones, to prepare the perfect Thanksgiving spread for your particular household. We’ve found some turkey producers and grocers where you can order the bird (or alternatives) online, plus some delivery services that can send you the fixings to whip up your favorite side dishes. There are also meal-kits from subscription services and supermarkets that will drop off the ingredients you need at your doorstep. Or some restaurants and meal-prep services are dishing out ready-made meals that just need to be heated up.

Place your order at many of these places as soon as you can, however, as demand is high. Vegan meal-kit service Purple Carrot has already sold out of its Thanksgiving delivery box, for example, and smaller 8-pound turkeys to feed four people are in short supply. Sophie Mellet-Grinnell, the meat and poultry specialist at Baldor Specialty Foods, recently warned MarketWatch that “very small turkeys are going to be really hard to come by” this year due to the sudden increased demand due to the pandemic. Instacart has also seen shoppers opting for smaller cuts of turkey this year, and “turkey breast” is its No. 2 trending product with a 175% increase in search rankings over the past four weeks.

So here are the places to bag your fresh or frozen turkey, order a precooked bird, or get the entire meal sent to you in on shot. We’ve also thrown in some supermarket deals for those planning to fill an actual shopping cart at their local retailer. Bon appétit!


ButcherBox: The meat delivery subscription service is offering three turkey options this year, including a turkey breast, a 10 to 14-pound turkey and a turkey over 18 pounds. A rep noted that the turkey breasts are more popular this year than during Thanksgivings past because of smaller celebrations. If you’re not a subscriber, ButcherBox has a one-time box offer where consumers can purchase a 10 to 14-pound free-range, humanely-raised turkey for $69. Otherwise, a basic subscription starts at $129 per month, and new members who sign up by Sunday will receive a free turkey in their box. This Sunday (Nov. 15) is the last day to order a turkey from ButcherBox to ensure delivery for Thanksgiving.

Fresh Direct: The online grocer does have petite turkeys (eight to 10 pounds) for preorder for $6.49 a pound, as well as birds running eight to 12 pounds ($3.99 to $5.99 a pound) or large 12 to 12-pound toms for $3.99 to $6.99. They recommend that you place your order ASAP to get what you want. For delivery Nov. 21 through Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 26), the deadline for placing orders is earlier than usual, and time slots and order deadlines will vary by location. Check out Fresh Direct’s Thanksgiving FAQ here.

Harry & David: You can grab a ready-made turkey that just needs to be warmed up on Thanksgiving from this 1-800-Flowers-owned

  food and gift seller. The 10-pound smoked turkey has already been marinated, slow-cooked and roasted over hickory wood, and runs $89.99. Or you can forgo the bird for a beef brisket ($199.99), a gourmet ham ($219.99) or a $119.99 beef and Italian sausage lasagna. Orders must be placed by 10 a.m. PT on Nov. 23 to arrive in time for Thanksgiving.

If a whole turkey is too big for your table, try alternative cuts like roulades.


Hickory Farms: While all of their turkeys feed a crowd of eight to 10 people, a rep told MarketWatch that you can always use the leftovers for soup and sandwiches. A Hickory Farms $69.99 premium turkey runs 12 to 16 pounds, and will arrive frozen and with instructions for thawing and roasting it. You can also order a $79.99 already-cooked smoked turkey breast, which features just the white meat. Or there’s a premium turkey dinner for 12 that ships raw, and would need to be cooked, for $185. Place your order by Nov. 20 with standard shipping, or you could push it as late as Nov. 24 with next-day delivery.

‘It’s an unusual Thanksgiving this year, so why not try something a little bit different?’

Omaha Steaks: You can order up a 10-pound whole, basted turkey that feeds eight for $99.99 if you combine it with other sides on the site, or $130 if purchased alone. Omaha Steaks is also delivering pre-cooked turkey breasts ($39.99) if a whole bird is just too much for your party. There’s also a “build your own Thanksgiving dinner” package that serves six to eight people for $159.99-$199.99, which features a main course, several sides and a dessert, which you can pick from a menu of more than a dozen dishes.

Porter Road: Their small turkeys have sold out, but they recommended buying alternative entrees that run smaller, such as whole chickens ($26), pork loins ($50) or even a leg of lamb ($48). “It’s an unusual Thanksgiving this year, so why not try something a little bit different?” a rep told MarketWatch. Their traditionally large 10 to 12.5-pound turkeys that serve 12 run $120. The latest you can order a turkey is Nov. 18, and the cutoff for the other meats is Nov. 21, to arrive by Nov. 25.

This oven-ready seasoned turkey roast from Rastelli’s cooks right in the bag.


Rastelli’s:This family-owned business has pre-cooked turkey roulades this year, perfect for smaller tables, that feed two or three people for $39 apiece. They don’t need to be basted or stuffed, because they’ve already been packed full of apple and cranberry stuffing. Or, if you’re hungry for a whole bird, there’s an oven-ready seasoned turkey roast that comes in a cooking bag that you can chuck right into the oven (once it thaws, of course) for $59, which feeds 10 to 14. The standard shipping cut-off for Thanksgiving is 11:59 p.m. ET on Nov. 21.

Read: The average commercial turkey is now 37.5 pounds — but Americans want smaller birds for their pandemic Thanksgiving

ShopRite: The supermarket’s free turkey special is back. Shoprite Price Plus members who use their club card to spend $400 between Oct. 18 and Nov. 26 will earn a free frozen ShopRite turkey, ham, turkey breast, kosher chicken, lasagna or Tofurky for their table. They can also opt for the equivalent savings per pound toward the purchase of any other whole turkey, turkey breast or ham.

Walmart: The retail giant has been preparing for scaled-down Thanksgivings after Butterball

 warned that the number of consumers who plan to host extended family and friends for Thanksgiving has dropped from 30% during a typical year to 26% this year, while those who plan to celebrate only with immediate family had jumped from 21% in a typical year, to 31%. As noted above, it’s going to be hard to score tiny turkeys, so Walmart

 has upped its inventory of bone-in and boneless turkey breasts by 20% to 30%, which run smaller than whole turkeys. It’s also put more ham on the shelves for those serving pork, instead. Groceries can be ordered online for delivery or curbside pickup.

Whole Foods offers a vegan Thanksgiving spread.

Whole Foods

Whole Foods: If you’re fretting about burning your first-ever Thanksgiving turkey, the Amazon-owned

 Whole Foods has teamed up with Progressive Insurance

 for a new “Thanksgiving Turkey Protection Plan.” For those who buy a turkey from Whole Foods between Nov. 11-22, if the bird comes out overcooked, undercooked, burnt or dry, you can file a claim to be eligible for a $35 Whole Foods gift card, limited to the first 1,000 claims. Turkeys can be bagged in store or ordered online, and Amazon Prime members get free two-hour grocery delivery from their local store, or free one-hour pickup. Plus, there’s small vegan and organic Thanksgiving meal options, including a cremini mushroom roast with sweet potato casserole, pumpkin curry soup and more that serves two for $39.99, and a low-carb Paleo-friendly turkey dinner for four that runs $89.99.


Blue Apron:You will have to subscribe to Blue Apron

for its first-ever Thanksgiving feast, but there’s still time to sign up (and get $60 off your next three boxes) for your order to arrive Thanksgiving week, as long as you book by the week of Nov. 16. A subscription covering three meals for two people runs $59.94 a week, or it’s $71.92 a week to feed four. This year’s Thanksgiving special includes the ingredients to make a spice-roasted turkey breast and sage gravy, pimento cheese mashed potatoes, cranberry relish, mushroom braised collard greens and more. Or, you can opt for a spice-roasted pork roast with a la carte sides, instead.

Meal-kit services like HelloFresh can box up all of the ingredients you need.


HelloFresh: You do not need to be a HelloFresh

 subscriber to order this year’s Thanksgiving Feast box, but you should preorder it beginning Nov. 17 (and no later than Nov. 19) to make sure it gets to you in time. There’s a large “Turkey + Sides” box for $159.99 that serves eight to 10 people, and includes the ingredients for a roast turkey with gravy, mashed potatoes, maple Brussels sprouts, ciabatta stuffing with chicken sausage and more. Or, smaller parties may prefer the “Beef Tenderloin + Sides” box for $134.99 that serves four to six people.

Read:Is it safe to have Thanksgiving with family? Here are the latest CDC guidelines on holiday gatherings

Home Chef: While you do need to subscribe to the service to order its holiday meals online, you can also find “Home Chef Holiday Bundles” in Kroger

  grocery stores for $55-$80 that feed just four, six or eight people. The in-store bundles include a protein entree (bone-in or boneless turkeys, bone-in or boneless hams and a prime rib) that requires minimal cook and preparation time, along with traditional holiday side dishes, dinner rolls and a dessert that are ready-to-heat. The bundles can be ordered online in advance at through Nov. 22, or at your Kroger deli counter through Nov. 24.


Boston Market: Ready-made “Heat & Serve” Thanksgiving dinners have become an annual tradition at the rotisserie chicken chain. They start at smaller meals that feed four to six for $79.99-$109.99 (depending on which main course you pick), and they can run up to a complete turkey dinner for 12 for $109.99-$159.99, which can be ordered in advance and picked up at Boston Market up until Thanksgiving morning. They recommend that you place your preorder ASAP, as what’s available will vary by location. And if you’re doing Thanksgiving solo, there’s an individual meal for $13.99 that features either turkey breast or half a rotisserie chicken, plus some sides and a dessert. Or there’s a meal for three for $39.99.

Get Thanksgiving to-go at restaurants like Cracker Barrel.

Cracker Barrel

Cracker Barrel: The restaurant chain offers an annual $139.99 “Thanksgiving Heat n’ Serve Feast,” which can be ordered in advance and picked up beginning Nov. 21, stored in the fridge and baked at home. The traditional takeout feast feeds eight to 10, and includes two oven-roasted turkey breasts, cornbread dressing, turkey gravy, cranberry relish, choice of three country sides, sweet yeast rolls and an entire pumpkin and pecan pie. But this year, Cracker Barrel

  is offering a new $69.99 Family Dinner for smaller celebrations that offers smaller portions of the original feast. Guests buying either one are encouraged to order online at least 24 hours in advance of their desired pick up date. But this year, those who pick up their orders the Nov. 23 or Nov. 24 will receive a bonus $5 gift card with the family dinner, or a $10 gift card with the larger feast.

Read:Dr. Fauci urges Americans to make sacrifices: ‘Thanksgiving is going to look very different this year’

Freshly: You do need to sign up for a weekly subscription to receive this meal, and book a minimum of four meals for $11.49 a meal (so $48 for the week), but a Freshly rep noted that you can easily skip or cancel orders for the following weeks if you just want a one-off Turkey Day delivery. What you get for Thanksgiving: an already-prepared meal that includes a carved turkey breast, mashed potatoes and gravy, as well as a green bean casserole and plenty of accoutrements. You should order by the end of this week to get the meal in time.

Williams-Sonoma: The homegoods store is serving pre-made Thanksgiving meals that are portioned to serve four, six, eight or 12 people, but they’re on the pricier side, running $179.95 to $699.99. They include a Martha Stewart Complete Thanksgiving Dinner for eight that’s more hands-on for $359.95, which includes a fresh free-range Willie Bird turkey to season and roast, as well as five ready-made side dishes and an apple cranberry crisp. Each Williams-Sonoma

 meal has a different order-by date, with the latest running Nov. 22 at 11:59 p.m. PT for delivery by the day before Thanksgiving.


You can always put your meal together at your local grocery store, of course, which may offer special shopping hours for seniors and other populations that are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus, or they may also provide home delivery services.

Instacart:The online grocery delivery service partners with more than 500 national, regional and local retailers across North America to ship from nearly 40,000 stores across more than 5,500 cities in the U.S. and Canada. So those looking to stock up on Thanksgiving supplies from grocers like Albertsons, ALDI, Food Lion, Gelson’s, Publix, Price Chopper, Schnucks, Shop ‘n Save, Sprouts, The Fresh Market, Wegmans and more, without going into those stores, can sign up for an account and start filling their online shopping carts. What’s more, Instacart can also deliver wine, spirits and other adult beverages to your door in 23 states.

Some supermarkets are offering discounts, delivery — or even free turkeys.


ALDI: The supermarket chain boasts that it can give you everything you need for Thanksgiving for less than $30, including: a Butterball turkey, bagged stuffing, sweet potatoes, Hawaiian sweet rolls, frozen peas, fresh cranberries, carrots, celery, canned pumpkin pie mix, pie crust, whipped cream and a gallon of whole milk. What’s more, every ALDI employee is getting two $30 gift cards from the company this year to cover their dinner, or to pass them off to someone in need. You can order your groceries online for delivery or for curbside pickup.

This story will continue to be updated as we find more ways to arrange a Thanksgiving feast online.

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