Yes, you read the title correctly this article is all about The Stress-Free Trader Joe's Thanksgiving and Holiday Dinner Ready in 1 Hour. It is possible to have a complete Thanksgiving dinner ready in an hour. Based on my calculation, it may only set you back an extra $0.83 per person. If you plan and shop ahead of time, it can be done without the hours of prepping and waking up early to get the bird in the oven. You might even ENJOY the holiday and not be downright exhausted afterward. It may be a hair more expensive than if you made everything from scratch, but then again, what is your time worth? I'd rather spend time with family rather than time in the kitchen. Isn't family and friends what the holidays are all about? Here is the break down of how you can pull off the impossible. Based on Food Network's Thanksgiving Dinner Portion Planner it advises the following should be prepared per four guests (It should also be noted that these guests should wear loose-fitting clothing with stretchy waistbands based on Food Networks suggestions here):
Appetizers- 12 pieces and 12 ounces of dip
Cheese- 8 ounces
Wine- 1 to 2 bottles
Soup- 4 cups
Turkey- 8 ounces per guest (or 1 ½ lbs per person if cooking whole turkey)
Gravy- 2 cups
Cranberry Sauce- 2 cups
Stuffing- 3 cups
Mashed Potatoes-3 cups
Rolls- 6 rolls
Veggies- 1 pound
Pie- 1 pie
Here is a sample shopping list from Trader Joe's per four people based on Food Network's recommendations.
All the items below can be ready in under and hour. Any item in blue also is a review so if you've never tried these items feel free to read the review as well. By utilizing your microwave and oven, all items below can be readied in an hour total (even better if you have a double oven, but not necessary, or take advantage if you have a good toaster oven). Please multiply accordingly if having more than 4 people:
Appetizers- Trader Joe’s Spinach & Artichoke Dip (you'll need chips or veggies too) $2.99
Cheese: Trader Joe’s Cranberry Chevre $3.99
Wine: Your choice or guests choice, I'm omitting this cost.
Soup: If I ate all of the above items I'm pretty sure I'd have no room left. I'll save the turkey soup for the next day.
Turkey: Trader Joe’s Fully Cooked Turkey Breast ($8.99 lb or 2 lbs @ $17.98)
Gravy: Trader Joe's Turkey Gravy $1.49
Cranberry Sauce- Trader Joe’s Cranberry Sauce $1.99 for 1 jar (you may need a second jar if you know people are fans)
Stuffing: Trader Joe’s Cornbread Stuffing Mix $3.99
Mashed Potatoes- Trader Joe's Garlic and Butter Mashed Potatoes $1.99
Rolls- Trader Joe's Par Baked Rolls $2.29
Veggies-Trader Joe’s Carrot Souffle $4.99
Dessert- Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pie $6.99 or if your guests ask "What can I bring?" volunteer them for dessert or appetizers.
Grand total- $53.68 give or take per four people without alcohol.
For comparison's sake, last year's Huffington Posts article titled "The Average Cost of a Thanksgiving Grocery List is $69.01" gives us a reference point but it is also an unfair comparison. The Huffington Post was counting on you having 10 people while the menu laid out by Food Network expects four people. Either way, if you break it down per person Huffington Post's per-person cost last year was $6.90, while this Food Network/Trader Joe's feast works out to $13.42 per guest. Huffington Post's article only counts turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and pumpkin pie so if you want an even comparison, this meal can be brought down to $30.95 or $7.73 per person. Isn't $.83 per person worth the time savings (on both ends- prep and clean up)??
It is much cheaper than say going to a restaurant and having a sit-down meal and perhaps even less than some catering places might offer. Stew Leonard's, another grocery store by me will feed 8 people for $175. If you look at what they are offering you, it again is still a far cry from the feast Food Network suggests.
How do you make sure this grand feast is ready and prepared in a sane way without any chaos? Cut out the timing instructions from the box or bags and placing them on the baking sheets so you can put your dishes in order before they go into the oven. But remember to remove them from the tray as they go into the oven.
How do I know this will work? Because I did "Fakes-giving" at my house for 6 people this past weekend and didn't break a sweat (as an added bonus, barely dirtied the cooktop).
What did I utilize? A microwave, a refrigerator (that didn't need to have a huge turkey sitting in it all week), and a double oven (one set at 350F and another set at 425F). Put all items that take the longest in first and as the time counts down add in the other items when the timer hits certain points. (I started the timer at 40 minutes when it hit 30 minutes I added the turkey and all the other items that needed 30 minutes as well, and so on and so forth so everything would come out at once).
But what is the downside to this? Your dark meat fans are out of luck. While you might be in sticker shock over the cost of the turkey at $8.99 a pound, it may be worth it in the end.
Want to see a complete list of items I've tried from Trader Joe's? Click on Thoughts & Reviews of Trader Joe’s for an alphabetized list.