Shannon Ratliff

The 5 Reasons I Might Never Make Thanksgiving Dinner Myself Again

Do you love holiday dinners, but dislike the prep work? It can be difficult to bake every pie and side dish to perfection, while also handling the roasted turkey and the gravy. Cooking a holiday dinner is a battle every home cook wins year after year, but sometimes, you just simply don't know if you feel like cooking. Maybe you're just serving up a dinner for yourself or another person, nothing that would warrant a whole kitchen parade. That's why, this year, I decided to skip cooking Thanksgiving dinner. And it was the best thing I've ever done.

For Thanksgiving this year, it was my mother and I, with plans to head to the coast for Thanksgiving. So what were we to do? We ordered Send a Meal.

What is Send a Meal?

Send a Meal is a meal delivery service that delivers frozen pre-cooked food to your door. There are no membership or subscription fees, and no monthly billing. The meals are frozen when they arrive, and require thawing before cooking. We ordered the Deluxe Holiday Dinner for Two, which featured a 7-pound Herb-Stuffed Turkey that we upgraded to. The dinner also comes with Turkey Gravy, Apple Sage Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, French Green Beans in Mushroom Cream Sauce, Cranberry-Orange Relish, four 9 Grain Rolls, and a 6-inch Pumpkin Pie.

It arrived in a large styrofoam box with a layer of dry ice and about 20 small cooler packs that you can reuse. If you're anything like me, you give away or lose those little reusable ice packs, so that was a great find when we opened the box.

Here are the five reasons I would recommend Send a Meal to anyone.

1. There is no prep work. At all.


The turkey before going into the oven.

When my mom and I decided to start making dinner, we expected that the turkey would be in the oven for close to three hours. However, because everything thawed so well in the refrigerator, we only needed to roast the turkey in the oven for about 1 hour and 35 minutes, just to warm it back up. The turkey arrives, pre-cooked and herb-rubbed, smelling so good the minute you unwrap it.


The sides in their original wrapping, thawed.

With the side dishes, once the turkey was resting, we popped in the oven the Apple Sage Stuffing, the Mashed Potatoes, and the Mashed Sweet Potatoes in their original containers, just on a baking sheet.

The Turkey Gravy and Green Beans took over the stovetop, and the rolls warmed alongside the Mashed Sweet Potatoes. How easy is that? The Pumpkin Pie didn't need to be baked once thawed, and let's be honest, chilled pie is the best kind of pie.

2. I've never seen so few dishes after a decadent holiday meal. 


The side dishes in the oven.

In total, we needed to wash one roasting pan, two small saucepans, and two nice holiday plates for the dinner. The side dishes didn't even dirty up the baking sheets as they didn't overflow from their original containers. If you've ever made a sweet potato casserole that bubbles over onto the baking sheet, you know how difficult it is to clean up.

Send a Meal's expert packing made it easy to take the food from the refrigerator right to the oven or stovetop, and I was thoroughly impressed that the suggested times on the directions were accurate. I don't know about you, but it seems that every suggested cooking time is made for a professional oven with full power. Send a Meal is designed for those of us who want to throw a delicious dinner into the oven, and not think about it until the timer dings.

3. The portion sizes were generous, but not overwhelming. 


The turkey resting from the oven.

Because we ordered the Deluxe Holiday Dinner for Two, I was worried that we would either have too many leftovers or not enough. However, the portion sizes were seriously perfect for the two of us to enjoy a meal with about three leftover meals afterwards. The turkey was, by far, the biggest surprise. It was huge!

The tradition in my family, though, is to make Turkey Noodle Soup the day after Thanksgiving, and we have more than enough turkey meat left to do just that.


The Apple Sage Stuffing and the Mashed Potatoes before serving.

The sides, on the other hand, were just big enough to give us about two more meals each after the initial holiday dinner.


Mashed Sweet Potatoes before serving.

This, in my opinion, is the perfect amount because after two days of sweet potatoes, you're not too keen on having another microwaved meal.


Green Beans on the stovetop after reheating.

The Green Beans and Gravy were also offered in generous portion sizes, and the Mushroom Cream Sauce for the Green Beans was so good, I considered drinking it. I'm not even kidding.


Gravy reheating on the stovetop.

And the Gravy? Sometimes it can be hit or miss, and a good gravy takes years to master. Send a Meal is taking the guesswork out of it with this incredibly smooth gravy that's the perfect consistency, not too thick or thin.


The only photo of the Pumpkin Pie before we ate it all.

The Pumpkin Pie was creamy and smooth. With a buttery crust that wasn't too thick, the filling was really the star of the show and was perfectly spiced.

4. The flavors of each dish were delicious and filling.


A very full and delicious dinner plate.

Not one item served up by Send a Meal tasted like it was lacking the home-cooked factor. In fact, it all tasted incredibly rustic and homegrown, with strong flavor profiles in each. The Apple Sage Stuffing was my mom's favorite, and the apple flavor really made this stuffing one of the best ones I've had.


The Cranberry-Orange Relish before serving.

My favorite part was the Cranberry-Orange Relish, a jam-like spread that was tart and not too sweet at the same time, my favorite. Once thawed, it required no prep work and was ready to eat.

My mom and I both sat down with our plates at the table and commented on how nice the kitchen smelled. Of course, we were a little skeptical that a delicious meal could come from a package shipped in dry ice, but the minute we took our first bite of turkey, we knew we made the right decision.


The turkey in its original packaging.

The bird was tender and juicy, and the flavors of the herbs were prominent without being overwhelming. I was so impressed, I hadn't had a turkey that moist in a long time. The thigh skin was crispy, and the inside was so just so tender, it melted in your mouth.

5. We spent more time together in the kitchen without the stress of cooking.


The final dinner plate.

For our first experience with Send a Meal, we camped out in the kitchen to make sure everything reheated smoothly and the turkey roasted properly. During that time, we were able to catch up a little bit. No one was running around with six different timers, anxiously worrying that the meal wouldn't be delicious. Ordering Send a Meal allowed us to truly relax for Thanksgiving, something that rarely happens when you have a home cook in the kitchen whipping up one of the biggest dinners of the year.

Of course we poured over the well-written directions prior to popping things in the oven, but overall, we were just able to spend time together without the stress of cooking from scratch. And for a dinner that tasted incredible, it was well worth it. Oh, and that Pumpkin Pie? We finished the whole thing, and even turned the leftover slices into Pumpkin Pie Smoothies.

For your next holiday meal, consider Send a Meal for its simplicity and delicious flavors. You've never made a turkey dinner this easy before, or one this tasty. Thanksgiving might have passed, but Christmas is right around the corner. I can only imagine how good their Hams must taste after trying this turkey.

That's not even the best part. Send a Meal is offering Wide Open Eats readers the chance to receive 8% off the already discounted meals and desserts for the season. Use the code WOM17 to earn the discount on any website wide purchase with no exclusions or minimum purchase necessary. You can use the code until November 30, 2017.

Watch: The 5 Most Important Holiday Baking Tips