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Anybody ever done T'giving takeout?

OK, I'm a very proud home cook, who hosts about 20 relatives each Thanksgiving and Christmas. Only this year, family and personal circumstances make it impossible for me to even think about cooking. Has anyone ever done Thanksgiving takeout? What's it like?
Is it any good? I know I'll at least make a couple of pecan pies. But that's it.

I live in Long Beach, and I'm looking at a menu from Olives for their takeout deal. It looks pretty reasonable at $130 for a complete menu for 6. I'd end up doing it for at least 18 - 24.

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  1. I did it one year too. I ordered from Gelson's for 6 people and made a salad and a pie and it was very nice.
    My friend does Tgiving every year for 30 people and has reduced costs and stress by making it into a potluck. She supplies the space, bar and seating and all the family groupings bring a dish or two....

    1. My family has ordered Thanksgiving dinner from Mimi's Cafe and we were very pleased.

      1. I've done it with Gelson's too, and it was fabulous.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Diana

          We do it at work every year and last year Boston Market was very good. I think even better than Gelson's.

          1. re: compucook

            You're kidding! Gelson's turkey and sides are so amazing.
            BM is just not so delicious.

            I hear Bristol Farms and Whole foods are good, too.

            1. re: Diana

              I was disappointed by the roasted turkey breast I got from Whole Foods for Thanksgiving about 3 years ago. A lot of rosemary, and it was dry.

        2. I dated someone who decided to do Thanksgiving "take-out" for us.

          The take-out was courtesy of Ranch99 Market ... yes, that Ranch99 Market.

          We got a turkey that tasted like it was brined in soy sauce, stuffing made from sticky rice (basically a tsong-tzi without the bamboo wrapper stuffed into the cavity of the turkey), fried rice instead of mashed potatoes, stir-fried green beans, and an apple pie that looked and tasted like the Ranch99 kitchen staff bought it from the Ralphs down the street.

          We're no longer seeing each other.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ipsedixit

            We've done takeout Thanksgiving over the past few years with mixed results.

            We did it for 2-3 years from Knotts' Berry Farm, and it was great.

            However, last year, the turkey was not very brown, looked like it wasn't completely
            cooked. We had to finish it off in the oven. Sides from there were great.

            However, I don't think we'll go back there again.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              You know, I thank you for posting that! For several years I have been seeing the annual 99 Ranch "Holiday Meals" posters and wondering if it was worth a try-doing "Thanksgiving with a twist".

              Now I know not to bother!

            2. I generally do Thanksgiving takeouts with a few home made side dishes, since I usually celebrate in a small group and don't have the time to prep a bird or a ham. In general, while nothing compares to home-cooked, but most Thanksgiving takeouts do a fairly decent job at it.

              I actually had a not-so-pleasant Gelson's experience, they misplaced/lost/gave away our order (even after confirming the day before) so I wound up getting a few side dishes that I didn't want (even though to compensate, they did give me much more than what I ordered ~ but still . . .)

              Boston's Market was OK, but my best takeout was with Wild Oats last year -- everything tasted wonderfully fresh and flavorful. R.I.P. to their Pasadena location, but I hope the new flagship Whole Foods will do just a good a job and for a comparable price.


              2 Replies
              1. re: AquaW

                Did you go to the manager of Gelson's to complain, or call the main office. I know they would find that inexcuseable, and would have made it up to you in some way or another.

                It happened to me once-a new Deli staff "misplaced" my order sheet and there was nothing for me. I went to the manager (at Encino, that's usually Adam) and let him know. He marched right back to the deli, grabbed the deli manager from whatever he was doing (and yes, it was busy for the DM, being holiday time) and told him to make it right, RIGHT NOW.

                not only did I get my order, I got extra for no charge and he threw in a few loaves of the Corn Bread.

                I also go effusive apologies from everyone.

                I imagine the new staff got chewed out by both the deli manager and the store manager.

                1. re: Diana

                  Didn't discover the mistake (wrong side orders) until I got home, and didn't have the time or energy for dealing with Gelson's again that afternoon. I know Gelson's tend to have a good track record with service, so my experience is probably an exception; nonetheless, I probably won't consider that place for holiday meals for quite a while.


              2. I like the fresh roasted turkey at Gelson's and their butternut squash side dish. Both are very good. I have never ordered an entire Thanksgiving dinner from Gelson's, but the Gelson's website has a list of holiday menus and prices:


                1. Great idea for a thread Vicki.

                  We did takeout last year from one of the grocery stores (not my choice, but it actually wasn't bad) We're considering getting ours from Claim Jumper this year.

                  1. I've wondered about takeout T'giving. Do you heat the turkey or eat it cold?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ellink

                      You have to heat the bird and the sides up. Most places, the sides are fully cooked and just need a quick heat. SOmeplaces cook the bird, some don't. Usually the bird is at least ready to throw in the oven.

                    2. I've done Gelsons. which was fine, But do be advised, there is a LOT more work in one of those takeout meals than you might expect--it's not like you can just open up the trays and start eating, many the items have to be cooked (or at least warmed) for considerable lengths of time. Finishing the meal preparation stressed the kitchen capabilities of our then-condo to the limit, and beyond . . . but the result wasn't bad.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: PayOrPlay

                        Hi.. we did take out from Auntie Em's 2 years ago and it was great. My twin boys were babies at the time and there was no way I could imagine cooking for everyone that year. Warmed everything up (they gave instructions with each item) and then put in nice serving dishes. Everything was great and I ordered extra so we'd still have yummy leftovers as one normally has from a Thanksgiving feast.

                        My only tip is plan ahead - order and get a confirm email or receipt or something for proof (not just a phone call). Check local restaurants/bakeries that you like, they might have a great take-out program for Thanksgiving.

                        1. re: burbankfoodie

                          No Diana, I'm not kidding about Gelson's. I'm a regular shopper in the Encino store, so regular that many of the checkers call me by name. I also know Adam quite well. That said, I don't like their Thanksgiving meal. The vegetables are just awful--a frozen mixed veggie combo that never tastes "right" nor has a satisfying texture. I think the stuffing is "overwhelmingly herby", and the white meat ends up kind of dry. And yes, the prep is a pain. Certainly not something someone without a kitchen should tackle. ONe thing we do love is their Sweet Potatoes. My husband could eat them every night, they're delicious!

                          1. re: compucook

                            OOh, I agree with you about the sweet potatoes. I also like thier fat free holiday breads.

                            My experience was not the same, but I do skip the veggie combo and get the other sides. I like the stuffing, but hey, tastes differ!

                            One thing I do is cook my own bird.

                            If you have no kitche, I can see how that would be a problem. too bad the deli doesn't have the ability on such a buys week to get you everything warm and ready, but that would be hard to do.

                            Though, maybe if you ask Adam to do it just once as a favor.....

                            1. re: Diana

                              I noticed in today's LA TImes that Gelson's is having a tasting this weekend (I think...) for their Thanksgiving foods. Check it out for yourself!

                                1. re: Diana

                                  As an alternative, for veg and non-veg, I did an amazing "to go" Thanksgiving a couple of times from Real Food Daily, http://www.realfooddaily.com/news.htm

                                  I was more than pleasantly surprised at how yummy it all was.

                                  It was truly delicious and frankly if you are poopooing or put off by vegetarian fare, especially on "Turkey Day", then you could order the menu, save the Faux Turkey Breast for another use (sandwiches, the next day), and pick up your Diestel Turkey from Whole Foods to accompany the rest of the stellar menu.