Mix and match homemade recipes and Trader Joe's Thanksgiving products for your least stressful holiday meal yet. Consider these seven finds your shortcut to Thanksgiving menu success.

By Karla Walsh

In my family, some things, like the roast turkey centerpiece my mom and I tag-team to get on the table, simply cannot be tweaked our outsourced. But others, we would happily delegate to save time and oven space for the main event. Especially with growing families and crunched schedules—meaning less time to prep the meal and spend together.

This year, my interest was piqued by several semi-homemade saviors at Trader Joe's that I might just stock up on to cut down on stress while still hitting all the traditional fall flavors. 

In case you want to join me for a halfway-homemade holiday...

Photo courtesy of Trader Joe's

Instead of Candied Sweet Potatoes, Try...

Trader Joe’s Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Maple Roasted Pecans

This $4.99 refrigerated side dish gets steamy and ready to serve after about three minutes in the microwave. There’s melted butter and a pinch of cinnamon in the mash, and the box also hides a packet of maple-roasted pecans for garnish. All that means this sweet potato recipe looks and tastes like you sweated over it for hours.

Photo courtesy of Trader Joe's

Instead of DIY Dressing, Try...

Trader Joe’s Corn Bread Stuffing Mix

Expect a taste of classic Southern comfort with this $3.99 corn bread stuffing mix that can be cooked in a casserole pan for family-style serving or baked in a muffin tin for single-serving stuffing cups. I plan to jazz this up with a splash of broth and a ladle of pan drippings to enhance the savory flavors—and make it seem 100 percent handcrafted.


Photo courtesy of Trader Joe's

Or Instead of Traditional Bread Stuffing, Try...

Trader Joe’s Riced Cauliflower Stuffing

While my family doesn’t have any food allergies or dietary restrictions, many of my relatives are trying to eat cleaner and consume fewer carbs. This 60-calorie-per-cup creation features cauliflower rice in place of all the bread and is prepared in vegetable broth instead of chicken or turkey broth to keep it vegan to please the masses. Studded with carrots, dried cranberries, onions, celery, and herbs and available for $2.99, this stuffing substitute is table-ready after a quick saute session.

Photo courtesy of Trader Joe's

Instead of Potatoes au Gratin, Try...

Trader Joe’s Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin

In other lower-carb news, this $3.99 freezer find is loaded with cruciferous vegetables. (A full 50 percent of the casserole is broccoli and cauliflower, while the rest is mainly butter sauce and a mix of mozzarella and Grana Padano cheeses. At just 130 calories per cup, I’m taking this trade as permission to slice a bigger piece of pie for dessert.

Photo courtesy of Trader Joe's

Instead of Made-From-Scratch Bread, Try...

Trader Joe’s Holiday Herb Rolls

Now this can’t be bad: Tender, buttery dough kneaded with the same herbs stirred into traditional stuffing recipes (parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, and marjoram). Skipping the flour shower that often comes with preparing homemade bread is well worth the $2.49 price tag, in my opinion.

Photo courtesy of Trader Joe's

Instead of Green Bean Casserole, Try...

Trader Joe’s Haricot Verts Saute Kit

After giving the can label a look recently, I’m okay with skipping the condensed soup in my green beans this year. This speedy skillet side dish (sold for $4.99) makes fresh green beans the star of the show. For a nod to grandma’s green bean casserole, it comes with a bit of mushroom sauce made with actual cream and red wine. I have a feeling we’ll all be fighting over the scoops with the most toasted almonds and fried onion pieces...

Photo courtesy of Trader Joe's

Instead of DIY Pie, Try...

Trader Joe’s Apple Cranberry Tart

Cranberry sauce and apple pie combine in this two-for-one dessert that looks rustic (AKA like I made it myself). If I’m feeling lazy, I’ll serve as-is with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, but I think I might warm the $3.99 fruit tarts quickly in the oven and deck them out in fresh whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon. (I may or may not snag another box for Black Friday brunch, too.)


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