Save time and slash stress on Turkey Day by outsourcing some of the meal prep to Joe and co.
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a collage featuring Trader Joe's products Turkey Flavored Gravy and Cornbread Stuffing
Credit: Courtesy of Brand

Even though we work with our Test Kitchen daily and have gathered up pro tips from culinary icons including Ina Garten, Martha Stewart and Giada De Laurentiis over the years, the prospect of shopping, prepping, serving and hosting an entire from-scratch Thanksgiving feast feels daunting. With limited oven and stove space, seemingly more dietary restrictions among our guests each year, not to mention the very real possibility of the classic centerpiece being MIA this year (oh yes, plus a dash of potential family drama), it's easy to lose sight of what the holiday is all about: Being grateful to share a table—not feeling utterly exhausted by the time we sit down to dine.

As we've grown older and wiser, we have become happy to outsource parts of the meal potluck-style, to local restaurants or to well-made supermarket products so we can focus on the real family heirloom recipes. (For me, Thanksgiving will never be complete without Mom's honey whole-wheat bread or re-creating Grandma's oh-so-Midwestern green bean casserole.)

Beyond the beloved signature recipes, I'm planning to invest in a little "self-care" by tagging in a couple local bakers for brunch and dessert, and making a visit to Joe—Trader Joe—to snag a few easy-prep options.

The 2022 Fearless Flyer Thanksgiving Guide includes "holiday feast fundamentals" and "awesomely autumnal treats," crew members explain. In addition to seasonal staples that are easy to grab and make your own (such as turkey, fresh cranberries, fresh green beans, sweet potatoes and more), I'm planning to take the Trader Joe's employees' word for it and add the following items to my cart next stock-up session so I can host semi-homemade-style this year.

1. Everything but the Leftovers Seasoning Blend

A riff on the ever-popular Everything but the Bagel Seasoning Blend, the Everything but the Leftovers Seasoning Blend "delivers the flavors of a Thanksgiving Day feast, with a mere sprinkle, shake or spoonful," Trader Joe's employees say. "We've distilled the essence of a stellar stuffing and a great gravy down to a shake-able —and vegan—Seasoning Blend so you can add these holiday flavors to anything." (I'm planning on tossing it with Sheet-Pan Roasted Root Vegetables.) The mix includes dehydrated onion, black pepper, turmeric powder, dried celery seed, ground sage, rosemary powder, dried thyme, dried parsley and sea salt; essentially all of the traditional herbs and spices you might recall from your childhood Thanksgiving menus. Baker's yeast and torula yeast join the party to lend a savory element. ($2.99 per 2.6-ounce jar)

2. Turkey Stock

I adore "recycling" my chicken and turkey scraps to make homemade stock, but what's a cook to do at the start of the meal—when the bones are hiding under the roasting meat? Stock up on store-bought, of course. Crew members describe Trader Joe's Turkey Stock as "rich, robust, flavorful" and ideal for enhancing any recipe that asks for stock or broth. Gravy, leftover turkey soup, casseroles and beyond are about to get so much easier. ($2.49 per 32-fluid-ounce carton)

3. Turkey-Flavored Gravy

You can save some of that stock if you hit the easy button with this staff-member selection. The wildly affordable, gluten-free Turkey-Flavored Gravy "boasts plenty of natural turkey flavor, buoyed by savory garlic powder, onion powder and plenty of autumnally appropriate spices," employees say. Find it near the soups and canned pantry staples, then once open, store in the fridge. And if you're in the mood to dress this up, try Joe's "Gild Your Gravy" recipes that require just a few extra ingredients to take the base turkey gravy to the next level. Marvelous Mustard Gravy, here we come! ($1.49 per 17.6-ounce carton)

4. Cornbread Stuffing

No need to worry about drying the bread cubes overnight. Trader Joe's oven-ready, fully cooked Cornbread Stuffing is already assembled and only asks for 25 minutes in a 375°F oven. (Conveniently, this is about how long our Test Kitchen experts recommend that you let the turkey rest before carving, so you can pop it right in that same piece of oven real estate). With hearty cornbread croutons, roasted apples and dried cranberries "accentuated by earthy aromatics of celery, onion, parsley, sage and rosemary," this Southern-inspired side dish can even be cooked in the microwave if you're crunched for time. ($5.99 per 17-ounce, five-serving package)

5. Fresh Cranberry Sauce

Think fresh with your cranberry sauce this year. Just like the canned version you might recall hiding from as a kiddo (wait, was that just me?), only one "ingredient" is required for a fresh version if you swing by the refrigerator aisle. That's where you'll find Trader Joe's Fresh Cranberry Sauce and Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish to add to your side dish recipe spread. "Each bite delivers terrific texture and bright, vibrant flavor," employees say. ($3.99 per 16-ounce tub)

6. Scallopini Potatoes

"Every meal, even a meal as big as Thanksgiving dinner, can be improved by adding cheesy potatoes," crew members write in the Fearless Flyer, and we wholeheartedly agree. This Italian-made side dish showcases thinly sliced and layered spuds smothered in a lusciously creamy four-cheese sauce. The Scallopini Potatoes are fully assembled and will be ready to devour after about 45 minutes in a 350°F oven—or 11 minutes in the microwave. ($3.99 per 18-ounce package)