Living

Dinner, time in a box

Now that you're done orchestrating a belt-loosening, applause-inducing Thanksgiving dinner for a houseful of guests, get ready to do it again in a mere three weeks.

Or not.

You could join those who have discovered the ease of ready-to-heat-and-eat holiday meals prepared by a local grocery store. Practically every major grocery chain and many independent markets sell holiday meals featuring fully cooked roasted turkey, glazed ham or prime rib along with side dishes for one flat price.

Bayview Thriftway in Olympia has been offering complete turkey meals during the holidays since at least the 1980s, said Kevin Storman, one of the owners of Storman Inc, which operates Bayview Thriftway. Albertsons has sold holiday meals for more than 15 years. Top Food & Drug started offering the holiday packages three years ago to answer customer demand and stay competitive, Cheryl-Ann Jones, the chain’s director of food service, wrote in an e-mail to The News Tribune.

“People are just more time-starved,” Storman said. “People like spending more time with their family in activities, and not being tied to the kitchen for hours and hours.”

Entrees and sides come cooked and refrigerated. All customers have to do is warm them up.

Besides saving time, say Storman and other grocery executives, pre-cooked holiday meals have improved to the point that they taste homemade.

“With our meals, all of the sides are made from scratch and are not the typical frozen side dishes,” wrote Top Foods’ Jones. “People are really shocked by the amount of food – (the turkey dinner) is really a good value at $59.99.”

Prices vary depending on the size of the spread and the type of ingredients. Dinners tend to cost more from upscale grocers such as Bayview, Stadium Thriftway in Tacoma’s Stadium District and Metropolitan Market in Tacoma’s Proctor District.

For instance, the Metropolitan Market’s holiday meals allow customers to choose four out of six side dishes made from scratch, including its popular green beans and carrots with garlic sauce, said Paige Lamb, Metropolitan’s food service director. The centerpiece of its $99.99 turkey dinner is the oven-roasted, all-natural, free-range Diestel brand turkeys.

“It’s a true, turkey roasted flavor. It has ... no hormones, no antibiotics, no MSG,” she said. “It’s all around a better bird quality-wise and health-wise.”

The dinner has proved so popular that by a week before Thanksgiving, Metropolitan stores in Tacoma, Federal Way and Seattle had already sold more of the holiday meals than during all of last year’s Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season, she said.

“We’re like, what’s going on? There’s supposed to be a recession,” Paige said. “We’ve had an overwhelming response.”

Lamb thinks it’s due to the Diestel turkey, the array of side dishes and the package price. Though the Diestels cost more than last year’s variety, Metropolitan kept its turkey dinner price the same as last year in light of the tough economy, she said. Two Seattle-area competitors offer Diestel turkey meals for $129.

Lower-priced meals at larger chains are big sellers, as well. Fred Meyer’s $39.99 turkey dinner features the chain’s premium label, Private Selection, said Dianne Foster, deli manager at the Tacoma Stevens Fred Meyer. “I have had them. They are outstanding,” Foster said. “It’s definitely less stress when you’re working 60 hours a week, and a lot of people anymore have to work that much in order to survive.”

Here’s a sample of South Sound grocers offering fully-cooked holiday dinners. Remember:

 • Though some stores can fill orders the same day, it’s best to call and reserve one as early as possible. Quantities are limited.

 • Most of the stores will provide the holiday meals for any day in December.

 • They also offer party trays of fruits, cheese, vegetables, appetizers and desserts.

 • Though meals are pre-cooked, they must be heated. Turkeys take up to three hours to warm, depending on the store’s recommendation.

 • Quantities are listed below when available. Prices don’t include tax.

Albertsons, throughout Pierce, Thurston and King counties offers three holiday dinners. Each serves eight people:

 • Honeysuckle turkey, mashed potatoes, home-style stuffing, turkey gravy, $44.99.

 • Smithfield spiral ham, scalloped potatoes, green bean Almondine, $49.99.

 • Charlie’s Pride prime rib, garlic mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, $69.99.

To order, call 1-877-932-7948 one week before desired pick-up or call your local store three days ahead of the desired pick-up date. As holidays get closer, the best way to guarantee a store has dinners available is to call the store directly.

Bayview Thriftway, 16 W. 4th St., Olympia

Offers a variety of entrees, ranging from prime rib to salmon, and accompaniments through its catering service, including the following holiday dinner through December.

 • 10- to 12-pound natural turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry relish, gravy, rolls and butter, $89.95. Serves 8 to 10.

Order at deli counter. For more information, call 360-352-4897.

Fred Meyer, throughout Pierce, Thurston and King counties.

Offers four holiday dinners; each serves 6 to 8, unless otherwise noted.

 • Traditional turkey dinner includes 10- to 12-pound Private Selection oven roasted turkey, 2.5 pounds old-fashioned mashed potatoes, 2 pounds old-fashioned stuffing, 24 ounces traditional turkey gravy, 8 dinner rolls, 8-inch apple or pumpkin pie, $39.99.

 • Deluxe turkey dinner includes 10- to 12-pound Private Selection oven-roasted turkey, and twice as much of the mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy and rolls as above, plus 2.5 pounds green bean casserole, 15 ounces apple pineapple cranberry sauce, lattice top apple or 10-inch pumpkin pie, $49.99. Serves 8 to 10.

 • 8-pound Private Selection spiral ham, 2.5 pounds scalloped potatoes with Gruyre cheese, 2.5 pounds green bean casserole, 15 ounces apple pineapple cranberry sauce, 8 dinner rolls, lattice top apple or 10-inch pumpkin pie, $39.99.

 • 3.5- to 4.5-pound prime rib, 3 pounds garlic mashed potatoes, 15 ounces peppercorn gravy, 2.5 pounds green bean casserole, 8 dinner rolls, lattice top apple or 10-inch pumpkin pie, $59.99. Serves 6 to 8.

To order, go to or call a local Fred Meyer deli department. You can print out an order form ahead of time at www.fredmeyer.com. Customers may be able to pick up a meal the same day as they order, but should call ahead to be sure.

Metropolitan Market in Tacoma and Federal Way Offers three holiday dinners. Each serves 6 to 8, plus leftovers.

 • 10- to 12-pound natural Diestel turkey, 14 ounces cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, 16 rolls, 28 ounces old fashioned turkey gravy, four side dishes, $99.99.

 • 8-pound Kurobuta ham, 16 rolls, pumpkin pie, four side dishes, $119.99.

 • 4-pound natural Snake River Farms prime rib, 1 pint au jus, 1 pint horseradish sauce, 16 rolls, pumpkin pie, four side dishes, $159.99.

Customers choose four out of the following side dishes: Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, roasted butternut squash, French green beans and carrots with garlic butter, savory sage stuffing, holiday Waldorf salad.

To order, call or visit a local Metropolitan Market deli department or go to www.metropolitan-market.com/holiday.

QFC in Gig Harbor, Lakewood, Parkland and Tacoma offers three holiday dinners. Each serves 6 to 8.

 • Roasted or lightly smoked turkey, mashed potatoes, old fashioned sage stuffing, traditional turkey gravy, 8 dinner rolls, pumpkin pie, $39.99 with Advantage card.

 • Hempler’s spiral cut ham, scalloped potatoes with Gruyre cheese, green bean casserole, 8 dinner rolls, pumpkin pie, $44.99 with Advantage card.

 • Private Selection prime rib, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, broccoli cheese and rice casserole, peppercorn gravy, 8 dinner rolls, pumpkin pie, $69.99 with Advantage card. To order, call or go to a local QFC deli department 48 hours before pickup.

Safeway, throughout Pierce, Thurston and King counties offers three holiday dinners. Each serves 6 to 8 unless otherwise noted.

 • 10- to 12-pound turkey, 2 pounds stuffing, 3 pounds creamy mashed potatoes, 24 ounces home-style turkey gravy, 15 ounces cranberry sauce, 1 dozen dinner rolls, 8-inch pumpkin pie, $39.99 with Club card.

 • 7- to 7.5-pound spiral ham, 2.5 pounds scalloped potatoes au gratin, 2 pounds corn medley, 2 pounds green bean casserole, 1 dozen dinner rolls, 8-inch apple pie, $49.99 with Club card.

 • 4-pound prime rib beef roast, 2.5 pounds scalloped potatoes au gratin, 2 pounds corn medley, 2 pounds green bean casserole, 1 dozen dinner rolls, 8-inch apple pie, $64.99 club price. Serves 4 to 5.

To order, call or go to a local Safeway deli department or call 1-888-358-7328.

Stadium Thriftway, 618 N. First St., Tacoma, offers three holiday dinners. Each serves 6 to 8.

 • 10- to 12-pound roasted turkey, 40 ounces mashed potatoes, 24 ounces honey-glazed yams, 12 rolls, 24 ounces traditional sage stuffing, 16 ounces turkey gravy, 24 ounces green beans almandine, 16 ounces fresh cranberry-orange relish, 9-inch pumpkin pie, $89.99.

 • Honey-glazed, bone-in spiral-sliced ham, 24 ounces honey-glazed yams, 12 rolls, 24 ounces three-cheese potato gratin, 24 ounces fresh green beans almandine, 16 ounces fresh cinnamon applesauce, 9-inch pumpkin pie, $79.99.

 • 5- to 6-pound prime rib, 40 ounces mashed potatoes, 12 rolls, 24 ounces fresh green beans almandine, 16 ounces au jus, 9-inch apple pie, $99.99.

To order, call or go to the deli department at 253-627-8275 five days before pickup.

TOP Food & Drug, throughout Pierce, Thurston and King counties, offers two holiday dinners. Each serves 4 to 6. TOP also offers a cooked turkey alone.

 • 12- to 14-pound Butterball turkey, 2.75 pounds of cranberry stuffing, 4 pounds of Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, 2 pounds of seasoned green beans; 32 ounces of gravy, $59.99.

 • 4-pound Hempler’s ham, 12 King’s Hawaiian rolls, 4 pounds Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, 2 pounds seasoned green beans, 32 ounces gravy, 32 ounces apple Waldorf salad, $79.99.

 • 12- to 14-pound cooked Butterball turkey only, $29.99.

To order, go on-line to www.top-foods.com or call local Top Food & Drug store at least 48 hours before pickup. A free 10-inch pumpkin pie comes with orders that give the 48-hour notice.

Debby Abe: 253-597-8694

debby.abe@thenewstribune.com

  Comments