More than any other holiday Thanksgiving is focused on the food. I think this makes it easy to write off for most people. It’s just one meal, it only happens once a year. I totally get that, I really do. The fact is most people don’t have control over all the food at their Thanksgiving dinner. Many of us travel to visit with family and have dinner at a relatives house. Truly, being with family and appreciating the blessings in your life is what matters. If, however, you are making your own dinner or even contributing a dish and you want to make the effort to better your food there are some easy swaps you can make.
I am a born and raised Michigander. A mid-westerner. Like a lot of other families, my Thanksgiving dinners always stuck to the very traditional basics. French’s green bean casserole with Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup. Factory farmed turkey bought on grocery store special at pennies per pound. Sweet potatoes covered in oozing Jet-Puffed marshmallows. And I’m sure cranberry sauce from a can.
There was nothing wrong with this meal, I’m sure lots of families still put love and care into preparing one very similar even now. Holiday meals especially are carefully prepared with a lot of heart. It’s cliche but when you know better, you do better. My family’s meals have improved over the years as different members have developed culinary skills. And now we are at a point when organic versions of just about anything you can imagine are becoming more readily available. Prices are even beginning to drop thanks to wider distribution and increased competition.
So if you are like me and leave the food prep shopping to a few days before, below are just a few suggestions to consider. It is easy to make the switch – it won’t change your recipe or make anything harder. I always say any chance you have to remove toxins (found in most conventional foods from pesticides and chemical additives) from your food is a good one. Every little bit really does help. Happy Thanksgiving, above all I hope you enjoy this time with your family!
Green Bean Casserole – There are recipes out there for making your own fried onions. I tried this one year with just OK results. Luckily both Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s produce their own store version. Both with better ingredients than the traditional French’s and at least the WF version is guaranteed to be GMO free. Organic green beans are readily available whether you prefer fresh, frozen or canned. And organic cream of mushroom soup is also pretty easy to find now. I do find it to be a little more watery than the Campbell’s version but a tablespoon or two of flour added in will fix that. Or do what I do and just add extra fried onions, they are the best part afterall 🙂
Turkey – I have seen organic free-range turkeys for sale in several stores this year. Costco has them for $2.99/lb which is a really decent price. I know Trader Joe’s and of course Whole Foods sell them as well. Yes this is a big expense but you are paying about the same for any great quality bird and meat is the most important item to buy organic.
Stuffing – If you prefer your stuffing from a package, I really like the Arrowhead Mills product for an organic choice. I buy this quite often for a variety of meals throughout the year. I have seen it in several grocery stores. Again both Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have their own store brand as well.
Cheese & Crackers – Don’t forget about the food outside of the main event meal! Last year I made a great cheese ball appetizer with easy organic cream cheese (Kroger’s Simple Truth), great organic crackers (both Meijer’s version of Ritz and organic Triscuit’s from Costco), and even grass-fed beef summer sausage (from Whole Foods). All the flavors the family is used to without even realizing this version was better for them!
Do you have any tricks to your Thanksgiving meal prep? How do you fit organic into your meal? I’d love to hear about it!