Portland Press Herald/Portland Press Herald/Getty Images

10 Trader Joe's Thanksgiving Sides & Apps For A Stress-Free Holiday


My family and I are not going to do a huge Thanksgiving this year, so I want everything to be as easy as possible. To simplify things, I plan on finding everything from my family's turkey for appetizers and side dishes for Thanksgiving from Trader Joe's, because it's one of my favorite stores, and I am an inherently lazy individual. If I can buy everything from one or two stores, I am a happy person.

As I strolled the jam-packed aisles of my Brooklyn Trader Joe's I noted a pretty big theme in this year's offerings... butter. If you're afraid of the dairy fat of the heavens, than TJ's might not be your best bet this year. If, however, you want to fully embrace the indulgence of this holiday, than you have come to the right place. They have gratins and mashed potatoes, stuffing mixes and multiple types of croissant.

I never knew that I needed multiple types of croissant at my Thanksgiving celebration, but my freezer now says that I do. And I can almost see you, nodding your head while reading this, thinking, "I, too, should have many forms of buttery rolls available for my guests (or just myself) this Thanksgiving."

1. All. The. Croissants.

Courtesy Cat Bowen

Four different types of frozen croissants not enough for you? My Trader Joe's also had freshly baked croissants in both traditional and chocolate, if you're not keen to bake them up yourself. If you're so inclined, you could gild the lily and make the leftovers of the traditional croissants into a savory bread pudding the next day with turkey gravy, vegetables, and shredded dark meat. Top it with cheddar cheese and a dollop of cranberry sauce, and you have yourself a winner. The best part? Nothing is over $5.

2. Cauliflower Casserole

Courtesy Cat Bowen

My Trader Joe's was tasting this dish as a sample, and now I have three in my freezer. The first bite that I took reminded me of the cheesy gratins my mother used to make for us as children, chock full of heavy cream, butter, and as many shredded cheeses as would fit in the dish. The main difference is that this one has far fewer carbohydrates. Now, I am far from a keto practitioner (see above fascination with croissants), but I understand those who are, and I can appreciate a delectable veggie casserole. At $6, it's a dang steal.

3. Hear Me Out, Not Everyone Likes Mashed Potatoes

Courtesy Cat Bowen

It seems strange, but trust me, not everyone likes mashed potatoes. Wild, I know, but for those statistical outliers, these $4 crispy hasselback potatoes offer a receptacle for their gravy habit, while having the textural benefit of crunchy potato slices. They can also be dressed up with cheese, bacon, and scallions. (Or go fully midwestern, and toss them in a mixture of butter and ranch dressing seasoning before baking them.)

4. Decent Cranberry Sauce

Courtesy Cat Bowen

I do make my own cranberry sauce every year, but having a jar around is handy for making things like compound butters, and cranberry mayonnaise. Their version is quite sturdy, with just enough sweetness to temper the tart berries. It's only $2, so if you hate it, it isn't a big loss.

5. Gotta Have The Stuffing

Courtesy Cat Bowen

Cornbread stuffing is the superior stuffing, don't at me. This version calls for the addition of a good amount of our BFF, butter, but could be substituted for a combination of turkey fat and butter to add to the overall richness. It's $4 for a big serving, but you still will probably want like, 11 boxes.

6. Apparently Gluten Free Stuffing Mix Is A Thing Now

Courtesy Cat Bowen

I have honestly heard good things about this gluten free stuffing mix from Trader Joe's. Yes, it's more expensive at $6 per box, but that kind of wizardry costs cash money.

7. Mashed Cauliflower

Courtesy Cat Bowen

I buy these and cauliflower gnocchi all of the time, and I am telling you that they are beyond delicious. The $3 mashed cauliflower is buttery and decadent, but it doesn't make you feel heavy after eating a third portion, which is key in the food olympics that is Thanksgiving.

8. Your Kids Will Eat This

Courtesy Cat Bowen

Do you remember in the 1990s, when it was popular to buy the bagged California medley of frozen veggies, and turn them into a casserole with fried onions and sour cream? This is the improved version of that, and all you have to do is heat it up. It's only $4, and your kids will eat it.

9. Sweet Potato Casserole

Courtesy Cat Bowen

No Thanksgiving dinner is complete without some form of mashed sweet potatoes. This $5 container of frozen mashed potatoes has crunchy pecans for the topping instead of marshmallows, but I say buy a bag of TJ's famous mini marshmallows and combine. That way, you get gooey and crunchy, and everyone (namely me) is happy.

10. You Need Something Fresh

Courtesy Cat Bowen

Not everything can be soaked in butter and cream. This Harvest grain salad is $5, and is the perfect complement to the rest of the meal. Consider it a palate cleanser.