Where to Get Thanksgiving Meals to Go in Orange County


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It might seem counterintuitive to search out Thanksgiving restaurants or grocery stores where you can get your Thanksgiving dinner to go, but sometimes the cost is the same and you can greatly decrease the time and hassle of taking on the entire meal preparation.

Growing up, my grandfather was in charge of our Thanksgiving feast. He would arrive at our house with Ziplocs full of already-prepped onions, celery and bread cubes for teh stuffing. The smell of turkey wafted through our home all day long.

When I got older, I couldn’t wait to come home for the same annual Thanksgiving tradition, eventually learning the steps of the recipe and being able to create a tribute version of the original after my grandfather passed away.

But once I got married, Thanksgiving belonged to my in-laws and we chose to eat out or bring food since we never hosted at our house.

One year when we were living out-of-state and away from family, we even went to a buffet restaurant with just my husband and 3 year old. HINT: Do not go to a buffet with just your husband and 3 year old. You will end up taking turns grabbing food while the other one sits with the preschooler and never get to actually eat together.

My kids are teens and I’ve been married for over 25 years now, so I feel like I’m overqualified when it comes to finding options for eating out on Thanksgiving.

Choosing Your Options for Thanksgiving Dinner To Go

You can get the complete meal or just parts of the meal while you prepare the rest at home. As I see it, here are your options:

Option #1 – You can order only the MAIN COURSE (turkey, prime rib, vegetarian option) and make the SIDES and DESSERTS yourself.

Option #2 – You can order just the MAIN COURSE and SIDES, but make the DESSERTS yourself.

Option #3 – You can order the whole deal: MAIN COURSE, SIDES, and DESSERTS.

Option #4 – You can concentrate on making a homemade Thanksgiving feast and just grab DESSERTS from your favorite bakery or specialty grocery.

Tips for Enjoying Your Thanksgiving Meal

Don’t lock yourself into eating at the dining room table when you choose Thanksgiving takeout.

  • Be clear on whether your meal will be picked up hot and ready to serve on Thanksgiving Day — or whether you need to pick up days ahead and reheat the meal over a multi-hour time period. Plan accordingly.

  • You can eat outdoors! Especially in Orange County, the weather might be nice enough to enjoy your meal at a park or on your patio.

  • There ARE vegetarian and vegan options at some of these restaurants/stores. Risotto seems to be a popular main course to replace to replace the meat.​

Catering and Take Out Thanksgiving Dinners in Orange County



BBQ and Specialty


Traditional Restaurants and Chains




Thanksgiving by Mail

Hoping this makes your Thanksgiving easy and that you can be extra grateful for the time saved on meal prep while you spend time with family or friends.

Michele Whiteaker is a writer mom & nature guide who promotes play and empowers families to prioritize nature time through her online community resource of over 300 Orange County park profiles. She's widely quoted for coining the term “hummingbird parent” to explain her parenting strategy which allows kids some freedom outdoors. 

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