Thanksgiving Meal Prep To-Go

Meal-prep services liven up Turkey Day with creative sides to bring to the table

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For many, Thanksgiving is a chance to bring their grit and skill to the kitchen – and family and friends to the table – for a bountiful meal showcasing passed-down recipes. And while candied marshmallow-crusted yams and grandma’s bacon green bean casserole are never bad ideas, this year may see some downsized gatherings, a little bit of leniency when it comes to tradition, and a heightened focus on health. For Bre Goldsmith, the chef behind meal-prep service Bites by Bre, this means opportunity for adventure: “We’re so lucky that diners trust us to give their palates something that, while it might be shocking or new, is ultimately harmonious and satisfying.”

Whether you’re looking to substitute a few staples with low-carb sides or fill the other days of November with lean eats, the creative chefs behind many of Rhode Island’s meal-prep services are here to help make the season go a little more smoothly – and adventurously. Goldsmith, who started cooking personalized meals for Rhode Island families five years ago by request, explains the unofficial tagline behind her meal-prep service is “comfort food for fearless eaters.” “While we are fluent in dozens of cuisines, the common thread is always food that is prepared with and imbued with heart,” Goldsmith explains of the warming and flavorful fall offerings, from South Indian braised curry with carrot juice to pickled date relish on roasted squash.

Nutrition is at the center of other meal-prep businesses like Apex Meals, founded by a pair of URI grads with a particular focus on introducing healthy eating habits to busy students and young adults who haven’t yet fostered the skill or routine of cooking for themselves. “Our vision is to make healthy meals made from whole foods as affordable, accessible, and convenient as fast food, or other unhealthy alternatives,” says founder Nicholas Casali, describing their popular Bone Broth Bison Bowl available this fall, along with chocolate-chip protein pumpkin muffins perfect for a quick breakfast the morning of.

For the plant-based eaters at the table, Faits Maison is more than its Narragansett creperie storefront would have you believe, home-delivering vegan meals with a French flourish (and sweets on the side, of course). Chefs Olivia Wilcox and Elise Massenet are excited to whip up a vegan pumpkin pie and meat-free “meatloaf” for the big day, along with Shepherdless Pie and Mushroom Bourguignon during November. Or, try a plant-based take on turkey from LivPrepared, gearing up for their first Thanksgiving delivering meals to Rhode Islanders. Explains founder Olivia Barbero, “We plan to offer both family-size portions to support plant-based families as well as individual plates for those of us who usually end up eating just sides on the holidays!”

There’s no wrong way to do Thanksgiving dinner, whether you’re filling the table with traditional favorites or going on a culinary adventure with creative sides from the experts. Through a process of trial and error and breaking the rules, Goldsmith offers a bit of advice: “I think a lot of people who eat our food refer to it as some kind of wizardry, but at its simplest heart, cooking is the act of putting something that tastes good with another thing that tastes good. Make a dish with the best-tasting carrot you can find, the best tasting olive oil you can afford... Learning from ‘past loves’ is a great place to begin.”

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