Winnipeggers turning to takeout for Thanksgiving dinner

Spending hours over a stove to craft a gigantic turkey dinner is something of a Thanksgiving tradition, one many Manitobans are opting out of for easier options.

“I think the attitudes have changed a little bit,” said Wendy May, owner of Oakwood Cafe in South Osborne, offering takeout and dine-in Thanksgiving meals to customers, adding that customers are now looking for a bit more convenience on turkey day.

“Growing up we’d always go to your grandparents house, or they would come to you, and everyone would chip in to make a huge feast,” she said, “I think people, not necessarily that they’re busier, but they prioritize their lives a little bit differently.”

Roughly seventy per cent of customers are choosing takeout meals over dine-in service, said May, likely due to restrictions on gathering sizes at restaurants.

“If you’ve got a bigger family, having it at home is a little bit of a better option for you,” she said.

Fully prepared Thanksgiving meal orders are sold out at King Cole Catering.

Last year, the catering company had to scale-down order sizes, offering only two- or three-person sized meals.

That’s not the case this year, a boon for business.

“We were able to offer larger group sizes this year which is our preference,” said owner Taylor Cole, ‘It’s easier to cook for five or ten than it is two and that’s been received very well.”

Based on the amount of orders for larger groups, Cole said more customers will be enjoying Thanksgiving with a bigger number of dinner guests

“It seems like overall most people are gathering in larger groups and that’s who they’re hoping to provide food for,” she said.

Demand for an easy-to-prepare Thanksgiving meal is certainly being noticed at Supper Central, which offers fully-made meals and take-home “meal kits” of prepared food that leaves the final cooking steps to at-home chefs.

“Our biggest increase in demand and order volume increased on Monday, less than a week ago,” said Supper Central co-owner Palmer Novak. “We received sixty per cent of our orders in the last week.”

Nowak says there’s been a marked increase for prepared foods amid the pandemic and especially in the lead-up to Thanksgiving.

“People have been turning to prepared food options a lot more just to have a hand when things are busy at home,” she said, “Even though you may be at home more doesn’t mean you have a lot of free time still.”

Some folks may be reluctant to have Thanksgiving dinner prepared by a food-service business, acknowledges Novak, as that goes against the holiday’s homemade tradition.

But Nowak says you can still make most, or part, of a Thanksgiving meal while getting some professional help.

“If you’re worried about your stuffing, ask somebody or come to us and we’ll make it for you,” she said.

“Whatever is going to make you more confident and show up for that occasion and feel really good for yourself, that’s the way prepared foods should help.”