November 19

How To Avoid Cooking on Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving is almost here! If you get the day off, you might be expected to cook anyway… for your family. Here’s how you can avoid cooking on Thanksgiving.

If you work in a restaurant, you may feel some additional pressure from your loved ones to be in charge of cooking Thanksgiving dinner. “You love to cook,” they say. “You do it for a living after all! Day after day, sometimes 12 hours straight on your feet, sweating on a hot line as you discover the prep cooks didn’t salt the stock again and your mise is running low just as the host sits a 12 top of the owner’s friends…”

Well, maybe they don’t say that last part, but you might be hearing it as they talk. While some professional cooks are happy to cook the damn turkey (rather than be reminded by their mother’s attempts why they learned to cook in the first place), others… not so much.

Here are some ways to avoid cooking on Thanksgiving

Offer to bring wine instead
Some restaurants are kind enough to sell bottles of wine to their staff at cost (hint, hint). This doesn’t just result in cheaper wines, but better wines. Talk to your beverage director about special ordering some good bottles of turkey friendly wine that might not be otherwise available to those who go no further than a grocery aisle endcap. Ask for pinot noir (always a great choice), but go a little further with gamay noir or even riesling (which despite its reputation goes with everything).

Offer to bring a side
This is a compromise position. For those who follow politics, “compromise” is when two sides agree on a solution that incorporates both of their ideas. In this case, you’ll be in charge of cooking something, but not everything. I suggest going with a classic like green bean casserole (which in my case is always referred to as “bachelor beans” as various family members make extended eye contact with me). Instead of going with canned green beans and cream of mushroom soup, go ahead and get green beans from the farmers market and forage your own mushrooms. (Oh, who are we kidding, open three cans and toss it with fried onions from a box and everyone will be happy.)

Attempt to politely decline
“Sure, mom, I’d love to, but… Right, I know and I…. Can’t you… but… I told you he’s my housemate…. No she’s also my housemate. What does that have to do with…. I know she’s married and has kids, she’s my sister… Mom. Mom? Mom! I’m tired from working all week and don’t have… Yes I know grandma wants to know when I’m…. Mom. Mom for god’s sake sometimes a housemate is just a housemate it’s not code… fine, I’ll be there with a turkey at 8am like last year…”

Since that didn’t work, don’t make yourself available until close to meal time
The strategy here is to make it logistically impossible to be in charge of the turkey. You have a couple of options. One is to be honest, and let your people know you need to sleep in – it’s a full day off after all. The other is to lie, which is a time honored holiday strategy. Maybe we have a prep shift? Maybe you have to drive a delivery route for Meals on Wheels? Come up with something they can’t question and stay home until after football is over.

Deliver a route for Meals on Wheels
Now that I mention it, volunteering some time on Thanksgiving for those less fortunate is a great excuse for not cooking for your family. If we all channeled our family dysfunction into helping others, we’d be living in a planet-wide utopia of friendship for everyone.


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