Ina Garten’s Guide to a Store-Bought Thanksgiving

Stressed about making the perfect Thanksgiving feast? Ina Garten says it's perfectly acceptable to skip the cooking and buy ready-made snacks and desserts from the store instead.

The Barefoot Contessa stopped by Studio 1A on Tuesday to share her tips for stress-free Thanksgiving prep, offering some brilliant suggestions for dressing up store-bought foods. This year, she said, it's all about keeping things simple.

“At the end of the day, you want everybody to have something absolutely delicious to eat and it doesn’t mean that you have to spend the entire day in the kitchen making it,” she told TODAY's Savannah Guthrie during the segment.

Ina Garten and Savannah Guthrie on the TODAY show, Nov. 22, 2022. (Nathan Congleton / TODAY)
Ina Garten and Savannah Guthrie on the TODAY show, Nov. 22, 2022. (Nathan Congleton / TODAY)

Savannah couldn't have agreed more with Garten's refreshing perspective.

"I love your whole philosophy of Thanksgiving because a lot of times if you're the chef, you're stuck in the kitchen the whole time and not having fun at your own party," she said.

"And exhausted, right? Which no guest wants to see," the culinary queen replied.

Instead of stressing out in the kitchen, Garten recommends taking it easy this year and shared fuss-free tips for store-bought appetizers, wine and desserts that will help you spend less time in the kitchen.

And guess what? Garten plans to take her own advice this year, and is opting to make reservations instead of cooking the big meal herself.

Ina Garten and Savannah Guthrie on the TODAY show, Nov. 22, 2022. (Nathan Congleton / TODAY)
Ina Garten and Savannah Guthrie on the TODAY show, Nov. 22, 2022. (Nathan Congleton / TODAY)

Simple appetizers

Don't have the time or desire to whip up a bunch of appetizers? Give yourself a break and buy them ready-made instead.

Garten's appetizer tips:

  • Keep it simple and opt for finger foods.

  • Put appetizers in nice bowls and on little plates to add visual appeal.

  • Remember, there are no rules! Serve what you know people like to eat.

  • Lay all your bowls and plates on a charcuterie board for great presentation.

Ina Garten and Savannah Guthrie on the TODAY show, Nov. 22, 2022. (Nathan Congleton / TODAY)
Ina Garten and Savannah Guthrie on the TODAY show, Nov. 22, 2022. (Nathan Congleton / TODAY)

Shopping list:

  • Large chunks of Italian Parmesan (cut it into shards)

  • Large green olives

  • Potato chips

  • Slices of small salami and small cucumbers

  • Salted Marcona almonds

  • Macy’s cheese straws

Ina Garten and Savannah Guthrie on the TODAY show, Nov. 22, 2022. (Nathan Congleton / TODAY)
Ina Garten and Savannah Guthrie on the TODAY show, Nov. 22, 2022. (Nathan Congleton / TODAY)

Wine tasting

Want to really wow your guests? Pick up some wine and nonalcoholic drinks that pair well with turkey. But don't worry too much about finding the perfect flavor.

“Everybody has all kinds of questions about what wine to serve — white or red — and they’re both right,” Garten said.

Garten's wine tip: Leave wine bottles on the table for guests so they can go back for seconds.

Shopping list:

  • 2 bottles of white wine

  • 2 bottles of red wine

  • 1 bottle of sparkling apple cider

Ina Garten and Savannah Guthrie on the TODAY show, Nov. 22, 2022. (Nathan Congleton / TODAY)
Ina Garten and Savannah Guthrie on the TODAY show, Nov. 22, 2022. (Nathan Congleton / TODAY)

Dessert board

Everyone knows the best part of any holiday meal is the dessert table, and Garten had a sweet tip for making yours extra special for guests:

“I was in France once and the waiters brought this huge long board with already premade things on it that was so gorgeous and I thought, ‘Why aren’t I doing that at home?’” she said, adding that a dessert board is the perfect way to offer your guests lots of variety.

Garten's tips:

  • Pick colorful desserts and alternate items like fruit that have lots of color with items like big chocolate and lemon bars.

  • Cut food into large bite-sized pieces so guests can try everything.

  • Place little plates and bowls on a large dessert board for a fancy presentation.

Ina Garten and Savannah Guthrie on the TODAY show, Nov. 22, 2022. (Nathan Congleton / TODAY)
Ina Garten and Savannah Guthrie on the TODAY show, Nov. 22, 2022. (Nathan Congleton / TODAY)

 Shopping list:

  • Large green grapes, small clementines, and long-stemmed or large strawberries

  • Assorted chocolate bark with nuts, ginger, dried fruit, etc.

  • Small tarts: pecan, fruit, etc.

  • Cupcakes with swirl buttercream on top (chocolate or white)

  • Brownies, lemon bars, cookies, pound cake and lemon loaves

This article was originally published on TODAY.com