a peek inside the fishbowl

27 Dec, 2016

About that turkey dinner

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Recipes and Food

I wanted to take a moment to address this tweet of mine in greater detail because it seemed to generate a bit of excitement out there.

First, some backstory.

My family tradition growing up was to have our big dinner on Christmas Eve. In Mark’s family, the big dinner happens on Christmas Day. So when we got married, we decided to have a substantial meal on both nights. Yes, this was a lot of food and wine, but I couldn’t NOT do anything on Christmas Eve. Sitting around eating pizza just seemed sad to me. So when Mark’s parents moved to Ottawa when the girls were small we’d swap dinners; one year we’d host Christmas Eve and spend Christmas Day with them at their place (and eat dinner there too, obviously) and the following year we’d do the reverse. This year it was our turn to host dinner on Christmas Eve. Thanks to a smart recommendation of a co-worker, I decided to serve seafood fondue. It’s an interactive meal and perfect for the holidays. Fortunately, or unfortunately, it is also scalable if your guests don’t show up. Mark’s father Gary hasn’t been well this past year, so, sadly, they had to cancel their Christmas Eve visit.

Thankfully I’d made a good call earlier in the month in regards to Christmas Day dinner.

Earlier this month I received an email from Farm Boy with an offer for a premade Christmas dinner deal: $129.99 for a traditional meal that serves 6-8 and included a pre-cooked turkey and all the fixin’s. I floated the idea past Mary, my mother-in-law, to see if the idea appealed to her. I wasn’t sure, to be honest. Some people covet their time and mastery in the kitchen – and their recipes! – and wouldn’t want to outsource such an important family meal and tradition. Well, to my surprise, Mary was open to the idea, so I placed the order with a pickup date of Christmas Eve.

When I arrived at my local Farm Boy I wasn’t exactly sure where to go. I was expecting balloons and streamers, lighted signage with blinking arrows that read: “SMART SHOPPERS WHO ARE DELEGATING STRESS AND MESS, COME THIS WAY” but there were none to be found, so I picked up a few items around the store before finally checking in at the hot foods area of the store.

“I’m here to pick up a turkey dinner,” I announced to a young man behind the counter. He glanced down at the baguette and grapes in my cart.

“You should probably go to the checkout first,” he suggested. “Then come back here. I’ll bring your dinner and help you out to your car.”

That sounded like a good plan – and I didn’t overthink what he meant by helping me to my car –  so I went through the express lane with my few items and then did a U-turn and returned to the counter.

“The turkey lady is back!” I was feeling jolly at this point, but as I heard those words escape my mouth in a rather sing-song fashion I wondered what kind of weirdo calls herself a turkey lady. (Me. Obv.)

He smiled (thank god) and disappeared behind the counter into the kitchen area. My eyes wandered around the store as I waited and I turned back around at the exact moment he reappeared with a gigantic box. I was a little bit surprised. I don’t know what I was expecting, shopping bags I suppose?

We chatted a bit while we walked through the store and out into the parking lot. I prayed that the trunk was empty. As we approached the car I was dreading the thought of rearranging bins and winter brushes and bungee cords and empty shopping bags and all the other junk that has a tendency to accumulate here while the poor guy stood there with my dinner box.

I was lucky. The trunk was cleared out and the box slid right in. It took up almost the entire space. I am not even kidding.

Turkey dinner in the trunk

When I arrived home, I texted Mark and asked him to come to the front door and lend a hand. He brought it in, opened the box, and started to unpack it. Sidebar: I was very impressed by the packing job. I half wondered if Farm Boy had entered some kind of partnership with UPS, because this was serious business.

As you can see, the dog was also quite interested:

Piper inspects our turkey dinner

There were a couple of unexpected treats in the box as well: a package of ju-jubes and a loaf of Farm Boy’s own gingerbread. It was such a nice surprise. I had sampled their gingerbread earlier in the season and was totally smitten with the perfect balance of sweet and spice. (In fact, I had already bought one with the intent of serving it on Christmas Eve. So this was an extra, which we gave to a neighbour.)

What can I say, other than our Farm Boy turkey dinner was a huge hit. First of all, less time in the kitchen meant more time to relax. Second, it was very simple to prepare. It came with instructions. Starting with the turkey, it was a very easy process:

  1. Remove plastic packaging from the turkey.
  2. Place in roasting pan.
  3. Put roasting pan in preheated oven.
  4. Wait two hours.

The gravy was reheated on the stove top. The cranberry sauce was transferred to a dish. The sides – garlic mashed potatoes, roasted carrots, green beans, stuffing – went in the oven as the turkey was finishing up.

Dinner prep

I made a tossed salad to go with everything, my inlaws put out some fresh rolls and poured some wine. And that’s it.

It was all very tasty and garnered a big thumbs up from everyone, kids and all. Aside from the turkey, which was every bit as good as the ones we cook up over the holidays, I PARTICULARLY liked the stuffing and the beans. (Ok, the garlic mashed potatoes and gravy and the cranberry sauce too.) My least favourite dish were the roasted carrots. They tasted fine but I found the texture to be a bit on the soft side and were a bit too salty for my liking, but this might just be my personal preference.

Here’s a view of, er, my first serving of dinner:

Christmas dinner from Farm Boy

It’s not a very flattering photo of my plate, that’s for sure, but I was too hungry to make it look all pretty. Sorry folks.

It’s too embarrassing to show servings Two and Two Point Five, but note what I said about the beans and mashed potatoes and stuffing if you want a hint as to what else I piled on my plate once Serving One was eaten up.

My mother-in-law made a dessert by special request. It’s called Broken Glass Cake (here’s a recipe in case you’re curious, the kids love it). When we finally pushed ourselves away from the table we were almost too stuffed to move.

This is when I should point out that there were seven of us at dinner. This turkey dinner was to feed between 6-8 people and it definitely did that. In fact, there were plenty of leftovers and a whole SECOND dinner for my family the next day. (!)  Mary kept the carcass so there is turkey soup on the horizon as well.

A great deal if you ask me!

6 Responses to "About that turkey dinner"

1 | Mark

December 27th, 2016 at 11:11 am


Nice! I’ve always been tempted to try one of these – seems like there are some good options in Ottawa with either the Farm Boy, Whole Foods or Brookstreet version! Looks great.

2 | KristaR

December 29th, 2016 at 6:27 am


This is BRILLIANT. Glad you all enjoyed it!

3 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive A peek inside the new Farm Boy at the Rideau Centre - a peek inside the fishbowl

December 12th, 2017 at 11:50 am


[…] If you’re thinking of outsourcing Christmas dinner this year and looking for a review of the Farm Boy Christmas dinner, you can find that post in my archives. I’ve had a number of people ask me about it so I thought I’d drop the link here. Have […]

4 | Tee

September 27th, 2018 at 9:42 am


Thank you! We are trying Thanksgiving this year – embarrassingly we (no pun intended) bit off more than we can chew by having just moved and offering to host! We are excited for Oct 6 :) Thanks for your review

5 | andrea tomkins

September 27th, 2018 at 10:21 am


Glad to hear you’re giving it a try. I’d love to hear how you liked it!

6 | Sharon Martin

December 24th, 2019 at 3:31 pm


I just read…your post about the Farm Boy Christmas dinner. It has taken a lot of stress away for when it is my turn to host.
Unfortunately, I knew nothing of this wonderful idea. So instead of stress I will order and be able to enjoy the meal . It certainly does look lovely and thank you for such informative detailed information.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (24) and Sarah (22). During the day I work as a writer at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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