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How to Cheat at Holiday Cooking

Need to outsource some (or all) of your celebratory meal? Here's help.

So your family is coming to your house this year. It sounded like a great idea several months ago, didn’t it? But now, Christmas and Hanukkah are looming on the horizon. Suddenly, that to-do list that looked manageable in August and September reads more like a ransom note.


Never fear. You can outsource some — or even all — of your holiday cooking with goodies from a whole host of area businesses. Store-bought bread and pies were the gateway drug, and these days, you can find food that even your pickiest relative won’t quibble with.


If you’re asking why, we have a question for you: Why not?


The appeal is pretty simple, said Claire Guarino, who owns HomeCooked in Paoli: To save time and peace of mind during what can be one of the most stressful times of the year.


“If folks use HomeCooked, they can spend their time relaxing and enjoying their friends and family more, knowing that they will have meals that look and taste great without all the stress, time and mess of planning, shopping, chopping and cleaning up,” she said. If you order by December 19, you can get anything from bake-and-serve appetizers like mini crabcakes and cranberry chipotle meatballs to sides and entrees, including chicken Wellington and cioppino, an Italian seafood stew.


The food comes prepped or already cooked, packed into pans for easy cooking or reheating.


“No one ever has to know that the host/hostess didn’t do everything from scratch him/herself,” Guarino said.


For December orders, she said she needs at least two days’ notice, with a final deadline of 5 pm on December 19 for pickup between December 21 and December 24.


Salivating at the idea of actually enjoying your holidays, and want to do nothing more than turn on the oven? Here are some other spots that offer relief to harried hosts with pre-cooked menus.


Carlino’s Market

2616 E. County Line Road, Ardmore
128 W. Market St., West Chester

This local favorite has a deep holiday menu, ranging from the classics to homemade pastas. It’s ready to heat and serve, with some exceptions. The last day to order for December 23 and 24 delivery is December 18.

DiBruno Bros.

120 Coulter Ave., Ardmore
1730 Chestnut St., Philadelphia
834 Chestnut St., Philadelphia

If you love cheese, here’s the place for you. If you’ve still got room, there’s plenty of entrees, sides and desserts. Holiday orders must be in by December 21.

Hymie’s Merion Delicatessen

342 Montgomery Ave., Merion

Nana’s Kitchen

45 Haverford Road, Wynnewood

You need latkes for Hanukkah, but you’re not excited about grating your fingers again this year. Get those golden, delicious treats from a great deli instead, and focus on finding the best applesauce to go with them. (Our sources love the potato pancakes at Trader Joe’s, too.)

Linvilla Orchards

137 W. Knowlton Road, Media

If you’re cooking, you can order a fresh bird (or breast) from here. But it’s the pie that lures most shoppers: with varieties ranging from the classic apple, mince, and pumpkin to coconut custard, everyone at your table will be happy.

Bredenbeck’s Bakery

8126 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia

Taste a treat from here and you’ll understand why people are lined up outside this Chestnut Hill favorite for all kinds of pie, plus cute cookies and adorable cakes.

Whole Foods

Various locations

This is also a great place for pies, but they do full meals and plenty of platters, if you’re hosting a crowd.


Various locations

This is party-platter central, and you can order a whole meal, too. Catering orders require 24 hours’ notice.


Photograph by Jean Goins featuring Whole Foods Market in Wynnewood.


EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Got a story tip, a question, or just want to chat? Email her at gwyneth@familyfocus.org