I’m counting down the days to Thanksgiving, not Christmas. In know, it’s a hot take. 

For me, Thanksgiving has always meant the family time and delicious food that I associate with Christmas, but none of the stress of figuring out what presents to get for who and how to get something for everyone without breaking the bank. I have fond memories of all the girls catching up in the kitchen while the guys watch football and tend the turkey on the grill outside.

A new tradition that I’ve picked up since starting college is Friendsgiving. It’s the perfect holiday for going a little overboard to show your love for your newly adopted family. Oftentimes, its the last time I can get all of my friends together because everything gets so busy with finals as soon as we return from Thanksgiving break.

We like to go all out without getting too stressed out. And over the years, I’d like to say I’ve become somewhat of an expert in how to make your friends extremely happy with minimal effort. Every dish needs a balance of tasting delicious and feeding lots of hungry friends, but containing minimal ingredients and requiring minimal hands-on prep time.

To make a long story short, with the help of some select recipes and a few of my favorite brands, you can make a stunning Friendsgiving meal that will rival your friends’ true Thanksgiving dinners.

Omnivore main: Roasted turkey breast

Just because you’re doing friendsgiving with your friends instead of thanksgiving with your family, you don’t have to give up that turkey experience. Try roasting turkey breasts instead of the whole shebang for a more practical protein option. Try marinading your turkey in Tessemae’s Italian Dressing for a moist and flavorful bird. 

Vegetarian main: Banza lasagna

You heard it here first, folks. Everyone’s favorite chickpea pasta brand, Banza, now has lasagna noodles. It’s about time you tried making lasagna, too, because you’re going to need a vegetarian and gluten-free main for friendsgiving. Try using this recipe for a fall take that will fit in perfectly with the rest of your spread. Oh and don't waste your time layering everything, swirls look prettier anyway.

Hearty salad: Harvest kale

Imagine: you’re sitting down to thanksgiving dinner all those years as you’re growing up and everything is rich and heavy. There’s nothing to cut through the turkey, the potatoes, the gravy, the bread…

Enter this harvest kale salad. It’s everything your traditional thanksgiving table was missing. Massage your kale with a bright lemon garlic dressing from Tessemae’s, then add bright pomagranate seeds, roasted pepitas, roasted butternut squash, and crisp apple. It’s the perfect side dish to brighten up the whole meal.

Veggie side: Roasted brussels

When my aunt made roasted brussels one thanksgiving, I never turned back. It went from an “absolutely not” food to one I make for myself on a regular basis. I’m dialing up the fancy with this dish. Combine brussels, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Roast them in a 400 degree oven and some kind of magic happens. 30 minutes later you have a crispy, slightly sweet, and delicious side dish. If you’re feeling especially ambitious, try chopping up a couple pieces of bacon and tossing them in. You won’t regret it.

Hearty side: Cauliflower mac and cheese

I love a good creamy side thrown into the bunch on a large thanksgiving spread. If you’re looking for something a little different, and a little on the healthier side, try Ark Food’s delicious cauliflower mac and cheese. My favorite way to prepare it is to also roast a spaghetti squash and mix that in with the cauliflower. The result is a deliciously creamy, but gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan side dish.

Starch: Roasted garlic mashed potatoes

In case you were also triggered by Bon Appetit’s too-runny “perfect mashed potatoes,” try making your own. My personal potato preference is yukon gold. Then, I mix in a bit of butter and some sour cream. I also love to add Tessemae’s slow roasted garlic spread. Like a lot. I’m a big garlic girl.

Hot dessert: Apple crisp with popcorn crust

Have you ever heard of a dessert stomach? Because you’re definitely going to need one to get this far down the menu. Try making an apple crisp, using Pipcorn Caramel Corn in the “crisp” topping for a less fussy, but even more delicious version of an apple pie.

Cold dessert: Pumpkin pie ice cream

We can’t have a basic friendsgiving without at least one thing that’s flavored pumpkin. I’m going to indulge you with a bougee final food item. Although Van Leeuwen is one of the priciest ice creams at the grocery store, I promise you that you’re going to want to bite the bullet on their Pumpkin Cheesecake with Graham Cracker flavor in the honor of friendsgiving. 

Libations: Rose (all day)

I don’t know about you but I wish that I could scream rose all day from the rooftops at my family thanksgiving to avoid questions of who I’m dating and what I’m doing after I graduate. Luckily, friendsgiving is the perfect opportunity to drink rose without even having to deal with your annoying cousin. Try Bev Rose for a fresh-tasting, canned rose that is the perfect way to distribute drinks to all of your friends.

The only thing missing is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Instead, you can turn on a few of the most famous Thanksgiving Friends episodes and trade funny family Thanksgiving stories. Who needs to go home to have a delicious meal when you’re a grown a** adult anyway?