Instacart’s Holiday Guide to a Simple and Stress-Free Holiday Season

Holiday season is officially here! With holiday parties, family gatherings and gift shopping on the horizon, the next month promises to be one of the busiest of the whole year. While the holidays are a wonderful opportunity to spend time with your loved ones, between entertaining, cooking and finding gifts things can quickly become stressful!

Instacart is a great way to save time this holiday season with grocery delivery, but in case you’re looking for even more ideas, we’ve compiled some of our tips for holiday entertaining and cooking to make the season a bit easier. Read on for our advice to have a simple and stress-free holiday season!

1. Use pre-made foods from your local grocery store for entertaining

Cut down on the time and energy entertaining requires with a simple little cheat: buy your hors d’oeuvres, cheese platters, sides and other party dishes pre-made from your favorite local grocery store!

Not sure where to start? Browse grocery stores in your area on Instacart and look for pre-made dishes and appetizers. Make it all even easier by getting them delivered to your home!

2. Stock up on holiday groceries and baking essentials early

There are just some things you know you’re going to need throughout the holiday season: flour and baking supplies for cookies and desserts, hot chocolate and apple cider keep warm, wine for entertaining … the list goes on!

Save time and plan ahead: create a shopping list of all the holiday groceries and essentials you need and stock up in one shopping trip! Don’t forget to use Instacart if you are short on time and can’t make it to the grocery store …

3. Have last-minute gifts on hand

Avoid last-minute gift snafus by having some small gifts wrapped up and ready to go. These gifts don’t have to be big — a small bag of local gourmet goodies or a bottle of wine is all it really takes!

Looking for more tips and tricks to ease the stress of holiday season? Don’t miss these tips from our partners!

Holiday tips from our partners:

“As a time-saver, you can make pie crusts and cookies in advance, then freeze and bake straight from the freezer. We love slice and bake cookies for feeding holiday crowds. Baked, decorated cookies can also be frozen.” – Whole Foods Market

“If you are hosting a holiday gathering this year, every bit of planning will help! We recommend making a timeline to help plan out everything thing you need to do for the big day. Plan out when recipes need to start, what you can make the day before, when to set the table, and other important steps. On the day of, you’ll be thankful you planned ahead.” – Pete’s Fresh Market, Chicago

“Make your holiday parties a little less stressful by asking guests to bring a dish to share. Everyone loves sharing their favorite recipes so this can be a conversation starter and way for your guests to connect with each other.” – Natural Grocers, Denver, Boulder and  Portland

“Use fresh herbs. Fresh thyme, sage and parsley really make holiday dishes pop. Calculation on using fresh herbs is double what dried herb use would be.” – Gelson’s, Los Angeles

“Pick some holiday dishes that are ‘hands-on’ (like wrapping shrimp with speck and skewering, peeling sweet potatoes, etc.) so you can get everyone involved.” – Di Bruno Bros., Philadelphia

“Marinades and dry rubs add flavor to your holiday turkey, lamb or ham. Allow to work their magic for at least four hours prior to cooking.” – BiRite Market, San Francisco

Let us know how you’re preparing to have a stress-free holiday season! Tweet @instacart on Twitter with your secrets to winning the holidays.

5 Tips to Create the Perfect Pie Crust

by PCC Natural Markets

With just three required ingredients, pie crust is one of the simplest things to bake. However, its very simplicity means that the proper execution is the key. Chilling the fat and liquid is critical, as is the technique: the goal is uniform pea-sized pieces of butter with no big chunks. If you don’t have a food processor to do the mixing, your fingers will work just fine.

Here are our 5 tips to create the perfect pie crust, from the ingredients down to the container:


Butter and shortening are the most flexible choices; lard and coconut oil have stronger flavors which are excellent if matched with the filling or blended 50/50 with a second fat. All fats should be chilled firm, cut into very small pieces and chilled again.


Fresh-tasting flour is a priority, so if you don’t bake often, smell your flour first to make sure it hasn’t picked up off flavors from pantry storage. All-purpose is great, or mix in up to 50 percent whole grain (spelt and kamut are both good choices).


Ice water is all you need! Use just enough for the dough to hold together. Not enough and it will be difficult to roll; too much and it will be sticky to roll (and not bake up crispy). Chilled vodka can be used in place of some of the water — there’s test kitchen proof that it slightly improves the flakiness of crusts as it is baked.


Salt isn’t truly necessary, but can improve the flavor, particularly for a savory pie. All-shortening crusts don’t brown as well as butter, but a pinch of sugar can help.


Depending on what you grew up with, you might call a pie-baking container a pie pan, plate, dish or tin. Whatever your preference, you’ll find these sturdy U.S.-made dishes from USA Pan useful. They’re shiny stainless steel, which is lightweight for taking to a friend’s house and will slow the browning of your crust edges a bit, compared to glass or ceramic.

What is your go-to pie crust recipe and baking technique? Try it with PCC’s Classic Pumpkin Pie recipe for your Thanksgiving feast, and use PCC Chef Jackie Freeman’s basic steps to creating perfect pie dough in this helpful video. Don’t fear using your fingertips!

Do you live in Seattle? Don’t forget to shop PCC Natural Market’s Holiday Favorites Department through Instacart to get all the groceries you need for this year’s Holiday celebrations delivered!

5 Alternative Pumpkin Pie Recipes to Try This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is only a few days away — have you thought about your Thanksgiving dessert menu yet?

While we love classics like pumpkin or pecan pie, why not mix it up this year? These five fun and unexpected alternative pumpkin pie recipes are perfect for putting a fresh spin on your Thanksgiving dessert!

1. Butternut Squash Pumpkin Pie by Green Zebra Grocery

This delectable dessert looks like pumpkin pie and tastes like pumpkin pie… but in reality the main ingredient is butternut squash!

2. Pumpkin Pie Smoothie by Whole Foods Market


Too full to fit in pie at the end of Thanksgiving dinner? Blend up this spicy and sweet smoothie instead! This pumpkin pie smoothie makes the perfect post-Thanksgiving breakfast, too!

3. Pumpkin Cheesecake by Andronico’s Family Market

Have your cake AND eat it too! This smooth, sumptuous pumpkin cheesecake recipe is the perfect crossover between pie and cake.

4. Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread by PureWow 


This pumpkin cream cheese bread has all the spices of pumpkin pie, coupled with the creaminess of cheesecake. Save the leftovers and make pumpkin bread french toast in the morning!

5. Classic Pumpkin Pie by PCC Natural Markets 

Of course, you can’t go wrong with the classic. Traditional pumpkin pie is always a crowd-pleaser. If you’re looking for the perfect classic pumpkin pie recipe, we love this one by PCC Natural Markets!

What will be on your Thanksgiving dessert table this year?

10 Unique Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes and Ideas

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, which means it’s time to start planning your Thanksgiving menu! While the turkey is the centerpiece of Thanksgiving dinner, having a diverse and delicious array of side dishes is key to having a well-rounded and satisfying meal.

While we love mashed potatoes and green bean casserole as much as the next person, why not switch it up this year with some of these unique Thanksgiving side dish recipes? These side dishes aren’t just fun twists on your typical holiday sides — they also pack a visual punch and will bring the “wow” factor to your Thanksgiving dinner.

Read on to discover your new favorite side dish recipe, and don’t forget to click the linked recipe names for ingredients and details on how to make these sides yourself!

1. Green Beans with Creme Fraiche by Whole Foods Market

National Projects Photographer

Green beans are a classic Thanksgiving veggie. If you’re not keen on green bean casserole, try this delicious and unique alternative instead! We love how the creaminess of the creme fraiche is complemented by the crunch of the walnuts.

A bonus: you can make this easy dish a day ahead and serve it at room temperature, so it’s perfect for holiday entertaining!

2. Stuffing Muffins by PureWow


We’ve all had stuffing for Thanksgiving, but have you ever had stuffing muffins? These festive, bite-sized muffins look great on your Thanksgiving table and are easy to make.

3. Shredded Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and a Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette by Sigona’s Farmers Market, San Francisco Bay Area

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This Thanksgiving, kiss your run-of-the-mill steamed brussel sprouts goodbye. The maple and bacon in this colorful, creative dish are likely to make a brussel sprout lover out of everyone around your Thanksgiving table.

4. Mashed Cauliflower with Truffle Oil by Andronico’s Community Markets, San Francisco Bay Area

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Need a healthy alternative to mashed potatoes? This decadent-tasting mashed cauliflower with truffle oil is your answer!

5. Ginger Miso Butternut Squash Soup + Crunchy Quinoa by What’s Cooking Good Looking


Thanksgiving is a heavy meal, but adding a soup and/or salad course to the menu can help lighten things up. This zesty ginger miso and butternut squash soup is packed with flavor and is a fun alternative to your typical butternut squash soup.

6. Delicata Squash Salad with Fingerling Potatoes and Pomegranate Seeds by Bi-Rite Market, San Francisco

While we’re on the topic of a soup and salad course, we have to recommend this delicata squash salad with fingerling potatoes and pomegranate seeds. This colorful, vitamin-packed salad will add a much-needed boost of veggies to your Thanksgiving dinner.

7. Crispy Corn Pudding by Pinch of Yum


Perhaps you’re looking for a dish that is similar to stuffing, but a little more vegetarian friendly? If so, we can’t recommend this corn pudding with crispy onions enough!

8. Roasted Mushroom Risotto Cakes by PCC Natural Markets, Seattle

PCC mushroom risotto cakes

Another great alternative to stuffing: these tasty roasted mushroom risotto cakes. Get all the creamy, glutinous satisfaction of risotto in a delicious, roasted cake!

9. Cheesy Millet Stuffed Butternut Squash by The Bojon Gourmet


This stuffed butternut squash is a crowd pleaser and brings the wow-factor to your Thanksgiving table. Keep the squash whole for maximum visual impact, or slice into individual portions for easy eating.

10. Spicy Roasted Whole Cauliflower by PureWow


Roasted cauliflower is nice, but a whole-roasted cauliflower covered in a creamy, spicy sauce brings the wow factor!

Which of these unique Thanksgiving side dishes will you make for your own celebration this year? Don’t forget to save time this Thanksgiving and order all the ingredients you need for these dishes from Instacart. We’ll deliver them in as little as one hour!

Thanksgiving for Pets: Tips to Keep your Pets Well-Fed and Safe

Thanksgiving is a time for feasting with your family — both humans and your furrier family members! For those of you celebrating the holidays with pets, it’s tempting to include them in the holiday celebrations and feed them scraps from your Thanksgiving meal.

However, many of the foods you and your family will enjoy around the dinner table can be unsafe for pets to consume.

The best option to keeping your pets well-fed, safe and happy over Thanksgiving is to feed them pet-specific foods from your local pet or grocery store. On Instacart, you can instantly shop tons of options that are safe for pets and Thanksgiving themed, like Blue Buffalo Thanksgiving Feast Dog Food, Merrick Thanksgiving Day Dinner Canned Cat Food, or Prairie Nature Turkey Chewies Dog Treats.


However, if you’re keen on feeding your pets some real food from the Thanksgiving table, make sure to read the following do’s and don’ts of what to feed your pets!

DO feed your pets:

  • Small nibbles of white meat turkey. Stay away from feeding them pieces with skin, bones or undercooked meat.
  • Bites of fresh, raw veggies like carrot, green beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes or pumpkin.
  • Apples (any part but the core) are a crunchy treat for pups!

DON’T feed your pets:

  • Sage
  • Nutmeg
  • Onions and garlic
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Raw bread dough
  • Anything with low-calorie sweetners
  • Chocolate
  • Anything with high levels of sodium, like mashed potatoes

Remember, the best way to keep your pets safe this holiday season is to keep everything in moderation, and not to deviate too far away from their normal diet! When in doubt, it’s best to opt out of feeding your pets table scraps, and give them pet food or treats instead.


5 Healthy and Delicious Alternatives for your Nostalgic Thanksgiving Recipes

By Andronico’s Community Markets

If we’re honest, we could eat roast turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and apple pie at every meal.  There are just some dishes that have a permanent place on the Thanksgiving table because we don’t eat them nearly as often as we’d like.  We love sugar, butter, and salt just as much as your inner child, but today we’re here to offer you equally tasty Fall inspired recipes to fill in for some of your childhood favorites or to serve alongside them so that you can offer a hodge podge of healthy and nostalgic sides.

The key to staying healthy through the holidays is moderation—have a half serving of mashed potatoes and if you’re tempted to go back for seconds reach for a scoop of our tasty Mashed Cauliflower instead!

Here are some healthy and delicious spins on those nostalgic Thanksgiving recipes you won’t be able to get enough of! Click the links for the full recipe ingredients and directions, and buy everything with a few simple clicks on Instacart!

Mashed Cauliflower with Truffle Oil

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This creamy and flavorful mashed cauliflower is the perfect healthy Thanksgiving substitute for mashed potatoes!


Roasted Loaded Sweet Potato

Loaded Sweet Potato

This colorful side dish is a healthy and guilt-free alternative to mashed sweet potatoes.


Butternut Squash, Kale, and Dried Cranberry Quinoa Stuffing

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Looking for a lighter but equally delicious alternative to traditional stuffing? This butternut squash, kale and dried cranberry quinoa stuffing will have your friends and family asking for seconds!


Skinny Pumpkin Pie

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This pumpkin pie is just as delicious as your traditional dessert, but with a few healthy twists!


Skinny Spiked Spiced Cider

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Curl up with a warm and comforting cup of this skinny spiced apple cider after Thanksgiving dinner. It’s the perfect way to end the evening!

Looking for fresh, healthy groceries in the Bay Area? Order your Thanksgiving groceries and ingredients from Andronico’s Community Markets today!


3 Ways to Win at Thanksgiving This Year

From the seasoned Culinary Pioneers at Di Bruno Bros. in the heart of Philadelphia

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The Holidays are a magical time at our shops, full of warmth and good cheer… Did I say “magical”? Sorry, what I meant was “a food-crazed, diet-anhiliating, loud, over-stuffed, truffle-infused, brined, buttered, basted and TOTALLY INSANE time.” Eh, same difference. We do the holidays like nobody does the holidays, and this is a sneak peek at some hints we’ve learned over our 76 years of business. Tasty, tasty business.

1.  A tasty brine is a birds best friend 

We brine and dine, folks, and I’ll tell you why: a turkey soaked in a good brine (which is essentially equal parts salt and sugar dissolved in liquid) means a juicier, fuller-flavored turkey!

2.  What you put in, is what you get out, amazing ingredients matter!

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It’s what’s INSIDE that counts, right? We’ll agree, because whether I’m making a simple side of pasta or an antipasti plate as an appetizer, a sprinkle of truffle salt or a slice of award-winning cheese can make all the difference.

3.  Make a few items from scratch and fill in the rest to enjoy the day – and  be thankful for helping hands around the prep table

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Thanksgiving isn’t a contest, which is unfortunate, because we know a few people who would love to win. But the fact of the matter is, there’s all sorts of wonderful products and items out there to help you make this holiday delicious without landing you in an asylum. Take the help, and spend the extra time with loved ones and family!

Shopping for Thanksgiving groceries in Philadelphia? Don’t forget to check out the Di Bruno Bros. Thanksgiving Picks on Instacart!

Read more great Thanksgiving tips and time-saving ideas from our partners with the Instacart Thanksgiving Guide.