Monday, September 25, 2023


Let’s have a Bento Box Thanksgiving this year

By Mike Sokol

Recipe for a Bento Box Thanksgiving

Later this week many of us will be celebrating a Thanksgiving dinner unlike any previous ones we can remember. We’ve been asked to limit the size of our home celebration and not visit relatives or friends for the holidays. While this may seem like an invasion of privacy to many of us, I believe it’s a simple thing we can all do to help protect our own families, as well as extend our thanks to many others outside of our homes.

Don’t do a turkey drop

Whatever you do, don’t plan on a helicopter turkey drop like the fictional Les Nessman from WKRP in Cincinnati. That’s one of my favorite episodes of a television comedy which you should all watch as a warmup to Thanksgiving. I won’t give away the plot, but I’ll just say that there’s a big turkey surprise involved.

Enter the Bento Box

We found Bento boxes last year when we needed to send over meals to my dad and mom when she became so ill that she could no longer cook. They’re basically sealable storage boxes with separate compartments for meats, veggies, rolls, etc. You can get stacks of these boxes at any restaurant supply store for less than $1 each (and for about the same price at Amazon), and they work great for single servings. We use them all the time for saving leftover meals for the kids.

Now, my wife is a retired manager for a catering company so she’s used to planning meals for 200 to 500 people. And my one twin is a baking pastry chef who’s in charge of planning daily lunches for the entire tech school. Neither of them can make small meals. So our plan is to still make our HUGE turkey dinner this Thursday, but only invite our core family of five to the in-home meal. That will guarantee lots of extra turkey and fixings that could overload our storage options.

So we’re actively asking our extended family, friends and neighbors in easy driving distance if they’re cooking their own Thanksgiving meal. If not, then we’re packing up Bento Box Thanksgiving meals for a distribution run on Thanksgiving day. Think of it as a turkey drop without the messy side effects (Sorry, Les Nessman). Yes, we’ll wear masks and drop off their Bento Box meals at the door, ring the doorbell and walk away.

Making a list…

We’ve added our 80-year-old next door neighbor, who can’t travel to be with her children this year, to our turkey delivery list this year. Also on the list is my 91-year-old father who now lives alone since Mom died last year. He’s too feeble to travel to our house and we don’t want to add the possibility of COVID exposure, so we’re delivering Thanksgiving to him.

Our kids own their own homes and will be with us at Casa Sokol, but one of their neighbors doesn’t cook at all and they always eat out or order in, so we’re putting them on the Bento Box delivery list as well. Unfortunately, we have a few extended relatives serving overseas, so they can’t be on our delivery list. But for everyone else within driving distance, we’ll make our Bento Box turkey run early on Thanksgiving before our own meal. If any of them have an iPad or smartphone at their table we’ll also encourage them to call in and share our Thanksgiving meal virtually with us.

Happy, and safe, Thanksgiving to you all.

Copyright Mike Sokol 2020



  1. Mike – your story about working over holidays also brings back memories for me. While in College I worked at a local service station. We were just out of the city so there were not a lot of other stations nearby. Our owner closed the station on holidays. However, he also had the local area contract for a couple of 24hour emergency service companies. I would drive the wrecker home the evening before, driving it to my grandparents “just in case”. I would need to wear my uniform while there – must have been a real spectacle for large family meals. Long time ago but those memories last forever.

  2. One of our most memorable Thanksgivings was a couple years ago. Our grown children and their families were all at their in-law’s that year and all other close family had other family plans so my wife and I were alone for the day. We had all planned to have a family meal together on Black Friday. So we spent a good part of Thanksgiving day delivering meals from a local church to shut-ins. The experience was as satisfying as a meal itself, and when watching the game later we didn’t feel over stuffed. We plan to do this again in those years where everyone has other commitments.

  3. Mike, you are so right when you say that sometimes the greatest gift that we can give is the gift of our own time. The older I get the more I realize just how important time is.

    • Thank you very much. We’re already planning for leftover meals over the next few days with turkey gravy and waffles, turkey and wild rice soup, plus turkey & stuffing croquettes. My wife is a retired catering manager, one of my twin sons is a graduate of the Culinary Institute with a baking and pastry degree, and his twin is a wanna-be sous chef. I just eat…

  4. Nice story, Mike. Back in the early 70’s I brought a fellow worker to our house for Thanksgiving dinner because he had no relatives around and nowhere to go for a ‘feast’. It was fun, and I felt good about it.

  5. I had a very similar experience. I was working alone on Thanksgiving at a Western auto gas station that was the first station in Minnesota to become self service. Most customers yelled at me for not pumping their gas, but some also yelled at me for being open on Thanksgiving! My family brought me a huge turkey meal that brightened up the day.


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