Instead of battling supermarket crowds and cleaning gravy-drenched kitchens, 30 million Americans will rely on restaurants this year for at least part of their Thanksgiving meals.
The National Restaurant Assn. said 14 million people will eat their holiday dinner at restaurants, while 16 million will get takeout for all or part of their feast.
But restaurant eating on Turkey Day is expected to be down this year. The association forecast that 6% of people across the country will have the big meal at eateries, compared with 11% last year.
More than 6 in 10 people who are going to rely on restaurants said that eating out is just more convenient, according to the association. Locally, restaurants as exclusive as Campanile and chains such as Boston Market will offer dine-in and to-go Thanksgiving dinners with all the fixings.
Other reasons for choosing restaurant-cooked food: Many diners will be traveling and won't have access to kitchens, some don't have the space to host a home-cooked meal, others aren't good cooks or don't have time to prepare a feast, and several just prefer the taste of restaurant food, the restaurant group said.
Still, 55% of Americans will have the meal in their own homes this year and 46% will eat at someone else's. One in 10 say they plan to have more than one Thanksgiving meal.
Those who cook at home will probably spend more than they did in 2010. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the cost of Thanksgiving meal ingredients has risen 13% compared with last year.
Restaurants will also be popular the day after Thanksgiving, when 32 million Americans are expected to duck into dining establishments. Many will probably be seeking respite from frantic Black Friday shopping.