It takes hours of preparation for a Thanksgiving meal to come together, and sometimes that requires help from outside sources. According to The NPD Group, 9 percent of those preparing the holiday meal in their home will receive help from one of those sources, and nearly 31 percent of Thanksgiving main entrees are ready-to-eat from retail or restaurants.

A small percentage of consumers will even eat a Thanksgiving Day meal at a restaurant, with 5 percent saying they intend to have their Thanksgiving Day meal at a restaurant this year. According to NPD, there are 10 percent more restaurant visits on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving than any other week.

“Both grocers and foodservice play a key role in making the Thanksgiving Day celebration happen, whether on the day or the day before,” says David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. “But the real heroes of the day are the hosts, cooks and helpers who make a dream come true.”

The NPD Group recently merged with Information Resources, Inc. (IRI) to create a leading global technology, analytics and data provider. Through this merger, and being that Thanksgiving is a major food holiday, NPD collaborated with IRI to show how the day’s meals come together at and away from home in a Thanksgiving Day Tracker.

Last year, La Brea Bakery offered tips for stress-free Thanksgiving meals. The artisan bread brand looked to alleviate the pain of making a Thanksgiving meal with the following ideas:

  1. Ask your family what foods really matter to them. Are you sure they want five different side dishes? Ask them what makes the holiday special, and then narrow down your menu.
  2. Don’t make everything from scratch. Baking bread can be relaxing and creative, but it can also add complexity to an already full week. Instead of starting from scratch, try the take & bake option, like the French dinner roll.
  3. Less is more. Cut quantities when you can, and stock up on earth-friendly freezer containers, just in case.
  4. The point of Thanksgiving is to give thanks, so use one of the serving dishes for notes where each guest can write down what they’re thankful for.
  5. Take deep breaths. Remember to stop and enjoy the smell of good food. And use some of those notes for yourself to write down what you appreciate. Gratitude reduces stress.