BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Before families can gather around the table on Thanksgiving a lot of work goes on in the kitchen, but it doesn’t have to be your kitchen.

It’s a busy week at grocery stores and a lot of shoppers are leaving the cooking duties to the professionals, so they can enjoy their holiday, with just hours before Thanksgiving.

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Many get an early start, while others are leaving the cooking in trusted hands and avoiding the hard labor and skipping straight to quality time with family and friends.

“Sometimes I’ll outsource the mashed potatoes and the stuffing,” said Kristin Rowles.

“If you’re in the kitchen the whole time and everybody’s watching TV, you’re all alone,” said Mac Ryan.

At Wegman’s in Owings Mills, crews are hard at work in the kitchen. All week they’ll be cooking and when it’s all said and done, they’ll pump out up to 700 full Thanksgiving meals.

The Owings Mills Wegman’s has a staff of 110 people just to meet the demand in it’s prepared foods department. The average Thanksgiving dinner in 2016 costs $49.87 and feeds 10 people. That’s about $4.99 per person.

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Chef Kevin Grenzig, says he can prepare the same meal for less than twice the money and nearly zero stress.

“You literally take it home and in 45 minutes to an hour you can have Thanksgiving dinner on the table,” said Grenzig, regional executive chef at Wegman’s.

Atwater’s is known for it’s fresh baked pies but also caters all the fixings and fresh turkeys.

“They’re not cooked. So that is something people can still do. And they can have everything else made by Atwater’s,” said Atwater’s employee Kaitlin.

“What defines Thanksgiving for us is that we come together and that we celebrate each other,” said shopper Cheryl Brooks.

The average price of Thanksgiving diner is 24 cents less this year than it was in 2015.

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