It’s Thanksgiving and you’ve run out of butter? There’s an app for that

It’s happened to all of us. It’s Thanksgiving morning, you’re in the middle of baking a pie and, suddenly, you realize you used your last egg in the cornbread. Or you’re out of butter. Or you forgot to buy nutmeg.

It used to mean a mad dash to one of the few stores open on Turkey Day. But at least two online-based delivery services this year are offering to make that grocery run for you.

Amazon is offering doorstep delivery in Sacramento within two hours until 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving for last-minute grocery needs through its Prime Now service. Same-day delivery will also be available from Instacart, a national grocery-delivery service that launched in Sacramento in March. Company spokeswoman Dacyl Armendariz said the company will offer deliveries between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. from grocery stores that are open during those hours.

Amazon said in the week leading up to Thanksgiving 2016, some of the top items ordered for same-day delivery were yellow onions, canned pumpkin and butter.

Armendariz said customers can choose to have groceries delivered within an hour or as far out as seven days in advance.

That’s important in a digital era that has seen procrastination become worse as the “on demand” economy has grown, according to Jesse Catlin, assistant professor of marketing at Sacramento State.

“A lot of consumers are deciding to do things much closer to the time they’re going to do them,” he said.

Many grocery stores and restaurants offer pre-cooked Thanksgiving meals. But hosts need to be on the ball to have a shot at that convenience; many prepared meals have to be ordered in the week before Thanksgiving.

“Some people may not even think about it and it gets to the last minute,” Catlin said.

Other aspects of the holiday might have slipped customers’ minds as well. Perhaps realizing they needed something besides conversation to entertain their guests right after last year’s contentious presidential election, Jenga Classic, Uno and Hasbro’s Pie Face! game were among the most popular Amazon Prime orders during the week of Thanksgiving 2016.

And these days, there just may be more meals to plan. Many Americans are attending several gatherings during Thanksgiving week as “Friendsgiving” events are on the rise.

On average, millennials ate 2.7 meals with family and 1.8 meals with friends on average in 2016, according to research firm Nielsen. Americans across all age groups ate an average of 1.7 meals with family and 0.7 with friends.

Catlin said meal-kit delivery services – which prep all the ingredients in advance for home cooks to toss together quickly – could appeal to consumers trying to bring dishes to several events during the week.

There’s a slew of meal kit options available for those who don’t want to come up with recipes and shop on their own. Services like Blue Apron and HelloFresh are offering dishes that can function as a full, low-key Thanksgiving meal or as sides at a bigger meal.

“In general, people are more time-constrained, so they’re looking for a way to still have some of this tradition but in a more efficient way,” Catlin said.

Meal kit subscribers receive a recipe and all the ingredients to cook the meal, often choosing either a two-person or four-person option. Thanksgiving-themed meals offered this year by Blue Apron include kale and ricotta tarts with romaine, apple and almond salad (two person) and roasted chicken and fall vegetables with cranberry and ginger compote (four person).

Ellen Garrison: 916-321-1920, @EllenGarrison