The Margin: Thanksgiving Dinner Will Be Extra Costly This Yr: Report

This year's Thanksgiving dinner could weigh even more on your wallet than your waistline.

This is the dish from the latest American Farm Bureau Federation survey, which lists the average cost of several dishes that have traditionally been served at Thanksgiving dinner for nearly four decades. The Farm Bureau's shopping list includes enough turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, buttered rolls, peas, cranberries, a vegetable tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, coffee and milk for 10 people – with plenty of leftovers, of course.

And this year, the average cost of a side turkey meal is $ 53.31, excluding drinks or decorations. The good news is, that's less than $ 6 per person. The bad news: This tab is up a whopping 14% from last year's average of $ 46.90. In fact, it's the highest since the Farm Bureau began tracking prices in 1986.

And if you were to add ham, russet potatoes, and frozen green beans, the total cost of the meal would add another $ 15.41 to a total of $ 68.72 – which is also a 14% increase from last year.

MarketWatch illustration

"Several factors contributed to the increase in the average cost of this year's Thanksgiving dinner," AFBF senior economist Veronica Nigh said in a statement. “These include dramatic disruptions to the US economy and supply chains in the past 20 months; Inflationary pressures across the economy; Difficulty predicting demand during the COVID-19 pandemic; and a high global demand for food, especially meat, ”she said.

Nigh also noted that more people cooking and eating at home during the pandemic resulted in increased demand in supermarkets and higher retail food prices in 2020 and 2021 compared to pre-pandemic prices in 2019 .

As usual, the turkey devours most of the Thanksgiving budget: $ 23.99 for a 16-pound bird, or about $ 1.50 a pound, up 24% year over year. But the Farm Bureau notes that there are some extenuating factors in their turkey numbers. For one, the volunteer shoppers checked prices between October 26th and November 8th, 2021, about two weeks before many grocery chains started selling whole, frozen turkeys at lower prices. So buyers who have not yet bought their turkeys could still find them at a lower price than the Farm Bureau average.

However, a recent Bank of America chart tracking turkey prices also warned that this year's Thanksgiving bird will cost you more than it has ever been in this century. According to his graph, the price of a 15-pound turkey rose 25 percent from $ 11 in 2018 to nearly $ 21 this year.

The price of Thanksgiving

Bank of America, USDA global investment strategy

Other kitchen staples, like dairy, eggs, and sugar, are also taking a bigger bite into the budget, after food costs rose 5.4% over the past year, which is one of the biggest increases in the past two decades according to consumer price index. That contributed to the largest spike in US inflation in nearly 31 years.

Continue reading: High inflation is eating away at American household budgets

In fact, almost every single Thanksgiving menu item on the Farm Bureau's list is more expensive than last year, especially frozen pie crusts (up 20% off $ 2.91), a dozen buns (up 15% off $ 3.05), and carrots and Celery vegetable peel (up to 12% on 82 cents). The only ingredient that got cheaper was the 14-ounce bag of cube filling mix, which fell 19% to $ 2.29.

Keep in mind, however, that shoppers in expensive cities like NYC or San Francisco can still spend well over $ 53 on Thanksgiving dinner. Packing organic or turkey specialties could also drive up the bill for holiday groceries even more.

In fact, a new LendingTree poll of more than 2,000 Americans found people are projected to spend close to $ 400 on Thanksgiving this year, which includes funding the food, as well as the liquor, paper products, and decorations to fully cover the table cover. And 44% expect to take on debt by hosting the festival – which is even more problematic when you consider another recent LendingTree survey that found that more than one in ten shoppers (13%) are still paying last year's vacation bills .

Bargain hunters, on the other hand, can trim their Thanksgiving tab while shopping. German grocery chain Aldi recently announced that Thanksgiving will be “saved” this year by selling many of these ingredients for under $ 30, including: a butterball turkey, cone filling, sweet potatoes, Hawaiian sweet rolls, frozen peas, fresh Cranberries, carrots, celery, canned pumpkin pie mix, pie crust, whipped cream, and a gallon of whole milk.

The Farm Bureau calculated the cost of this year's Thanksgiving dinner based on more than 200 surveys of price data from all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Farm Bureau volunteer buyers also checked prices online through grocery store apps and websites. And these volunteer shoppers were looking for the best possible prices without using any special promotional coupons or shopping deals, which means you can certainly take advantage of these types of discounts while shopping your own groceries.

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