How Much Thanksgiving Dinner Really Costs

Maple Glazed Turkey Dinner.
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From smaller turkeys to smaller gatherings, Thanksgiving 2020 is looking, well, smaller than ever due to the ongoing pandemic. Cooking for fewer people should help cut down the grocery bills for families, but new data shows that even if you are planning a large feast this year, you’re poised to save a few bucks. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), the average cost of a Thanksgiving meal for 10 is down 4% this year.

The entire traditional dinner goes for an average of $46.90 — or less than $5 per person. This is a $2.01 decrease from the average total price in 2019 of $48.91. This is the lowest cost of Thanksgiving dinner since 2010. The price trim comes mostly from the deflated cost of turkeys. A 16-pound bird retails for an average of $19.39, which breaks down to about $1.21 per pound — down 7% over last year. Whipping cream and sweet potatoes are also showing a slight decrease in price this year, while other Thanksgiving staples have gone up in price. Dinner rolls, cubed bread stuffing and pumpkin pie mix are a bit more expensive than they were last year

While the costs of Thanksgiving might be slightly lower this year, demand could be more intense. Despite a drop in travel and a dramatic decrease in people getting together for the holiday, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, supermarkets are seeing more shoppers.

“If anything people seem to want to go more traditional this year,” said Chris Mentzer, director of operations at Rastelli Market Fresh in New Jersey. Mentzer told that he anticipates a 40% increase in grocery shopping ahead of Thanksgiving and strongly encouraged people to get their supermarket runs in early, as classic ingredients like stuffing and canned pumpkin are looking destined to sell out.

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.

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