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Feast breakdown
Thanksgiving costs less than $50 for family of 10
When the American Farm Bureau began the Thanksgiving meal survey in 1986, it cost $28.74 to feed a family of 10. Today it costs $49.41. - photo by Photo Contributed

Items that have DECREASED in price since last year:
• Cranberries
• Stuffing
• Pie Shells
• Rolls
Items that have INCREASED in price since last year:
• Sweet Potatoes
• Whipping Cream
• Onions
• Eggs
• Sugar
• Flour




It is that time of year where savvy shoppers line the grocery store aisles looking for the best deals on everything from turkeys and green beans to pumpkin filling. However, this year even the average shopper won’t have to worry about forking over too many dollars before grabbing their fork at the table since it costs less than $5 a person for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, according to the annual American Farm Bureau Federation’s survey.


For the past 29 years the AFBF has tracked the cost to cook a Thanksgiving dinner for a family of 10 with all the trimmings, including: turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, milk, and coffee. To calculate an average price at supermarkets over 175 voluntary shoppers were tasked with checking the item prices at stores in 35 states across the country without taking advantage of promotional coupons or deals. The result? A rather affordable holiday meal as just $49.41 can provide enough food for a family of 10, with leftovers.  


“America’s farmers and ranchers remain committed to continuously improving the way they grow food for our tables, both for everyday meals and special occasions like Thanksgiving dinner that many of us look forward to all year,” said AFBF Deputy Chief Economist John Anderson. “We are blessed to be able to provide a special holiday meal for 10 people for about $5 per serving – less than the cost of most fast food meals.”


While the average cost of a Thanksgiving dinner has remained around $49 since 2011, the meal for 10 has increased a whopping 37 cents since 2013 with the price for the star of the meal – the turkey –marginally decreasing in the past year from $21.76 to $21.65 for a 16 pound bird.


“Turkey production has been somewhat lower this year and wholesale prices are a little higher, but consumers should find an adequate supply of birds at their local grocery store,” said Anderson.


The AFBF also noted that grocery stores can utilize turkeys as “loss leaders,” enticing shoppers to enter the store to purchase other necessary ingredients for the meal.


Along with the turkey, other items that declined in price in the past year include cranberries, stuffing, pie shells, and a dozen brown-n-serve rolls. Foods increasing include sweet potatoes rising 20 cents for a three pound bag at $3.56; a half pint of whipping cream for $2.00, a 15 cent increase; and miscellaneous ingredients such as onions, eggs, sugar, and flour needed to make the meal increasing an average of 28 cents to $3.48.


When the AFBF began the Thanksgiving meal survey in 1986, it cost $28.74 to feed a family of 10.