How to Prepare for an Expensive Thanksgiving

Like everything else in the world right now, food prices have soared. It’s tough to deal with on a daily basis, but how is it impacting preparation for upcoming holiday meals?

Experts are now saying that it will be 10-15% cheaper to eat out this year than it is to stay home. This is good news for those who don’t like to labor in the kitchen, but there are a few caveats to this advice.

Recommendations include targeting restaurants with buffet options so the whole family can load up on their favorites. If you opt for carryout or delivery, be aware that extra charges may apply to compensate holiday workers. And don’t forget Groupon, which often offers short-term deals on restaurants that can save you up to half off.

If you can’t fathom not cooking your own holiday spread, be prepared for some sticker shock. Turkey prices are currently up 30%, largely due to a breakout of Avian Flu that has wiped out poultry supplies. But it’s not just the bird that will take a bite out of your wallet. A simple staple like potatoes will cost you 18% more, and canned fruits and vegetables are up 19%. In fact, grocery prices overall have risen 10% nationwide, causing an inflation in your entire bill.

Here in Texas, an 18-pound turkey at HEB is about $36, and that’s without all the trimmings.

So when you have a lot of mouths to feed on the holidays, what can you do to trim costs? Here are some tips for serving up a traditional feast without breaking the bank.

  • Make as much as you can from scratch. Prepared foods cost, on average, three times more than homemade foods, according to Forbes. A little more time and effort on your part can make for big savings. For instance, you can save money by tearing up your own bread for stuffing rather than buying a mix, making your own pies (go ahead, buy the crust, as even flour costs are up), and making your own mashed potatoes. Bonus: Doing so is also healthier!
  • Keep an eye on store fliers and apps that track prices. You can even Google “cheapest turkeys near me” to find the best deals in your location.
  • Be willing to shop off-brand. The difference in price between a Butterball and a store-brand turkey can be as much as a dollar or more per pound – buy a 20-pound turkey, and those savings are substantial. The same applies to fried onions to top your green bean bake, canned pie fillings, and even gravy mixes.

You do have one more option: Take advantage of less expensive restaurant meals on Thanksgiving Day, then shop the heavily discounted food items at your local store the next day. Turkeys, pumpkin pie fillings, stuffing mixes, and bakery item prices will be slashed the day after the holiday. So get the best of both worlds and go for Round 2 and enjoy the leftovers!

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Rebecca Becker

Rebecca has been a lifelong writer committed to telling stories that illuminate special people, places, and causes. She writes for local, regional, national, and international publications and is based in Houston. She’s been a lifelong Christian dedicated to bringing that perspective forth and keeping the Christian voice within the larger conversation.