This Thanksgiving, mouths will be filled and bellies bulged by holiday menus stuffed with foods that will be taking a bigger bite out of household budgets. Here’s what to expect for your 2023 Thanksgiving dinner cost.
2023 Thanksgiving Dinner Cost
Even though food-at-home inflation has decreased to 2.4% since last October, the 2023 Thanksgiving dinner cost is not expected to cost any less than in 2022.
Thanksgiving is the second largest food holiday of the year, behind only Christmas. While turkey prices have dropped, costs are higher for nearly all the other feast day favorites like potatoes, cranberries and most importantly, pie, according to separate reports from Wells Fargo Agri-Food Institute and Circana, a leading adviser in consumer behavior.
A key factor in these rising costs is record price spreads between the wholesale price supermarkets pay versus the retail prices consumers pay, Wells Fargo said.
Overall, 2023 Thanksgiving dinner cost inflation is estimated at 1.7% versus 2022 and 27.4% versus 2019, Circana said. While the main entrée has dropped 1.1%, prices are up for sides, beverages, and baking, it said.
“Inflation is easing, but given the spike in food prices over the past four years, consumers might not notice,” according to Circana’s Thanksgiving Tracker.
The average cost to feed 10 people Thanksgiving dinner has steadily increased the last three years, according to the American Farm Bureau (AFB). Last year, it cost $64.05 compared to $53.31 in 2021 and $46.90 in 2020. The AFB will release its costs for 2023 on Nov. 15. Its estimate includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient for 10 with leftovers.
Last year, turkey prices increased 21% year-over-year due to several factors beyond general inflation, AFB said, reaching a record $1.72 per pound for an 8- to 16-pound, frozen, Grade A, while young hen.
This year, the centerpiece of most Thanksgiving tables will actually cost less as prices have fallen due to growth in production, AFB said. The average price in August for the typical turkey served on Thanksgiving was $1.27 per pound, a drop of 22% from last year at the same time.
Wells Fargo said consumers will pay 9% less for turkeys this year, despite a 30% drop in wholesale prices. Whole fresh turkeys are averaging $1.47 per pound, down 9% from October of last year. Retailers typically use turkeys to drive store traffic volume, it said.
Those who prefer swine to fowl, or choose to offer two main meats, better be ready to pay for the pork. Retail ham prices are near an all-time high of $4.56 per pound in September, up 5.2% from last year, Wells Fargo said. The wholesale versus retail price spread is historically high, and high feed costs and low hog prices limited expansion from producers this year, it said.
Consumers can expect to pay about 20% less for fresh cranberries compared to a year ago, while canned cranberries are almost 60% more compared to last year.
Sweet potatoes, one of the most versatile Thanksgiving sides (mashed, baked, candied, pie) is also one of the best values, according to Wells Fargo. Because of controlled storage environments, it can be grown commercially and stored year-round. Still, this year’s prices are currently up 4% from a year ago.
Its cousin, the Russet potato, is experiencing all-time high retail prices, Wells Fargo said. Consumer prices for potatoes are up 14% from a year ago. Growers are saying farm gate prices are much lower, which again points to a larger markup for the consumer versus retailers, similar to turkeys.
Fresh will likely be best this year for cranberries and green beans. Canned green beans, like other processed products, are costing more due to increases in energy and raw material costs. On average, the namesake ingredient in green bean casserole is up almost 9% from last year.
If you need more green veggies for the table, consider a salad made with Romaine lettuce, which currently costs 10% less compared to a year ago.
Canned pumpkin will take more of your budget pie with prices 30% higher than last year.
Higher prices are no surprise to consumers, who say they are prepared to pay more to uphold holiday traditions. Nearly 80% said they will celebrate the usual way, with 34% saying they expect to pay more for groceries but will purchase the same amount, said Circana.
Shopping for Thanksgiving items will start well before the holiday week, with consumers making spot purchases of specific items if they see a sale or have a coupon, Circana said. Last year, main dishes like turkey and ham were purchased the week prior to the holiday while beverages, baking products and pies were more likely to be purchased the week of Thanksgiving.
Roll back prices
Some retailers are looking to lessen the blow of inflation by again rolling back prices on key holiday staples to previous year levels. Walmart is offering special price breaks from Nov. 1 to Dec. 26 on “favorites, fixings and national brands.”
Aldi dropped prices by up to 50% on more than 70 holiday classics from Nov. 1 until the end of the year. Included in the discount are seasonal items such as gravy, potatoes, green beans, cranberries. and pumpkin pie as well as staples like butter and flour.
It said the price savings equates to being able to have three more guests for dinner at the same price.
Other retailers like Target are selling fixings to feed a party of four for less than $25 to keep 2023 Thanksgiving dinner cost low. It includes a frozen turkey, potatoes and green beans from Target’s Good & Gather brand along with cream of mushroom soup, cranberry sauce, stuffing mix and gravy.
Consumers will take advantage of those deals, Circana said, with the largest percentage of sales lift sold on promotion including pies and sides.
More ways to save
Along with being conscious of sales and special offers, Wells Fargo said shopping early can pay off. Some stores will offer free turkeys if you spend a certain amount in the weeks preceding the holiday. If you need to spend more to reach that target, consider purchasing necessities like toiler paper or dish detergent that you’ll need eventually anyway, said Farm Flavor.
If you miss the boat on buying early, wait until the week before Thanksgiving to buy the main dish. Many stores will discount turkeys the closer it gets to the holiday.
Here are a few reminders for keeping 2023 Thanksgiving dinner cost low:
- When preparing for the meal, make a list and stick to it.
- Check out grocery store fliers for sales on pantry goods, which tend to go on sale before the holidays but not always at the same time.
- Look for digital coupons on store apps and become a part of the store’s loyalty program.
- Spread out the work, and the cost, by asking guests to bring items such as beverages, sides dishes or desserts. Ask them to bring specific dishes so you don’t end up with duplicates.
- When your bellies are full, use those leftovers to fill out your dinner menu in the coming days. Remake that turkey, veggies and sides into something new so nothing goes to waste, cash or food-wise.
We hope you find these tips and this information about 2023 Thanksgiving dinner cost helpful. Enjoy your Thanksgiving from everyone at LGC!