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Turkey prices are up more than 20%—here’s how to shop smarter and keep inflation off your Thanksgiving table

November 16, 2022, 9:55 PM UTC

This year, most Americans will likely have an uninvited guest at their Thanksgiving table: inflation. 

Farm Bureau’s 37th annual survey shows that Thanksgiving meals will cost families 20% more than they did last year, with the price of a 16-pound turkey hitting $28.96—an almost $5 increase from last year. And prices aren’t just higher for seasonal goods, recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which measures how much shoppers are paying for goods month over month, shows that overall grocery prices are reaching new highs.

Americans are feeling the pain of inflation at checkout 

The food at home index rose 12.4% over the last year, with the cost of cereals and bakery products up 15.9% over the year, and the index for dairy and related products up 15.5%. The other major grocery store food categories showed increases ranging from 8.0% (meats, poultry, fish, and eggs) to 15.4% (other food at home). Some analysts are even suggesting it might be cheaper to eat your Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant this year.

Some of the factors playing a role in regional food shortages and higher costs: avian influenza, which killed off millions of turkeys, and supply chain issues.

“The higher retail turkey cost at the grocery store can also be attributed to a slightly smaller flock this year, increased feed costs, and lighter processing weights,” said AFBF Chief Economist Roger Cryan in a statement. “Farmers are working hard to meet growing demands for food—both here in the U.S. and globally—while facing rising prices for fuel, fertilizer and other inputs.”

5 tips to help you save on your Thanksgiving meal 

  1. Consider a rewards credit card: Consider using a cash-back or rewards credit card that earns bonus rewards for grocery store purchases. This way, you can earn cash back or points that you can redeem for cash or gift cards to trim your grocery bill.
  2. Host a potluck: Just because you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t mean you have to foot the entire bill. Plan ahead and create a group text with everyone you’ve invited. Assign a dish to each person so that you’re not responsible for paying for and preparing every single dish—you’ll save time and money. 
  3. Buy in bulk: If you have a large crowd coming over for Thanksgiving, it could be worth your while to buy certain goods in bulk. According to SoFi, buying in bulk can save you between 20% and 50%, depending on the item. However, this isn’t a universal truth, so you’ll need to crunch the numbers and figure out an item’s price per unit (the price of that product per gallon, ounce, pound, etc.) to determine if you’ll actually save money and how much. 
  4. Consider frozen or canned goods. Frozen turkeys and canned veggies are usually cheaper than fresher alternatives. If you have the room in your freezer or pantry, consider buying these in advance when you spot a good deal.
  5. Look for sales at your local grocery store. Keep an eye for deals at your local grocery stores by looking at weekly sales flyers. This can help you plan when you should go to the grocery store to make your purchases so that you can maximize your savings. And if you aren’t doing so already, you might also consider doing your Thanksgiving shopping on a grocery delivery app like Instacart, FreshDirect, or Gopuff that can help you easily spot deals in your area and sometimes offer a discount for new customers.

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