Get ready to pay more for your Thanksgiving turkey this year

A Thanksgiving party.

Image source: Getty Images

Your belt might not be the only thing that feels uncomfortably tight this Thanksgiving.

Key points

  • Turkey prices are at record highs right now.
  • There are several things shoppers can do to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast without breaking the bank.
  • You can host a potluck or even skip the turkey to save on your holiday meal costs.

We’ve all had a little sticker shock at the grocery store in the last year as our basic purchases have increased, seemingly overnight at times. So you might not be surprised to learn that your Thanksgiving turkey is going to weigh a little more heavily on your wallet this year. The same goes for many other holiday staples.

But you don’t have to skimp on your holiday feast in order to save your bank account. These tips can help you plan your hearty meal on a budget.

How much will the average turkey cost you in 2022?

The average 16-pound Thanksgiving turkey costs about $23.99 in 2021, or about $1.50 a pound, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. This is a 24% increase from 2020, and this trend is expected to continue this year.

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Inflation, rising demand and an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) have driven average turkey prices to record highs. The typical cost of a frozen hen between eight and 16 pounds hit $1.72 a pound in early September, according to the Farm Bureau. At this rate, a 16-pound turkey will cost the average family about $27.52 this year.

That’s a 14.7% increase from 2021, and some larger birds could cost even more. And then there’s a cost hike on other Thanksgiving staples, including stuffing, potatoes, and pumpkin pie to consider. All of this can make your budget uncomfortably tight, but there are a few things you can try to cut costs.

3 ways to save on your Thanksgiving meal this year

Here are three tips for enjoying your Thanksgiving meal on the cheap this year.

1. Shop smart

Make a list of what you need for your Thanksgiving meal, then log on to see if you can find coupons for them. You can also check with your local grocery stores to see if they carry popular Thanksgiving dishes.

Unless you have a strong attachment to a particular brand, don’t be afraid to swap your favorite item for a less expensive store brand. And use a grocery rewards card at checkout, if you have one, so you can get some of your money back as rewards points.

2. Get help from family members

There’s no rule that you have to pay for the entire Thanksgiving meal yourself. If you can’t afford to buy everything, talk to other family members who will be attending your Thanksgiving meal and decide how you’ll split the costs.

You can ask everyone to contribute financially to the dinner or you can opt for a potluck instead where everyone brings part of the meal. One person prepares the turkey, another brings the pumpkin pie, and so on.

3. Skip the turkey altogether

Turkey may be traditional, but you can choose something else if it doesn’t suit your palate or wallet. Many groceries have gone up in price this year due to inflation, but the cost of turkey is particularly high for the reasons described above. You may be able to prepare a different meal for less, and it could also save you time in the kitchen.

The holidays are still a few weeks away, so you have time to think through all your options. But if you’re planning a traditional Thanksgiving feast, you might want to start watching the costs now. Knowing what to expect will save you from a nasty surprise when you finally buy all your ingredients.

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