Talking turkey: The cost of Thanksgiving this year

The Arkansas Farm Bureau released its annual survey of Thanksgiving meal costs earlier this week and it showed that a Thanksgiving meal for 10 would cost $53.31 or $5.33 per person.

This marks the third year in the row that average costs have declined.

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In 2020, the cost was  $57.14 and in 2019 it was $57.75.

But all that comes with a very important caveat.

The cost of a turkey varied widely this year.

The average cost for a 16-pound bird was $23.99, which is up 24 percent from last year’s $17.36.

That’s a big price surge but the Farm Bureau said it checked prices from Oct. 26 to Nov. 8, which is, “before most grocery store chains began featuring whole frozen turkeys at sharply lower prices.”

According to USDA Agricultural Marketing Service data, grocery stores began advertising lower feature prices later than usual this year. Also, the average per-pound feature price for whole frozen turkeys was $1.07 the week of Nov. 5-11 and 88 cents the week of Nov. 12-18, a decline of 18 percent in just one week. So, in other words, waiting can save some real money.

And speaking from purely, personal anecdotal experience. The cost of the 26-pound turkey in the freezer was 79 cents a pound. Or just barely over $20. My cost-conscious father-in-law is quite proud.

The shopping list for the survey includes: turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk and enough to serve 10.

The volunteer shoppers looked for the best possible prices without using coupons or purchase deals and individual prices are as follows:

  • 16-pound turkey: $23.99 or approximately $1.50 per pound

  • 2 frozen pie crusts: $2.91

  • 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix: $3.64

  • Half pint of whipping cream: $1.78

  • 1 dozen dinner rolls: $3.05

  • 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries: $2.98 

  • 1 gallon of whole milk: $3.30

  • 1 pound of frozen peas: $1.54

  • 3 pounds of sweet potatoes: $3.56

  • 1-pound veggie tray (carrots & celery): 82 cents

  • Ingredients to prepare the meal: $3.45 

  • 14-ounce bag of cubed stuffing mix: $2.29