UT Extension Explains Increased Costs, Provides Tips to Stretch Food Dollars
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Everyone knows that the cost of practically everything has increased. Since last year inflation has boosted overall prices 8.2 percent, but the cost of groceries has increased a whopping 13 percent, which University of Tennessee Extension says will impact this year’s Thanksgiving Day meals. Many staple items, including butter, eggs and potatoes, have had steep price increases.
Andrew Griffith, associate professor in the UTIA Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, says despite an increased number of birds being placed, turkey production in 2022 is down 4.6 percent compared to 2021 year-to-date. Their average live weight is down, too. This has resulted in an increase in 8- to 16-pound whole hen prices. Whole hen prices exceeded $1.72 per pound in September but while they are expected to decline prior to Thanksgiving, they are still likely to remain above $1.50 per pound. Simply stated, turkey prices have followed other meat prices higher.
To identify the total cost for a Thanksgiving meal for 10 people, UT Extension’s Consumer Economics Leadership Team surveyed grocery stores across Tennessee from November 1 to November 7 to discover how much families could expect to spend on the holiday. This week was chosen to reflect some grocers running specials on certain items. Led by Ann Berry, a professor with UT Extension’s Family and Consumer Sciences, the team surveyed rural and urban locations along with independently owned and big box stores, representing retailers from each of the three regions of the state. Prices for store brands were used when available. Some grocers reported not having some items in stock during this week or estimating that they may not be in stock at all before Thanksgiving.
The survey included items that are traditionally served at a Tennessee Thanksgiving meal, including turkey and stuffing, cranberry sauce, ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, English pea salad, deviled eggs, pumpkin pie with whipped cream and rolls. The leadership team also estimated that the Thanksgiving meal would feed 10 people.
The total cost of the complete meal for 10 was $112.30, with a per person cost of $11.23.
Kristen Johnson, assistant professor and UT Extension nutrition specialist, also advises that Thanksgiving leftovers provide an opportunity to think creatively, try new dishes or develop new holiday traditions. Leftover turkey, green beans, corn, sweet potatoes and other vegetables can be used in soups, stews, sandwiches and casseroles. And leftover cranberries make a great topping for oatmeal, waffles or pancakes. She also stresses to practice food safety steps to keep your food safe this holiday season to prevent foodborne illness. Thanksgiving leftovers should be used within 3-4 days. Set a reminder to use or freeze your leftovers by the Monday after Thanksgiving. As you’re preparing your Thanksgiving meal and your Thanksgiving leftovers, remember that perishable foods should not remain at room temperature for more than two hours. Place perishable foods in the refrigerator or the freezer within two hours of removing them from the oven or refrigerator.
Berry and Johnson suggest utilizing recipes for Thanksgiving leftovers from the SNAP-Ed website, snaped.fns.usda.gov. Through its land-grant mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. utia.tennessee.edu.
Average cost of Thanksgiving meal items across Tennessee grocery stores.
|Ham, 4 lbs.||$15.93|
|Frozen green peas, 1 lbs.||$1.71|
|Frozen green beans, 1lbs.||$1.64|
|Pie shells (2)||$3.88|
|Sweet potatoes, 3 lbs.||$3.71|
|Russet potatoes, 5 lbs.||$4.14|
|1-pound prepared vegetable tray||$6.23|
|Fresh cranberries, 12oz bag||$2.55|
|Canned pumpkin pie mix or filling, 30 oz. (2)||$4.47|
|Canned cranberry sauce, 14 oz.||$2.13|
|Can of mushroom soup||$1.35|
|Sugar, 4 lbs.||$3.19|
|Pecan halves, 10 oz.||$6.50|
|Marshmallows, 1 lbs.||$1.77|
|Stuffing mix, 6 oz. (2)||$1.67|
|Crispy fried onions, 3.5 oz.||$2.41|
|Cans of evaporated milk 12 oz. (2)||$2.41|
|Milk, 1-gallon whole||$4.30|
|Whipping cream, ½ pint||$2.63|
|Butter, 1 lbs.||$5.50|