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This Year’s Thanksgiving May Gobble Your Wallet

UT Extension Explains Increased Costs, Provides Tips to Stretch Food Dollars

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Consumer costs on many items are increasing right now, and the pricetag on this year’s Thanksgiving meal is no exception. Financial experts from the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture have information for consumers about this trend and advice for stretching holiday meal budgets.

The American Farm Bureau Federation predicts the cost of the Thanksgiving meal to increase by 5 percent compared to last year due to increased costs of gas, labor shortages including among truck drivers, shipping issues and increased direct costs experienced by farmers.

Andrew Griffith, an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, states that some of the increase in prices, at least for turkeys specifically, is due to declined hatchery output in June and July, a decline of turkey in cold storage and scarcity reported by the media. Wholesale turkey prices are currently just above $1.40 per pound and Griffith says he does not expect these to lower prior to Thanksgiving.

UT Extension’s Consumer Economics Leadership Team surveyed grocery stores across Tennessee from October 20 to November 1 to discover how much families could expect to spend on the holiday. Rural and urban locations along with independently-owned and big box stores were surveyed, with store brand prices used when available. Some grocers reported not having some items in stock 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 $111.78 with a per person cost of $11.18. The entire breakdown of the team’s survey results is available below.

Shelly Barnes, a family and consumer sciences agent with UT Extension Wilson County, states, “This state-level information is important for consumers and business owners alike, and we are glad to be able to provide a resource like this to a vast range of clients during the holiday season.”

“Enjoying leftovers from a Thanksgiving meal is a great way to get the most benefit out of the money, time and effort spent,” says Ann A. Berry, professor and consumer economics specialist with UT Extension. A leftover staple for many families is turkey salad.  

Kristen Johnson, assistant professor and 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.

Berry and Johnson suggest utilizing recipes to use 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.

ItemAverage Price
16-pound turkey$21.62
Ham, 4 lbs.$26.16
Frozen green peas, 1 lbs.$1.62
Frozen green beans, 1lbs.$1.56
Pie shells (2)$2.56
Sweet potatoes, 3 lbs.$2.08
Russet potatoes, 5 lbs.$3.02
1-pound prepared vegetable tray$8.14
Fresh cranberries, 12oz bag$2.70
Canned pumpkin pie mix or filling, 30 oz. (2)$4.45
Canned cranberry sauce, 14 oz.$1.54
Can of mushroom soup$1.06
Sugar, 4 lbs.$2.58
Pecan halves, 10 oz.$7.92
Marshmallows, 1 lbs.$1.88
Stuffing mix, 6 oz. (2)$3.01
Crispy fried onions, 3.5 oz.$2.18
Cans of evaporated milk 12 oz. (2)$2.19
Rolls, 12$2.86
Milk, 1-gallon whole$3.68
Whipping cream, ½ pint$2.70
Butter, 1 lbs.$3.67
18-count eggs$2.60

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