Financial challenges could cast a shadow over the first holiday feast of the season, but there are solutions for Americans looking to enjoy Thanksgiving on a budget.
Inflation is currently at 7.7% and prices for goods have steadily climbed in the food category, which rose 10.9% last year, according to the latest price index report. consumer data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
According to the latest figures, food-at-home costs have increased by 12.4% since November 2021, while the food-out-of-home category – restaurants and takeaways, for example – has increased by only 8.6%. %, leading agricultural economists at Wells Fargo to suggest this could be the year for Thanksgiving dinner.
“This narrowing of the gap means that the price of some Thanksgiving dishes at your favorite restaurant is closer to that of your food at home, which could save you time and energy,” the authors wrote. experts in a blog post for the bank weighing the pros and cons of vacations. costs. “In other words, you could spend about as much on a meal in a restaurant as you would on making it at home.”
MORE: ALDI and Walmart rewind prices for Thanksgiving staples
“Good Morning America” turned to experts for additional information to help consumers keep the food-centric vacation bill to a minimum.
According to a new Instacart survey conducted by The Harris Poll and shared with “GMA”, nearly 67% of Americans planning to host or attend Thanksgiving raised concerns about rising food prices.
The data also showed that of the 83% of Americans surveyed who plan to host holiday dinner, 68% plan to cook it themselves, and 84% of those hosts are looking for ways to cut costs.
Whatever your plans for Thanksgiving, keep the following things in mind.
How much will the turkey cost for Thanksgiving?
The US Department of Agriculture has reported a “wide price range” on frozen whole poultry this season.
“Some retailers are beginning to offer whole turkeys at lucrative prices, drawing the consumer to their doorsteps,” the agency said.
Turkey is expected to be 23% more expensive this year, according to the USDA, which has suggested consumers cooking at home buy their turkey early.
MORE: Recipes, Cook Times for Butterball’s Thanksgiving Turkey
After further outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) last month, the USDA said “turkey production is reduced for the remainder of 2022 and the first half of 2023. As a result, turkey prices are up and production expectations have been lowered.”
“While production has been well below typical levels this year due to HPAI, storage data suggests producers have prioritized sourcing whole hens in time for Thanksgiving,” a report said. on October’s poultry outlook.
What to cook instead of turkey for Thanksgiving?
Sides, sides and more sides.
With the price of turkey per pound up nearly 28% from last year, according to the USDA, many hosts may decide to rethink the centerpiece of poultry. Although the initial thought may be chicken, keep in mind that due to a widespread bird flu outbreak which has also affected these birds, the prices may not be much more profitable.
That’s no problem for the 66% of American consumers surveyed in a report on new food trends from Campbell’s that found side dishes reigned supreme over the main Thanksgiving entrée.
Trends expert Laurentia Romaniuk said the Instacart survey “found that nearly one in four Americans (23%) are anticipating a small Thanksgiving dinner, with 4 people or less, this year.”
“In these cases and as a great way to cut costs, you can skip the whole turkey and save money by just serving turkey breasts, wings or thighs instead,” she continued. . “Alternatively, you can serve another more affordable protein like chicken or Cornish hen to enjoy with all those delicious sides.”
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Pro tip for shopping on busy days
Instacart found that most customers shopped on the platform the day before Thanksgiving, with the majority of them containing fewer items and last-minute or forgotten ingredients.
Additionally, shopping peaks on both Sundays of the two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.
“Place your orders or visit the store Tuesday through Thursday the week before Thanksgiving, because the middle of the week is always the least crowded,” Romaniuk said. “Avoiding busy weekends and Mondays will help ensure you’re able to get everything you need on your Thanksgiving shopping list.”
She also recommends people get a head start by shopping for non-perishable, frozen ingredients in early November.
“Starting early also allows you to take advantage of more sales and offers,” she explained.
Ways to save on groceries for Thanksgiving
Romaniuk suggested finding and using coupons. “When shopping for the holidays, take note of what items are on sale and plan around some of those ingredients,” she said.
Search your kitchen and make a list.
“If you’re someone who typically stocked up on staples like pasta, soup stock, canned green beans, frozen vegetables and fruits, and more over the past year and you haven’t used them yet, it’s a good time,” she said. . “Slash your Thanksgiving grocery bill by writing down what you already have, then make a list and calculate what you need and how much you need so you don’t overbuy.”
She continued, “Once you figure out what you really need, creating an accurate budget will help you stay within your means and avoid overbuying.”
Don’t Forget These Oft-Forgotten Thanksgiving Ingredients
Below are the top 10 items Instacart found that were purchased the most on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
Cheddar, more than any other item, was the most purchased on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving when home cooks prepare dishes like mac and cheese, charcuterie boards or other dairy-based dishes.
Butter, heavy whipping cream, rolls, canned vegetables and canned stuffing were also on the same list.
Check out even more store-bought and time-saving hacks here.
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