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Thanksgiving Food Inflation Analysis:

Will This Be the Year Consumers Cancel Turkey?

Last Updated: 11/15/2022
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Rising inflation will hit home this November as consumers shop for their Thanksgiving turkeys. MoneyGeek analyzed the average cost of a Thanksgiving dinner across 122 metro areas — comparing 2022 prices at various national supermarkets to last year’s prices for holiday staples such as turkey, pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce — to find the most expensive metros for Thanksgiving dinner. In some metro areas, an entire Thanksgiving spread for six people could cost as much as $170. Here’s what else we found.

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Thanksgiving Cost Breakdown: Most and Least Expensive Cities

MoneyGeek looked at the cost of Thanksgiving turkeys and prices for various side dishes, including mashed potatoes, stuffing, bread rolls, peas and corn, and refreshments for a party of six. Our analysis includes metro areas with a population of 250,000 people or more. To obtain our food price estimates, MoneyGeek used 2022 data from the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) and Instacart prices. Gathering prices from some of America’s largest supermarket chains, we removed the average 15% markup from Instacart to get a more accurate sense of in-store costs.

We found that, overall, Thanksgiving will be significantly more expensive this year than it was last. Side dishes will be around 5% more costly nationwide; during the week of Thanksgiving, turkeys are excepted to be 50% more expensive this year than they were last.

Thanksgiving in Boston Costs Double What It Does in Kalamazoo, Michigan

Inflation appears to be hitting the turkey dinner hard in some northeastern metro areas. In Boston, consumers will pay as much as $170 for a 10-pound fresh gobbler, side dishes and refreshments, including beer and wine. New York and Washington, D.C., are also in the top five most expensive metro areas for Thanksgiving dinners.

For those headed over the river and through the woods to Kalamazoo, Michigan, a full Thanksgiving meal for six will be a more reasonable $88. Texas boasts three of the least expensive metro areas for Thanksgiving, with the Waco area right behind Kalamazoo at $93 for the average cost of a Thanksgiving dinner.

Most and least expensive metro areas for Thanksgiving dinner infographic

Turkeys Projected to Gobble Up Wallets This Year

While the overall cost of Thanksgiving dinner in many places will come with no small amount of sticker shock, the bird itself will also be more expensive. As of the beginning of October, a fresh 10-lb. turkey cost, on average, $19. But that price has risen and will continue to rise throughout the next few weeks. During Thanksgiving week, prices will jump as much as 19% more. This means that by Thanksgiving week, turkey prices could be as much as 50% more than they were last year.

Inflation is not the only factor behind the higher prices for turkey. Falling prices in 2019 led turkey producers to trim their flocks, and the COVID-19 pandemic caused even further disruption to the supply chain. Even more troubling, an avian flu epidemic has already infected 47.76 million turkeys across 25 states so far this year.

Both Washington, D.C., and Boston top the list for top-tier turkey, and consumers living there can expect to pay around $4.43 and $4.34 per pound, respectively. Less expensive turkeys can still be found in some metro areas. In the metro areas of Portland, Maine, and Manchester, New Hampshire, turkeys are priced at a more reasonable $0.95 per pound. Just make sure not to wait until the last minute to buy your bird.

The most and least expensive metro areas for turkeys infographic

More Reasons to Love (or Hate) Side Dishes

At this point, many consumers may be tempted to go cold turkey and construct a meal entirely made of side dishes. Not so fast: those prices have also increased. But in some places, the costs are much higher than in others.

Two store-bought pumpkin pies in Little Rock, Arkansas, will cost $23, while in Killeen, Texas, customers will pay just $8 for the same two pies. Meanwhile, the cranberry sauce that only your Aunt Gladys eats will cost as much as $7 in Boise City, Idaho. In Montgomery, Alabama, two cans of cranberry sauce will cost much less at $3.

And that six-pack and bottle of wine that makes it easier to deal with your uncle’s annual state-of-the-union address about politics? Seattle residents will shell out $27 for the good cheer, but in Indianapolis, these refreshments will cost you just $13.

The Most & Least Expensive Metro Areas for Side Dishes
The most and least expensive metros for side dishes infographic

How to Make Thanksgiving Dinner More Affordable in 2022

This year, inflation experienced its largest increase since 1981, and when it comes to the price of groceries, we may not see relief anytime soon. Rising energy and labor costs tend to trickle down to the consumer, and supply chain disruptions since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic are still resulting in shortages and higher prices for certain items. Food insecurity in the United States is at an all-time high, making it challenging for many Americans to afford the costs of a Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Creating a holiday budget plan can help keep costs down, not just for Thanksgiving but for the entire holiday season. Be creative about other ways to save money, such as by booking airline tickets and car rentals well in advance of the holidays or finding the best travel credit cards that offer cash back or discounts on future travel. Consumers should be careful, though, to use credit cards responsibly in order to not take on too much holiday debt.

For Thanksgiving dinner itself, consider hosting a potluck and asking guests to bring at least one side dish or beverage. Planning ahead can also help, given that costs go up the week before Thanksgiving. Keep an eye out for Thanksgiving turkey sales or deals on specific ingredients in the weeks leading up to the holiday, especially at big retailers like Costco or Sam’s Club.

Expert Insights

MoneyGeek spoke with an academic who specializes in the economy to provide expert insight on food inflation during the holidays. Below, Dr. Derek Stimel shares his thoughts on what’s behind these rising prices and what consumers can do to fight increasing costs.

  1. Our analysis found that food costs can cary dramatically from metro to metro, even those that are relatively close geographically. Why would there be such a vast difference in prices between urban areas located in the same region?
  2. Which industries or sectors do inflation tend to impact the most? Where do supermarkets fit into that equation?
  3. Will grocery prices eventually go back down to what they were in the past?
  4. Over the coming holiday period, many people will be traveling, hosting guests, and buying presents for friends and families. What are some strategies Americans could take to save money on these activities in the current inflationary environment?
Dr. Derek Stimel
Dr. Derek Stimel

Associate Professor of Teaching Economics at University of California, Davis

Methodology

MoneyGeek analyzed average retail prices of various grocery store items across 122 metro areas with a population of 250,000 people or more using 2022 data from the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) and Instacart.

We used C2ER grocery item price data to construct prices for various Thanksgiving side dishes, including mashed potatoes, stuffing, bread/rolls, peas and corn, and refreshments for a party of six.

We used Instacart to research prices for various Thanksgiving meal items that were not included in the C2ER data, such as turkey, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce and flour. Stores we gathered prices from included Publix, Safeway, Winn-Dixie, Kroger, Wegmans, Albertsons, Walmart, Target, Stop & Shop, Harris Teeter, Sam’s Club, Costco and Fresh Market. We removed the average 15% markup for any prices researched using Instacart to reflect more accurate in-store prices.

We also analyzed the USDA’s National Retail Report for turkey prices per pound by year (for the week of Thanksgiving) to analyze cost changes. We analyzed turkey prices per pound from November 12, 2021, to November 19, 2021, to explore how costs changed leading up to the week of Thanksgiving.

If you have any questions about our findings or methodology, please reach out to Melody Kasulis via email at melody@moneygeek.com.

Full Data Set

The data points presented are defined as follows:

  • Whole, Fresh Turkey: Average price of a 10-pound, fresh hen using dollars per pound and multiplied by 10, which is estimated to feed six people.
  • Side Dishes: The average cost of all side dishes, including mashed potatoes, stuffing, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, peas and corn, and refreshments.
  • Total Meal Cost: The average cost of a 10-pound whole, fresh turkey and side dishes.
Rank
Metro Area
Whole, Fresh Turkey
Side Dishes
Total Meal Cost

1

Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH

$43

$127

$170

2

Urban Honolulu, HI

$19

$145

$164

3

New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ

$27

$134

$161

4

Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

$26

$131

$157

5

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

$44

$109

$153

6

San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA

$40

$112

$152

7

Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL

$24

$122

$146

8

Providence-Warwick, RI-MA

$43

$102

$145

9

Tucson, AZ

$40

$104

$144

10

Colorado Springs, CO

$43

$97

$140

11

Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD

$27

$112

$139

12

Lexington-Fayette, KY

$38

$98

$135

13

Newark NJ-PA Metro Div.

$27

$108

$135

14

Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY

$23

$112

$135

15

New Haven-Milford, CT

$27

$108

$135

16

Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown, CT

$27

$108

$134

17

Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT

$27

$107

$134

18

Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX

$35

$98

$133

19

Detroit-Dearborn-Livonia, MI

$25

$107

$132

20

Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL

$24

$107

$131

21

North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL

$22

$109

$131

22

Tallahassee, FL

$22

$109

$131

23

Greenville-Anderson, SC

$24

$106

$130

24

Charleston-North Charleston, SC

$24

$106

$130

25

Boise City, ID

$29

$101

$130

26

Winston-Salem, NC

$24

$106

$129

27

Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL

$24

$105

$129

28

Buffalo-Cheektowaga, NY

$27

$102

$129

29

Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN

$24

$104

$128

30

Erie, PA

$27

$101

$128

31

Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC

$27

$101

$128

32

Scranton--Wilkes-Barre, PA

$27

$101

$127

33

Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC

$24

$104

$127

34

Wilmington, DE-MD-NJ

$27

$100

$127

35

Chattanooga, TN-GA

$22

$104

$126

36

Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL

$22

$104

$126

37

Wichita, KS

$32

$94

$126

38

Asheville, NC

$22

$104

$126

39

San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX

$33

$93

$126

40

Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA

$24

$101

$125

41

Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine CA Metro Div.

$12

$113

$125

42

Columbia, SC

$19

$105

$124

43

Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA

$20

$103

$123

44

Richmond, VA

$24

$99

$123

45

Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL

$12

$110

$123

46

Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN

$13

$109

$122

47

Evansville, IN-KY

$23

$98

$122

48

Raleigh-Cary, NC

$22

$100

$122

49

Jacksonville, FL

$22

$100

$122

50

Spartanburg, SC

$22

$99

$121

51

Bakersfield, CA

$14

$107

$121

52

Birmingham-Hoover, AL

$24

$97

$121

53

Gainesville, FL

$22

$98

$120

54

Lafayette, LA

$12

$108

$120

55

Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX

$35

$85

$120

56

El Paso, TX

$13

$107

$120

57

Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ

$27

$93

$120

58

Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL

$21

$99

$120

59

Salt Lake City, UT

$12

$107

$120

60

Knoxville, TN

$24

$96

$120

61

Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX

$13

$106

$119

62

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX

$19

$100

$119

63

Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC

$22

$97

$119

64

Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD

$10

$109

$119

65

Montgomery, AL

$24

$94

$118

66

Columbus, OH

$12

$106

$118

67

Portland-South Portland, ME

$9

$108

$118

68

Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL

$10

$107

$118

69

Dayton-Kettering, OH

$12

$105

$118

70

San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA

$14

$104

$118

71

Baton Rouge, LA

$13

$105

$117

72

Mobile, AL

$19

$98

$117

73

Durham-Chapel Hill, NC

$22

$95

$117

74

Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom, CA

$14

$103

$116

75

Shreveport-Bossier City, LA

$13

$103

$116

76

Peoria, IL

$23

$93

$116

77

Huntsville, AL

$16

$100

$116

78

Jackson, MS

$13

$103

$116

79

Provo-Orem, UT

$13

$103

$116

81

Albuquerque, NM

$12

$104

$116

80

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA

$11

$105

$116

82

Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV

$12

$103

$115

83

Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR

$12

$102

$114

84

Manchester-Nashua, NH

$9

$104

$114

85

Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI

$11

$103

$114

86

Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ

$13

$100

$113

87

Pittsburgh, PA

$11

$102

$113

88

Fort Wayne, IN

$11

$102

$113

89

Rockford, IL

$23

$89

$112

90

Cleveland-Elyria, OH

$13

$99

$112

91

Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA

$12

$99

$112

92

Memphis, TN-MS-AR

$13

$98

$111

93

St. Louis, MO-IL

$23

$88

$111

94

Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR

$11

$100

$111

95

Ogden-Clearfield, UT

$11

$99

$110

96

Springfield, MO

$13

$97

$110

97

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO

$11

$99

$110

98

Minneapolis-St Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI

$13

$97

$110

98

Minneapolis-St Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI

$13

$97

$110

100

New Orleans-Metairie, LA

$12

$96

$108

101

Savannah, GA

$11

$97

$108

102

Lincoln, NE

$13

$94

$107

103

Reno, NV

$13

$94

$107

104

Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN

$12

$95

$107

105

Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA

$10

$96

$106

106

Amarillo, TX

$13

$94

$106

107

Grand Rapids-Kentwood, MI

$13

$93

$106

108

Lynchburg, VA

$13

$93

$106

109

Roanoke, VA

$10

$95

$105

110

Green Bay, WI

$13

$91

$104

111

Tulsa, OK

$13

$91

$104

112

South Bend-Mishawaka, IN-MI

$13

$91

$103

113

Corpus Christi, TX

$16

$88

$103

114

Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN

$10

$92

$103

115

Lubbock, TX

$13

$90

$102

116

Kansas City, MO-KS

$13

$90

$102

117

Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI

$13

$85

$98

118

Killeen-Temple, TX

$19

$78

$97

119

Brownsville-Harlingen, TX

$13

$84

$97

120

Oklahoma City, OK

$10

$86

$97

121

Waco, TX

$13

$80

$93

122

Kalamazoo-Portage, MI

$13

$75

$88

About the Author


expert-profile

Rachel Newcomb is an award-winning writer, storyteller and professor of anthropology at Rollins College. She has over two decades of experience conducting research internationally and domestically and has published books about women's rights, migration and globalization in Morocco.


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