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4 Ways To Keep Your Thanksgiving Meal Within Budget

A Thanksgiving dinner plate of cider brined turkey with sage gravy, peach cranberry sauce, sour cream and chive mashed potatoes, sausage pecan stuffing, arugula pear salad with pomegranate vinaigrette and goat cheese and herb crusted sweet potatoes. (AP)

A Thanksgiving dinner plate of cider brined turkey with sage gravy, peach cranberry sauce, sour cream and chive mashed potatoes, sausage pecan stuffing, arugula pear salad with pomegranate vinaigrette and goat cheese and herb crusted sweet potatoes. (AP)

BOSTON — As the last few leaves desperately cling to tree branches, families all across America are bracing for a week of familial obligations, football and the annual reminder that cranberry sauce is indeed a thing we sometimes eat.

If you’re in charge of feeding your extended family this holiday, here’s some good news: According to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), the cost of an average Thanksgiving feast for 10 is up just $0.28 from 2011. That’s a much smaller increase than 2011, when the price jumped $5.73, from $43.47 in 2010 to $49.20.

“Turkey price was up about 3 percent from a year ago. No other real big movers in the basket as far as an increase,” deputy chief economist at AFBF John Anderson said in a statement. “Some of the dairy product items were down similar to the amount that turkey price was up.”

The classic Thanksgiving meal used by the AFBF to informally gauge price trends around the country includes:

  • 16-pound turkey
  • 12 rolls
  • a 1-pound relish tray of carrots and celery
  • half a pint of whipping cream
  • 14 ounces of stuffing
  • 3 pounds of sweet potatoes
  • 1 gallon of whole milk
  • 12 ounces of fresh cranberries
  • a pound of green peas
  • 30 ounces of pumpkin pie mix
  • 2 pie shells
  • about $3.18 worth of “miscellaneous  ingredients.”

Paying less than $50 to feed 10 people seems relatively inexpensive. So there’s a chance this “classic Thanksgiving” meal model doesn’t match up with each and every tradition.

Either way, there are ways to help cut how much we spend on our most treasured celebration of sharing, thankfulness and over eating:

  1. Make it yourself: The American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) reports that in 2011, 14 million Americans dined out for Thanksgiving while 16 million included a pre-prepared dish on their table. According to the ACCC, outsourcing the gigantic meal costs an extra $25-40 per adult, compared to $5 per person to make the meal from scratch.
  2. Share the burden: If you are keen on preparing the feast at home, why not have your attendees pitch in? Throwing a potluck-style Thanksgiving would not only even out the financial burden, but give the family the chance to impress the others with their cooking abilities.
  3. Go generic: Name-brand turkeys can be more than triple the cost of store brand items, according to the ACCC.
  4. Plan ahead: Finally, make sure to think tactically about your Thanksgiving purchases. Be proactive and mindful about your spending. If you haven’t stocked up yet, you probably should have raced to the grocery store fifteen minutes ago.
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