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How much is your Thanksgiving Dinner?

I just read an article on a new website about the average cost of a Thanksgiving meal.

Quoted from article:

The American Farm Bureau Federation reported Thursday that a meal with turkey and all the trimmings will cost about 13 percent more this year.

The trade group estimates a classic meal for 10 will cost $49.20 on average. That is $5.73 more than last year's $43.47 average.

The meal will cost less than $5 a person, but it's still much more expensive than in years past. The jump results from food makers and grocers raising their prices to cover higher commodity costs.

I read that an though - no #@!$ing way. I don't think I've EVER done a "classic" (whatever that means - I'm assuming turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, pumpkin pie) for 10 people - yes 10 people for $49.20.

I'll be having 10-12 people this year and my BASIC grocery bill will well over $200 I'm sure - not including wine. And that isn't including the cost of spices/etc that I already have in my pantry that I will be using.

Does everyone else do Thanksgiving for 10 under $50?????

Edit: My BASIC bill will be closer to $400 I'm sure, heck my turkey alone is going to be almost $80. I know I'm getting an expensive bird but still . . . . $50.

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  1. That's probably with canned gravy, boxed stuffing, instant potatoes, and the revolting canned green beans.

    18 Replies
    1. re: Njchicaa

      Actually, if you bought all the prepared or pre-processed stuff, that would make it more expensive. Home made gravy and stuffing are, essentially, free, because they are traditionally made with stuff you already have in the house. Fresh potatoes are about 10 cents a pound this time of year.

      And believe it or not, most of my friends have asked me to make the green bean casserole with the canned because that's what they grew up with and love, so now I do. Don't be a snob. Diff'rent strokes. Thanksgiving is about memories, not Haute Cuisine.

      1. re: acgold7

        I wish I could buy potatoes for 10 cents a pound. In the supermarkets, a bag of 5 pounds is no less than 4 bucks, and if you buy them loose, they are at least 1.49 pound. We will get all of our produce at a farm stand next weekend, and I am curious to see how much they are- we need 15 pounds!

        1. re: macca

          Wow, that's surprising... I guess it varies by region. Here in the Northwest, nearly every market is advertising potatoes at $1.99 for a ten pound bag, and even less if you shop around.

          1. re: acgold7

            Wish it were like that here in the Northeast! I did get a bargain a few weeks ago- 10 pounds for 4 dollars, but noghint like that since.

            1. re: macca

              Yeah, but at least when we lived in the NE we could get Ronzoni on sale for 10 boxes for $4! Now the only place I can get pasta for under $1 a pound is at my local restaurant supply store, and I have to buy it in ten pound boxes.

              1. re: acgold7

                Funny- Pasta is something I stock up on when on sale. If I don't buy it at BJ's, I wait until barilla goes on sale- 10 for 10 dollars.

            2. re: acgold7


              Your right, you can get a 10# bag of russets for that loss-leader sale price right now in the NW, but alot of us make mashed pot's with yukon golds, and those are much more in the 1.49 lb. range - on a good day:)

              1. re: gingershelley

                Sure, of course, it's all personal taste. You could also use Purple Peruvians or put Caviar in your potatoes if you wanted to spend even more. Most people who like Yukon Golds like them because they taste buttery. So you can spend ten times as much for them, or add a nickel's worth of actual butter per serving. Your choice, I guess.

                1. re: acgold7

                  don't get me started, my wife is insisting on purple mashed potatoes served en croute. The purple potatoes are only sold in 24oz bags for $3.99 and we need 10 bags for 18 guests.

                  1. re: bagelman01

                    sounds wonderful. and yes, its only twice the price for organic russets, plus of course the cost of the 'en croute' crust..... maybe if you count the crust you can get away with 9 bags. No, that's not a ditch worth dying in.

                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                      actually, wife is making a figure 8 shaped croute and piping purple mashed potatoes in one hole and mashed sweet potatoes in the other.

                      So, I've dug through the basement and found my mother's purple crystal (1944) and we'll be using those for our beverages.

                      1. re: bagelman01

                        Wow, I really like that combo of purple and sweet potatoes. Purple veggies are always a problem in terms of presentation because the are so jarring. I bet this would look really nice ... and matching crystal ... nice touch.

                        1. re: rworange

                          I've alresy started polishing the silver. Holidays are a great time to use all those great, fancy inherited serving pieces. And a chance to teach the young ones proper dining ettiquette.

                          Coordinating the colors make the foods more appetizing

                2. re: gingershelley

                  My yukons were $4.99 for a 5# bag yesterday. Even the cheap potatoes here (NE) are $3.00 for 5#.

                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                    Yesterday I checked out the prices of potatoes in one local supermarket (Johnnies fdoodmaster). The cheapest were 10 pounds for 5 dollars- they were small Maine potatoes, complete with lots and lots of dirt. The loose potatoes were 1.49 lb., and the individually wrapped russets, for baking, were 89 cents each. Nothing remotely near 10 cents a pound. This week, Market Basket has 5 pounds of white potatoes for $1.99- seems to be the cheapest around.

              2. re: macca

                We spend at least twice that 'average', even with some good sales and everything made from scratch (except for E's must-haves of Pillsbury crescent rolls and canned cranberry sauce).

                Here in Phoenix, russets always go on sale around the holidays. I prefer Yukon Gold for Thanksgiving, but there was no way I could pass up the 5-pound bag of russets at Fry's for 59 cents. I used to spend a lot on a turkey, but one year I tried the pre-brined fresh turkeys at Trader Joe's on sale at 99 cents a pound and it was a hit, so that's my turkey of choice ($1.99/lb so this year about $35). I put an herb butter under the skin to make it easy, so no brining, basting, turning, etc.

              3. re: acgold7

                +1 on the price of pototoes. Where do you live if you can purchase them at 10 cents a pound? My supermarkets here in Texas charge between 89 cents and $1.29 per pound for russets, and not the organic kind. I usually buy a 20 pound bag in Costco for about 50 cents a pound and believe that I am getting a bargain.,

                Look, you can sometimes get a frozen turkey for free. If not, they can be on sale for 59 to 69 cents per pound. Stuffing is made of mostly bread, onions, apples, butter and chicken broth, so that is cheap. Sweet potatoes and regular potatoes are not expensive (but not 10 cents per pound). You can make gravy with pan drippings, flour and a stock you have created from the giblets, and you can add seasonal green veggies like brussel sprouts. It can be done, especially if you do things like make your own cranberry sauce and gravy, and avoid expensive items. Pies are often on sale, especially at the warehouse clubs. My dinner will probably cost about $50, but I am cooking for four, not ten.

                1. re: RGC1982

                  True that. I live on Long Island, home of cheap potatoes, and I am happy to get 5 lbs for $1.99 lately. The cost of fertalizer and tractor fuel adds up real quick. You can get a 50# sack for around $5 but if you're not going to use it all.....

            3. I certainly can feed ten people for $5 each. I have done it that way, for less, for decades.

              I buy side dish ingredients on sale (now- two weeks ahead; they won't be on sale next week because they don't have to be on sale then).
              Yukon gold potatoes are $3 for 5 lbs. People do not eat a pound of potatoes each.
              Asparagus is $1.49/lb as are grapes. Pineapples are $2.50 each.
              Broccoli and cauliflower is 88¢, as are apples, spinach, lettuces.
              Yams and sweet potatoes are 3 lbs/$1

              One turkey should not cost $80. That is stupid.

              10 Replies
              1. re: Cathy

                Yes what I'm spending on my turkey is . . .stupid. It is a heritage turkey and I'm very much looking forward to it but it is a splurge.

                And I'm not saying I COULDN"T feed 10 people for $5 each.

                I'm just curious if $50 for 10 people is REALLY the AVERAGE of what people spend for Thanksgiving in "the real world". Not IF people could do it.

                1. re: thimes

                  The average "real world" turkey is a frozen Jennie-O or Butterball, purchased for less than a dollar/pound. Very few people buy organic or heritage turkeys in the grand scheme of things.

                  1. re: mpjmph

                    I understand that - I don't live in a bubble.

                    i was curious how much the people on CH spend on Thanksgiving dinner and how far out of the $50 for 10 people range that was.

                    I guess that question is complicated and causes people anxiety which compels them to explain the "common person" . . . . I wouldn't have thought that it would but it does.

                    1. re: thimes

                      Even just doing and appetizer, turkey, dressing, gravy, 2 fresh vegetables, and the typical casseroles most everyone loves, along with 2deserts, there is no way I could do that for $50. More like $150

                      1. re: thimes

                        With wine, etc. ours will probably be in the $400-$500 range. Our turkey is $4.89/pd and will be in the 20-25 pound range.

                        I don't think the $50 is an average amount.

                        1. re: Janet from Richmond

                          I don't think it would be average for Chowhounds.

                          But again the price was based on specific items from grocery stores in general.

                          It doesn't include beverages such as coffee, soda, milk or alcoholic beverages.

                          I'm actually living in Richmond currently, and though it has it's ritzy sections like Oakland ... a true surprise to me ... seems like you have to live on the right side of San Pablo Avenue or Cutter ... there are mostly households that are going to be spending way less that $50 if they are not getting dinner courtesy of the local food bank.

                        2. re: thimes

                          I've been buying local, heritage, pastured turkey for years, and $80 is about what I pay. It's out of this world, and I wouldn't dream of serving anything else on Thanksgiving. This is not a meal that I would try to do on the cheap.

                      2. re: thimes

                        I once did this too, and my guests, (family, mostly DH's), hated the bird. They said it was dark and gamey. There are two sayings that come to mind: 1) You can't pick your relatives, and ,2) Give the people what they want. While I loved the flavor of the heritage bird, it made no sense for me to try it again. Frozen Butterballs on sale are the preferred bird around here. And no, I resist the frying operation most years because of the waste involved with all that oil. I also happen to think that a properly roasted bird is actually more tender than a fried turkey. Perhaps the fry fans have eaten overcooked birds all their lives, but I don't get it. It is good, but not better than a slow roasted bird that is not overcooked. Good luck with your heritage bird. I'm a little jealous.

                        1. re: RGC1982

                          I think that it's actually much harder to not overcook a bird in the fryer and, consequently, a lot of folks who fry really do wind up eating foul fowl. It took me more than 4 or 5 birds to realize the standard turkey frying advice (much like that for roasting) was going to result in a bird that had breast meat at 180 degrees when the "cooking time" was complete. The techniques I have developed to avoid this, however, are very messy and not for the average fryer. Regardless, you point out something many don't realize.

                      3. re: Cathy

                        Re: potatoes, my husband's family, and now we, plan for at least 1 lb. person -- 10 lb.s 6-7 people. Ensures plenty of leftovers and take-home plates.

                      4. I am buying a fresh heritage turkey, which costs more than $5 a pound, so that alone will be close to the $50 the article talks about. Yes, that is a lot for a turkey but we had one before and it bore little resemblance to the ones put on most tables and feel it's worth the price for people to know what real turkey tastes like. I'm sure we could do it on the cheap for $50.....but that doesn't include the cost of wine does it?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: escondido123

                          Escondido: I'm also in SD N. County; where are you buying your heritage bird? Thanks in advance...

                          1. re: pine time

                            I bought it at Jimbo's; you had to order it ahead. (Sorry I didn't see your post sooner, but by the 19th the deadline had passed anyway.)

                        2. We are feeding 25, and there is no way it will cost $98.00- we started shopping last week, and have already spent at least 50 dollars- chicken stock, butter, pickles, olives. have not even ordered the two turkeys. We will make a run nto Trader Joes next week to gluten free stuff for our 4 celiacs, and a trip to the farm stand for all the produce. The produce alone will be close to $100.00. Will have to keep track of my bills for the next week or so, but I could not do our annual feast for the stated cost!

                          1. But then again there are many many families in the US who wish they had $50 to spend on Thanksgiving, so that should put it in persepctive for the rest of us. When I pass the man or woman ringing the bell outside the grocery store this year, maybe I should deposit a few dollars into the "bucket" and consider it my tithe for a great Thanksgiving Day dinner.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: escondido123

                              Yeah, that's what I was thinking.

                              It is a bad question for a board of people who are preocupied with food.

                              Chow put together a "cheap" dinner for eight for a little over $100 bucks.


                              At first I thought "yow" ... cheap ...$100. But then the last line was "We've calculated our costs based on the highest nonsale prices we could find at Safeway in San Francisco, so if you're a bargain shopper, you might even come in under $100 for your whole meal"

                              Well, yeah then. Safeway is pricy ... well, it is no FoodsCo or FoodMax or bargain grocery of your choice. And going with non sale prices ... sure. But as you get near Thanksgiving you could easily get that meal for half the price working with sales and bargain markets. Even Safeway would be at a minimum $25 bucks cheaper.

                              This article commenting on the survey has some good tips for decreasing the cost of dinner and writes "bargain shoppers and penny pinchers say you can save even more on one of the biggest meals of the year"


                              Basically, start early on some items. One woman freezes leftover bread and milk for use during the holidays.

                              I'll buy shelf stable items like olives or pickles during the year when they are on sale often combined with coupons. Well, I do when I'm trying to save money.

                              This year I'll probably spend $200 for a minimum of six. The expensive stuff will be the turkey ($3.99 lb), bakery pumpkin pie ($20), bakery cake ($30). Other than those, this is NOT a group interested in food so I'm not going to kill myself for gourmet dishes because they would not be appreciated. So Oceanspray works, as do ordinary bread and butter pickles and black olives. Add classic mashed potatoes, and some sort of veggie and a few snacks along with beverages like sparkling wine, beer, coffee and soda.

                              The most expensive turkey in this area this year was $12 lb for a heritage bird. I'm a lousy cook so it would kill me to screw up a bird that could run around $200.

                              But back to your original thought, given the economy, there will probably be people who don't have $12 for the whole dinner. So it might be a good thought to add a few bucks to the Thanksgiving shopping to buy some food to donate to local charities.

                              1. re: escondido123

                                Thank you Escondido123 - That was my thot as well. I've spent big bucks for the feast w/ no thot of what was coming out of my wallet and cried when a neighbor dropped off a plate of leftovers.

                                1. re: JerryMe

                                  I dropped $20 in the Salvation Army bucket last week, not a lot but every bits helps.

                              2. I have no trouble believing those numbers. Most Turkeys are less than $5 each, because the markets are practically giving them away, and 99% of normal people get the regular frozen birds at 29 cents a pound.

                                I make my own stock and buy all my produce at Costco and regularly do Thanksgiving for 20 people for less than about $25. Total. On a per-person basis, it's the cheapest meal of the year.

                                I would never tell anyone not to buy whatever kind of Turkey makes them feel good, but I have eaten every kind there is, and my experience is that it's all in the preparation, and I've never tasted one as good as a conventional frozen bird properly prepared. Cook's Illustrated happens to agree. A $5 bird can taste every bit as good as a $200 bird if you know what you are doing.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: acgold7

                                  Cook's Illustrated can occasionally be a useful resource, but their "taster" panels' results are typically worthless. They utilize very common folk in an "appeal to the masses" approach. I have rarely, if ever, found any of their favorites to reflect my own preferences. I find it akin to polling Wal-Mart shoppers for culinary advice.*

                                  As to the OP, our two turkeys (15 to 18 ponds each) and the oil to fry one of them will cost nearly three times the amount noted in the report . . . and, I can't wait!

                                  *Snobbish comments, I know, but why hide my true colors.

                                  1. re: MGZ

                                    The more I think about the report, the more it (unnecessarily) bothers me. I realize why: it's the concept of an "average Thanksgiving." Who wants Thanksgiving to be "average?" How dreadful. Man, it's the food dork's holiest day. One to be reveled in, planned for weeks, sheer indulgence is encouraged for god's sake!

                                    1. re: MGZ

                                      Love, love, love fried turkey! We dont have one on Thanksgiving, but we vacation every year on the Outer Banks ( 25 of us!), and dinner one night is always fried turkey. So good. Enjoy!

                                      1. re: MGZ

                                        Agreed. CI has lousy, BORING tasters with lousy, BORING picks.

                                      2. re: acgold7

                                        Seems as though things are simply much cheaper in the NW. Thanksgiving for 2 people would cost me more than $25.

                                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                                          It's actually a little bit ironic because overall, food is more expensive here than it is in CA, where I spent most of my years. I found the NE to be generally exorbitant, especially for produce. Costco, though, seems to be the great equalizer; their prices seem fairly consistent across the country.

                                      3. I spend more than $50 on turkey alone. A 20 lb. fresh turkey, 2 7 lb fresh turkey breasts w/wings and 3 extra necks.
                                        We will be 18 adults this year and the total food and beverage expense is budgeted at $500.

                                        This includes 3 appetizers (2 hot, 1 cold) and drinks. Turkey, dressing, three kinds of potatoes (white, sweet and purple) roasted vegetables, rolls, cakes, pies, fruit, coffee, tea, condiments.
                                        No salad or soup course this year, as guests tend to be too full for the main course.

                                        1. One of the local markets is advertising a pre made holiday dinner including
                                          10-12 lb fully cooked turkey
                                          3 lbs mashed potatoes
                                          3 lbs bread stuffing
                                          24oz gravy
                                          12 oz cranberry-orange relish
                                          8" pumpin pie
                                          6 diner rolls

                                          for 49.98 each
                                          say it serves up to 6

                                          so if we half the price and double the people, $5 per person sounds reasonable for home made basic thanksgiving.

                                          the Ham dinner is 54.98, and the Prime Rib dinner is 59.98.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                                            I got one of those from the market once ~~ NEVER AGAIN. Blech!

                                          2. Wow, that just seems really inexpensive to me. Wondering what that meal would taste like :/
                                            I will admit that I've never hosted thanksgiving for more than 8 people, and I'm not the savviest shopper in the world. But, 50 bucks? Hmmm...

                                            1. I think I will spend over $100 to feed 11 adults and four children, and that does not count the wine. I don't buy any special kind of turkey, usually get that on sale, probably for around 59 cents a pound, and I will buy two small rather than one large one, because I like the way the smaller ones turn out better. All vegetables will be fresh, and we will have scalloped oysters. Desserts will be home made. I really can't imagine doing it for less than $100.

                                              1. Here's a link to the article. http://www.fb.org/index.php?action=ne... At the bottom they list everything. It's a rather basic Thanksgiving dinner. Probably just used as a constant to track price changes from year to year as opposed to a true representation fo what the averge family will actually make and eat.


                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                  For some reason that link doesn't work for me but I got in thru google.

                                                  Here are the items they follow year after year for the survey, so YMMV depending on what you serve

                                                  16-pound turkey
                                                  Milk, 1 gallon whole
                                                  Pumpkin pie mix
                                                  Whipping cream, ½ pint
                                                  Cubed stuffing
                                                  Green peas,
                                                  Sweet potatoes, 3 lbs.
                                                  Fresh cranberries,
                                                  Pie shells (2)
                                                  Misc. ingredients
                                                  1-pound relish tray (carrots and celery)

                                                  The turkey was high at $17.66.

                                                  But yeah, I've had my broke years and could and have come in well under that at times.

                                                  If I was doing a bargain Thanksgiving this year, my costs would be for that list .,. rounded up a penny from 99 cent endings to add it up easier.

                                                  5.00 - 16-pound turkey (frozen turkey special this weekend)
                                                  3.00 - Milk, 1 gallon whole
                                                  6.00 - Pumpkin pie mix (would just buy a frozen pie. Sarah Lee 2,99 each)
                                                  0.00 - Whipping cream, ½ pint (don't do whipped cream)
                                                  1.00 - Cubed stuffing
                                                  1.00 -- Green peas (48 cents a can this week at Foodsco)
                                                  2.00 - Rolls
                                                  1.50 - Sweet potatoes, 3 lbs.
                                                  1.00 Fresh cranberries (are you kidding? A can of Oceanspray)
                                                  0,00 - Pie shells (2) Nope ... got froen pies
                                                  3,00 Misc. ingredients
                                                  1.00 - 1-pound relish tray (carrots and celery) ... just bought celery for 39 cents/carrots 59

                                                  Total $24,50 if I didn't add incorrectly

                                                  Safeway was offering an all-frozen Thanksgiving dinner ... turkey, veggies, pie for $29

                                                  However, the above list wouldn't be mine, but I could still put together a dinner that pleased my tastes for about $30. It might be $35 as I'd have to buy more of something for 10. For 10, I'd need 2 pies and a few more veggies, but the basick dinner that would feed 6 isn't much more for 10.

                                                2. I don't really want to know how much I spend, it would take away from the fun of making it and having everybody over. But I'd be really surprised if it was under $200- blown away, in fact, although there are usually more than ten people.

                                                  1. Well just got a free turkey at BJs...although I feel a little ripped off, it was supposed to be Butterball and they subbed Carolina. I find Thanksgiving to be the cheapest meal of the year, if you go with what's on sale. And I usually do, starting back a few months ago. Guess it helps if it's not your first time and you know what to stock up on. And I'm used to people coming empty handed, but unless they're family, adios muchachos. The least you can do is bring some wine (or harder stuff if that's what you prefer). It's more the work you have to do than the food cost.

                                                    1. Keyword: Leftovers.

                                                      Food fanatics such as ourselves take Thanksgiving as an opportunity to share our talents with friends and family, so we make way more variety than an everyday meal and we plan leftovers into the equation ('cause who wants to cook the next day?!?!?!).

                                                      I make cranberry pecan jam in the weeks before Thanksgiving SPECIFICALLY to create my rustic bread/turkey/cream cheese/cranberry jam sandwiches the next day...my family expects it as part of our tradition! Then I give away little jars of it to our guests along with leftover carved turkey slices so they can make their own sandwiches the next day and not feel left out of the joy of leftovers.

                                                      If I skipped the 'extra dishes' and only made 'reasonable' serving amounts, then yeah, I could probably stay under $50 if I shopped the sales ahead of time. Thanksgiving meal pricing comes down to quantity, quality and sale prices.

                                                      1. We're feeding just five this year, so I've ordered a 6-10 lb. Diestel turkey at just under $4/lb. I'll also get an extra thigh or two, let's say another $10, so we could be up to just under $50, though I'm hoping for an 8-pounder. I'll want a loaf of rosemary-olive oil bread for the stuffing ($4) plus butter, broth, onions and celery; most years I've been cubing and freezing stale bread and have more than enough for stuffing, but we're eating almost none these days, so there's another unusual expense. A stalk of Brussels sprouts from TJ is $3, two bottles of Morgon from the same place is around $11. Aside from the roux ingredients the gravy will be free; potatoes are 69¢/lb. at Ralphs, and a generous pound apiece will come to $3.45. We'll do no cranberry stuff this year, nor sweet potatoes, and as for dessert I've not made any decisions yet … but if we assume an 8-pound turkey, we're just under $70, or $14 apiece. And we get to keep the leftovers!

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: Will Owen

                                                          An 8-pound Turkey? I believe they call those Roasting Chickens.

                                                          1. re: acgold7

                                                            I call them delicious! The first turkey I ever cooked - and I was just barely cooking at this time - was a FIVE pound frozen bird I bought from a market in Tracy, CA on Thanksgiving Day (1971, I believe). I don't remember how we thawed it - probably blocked it as too horrible - but we did, and it came out better than edible.

                                                            22 pounds is the biggest I've done, for a cast of dozens, but for five people (including a newly-minted vegetarian and an almost-nonagenarian with the appetite of a goldfish) eight pounds is a big plenty. Especially with the extra thighs (this family believes breast meat is strictly for sandwiches and salads).

                                                            1. re: Will Owen

                                                              That's amazing. I don't think I've ever seen a Turkey that small. They must be barely past the embryo stage.

                                                              1. re: acgold7

                                                                Diestel has what must be a breed, sold as Petites. As for the five-pound one at the Tracy Safeway, it was just some semi-generic thing of no recognized brand that I recall. And the guy seemed really happy that someone had finally bought it!

                                                        2. I've just finished reading the holiday grocery ads in the Chicago Sunday papers. If you use the Jewel Foods coupon in the paper you can get your turkey for 57 cents a pound, times 20 pounds, that's $11.40 for the turkey. Make your own gravy using pan drippings. Russet potatoes are on sale 99 cents for ten pounds. Cranberries are $1.19 per bag at Mariano's, get two bags. Stuffing mix is mostly 2 big huge bags for $5 everywhere and this may actually be cheaper than making your own as sage is expensive. Sweet potatoes can be had for 49 cents lb, get 6 pounds. All kinds of frozen vegetables are on sale everywhere for 99 cents a bag, get two bags. Allow around $3 for the rolls (brown'n'serve, two packages @ $1.59. That adds up to about $32. Factor in the onion in the stuffing and sugar in the cranberry sauce and the marshmallows for the sweet potatoes and the butter for the rolls. Celery is on sale for 99 cents per celery, not per pound. Make a couple of pies (frozen pie crust is on sale 2 for $1.99)---much cheaper than buying them at the bakery for $10 or $15 apiece. Go crazy and get a couple bottles of wine at Trader Joe's. If you read the ads and shop accordingly at several different stores it is indeed possible to put up a Thanksgiving dinner for ten people for $49.20. We are in a national mindset of luxury and super- convenience. Let go of both and you can eat very well for a lot less.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Querencia

                                                            russet potatoes on sale here (Honolulu)$1.29/lb.

                                                          2. I am responsible for providing the vegetables for three families and friends to the tune of 20 individuals. I have a budget of $150 but will probably exceed it as usual for last minute purchases due to special requests.

                                                            As for special diets, the only one I have to keep in mind is that the folks originally from Nebraska will not touch anything green. Strictly meat and potatoes. Except for the wife. This is her big splurge into all things green with sauces and real butter.

                                                            The majority of my purchases will be from a caribean market, asian market, and Publix.

                                                            1. I'm sure it can be done for $49.20 and I'm sure many people are grateful to have a Thanksgiving dinner this year. Having said that, we are only 5 (plus a 2 month old) this year. The turkey is coming from Honeybaked. The mashed potatoes are frozen. I'm sure Diet Pepsi and Diet Coke are on special. DNephew has volunteered a pumpkin cheesecake of his own making. DSis is in charge of veggies and salads and she is nut and seafood allergic which cuts down the $$ on those items. I'm making two dressings, one is my traditional and I use Pepperidge Farm seasoned bread crumbs (in the blue bag) and a lb. of meat in that dressing along w/butter and the sauteed veggies; the other dressing is sourdough artichoke parmesan dressing. I'm also making (Aunt Louise's) sweet potatoes which call for peaches and cranberries, but mercifully no marshmallows. (ugh).
                                                              I'm also making gravy using turkey wings as I don't trust Honeybaked to give enough gravy. I don't know if anyone is bringing rolls or bread or anything else. I do know I will spend $49.20 (or more) on what I am making.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: laliz

                                                                Yummmm, Pumpkin Cheesecake! I knew I was reading CH for a reason. This going to be desert this year.


                                                              2. While I was at the market this morning I did some sample pricing. For a typical meal for 10, with typical american shopping habits, and allowing for some leftovers I came up with just about $100 for the dinner, $35 for desserts, and $70 for beverages.

                                                                Dinner included:
                                                                Turkey $7.00 on sale butterball 16-22 lb
                                                                Stuffing $6.00 two boxes stove top
                                                                Mashed Potatoes $12 ($8.00 for potatoes, 4 for ingredients)
                                                                Candied Yams $16 (4 lbs @ $2/lb for potatoes 4 lbs + ingredients)
                                                                Green Bean Casserole $9 ($5 for canned beans-4 cans + ingredients)
                                                                Frozen Mixed Vegetables $7 (2ea 16 oz bags)
                                                                Cranberry Sauce $5 (2 cans)
                                                                Dinner Rolls $9 (24 rolls)
                                                                Extras: $20 (family special recipes, extra ingredients, etc)

                                                                Dessert Included
                                                                Pumpkin Pie - storebought $16 (need at least 2 for 10 people)
                                                                Apple Pie - store-bought $8 (some people don't eat pumpkin)
                                                                2 kinds of ice cream $10 ($5/1.5qt ea)

                                                                Beverages Included
                                                                3 - 12 packs of soda - cola, diet, uncola $21.50 (the 6 packs were $5.50 ea)
                                                                2 - 6 packs of beer $16 (sam adams on sale)
                                                                2 bottles of white wine $18 ($9 ea.)
                                                                1 bottle of red wine $12

                                                                In each case I used the most popular brands, including the store club discounts for most items.

                                                                I know Hawaii is expensive, and I have 'shopped generously', but i think the typical American tends to, especially at Thanksgiving. Without getting terribly chowish I managed to 'spend' just about $200 for myself and 9 friends, and yes... I will have leftovers. But $50 seems awfully skimpy in retrospect.

                                                                can't seem to get the spreadsheet to attach.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                  Yeah, but the report is a little deceptive. They have a specific list of items that they track year after year, averaging prices across the country.

                                                                  Hmmm, no spicific Hawiian dishes for Thanksgiving?

                                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                                    Oh, if this was Hawaii it would probably be a potluck. All of the above would be present. In addition there might be two or three types of turkey, kalua pig, lots of poke, poi, white rice, noodles of some type, probably some roast pork, maybe some crispy pig (lechon) fried rice, an ogoe salad, watercress salad, potato salad, macaroni salad. Maybe a ham, pinacbet, dinuguan, etc. Probably have some fried chicken, Roast chicken too, maybe roast duck. Wouldn't be surprised if someone made Portuguese bean soup too. Pupu's would probably start around 11am, including poke, some crispy gau gee, lumpia, spare ribs, more poke, some sashimi, various kinds of sushi, maybe some maunapua, pork hash, shumai, gyoza, teriyaki sticks, maybe some fruit salad and fresh fruit. Supper would come out around 2 or so, Dessets could include the usual offerings plus haupia, guava chiffon cake, macadamia nut pie, okinawan sweet potato pie, and who knows what else. Dessert would be pretty much finished by 9pm. Most of the clean up would be done by 10, followed by some after clean up picking on various items. Of course plates must be made up for people to take home, otherwise they will be back friday for leftovers. Most people would be there the whole time, except when they had to run over to the other party at Auntie Edith's, or their wife's brother-in-law's mother's cousin's house. It is not considered rude to party hop, as it is virtually necessary with extended families, all of whom expect you to show up at least for a little while. It is highly unusual here for a single nuclear family to eat a holiday meal alone. The neighbors would take pity and kidnap them.

                                                                2. Good grief! Our Thanksgiving is only for the two of us, & we spend around that ($49.20) just for our turkey (free-range from Whole Foods)!!!! Add in garlic-creamed spinach, plain-baked sweet & white potatoes, well-tweaked green bean casserole (nothing like the original), cranberry sauce, & rolls, & well. . . . .

                                                                  But we do get a number of meals out of this spread, so it works out pretty well in the end.

                                                                  1. I've budgeted $140 with $30 of that going to a 4lb HoneyBaked ham my family wants.

                                                                    That's for 10 adults and 3 kids so a total of 13. I'm also assuming that everybody will get at least one lunch out of the leftovers.

                                                                    I am buying a 12lb Amish turkey at $1.79/lb from our local farmer's market although I know my local grocery is advertising a special of $.79/lb for the normal Butterball's.

                                                                    As far as what I'm planning:
                                                                    Turkey w/Vegetable Gravy
                                                                    Honey Baked Ham
                                                                    Mashed Potatoes
                                                                    Honey Roasted Root Vegetables (parsnips, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, pearl onions)
                                                                    Green Beans and Shiitakes
                                                                    Creamed Spinach Gratin
                                                                    Sausage and Apple Dressing
                                                                    Slow Cooker Asian Dressing (let's see how that one turns out since I'm making it up)
                                                                    Pumpkin Cheesecake
                                                                    And maybe a deep dish apple pie (we'll see where I'm at on the budget).

                                                                    To make all this though I definitely haunt my local farmers market and I'm part of a CSA too so we'll see what comes in the box that can be used toward Thanksgiving.

                                                                    1. Hmm, I think I could only get 1/2 of my turkey for $50! My turkey is going to be pretty damned close to $100. Then again, I have never bought a turkey like this, I went to the farm, saw the feed and living conditions, and even picked out and met my turkey! Cant wait to have him over for dinner :) But considering the operation, (all organic human-quality feed, actually free-roaming turkeys on 5 acres, etc) $5/lb is pretty cheap. Since it is so expensive, everyone is bringing something to help offset the cost.

                                                                      1. Today I bought my White Oaks Pastures turkey ($5.99 per pound!) and it was over $90.
                                                                        We will be a party of 8 at Thanksgiving, and I think all told between wine and food it will be around $300

                                                                        1. I'd love to see the actual menu and ingredient list for that meal. The cheeses for the Mac almost hit the $50 mark before even considering the meats.

                                                                          1. I spent $50 Monday night, and I'm not even making the turkey. That was for 2 dressings/stuffings, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, making blue cheese dressing for the green salad someone else is bringing, and ingredients for guacamole and chips.

                                                                            1. I can conceive of a $50 dinner but it would involve a lot of couponing and free turkeys and processed food. It wouldn't be one I wanted to eat. I don't know what are meal will cost but yes, the turkey cost more than that (free range, organic) and it was IMHO the budget option compared to some of the other options in town.

                                                                              1. I'm cooking dinner for 11 in a grad school dorm kitchen in Beijing. A lot of the prepared ingredients are unavailable or expensive here, but most fresh vegetable and meat ingredients can be found in outdoor markets.

                                                                                Roast chicken - $25
                                                                                Mixed greens salad w/vinaigrette - $3
                                                                                Green beans in mushroom sauce - $8
                                                                                Stuffing - $6
                                                                                Mashed Potatoes - $7
                                                                                Fresh baked bread - $1
                                                                                Apple pie - $4
                                                                                Ice Cream - $5
                                                                                Various alcohols - $6

                                                                                So about $60 total, with the vast majority of that tied up in meat and processed ingredients. It's fun trying to cook traditional American foods with what you can find in the street markets.

                                                                                1. I am not cooking, but I was asked to bring the wine, dessert and my specialty, a cranberry horseradish mousse. Seven adults, two teenagers and two little ones.
                                                                                  Four bottles of wine $70 including tax.
                                                                                  Two Pies: $35 including tax.
                                                                                  Ingredients for the mousse: $12 including tax

                                                                                  But I could see how Thanksgiving could be done for $50 if you had a frozen turkey, no wine, and a cheap dessert.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: AdamD

                                                                                    two buck chuck ... wine included

                                                                                  2. In Florida they are $30 P P

                                                                                    1. Well, I know I posted much earlier and figured Thanksgiving dinner would cost about $500.......

                                                                                      Wednesday, wife and I made and baked the stuffing, wife baked 2 pecan pies, cocolate decadence cake, we roasted two turkey breasts for extra white meat. Wife made 2 trays of Tiramisu. We packed everything in the Sub Zero and went to sleep at midnight. Our plans were to get up at 5:30 am and put the 20 pound bird into roast and start veg and other preparations.

                                                                                      At 5:20 I walked into the ktchen opend the SubZero and the temperature readout said 70 degrees farenheit. Everything in the fridge was spoiled. The freezer was fine as Sub Zeros have separate compressors for fridge and freezer.

                                                                                      Everything had to be tossed out. 18 people were arriving at 2PM for holiday dinner. After recovering from shock and restarting the fridge (still haven't determinied if it was a malfunction of if SIL (who was upset turkey wasn't thawing fast enough, played with the controls) Wife and I were at Stop and Shop at 7am when they opened.

                                                                                      Dropped another $250 on foodstuffs. Went home and got into high gear preparing a meal for 18. No turkey this time, just a holiday feast, appetizers, cheese board, salads, chafing dishes of pastas and a variety of homemade sauces. Garlic bread, pies, cakes, fresh fruit and lots of wine.

                                                                                      Only 1 complaint about no turkey, and 12 requests for a no turkey Thanksgiving next year.

                                                                                      Today, I'm having leftover turkey at a neighbor's home. They saved a neck and wing for me.

                                                                                      Thanksgiving costs

                                                                                      $500 in the trash

                                                                                      $250 replacement meal


                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                        Oh I feel your pain. So sorry to hear your story, I've had some Thanksgiving mishaps but this takes the cake.

                                                                                      2. No way! I was at Costco in Toronto and a fresh turkey breast (3-4 lbs) was $20. The whole frozen turkeys were starting at $35. I spent over $80 and I still need to go to the grocery store today for other odds and ends. And this is just for 2 Americans celebrating Turkey day this weekend.

                                                                                        1. Our dinner - for just the two of us - cost around $200. But we really like a good-quality organic turkey, & have enough leftovers to feed us for quite awhile - lol!