It could be cheaper to dine out on Thanksgiving this year as CPI ‘food at home’ prices soar

With grocery prices up sharply from a year ago, Thanksgiving is hitting households a lot harder this year.  

Per-pound prices for turkey, the holiday’s biggest staple, are up 17% year over year, according to the latest inflation data. Turkey is forecast to be 23% pricier in the fourth quarter due to both inflation and avian flu, which has reduced supply, according to a separate report by Wells Fargo.

Other key ingredients rose even more: Eggs are up 43%, butter is nearly 34% higher and flour is up about 25%. Fruits and vegetables notched more moderate increases but still cost almost 10% more than a year ago.

For the first time, “Americans may actually find value in eating out” for the holiday, said Brad Rubin, sector analyst in Wells Fargo’s food and agribusiness industry advisory group and co-author of the Thanksgiving report.

In fact, the cost of dining out rose just 8.6% over the last year, while the cost of eating at home jumped 12.4% over the same period, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

“What is considered a luxury experience is more of a value experience this year,” Rubin said.

Serving turkey on Thanksgiving is ‘nonnegotiable’

And yet, despite the sky-high costs, serving turkey on Thanksgiving is “nonnegotiable” for most households, a recent report by Morning Consult found.

Nearly nine in 10 hosts, or 87%, said the menu will remain the same, according to Morning Consult. ”Thanksgiving’s main dish is not the place for compromise,” the report said.

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Instead, consumers will find ways to save by buying a frozen turkey earlier in the season, looking for discounts and serving smaller quantities or fewer side dishes, the report found. 

Some even said they’ll cut costs on food throughout the month to afford the key Thanksgiving ingredients.

A separate survey by wealth management company Personal Capital found that 42% of hosts plan to ask guests to contribute cash to help cover costs.

Sophie Tremblay

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