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The price of a traditional Thanksgiving feast (and a few untraditional alternatives)

2014-Thanksgiving-Graphic.jpg
American Farm Bureau

A new survey says the cost of the traditional Thanksgiving meal is up slightly.

The American Farm Bureau says the average cost of a 10-person Thanksgiving dinner is $49.41; that’s up about 37 cents from last year.

Bob Boehm is with the Michigan Farm Bureau. He says the traditional Thanksgiving feast is still affordable. 

“For less than a lot of fast food meal, $5 a person is a pretty good deal,” says Boehm. 

Boehm says higher prices for some side dishes are behind the increased cost.

He says the cost of the turkey is actually down.

Money magazine compared the costs of alternatives to the traditional Thanksgiving feast. Be prepared to pay a lot more: 

The Hipster If you were to upgrade that conventional turkey to an organic, free-range one, the price jumps from $21.65 to well over $100 at specialty shops. A 16-pound turkey from Fleisher’s Pasture Raised Meats in New York City rings in at $127.84, or $7.99 a pound vs. the roughly $1.35 per pound for a supermarket bird. Add in organic, locally-sourced vegetables and dairy for your meal, and the costs for sides rise at least $15 over the Farm Bureau’s projection, according to our estimates. Altogether, a healthy, hipster-approved, fully organic Thanksgiving dinner for 10 will cost in the neighborhood of $170.
The Vegan For a vegan thanksgiving, the “turkey” costs would be similar to that for an organic free-range bird. The soy-based Gardein Stuffed Holiday Roast, picked by Slate as the tastiest of the the faux turkey bunch, costs about $8 a pound. The costs for vegan side dishes and desserts would only be about $5 more than those of the Farm Bureau’s classic menu. Combine the price for 16 pounds of faux turkey and all the trimmings and dessert, and a 10-person vegan Thanksgiving dinner costs about $155.
The 1% Upgrading to a purebred heritage turkey – which are leaner than standard supermarket birds, take twice as long to reach market weight, and have lineage that can be traced back to the 1800s – will cost upwards of $10 per pound for the meat portion of the meal. Factor that in, along with similarly upgraded sides and desserts, and Thanksgiving dinner for 10 will easily run $250 or more.
The Lazy Non-Cook Not into cooking at all? Prepared meals save you hassle and time, but you’ll pay for it in more ways than simply losing out on the quality of home cooking. A prepared meal for 12 people from Boston Market, which includes an 11-pound turkey, spinach artichoke dip appetizer, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry relish, vegetable stuffing, dinner rolls and two pies, rings in at $99.99. That’s roughly double the Farm Bureau’s estimate for a home-cooked meal – but perhaps it’s money well spent if you’re hopeless in the kitchen or simply don’t have the time.