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This Is How Much the Average American Spends on Thanksgiving. How Do You Compare?

Group of smiling adults sitting around a Thanksgiving table full of food in a dining room decorated with twinkle lights while one person sets the cooked turkey down.

Image source: Getty Images

Thanksgiving is only days away, so you may still be sorting out all the details of your holiday gathering. Whether you’re hosting friends and family and planning to prepare an entire spread or are celebrating on a smaller scale, it can be easy to overspend if you’re not careful.

Keep reading for more details on how much the average American spends on Thanksgiving dinner, and discover what you can do to keep your holiday food spending to a minimum this year.

The cost of a Turkey Day feast can add up fast

The American Farm Bureau Federation recently released its yearly survey, which examines the average cost of a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people. The 2023 survey findings show that the average cost of a holiday feast for 10 people is $61.17, which ends up being less than $6.20 per person.

While this figure is 4.5% less than the average holiday dinner cost in 2022, it’s up 25% compared to the average cost in 2019. This pricing data suggests that pre-pandemic food costs were much more affordable than they have been in recent years. So if prices feel higher, you’re not imagining it.

One expense that is noticeably more affordable this year than last is the cost of a turkey. Many American families serve turkey as the main course for their Thanksgiving feast. This year, the average price of a 16-pound turkey is $27.35, which is 5.6% cheaper than last year.

How much do you plan to spend on your Thanksgiving meal this year? Knowing average meal costs before you fill up your shopping cart with must-have holiday food essentials can help you keep more spending in check as you cruise the grocery store aisles.

Four tips to keep your holiday meal spending to a minimum

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to gather with your favorite people and share a meal. But it’s essential to keep your personal finances in mind as you decide what dishes you’ll prepare for your holiday feast. You don’t want to spend more than you can afford. Here are a few tips that may help you better honor your budget as you shop for the big event:

  • Shop for ingredients at discount stores: Where you shop can make a big difference. Avoid pricey retailers when shopping for Thanksgiving essentials. Buying food essentials at discount stores like Aldi could help you avoid overspending. This year, Aldi has select holiday items on sale for up to 50% off, so don’t miss out on extra deals like this.
  • Get creative with the menu: It may be Thanksgiving, but you don’t have to serve a turkey. You can keep more money in your checking account by getting creative with the menu. Delicious dishes like chicken pot pie, veggie lasagna, quiche, and roasted squash are alternative entrees to explore if you want to save money on food costs.
  • Buy generic items: You can save a lot of money by sticking with generic food essentials as you shop for your holiday meal. There’s no need to buy name-brand canned vegetables, cranberry sauce, and items like butter and milk. No one will know the difference, and you’ll waste less money by choosing generic alternatives.
  • Shop the sales and use coupons: As you do your shopping, don’t ignore the sales flyer. It’s a good idea to browse the sales flyers for nearby stores so you know where to go for the best deals. You can also use paper coupons and in-app coupons from your favorite grocery stores to get an even bigger discount at checkout.

Don’t feel pressured to host an elaborate meal that drains your wallet. The above strategies can help you plan an enjoyable holiday meal that will impress without draining your bank balance. Consider using one of the best cash back credit cards to pay for your groceries to earn rewards on your spending. Check out our list of the best rewards credit cards to learn more.

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We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers.
The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.Discover Financial Services is an advertising partner of The Ascent, a Motley Fool company. Natasha Gabrielle has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Discover Financial Services. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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