Consumer Nation

The Cost of Thanksgiving Dinner 2012

The Cost of Thanksgiving Dinner, 2012

Photo: Grace Clemente | Stone | Getty Images

Shoppers often fret about what they perceive is the ever-rising costs for the goods they need to buy each day. This year, however, they have at least one holiday blessing to be thankful for: the cost of a turkey dinner and all the trimmings has risen only slightly from last year.

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation's survey, turkey dinner and all the fixings will cost about $49.48, or just 28 cents more than it did last year.

Last year, consumers were hit with one of the biggest price increases for traditional Thanksgiving trimmings in years, after poor weather shrank the size of U.S. crops.

This year, the star of the Thanksgiving feast—the turkey—is the main reason for the marginally higher cost. Had it not been for increases in the price of the turkey, the cost of the dinner may actually have been lower.

"Most Americans will pay about the same as last year at the grocery store for a turkey and all the trimmings," said John Anderson, the deputy chief economist at the AFBF. "A slight increase in demand for turkey is responsible for the moderate price increase our shoppers reported for the bird."

Please click ahead to see how the costs break down per item. All costs are based on prices collected by 155 volunteer shoppers in 35 states, who are asked to hunt for the least expensive prices, but not take advantage of any promotional coupons or other purchase deals.

By Christina Cheddar-Berk,
Posted 08 November 2012

Relish Tray of Carrots & Celery

Photo: Foodcollection RF | Getty Images

2012 Cost: $0.76

Don't be afraid to put out a few veggies for your guests to munch on while the turkey roasts in the oven. The average cost of a relish tray, consisting of carrots and celery, held steady 76 cents this year.


Photo: iStock

2012 Cost: $22.23

The centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal—the turkey—is more expensive this year, accounting for the nearly all of the meal's higher cost. The AFBF estimates the cost of a 16-pound turkey to be $22.23, or roughly $1.39 per pound. That's an increase of 4 cents per pound, or a total of 66 cents a turkey.

However, shoppers may be able to get a better deal on their turkey, since many stores run promotions and special deals that reduce the cost of the bird. For the survey, volunteer shoppers couldn't take advantage of these deals; you, however, certainly can.


Photo: Jupiterimages | FoodPix | Getty Images

2012 Cost: $2.77

Mixing up a batch of homemade stuffing will cost 11 cents less than it did last year. A 14-ounce package of cubed bread stuffing will cost about $2.77 in 2012, compared with $2.88 a year ago.

Sweet Potatoes

Photo: Tetra Images | Getty Images

2012 Cost: $3.15

Please pass the sweet potatoes. If you buy three pounds, they should cost about $3.15, down 11 cents from $3.26 in 2011.

Green Peas

Photo: Ally T | Flickr | Getty Images

2012 Cost: $1.66

One pound of green peas will cost about $1.66 this year, down 2 cents from last year, according to the AFBF.


Photo: Deirdre Malfatto Photography | Flickr | Getty Images

2012 Cost: $2.45

Cranberry prices fell from last year. At about $2.45 per pound, the tart berry will cost about 3 cents less than in 2011.


Photo: Tom Grill | Photodisc | Getty Images

2012 Cost: $2.33

If you're lucky, your guests won't be saying, "may I have another roll," too many times. The average price of a dozen brown-and-serve rolls has crept up slightly, to $2.33. Last year, rolls were about three cents cheaper.

Flour, Eggs and Other Ingredients

Photo: Adam Gault | OJO Images | Getty IMages

2012 Cost: $8.60

Prices for both milk and cream fell from last year. At $3.59 per gallon, milk cost 7 cents less than it did last year, while the cost of a half pint of whipping cream cost $1.83, or 13 cents less than a year ago.

A category the AFBF calls "miscellaneous items" is expected to cost $3.18, or about 8 cents more than last year. This category includes coffee and ingredients such as onions, sugar, butter and flour, all needed to finish cooking the meal.

Pumpkin Pie

Photo: Tom Grill | Photodisc | Getty Images

2012 Cost: $5.53

Does the pumpkin pie taste sweeter when it costs less?

The cost of pumpkin pie mix and pie shells will cost two cents less than it did last year. Expect two pie shells to cost about $2.51, while a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix will ring up at about $3.02, each a penny less than a year ago.