Thanksgiving turkeys have finally arrived at Costco! While the 99-cent-per-pound price for a fresh turkey may be a good bargain, the bird is only part of a Thanksgiving feast.
Costco, which requires you to purchase a membership starting at $60 to shop at the wholesale club, generally sells products in bulk. During a regular week, it might be a challenge for some families to consume a pound of fresh baby spinach before it goes bad. But if you're feeding a crowd this Thanksgiving, this could be the perfect time to buy large quantities of the ingredients you need.
CNBC Make It set out to determine how much it costs to buy a complete Thanksgiving meal from a Costco location in Northern New Jersey. Thanks to the Butterball "plan perfect portions" calculator, the Thanksgiving shopping list includes a 15-pound turkey, as well as stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, cranberry sauce and crescent rolls. Costco's bakery department is a fan-favorite, so I added one of its lattice-topped apple pies and coffee to the list for dessert.
The shopping list consists of 11 items to make a complete Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people in a semi-homemade fashion (yes, the stuffing is from a box). For the purposes of this price test, we assumed you already have pantry staples like flour, sugar, oil, salt and pepper.
The grand total for this Costco Thanksgiving feast: $83.
Which is...not cheap. It's definitely more than the $48.90 the American Farm Bureau Federation estimated it would cost to feed 10 people for a similar meal last year— and the organization was even able to include a veggie platter for that price.
That said, many of the products Costco offers are high-quality, name brands such as Pepperidge Farm stuffing, Ocean Spray cranberries and a 40-pack of Pillsbury crescent rolls (at $4.49, that, friends, was a real bargain). Not to mention its own popular Kirkland brand of milk and butter and the delicious-smelling 12-inch apple pie that can certainly feed a crowd.
Plus, Costco traditionally sells Thanksgiving turkeys for 99 cents per pound, which is a tough price to beat for a fresh (not frozen) bird. Trader Joe's and Whole Foods sell similar fresh turkeys for $1.99 and $2.49 per pound, respectively.
If you are looking to bring down the cost of your Thanksgiving meal, you could opt for one of Costco's famous $5.99 pumpkin pies, or choose less expensive side dishes. (The 2.5 pounds of coffee will probably last beyond Thanksgiving as well.)
Another option: shop around. At Aldi, you can buy ingredients to make a 10-person Thanksgiving dinner for $51. And while you may have to make an apple pie or two from scratch (Aldi didn't have pre-baked pies during my visit), you're saving about $30 — money you may be able to put toward your other holiday shopping needs.
As experts have said, "Just because Costco has it, doesn't mean it's a bargain."
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