About 6 in 10 Amerians say their stress levels would drop if they could have all the ingredients for a Thanksgiving dinner delivered right to their door, according to a poll of 2,000 consumers conducted by OnePoll on behalf of HelloFresh.
Good news: you can — and it doesn't have to cost much more than going to the grocery store in person, thanks to the many grocery delivery services now available. And if you are willing to spend a bit more, you can even have an entire Thanksgiving dinner pre-cooked and delivered from a number of retailers, meal kit companies and popular restaurants nationwide.
"This year, Thanksgiving dinner is going to look very different," says Phil Lempert, food industry analyst and editor of SupermarketGuru. For many Americans, it will involve smaller celebrations and lots of video calls, Lempert says. That means smaller shopping lists and even smaller birds (or perhaps other proteins altogether) on the dinner table.
To tally up the cost of getting the ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner delivered, CNBC Make It looked at prices from four major online grocery services with large delivery areas: Amazon Fresh, Fresh Direct, Peapod and Walmart. Instacart is also available in most areas, but since it partners with local grocery chains, prices can vary by store.
The test meal, designed for four people, consists of at least an 8-pound turkey (the perfect size for four people, according to Butterball's online calculator), boxed stuffing mix, mashed potatoes made from scratch, frozen corn, homemade cranberry sauce and refrigerated pre-made crescent rolls, as well as semi-homemade apple pie (baked using pre-made pie crusts) and coffee for dessert.
The products chosen for each service were always the lowest-priced option available. Generally, that was a store-branded product such as Great Value at Walmart or Just FreshDirect, but some providers did have name-brand items on sale or only offered name-brand options for certain items.
Prices do fluctuate, so consider the prices listed as a guide, rather than an absolute. For a breakdown of the price of each product by service, see the table at the bottom of this article.
Here's how much a Thanksgiving meal for four costs from each grocery delivery service, ranked from least to most expensive.
- Total all-in cost: $40.16
- Food cost: $30.21
- Delivery fee: $9.95 ($0 with Walmart+ membership)
Walmart's grocery delivery is the least expensive option, thanks to low prices on turkeys, as well as Great Value stuffing mix and corn. Walmart is currently offering frozen Shady Brook Farms young turkeys (weighing 10 to 17 pounds) for just $0.68 per pound. If you don't have space to keep a large turkey in your freezer from now until Thanksgiving, Walmart also offers frozen Li'l Butterball all natural young turkeys, which average between 6 and 10 pounds for $1.88 per pound.
Walmart charges $9.95 for delivery, but there's no real mark-up from the in-store prices. And those who sign up for Walmart+ ($98 per year or $12.95 per month) can get free delivery. Walmart offers a 15-day free trial.
Additionally, customers who sign up for the Ibotta cash-back shopping app can save even more. Now through Thanksgiving, Ibotta has partnered with Walmart to offer 100% cash back on items like turkeys, instant mashed potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce. The promotion works on delivery orders as well as in-store purchases.
- Total all-in cost: $40.59
- Food cost: $40.59
- Delivery fee: $0 with Prime membership
Amazon's Fresh service was only a few cents more expensive than Walmart's delivery service, primarily due to low turkey prices. The service is offering Li'l Butterball all natural young turkeys (which range from 8 to 10 pounds) for $0.89 per pound. These are the same turkeys that Walmart is offering for a higher price per pound.
Although Amazon was the second cheapest service considered, consumers do need an Amazon Prime membership ($119 per year) in order to use it. If you're not already a Prime member, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial. Amazon offers students a six-month trial period and half off a membership ($59 a year). And if your membership has lapsed, you can sign up for a one-month subscription for $12.99.
- Total all-in cost: $63.10
- Food cost: $53.15
- Delivery fee: $9.95 ($3 delivery for orders under $100 with PodPass membership)
Peapod, which integrated with Stop and Shop over the summer, came in at about $23 more than either Walmart or Amazon Fresh. That's because even when buying Stop and Shop's store brand products, each was slightly more expensive than the Great Value or Amazon-branded versions. The cheapest whole turkeys available from Peapod start at $1.99 per pound.
That said, Stop and Shop's weekly ad notes that the store will price match any advertised turkey price from Nov. 13 to 26, 2020.
- Total all-in cost: $96.23
- Food cost: $89.24
- Delivery fee: $6.99 ($0 with DeliveryPass)
FreshDirect was far and away the most expensive option for grocery delivery when it comes to Thanksgiving meals. The cheapest turkey option available was a fresh Jennie-O whole turkey, raised without antibiotics (approximately 12 to 16 pounds) for $2.99 per pound.
In contrast, all the other turkeys compared were frozen and it was not specifically noted that they were raised without antibiotic treatment, which could help prevent the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The service also offers several ingredients where the cheapest option is organic or from a specialty brand, rather than the Just FreshDirect store brand. Fresh Direct's price breakdown includes Cabot sweet cream butter and Immaculate Baking Company organic crescent rolls.
The delivery cost is fairly reasonable, however. It costs $6.99 per order and is free for those with a DeliveryPass membership ($129 annually).
Here's a look at the cost breakdown for each item across all four services: