Farm Bureau: Thanksgiving dinner costs slightly down from last year's record high

Frozen turkeys are displayed
Frozen turkeys are displayed for sale inside a grocery store on November 20 in Minneapolis.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News 2022

One of the most expensive Thanksgiving meals is deemed to be underway for the upcoming holiday, with the average cost of the classic feast for 10 coming in at $61.17, or $6.20 per person, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 38th annual survey.

It is the second-most expensive Thanksgiving meal in the farm federation’s 38-year survey history — a 4.5 percent decline from last year’s historic high of $64.05. But the cost is up by 25 percent from what it was in 2019 before the inflation caused by the pandemic, according to the AFBF survey. 

AFBF analysis revealed regional differences in the cost of the meal. The cost for the classic meal was the most affordable in the Midwest at $58.66.

Minnesota specifically is living up to its standard of being the largest U.S. turkey producer with Minnesota farmers raising between 40 million and 42 million birds every year, according to the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association.

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Minnesota hosts the largest number of independent turkey farmers in the nation. And the Jennie-O turkey company in Willmar provided two Minnesota-grown turkeys for President Joe Biden to pardon from Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Biden Turkey Pardon
Two turkeys, named Liberty and Bell, who will attend the annual presidential pardon at the White House ahead of Thanksgiving, attend a news conference, Sunday at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington.
Jacquelyn Martin | AP

A single 16-pound turkey is averaged to cost $27.35 ($1.71 per pound) with all of the side dishes and desserts making up the remaining estimated $33.82 of the grocery bill this year. While this number may seem high, the federation’s senior economist Veronica Nigh assures that “turkey prices have fallen (by 5.6 percent) thanks to a sharp reduction in cases of avian influenza, which have allowed production to increase in time for the holiday.”

While avian influenza has decreased, the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association still recommends heightened food safety when cooking your turkey Thursday.

The four core practices are as follows: “When cooking with turkey, as with all fresh products, consumers should wash their hands, surfaces and cooking utensils, avoid cross-contamination with other foods, cook food to a proper internal temperature and refrigerate leftovers promptly to eliminate food safety risks.”

Another organization worried about food safety this time of year is the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It receives an increased number of calls to the meat and poultry hotline on Thanksgiving Day due to so many people not knowing how to properly thaw and cook their turkey.

More than 46 million turkeys are believed to be purchased and eaten each year in the U.S. as a part of Thanksgiving meals, according to the USDA, which is about 21 percent of the estimated 216.5 million turkeys that are produced each year.

However, a Thanksgiving dinner is rarely ever just a 16-pound bird. Here is a full list of what could be on the table Thursday and what it will cost you, according to AFBF:

  • 16-pound turkey: $27.35 or $1.71 per pound (down 5.6 percent) 

  • 14-ounces of cubed stuffing mix: $3.77 (down 2.8 percent) 

  • 2 frozen pie crusts: $3.50 (down 4.9 percent) 

  • Half pint of whipping cream: $1.73 (down 22.8 percent) 

  • 1 pound of frozen peas: $1.88 (down 1.1 percent) 

  • 1 dozen dinner rolls: $3.84 (up 2.9 percent) 

  • Misc. ingredients to prepare the meal: $3.95 (down 4.4 percent) 

  • 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix: $4.44 (up 3.7 percent) 

  • 1 gallon of whole milk: $3.74 (down 2.6 percent) 

  • 3 pounds of sweet potatoes: $3.97 (up 0.3 percent) 

  • 1-pound veggie tray (carrots and celery): $.90 (up 2.3 percent) 

  • 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries: $2.10 (down 18.3 percent)