The Cost of the Average Family Thanksgiving Dinner Menu Increases in 2011

The First Thanksgiving Jean Louis Gerome Ferris

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What’s the cost of the average family thanksgiving dinner menu in 2011?


According to the American Farm Bureau Federation it’s $49.20 and feeds 10 people. That’s up $5.73 from last year’s calculation as a result of a large jump in Turkey prices. Turkey prices have risen roughly $.25/pound over last year adding an additional $3.91 to the average family meal. The largest factor cited for rising prices was retailers passing on larger production costs onto consumers.

What’s in the average family thanksgiving dinner menu?


2010 Price

2011 Price


16-pound turkey




Milk, 1 gallon whole




Pumpkin pie mix, 30-oz.




Whipping cream, ½ pint




Cubed stuffing, 14 oz.




Green peas, 1 lb.




Rolls, 12




Sweet potatoes, 3 lbs.




Fresh cranberries, 12 oz.




Pie shells (2)




Misc. ingredients




1-pound relish tray  (carrots and celery)









Here at Smart Family Finance, we strive to be above average, so I’ll share some ways to lower the cost of your family’s Thanksgiving meal this year.

Make Some of Your Thanksgiving Dinner Menu from Scratch

If you aren’t about to let some personal finance blogger talk you into slaving away in the kitchen all day, I promise not to try. However, I will suggest glancing over the meals you are planning and see if there is anything that is easy to make and can give your great value if you prepared from scratch.

The one item that jumps out at me from the menu list is stuffing. The average cost is nearly $3, when stuffing is little more than white bread ripped up, dried out and combined with a little butter, stock and sage. Of course you can get fancier with it, but it is one of the more expensive items on the list and aside from ripping up bread slices and drying them out, it doesn’t add any extra time (I was real tempted to pun with thyme, but I resisted).

One or two side dishes from scratch are not going to leave you stranded in the kitchen all day and could save you some extra money as well.

Keep an Eye Out for Holiday Food Deals

Grocery stores are always looking for ways to get shoppers through its doors and food deals are popular during Thanksgiving. Most commonly, you can find discount prices on turkeys. However, if you choose this route, plan on getting to the store early. These types of sales aren’t just common, they are effective. If you are banking cooking a discounted turkey, be sure to get one before the store runs out.

Extreme Thanksgiving Dinner Couponing

Coupons are in style and while the Smart Family Finance family is not overly crazy about couponing, coupons are out there for you to take advantage of. There are already a number of Thanksgiving related coupons that can be downloaded off the internet. For example, pie crusts, butterball turkeys, condensed milk and dinner rolls.

Thanksgiving Potluck

Money Ning intentionally passed on going potluck for Thanksgiving. I tend to agree that most hosts and hostesses are not about to suggest potluck to save money. Not when the average family Thanksgiving menu is only about $50. However, I’d be remiss to not point out that spreading out the cost and preparation time to everyone attending is very effective in coming under budget. With potential out of town guests and family members, it could be a way of creating unnecessary strife.

The cost of the average family Thanksgiving menu has increased dramatically, but your family’s meal doesn’t need to.

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