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This is how much the traditional Thanksgiving dinner costs you in 2020

Doug Whiteman
·6-min read
This is how much the traditional Thanksgiving dinner costs you in 2020
This is how much the traditional Thanksgiving dinner costs you in 2020

As health experts urge Americans to avoid large gatherings because of COVID-19, many people are facing the prospect of cooking their own Thanksgiving dinner for the very first time. Yikes!

But here's a fact that should relieve one source of stress: The traditional turkey and all the trimmings cost less this year.

Since 1986, the American Farm Bureau Federation has been calculating the cost of a typical Thanksgiving dinner for 10. For the sake of comparison, the group kept the size of the feast the same — and found 2020's overall price tag is down 4% from last year.

The big turkey day meal now costs an average $46.90 — less than $5 per person — versus $48.91 in 2019. Every little bit of savings gives you more money for online holiday shopping during the pandemic, right?

Take a look what people are paying this year for the turkey, cranberries and every other part of the holiday dinner.

1. The turkey

Turkey roasting in the oven
PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay

2020 price: $19.39

The centerpiece of the typical Thanksgiving dinner — a 16-pound turkey — is 7% cheaper than last year, when the average price was $20.80. Today's retail turkey prices are the lowest in 10 years.

An overwhelming 95% of Americans celebrate Thanksgiving by gobbling down turkey, though the bird shares the spotlight with ham in about half of U.S. households, the Farm Bureau Federation has found.

2. Pumpkin pie mix

2020 price: $3.39

What would Thanksgiving be without a gourd-geous pumpkin pie on the table? The price this year of canned pumpkin pie filling is 7 cents above last year's average cost of $3.32.

Pumpkin pie is found on more than three-quarters of Thanksgiving tables, according to the farming group's research. Pecan pie is popular, too, but for many people it's pumpkin — or nothin'.

3. Milk

Container and glasses of milk
Kaiskynet Studio / Shutterstock

2020 price: $3.08

How about some milk to go with your dinner? A gallon of whole milk has held fairly steady and is just 2 cents cheaper than the average price of $3.10 last Thanksgiving.

A cup of coffee with milk can help you fight off after-dinner sleepiness — and stay alert for Thanksgiving deals online. For help finding the best bargains, download a free browser extension that automatically compares prices from thousands of sellers.

4. Dinner rolls

2020 price: $2.66

A basket of rolls for the Thanksgiving table costs 16 cents more in 2020 compared to a year ago, when Americans paid an average $2.50.

After the turkey, rolls are tied with mashed potatoes as the second most popular item for the big holiday dinner, according to a 2019 survey from the American Farm Bureau Federation.

5. A veggie tray

Veggie tray
Aypril Porter / Shutterstock

2019 price: 79 cents

A good host knows to give guests something to snack on while they wait for the big bird to be carved. Assembling a 1-pound vegetable tray will run you 4 cents more than last year, when the average cost was 75 cents.

What, you forgot the veggies? For your last-minute Thanksgiving shopping and all of your grocery runs throughout the year, use an app that gives you cash back just for snapping a photo of your receipt.

6. Pie shells

2020 price: $2.42

Once you've put the pumpkin pie filling in your shopping cart, you'll need to think about pie shells. Two of them will cost you $2.42 this year, a dime less than 2019's average price of $2.47.

A majority of Americans — 84% — say they'll be at a Thanksgiving dinner cooked entirely at home, while 14% say some dishes will come from a restaurant, supermarket or other retailer.

7. Whipping cream

Fresh whipped cream
HikoPhotography / Shutterstock

2020 price: $1.74

So, you've got the pumpkin pie filling, and you've got the pie shells. Better not forget the whipped cream to go on top. The price of a half-pint of whipping cream is much cheaper this year.

The average cost is down 34 cents, from $2.08 last year. American Farm Bureau Federation chief economist John Newton says dairy prices have plummeted because of a drop in demand from restaurants, which have seen business hurt by COVID-19.

8. Green peas

2020 price: $1.46

Peas are not only tasty, but they also add a pop of green to a plate of Thanksgiving food. Plus, they provide guests with another serving of their veggies.

A pound of peas is costing holiday food shoppers slightly less in 2020; last year's average cost was $1.49. Peas are usually served at 20% of Thanksgiving meals, but green beans are a more popular choice — they show up on nearly three-quarters of all holiday tables.

9. Fresh cranberries

Fresh cranberries
Julia Metkalova / Shutterstock

2020 price: $2.69

Another colorful component of Thanksgiving dinner is the cranberry sauce. Twelve ounces of fresh cranberries cost just 3 cents more than last year's average price of $2.66.

It's not known if cranberries were part of the Pilgrims' first Thanksgiving in 1621, but a sauce made of cranberries dates back to the 1630s, according to MarthaStewart.com.

10. Cubed stuffing

2020 price: $2.81

Some people get fancy when stuffing their turkey, and they toss chestnuts, sausage and even oysters into the mix. If traditional cubed stuffing is all you need, 14 ounces of the stuff will cost 13 cents more this year. In 2019, the average price was $2.68.

By the way, not everyone calls it stuffing. Southerners prefer to say dressing, and in parts of Pennsylvania they call it filling, says the History channel.

11. Sweet potatoes

Mashed sweet potatoes
vm2002 / Shutterstock

2020 price: $3.44

The Farm Bureau Federation's research has found that 8 in 10 Americans are either very or somewhat willing to try new dishes at Thanksgiving dinner.

But let's be honest: It's going to be hard for anything to come along and replace traditional favorites like sweet potatoes. You'll pay 31 cents less for 3 pounds of the tubers than you did last year, when the average cost was $3.75.

12. Other ingredients

2020 price: $3.09

Do you tend to put macaroni and cheese on the table next to the cranberry sauce, the rolls and all of the other Thanksgiving dinner staples? Many people do serve mac 'n cheese — and gravy and corn.

Those and other miscellaneous holiday meal ingredients cost 13 cents less this year than in 2019, when the average was $3.22.