Eating Out on Thanksgiving May Be Cheaper Than Cooking This Year

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  • Thanksgiving week is upon us, and if you have yet to plan the perfect holiday meal, you may want to eat out at a local restaurant.
  • Dining out may be cheaper than you think and can make for a stress-free solution.

Need a last-minute Thanksgiving meal idea? Try dining out.

If you haven't finalized your Turkey Day plans, it's not too late to sort out the details. One option is to rush to the grocery store for last-minute ingredients. But if you don't want to cook, you could make a reservation to dine out at a local restaurant. This solution makes it easy to enjoy your favorite holiday dishes without all the work and may be a better fit for your budget.

Grocery store food costs are high

Going to the grocery store to fill up your fridge can be a stressful experience due to the high cost of food. If you have yet to buy Thanksgiving essentials, you may be surprised by the prices you see. Holiday ingredients cost more than they did last year.

According to the USDA's most recent turkey retail pricing report, the national average cost of a frozen hen is $1 per pound. That means a 14-pound bird would cost around $14.

Depending on your timing, a frozen bird may not thaw in time for your dinner plans. The national average cost of a fresh hen is $2.23 per pound. That's over $31 for a 14-pound bird and more than double the price of a frozen bird.

By the time you buy everything necessary to host a proper Turkey Day feast, you could spend much more than you planned, which could impact your bank account in a negative way.

Dining out on Turkey Day could be a win for your wallet

You may be able to save money by dining out for Turkey Day. The added benefit is that you don't have to cook or clean. Talk about a stress-free way to celebrate the day.

A recent Wells Fargo report notes that when considering consumer price index data from November 2021, the current cost of food away from home has increased at a slower rate (5.79%) compared to the cost of food from the grocery store (9.81%).

That means it could be cheaper to dine out for Thanksgiving. Many restaurants are promoting dine-in and takeout holiday meals this year. You could get a prepared feast for a similar price or lower price than if you were to buy the ingredients at the grocery store without the extra work.

Review menu prices to see if this is a good choice for your family. If you're craving traditional holiday eats, this could be a great way to enjoy a delicious meal that fits your budget. Keep in mind that dining reservations will likely be required. If you want to guarantee a table, you should call to make a reservation as soon as possible.

Other last-minute Thanksgiving meal ideas

If all of the restaurants in your area are booked solid, or it's too late to place a to-go turkey dinner order, there are other options. No rule says you must have turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving Day.

If you're willing to get creative, you can keep your holiday meal spending to a minimum. Here are some suggestions:

Put together a brunch spread: Hosting an afternoon brunch could offer an affordable and fun way to enjoy a meal with your crew. Many breakfast dishes are cheap and easy to prepare.

Host a pizza party: Pizza is always a good idea. Another option is to host a pizza party. Order a few pizzas with different toppings, wear cozy pajamas, and watch your favorite movies all day. Check to see what pizza stores will be open in your area, and start planning your favorite pie.

Order Chinese takeout: You might consider ordering Chinese takeout for a convenient non-traditional Thanksgiving meal. Many Chinese restaurants are open on the holidays when other restaurants are closed. You can review restaurant details and hours using delivery apps if you plan to get your meal delivered.

Yes -- Turkey Day is only days away. But it's not too late to plan a memorable Thanksgiving. You and your family can gobble up a delicious meal while still honoring your personal finance goals.

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