These 4 Holiday Meal Ingredients Are a Lot More Expensive This Year

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  • Several holiday ingredients will be more expensive this year, particularly turkey, butter, and eggs.
  • An avian flu outbreak has sent turkey prices spiraling.
  • Don't be afraid to change your holiday traditions if it means avoiding debt.

Your turkey could cost over 70% more than it did last year.

Holiday season is fast approaching and it could prove to be an expensive one. The cost of many Thanksgiving ingredients have soared, particularly turkey, butter, and eggs. Holiday price grinches coming for your celebrations include inflation, avian flu, and supply chain issues. All in, your holiday meal could cost a lot more than it did last year.

1. Turkey

Turkey prices have soared in the run up to Thanksgiving. The culprit is a bad outbreak of avian flu, which has already affected almost 50 million birds. The USDA says it's confirmed infections in over 550 flocks in 42 states. Farmers have had to kill entire flocks to control the spread.

What does that mean for you, price wise? CNBC estimates that your turkey could cost 73% more than it did last year. It says an 8 to 16 pound turkey costs $1.99 per pound today, up from $1.15 in 2021.

2. Butter

Bakers beware. We're in the midst of a butter and margarine shortage and it's impacting prices. The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that butter is 27% more expensive than it was a year ago, while margarine has shot up 44%.

Butter supply has been impacted by issues with milk production and a labor shortage at processing facilities. Dairy farmers are struggling, and fewer cows means less milk, which means less butter. An article in the Wall Street Journal showed that butter prices hit $4.77 per unit at the end of August, the highest since 2017.

3. Eggs

This time last year, a dozen eggs cost $1.84, while today they'd cost $2.90, according to the BLS. There are fewer eggs on the market, in part because of avian flu, which means prices have risen more than other food products. Egg inventories are starting to increase, but demand is usually high during the holiday season, so prices aren't likely to come down until next year.

4. Sugar

The cost of sugar and candy have also risen more than other foodstuffs. The BLS shows prices of sugar and sugar substitutes increased by 17% year on year, while candy and chewing gum increased by 13%. If you normally spend $40 on candy during the holiday season, expect to pay at least $5 more this year.

How to manage rising costs

Planning big holiday celebrations on a limited budget can be a challenge, particularly as the past year has been hard on many households. If you aren't sure your bank balance can stretch to cover the celebrations, here are some ways you might keep things under control:

  • Make a list and start early: A list is one of the best weapons you can have against impulse purchases. Not only will it keep you on track, it also means you can use it to hunt down better deals on holiday ingredients -- especially if you start early. Plus, given the potential shortages of some products, shopping ahead of time could ensure you get the items you want.
  • Make a budget: The single most important way to stop yourself overspending in the holiday season is to set limits. Work out how much you can afford to spend, and then look back at your list and see if it's achievable. If not, look for areas where you might cut back a little.
  • Watch for discounts: Grocery stores often offer lower prices in the run up to holiday season, so keep an eye out for offers on the ingredients you know you need. Avoid big brands, especially for staples like eggs and sugar, as this will shave a little more off the total.
  • Maximize cash back opportunities: Rewards credit cards, particularly those that pay high points on grocery shopping, can be a great way to get something back on your spending. Combine them with a cash-back app for more rewards and, in some cases, access to extra discounts and deals.
  • Get guests to pitch in: If you're cooking a big Thanksgiving meal, why not ask guests to bring some of the side dishes? It will ease the pressure on you both in terms of preparation and money.

Bottom line

The holiday season can be expensive and stressful. Particularly since we often equate spending money with showing how much you care. But there are many ways to enjoy your holiday that won't break the bank, and your loved ones wouldn't want you to wind up in financial difficulties to finance the Thanksgiving fun.

If you can't see how to pay for holiday ingredients this year, don't be afraid to change tradition. Especially if you're considering taking on debt. What's important is celebrating with your loved ones -- and that doesn't have to involve spending money you don't have.

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