This Year's Thanksgiving Feast Could Be Your Most Expensive One Yet

by Maurie Backman | Published on Nov. 7, 2021

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Friends and family serve each other food during a holiday meal.

Image source: Getty Images

Hosting Thanksgiving this year? Prepare to pay up.


Key points

  • Inflation has caused the cost of food to soar.
  • If you're hosting Thanksgiving this year, you'll need to be strategic to avoid busting your budget.

Hosting Thanksgiving can be an expensive occasion even when food costs aren't skyrocketing. But this year, if you're on deck to host, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise.

Recent inflation has caused the cost of food to soar. Economists agree that nearly every component of a traditional Thanksgiving meal will cost more this year than in years past.

Consider this: In September, the cost of meat and poultry rose 10.5% from the previous year, according to the New York Times. So the star of your Thanksgiving meal could cost that much more. Since the cost of eggs is up as well, your baked goods and side dishes could also be more expensive to prepare.

Of course, the last thing you want to do is rack up debt in the course of hosting Thanksgiving. But if you follow these tips, you may not have to.

1. Shop for ingredients in advance

Not only are common Thanksgiving ingredients more expensive this year, but many will inevitably be missing from supermarket shelves as the holiday nears due to supply chain issues. That's why it's a good idea to shop for non-perishable items in advance. That way, you'll have an opportunity to look out for sales and take advantage of any discounts that may be available.

2. Have your guests contribute food or drinks

If you normally dismiss offers for guests to bring side dishes or desserts, this isn't the year to go that route. If you're hosting a lot of people, having everyone contribute to your meal could lower your costs. But don't just leave things to chance -- assign people something to bring with them if they offer to do so. That way, you're more likely to get a variety of dishes, as opposed to four different sweet potato casseroles.

3. Take advantage of supermarket reward programs

Some supermarkets are offering a free turkey if you spend a certain amount of money on groceries within a month of Thanksgiving. The specifics of these programs will depend on your local store.

Let's say you normally spend $500 a month on groceries between different stores. If a big supermarket in town will give you a free turkey for spending $500 between Nov. 1 and Thanksgiving Day, you may want to buy all or most of your groceries there, assuming that store's prices are reasonable.

4. Use the right credit card to make your purchases

Some credit cards offer generous rewards for everyday purchases that include groceries. It pays to see what perks your credit cards come with, or apply for a new card if you're not getting much cash back on supermarket purchases.

Additionally, now may be a good time to apply for a credit card with a sign-up bonus. If you'll be spending extra preparing for Thanksgiving and the December holidays, you may have no problem meeting the spending requirement to snag a bonus and put extra cash in your pocket -- cash that can help cover the cost of your Thanksgiving meal.

While it's fun to indulge in a blowout Thanksgiving meal, this year, you'll need to be careful given the recent uptick in food costs. As you map out your menu and finalize your plans, remember that you don't need to serve up the fanciest dishes or widest variety to make your guests happy. In fact, if you take a simpler approach to Thanksgiving this year, you may find that it's your most successful meal yet.

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