LAMORINDA, CA – Every year Thanksgiving is a time to come together with family and friends to take stock and be thankful for all the good things in our lives. Ask anyone, however, and they’ll likely tell you: Now is the time to eat, too.
The list is long. From turkey and stuffing to cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be the same without the quintessential classic dishes on your dining room table.
If the list is long, it is also expensive.
Food prices are on the rise in the United States. If you plan to cook a typical Thanksgiving feast for 10 people this year, it’ll set you back around $ 53.31, or less than $ 6 per person, according to an annual survey released by the Farm Bureau. That’s a 14% increase from last year, when the average Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people was $ 46.90.
The centerpiece of most Thanksgiving tables – the turkey – will also cost you a lot more than last year. At $ 23.99 for a 16-pound bird, the cost of the turkey is up 24% from 2020, the Farm Bureau said.
Plus, if you count in drinks, decor, dishes, and other essentials, you could pay just over $ 310 to feed a party of 10, according to a Lending Tree survey of 1,000 people.
For some families, even the cost of food will be too much to bear.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, millions of people in the United States have experienced food insecurity and hunger, many for the first time.
Before the pandemic, 35.2 million people in the United States were considered food insecure, according to Feed America, the largest food aid organization in the country. This year, that number could reach nearly 42 million people.
In Contra Costa County, about 87,180 – or 7.6% of residents – were considered food insecure before the coronavirus pandemic, according to Feeding America. This year, that number could drop from 7.6% to 10% of county residents.
Ultimately, millions of families could see empty plates on their Thanksgiving dinner tables.
But making Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to break the bank, especially if you plan to host a small group of family members over the holidays. While it might not help in all situations, there are tips, tricks, and shortcuts available to help American families enjoy a delicious vacation dinner on a budget.
Here are just a few:
Watch turkeys for free (or at a reduced price)
At the national level, some grocery stores recognize the challenges facing American families in 2021 and offer turkeys and other Thanksgiving staples at extremely low prices. Some stores carry turkeys, while others throw one away if you buy a ham.
Additionally, the Ibotta Grocery Saver app has a Free Turkey Deal this year by offering a way to get a full Thanksgiving dinner for free. Just buy from Walmart and you could get 100% Cash Back on select items purchased.
In Contra Costa County, find free turkeys with the Contra Costa & Solano Food Bank.
Shop for canned cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie filling, and other canned goods the week before Thanksgiving, when they’re usually on sale.
Deviating from the classics
Creating your own Thanksgiving traditions can mean as much, if not more, to your family.
Don’t feel pressured to cook turkey the traditional Thanksgiving way, especially since not everyone is a turkey fan. (A survey of Instacart reveals that many people don’t like regular turkey.) You can roast turkey thighs, which are available at a fraction of the cost of a whole bird. Plus, instead of a regular turkey, grill turkey burgers.
You can also go rogue and ignore the turkey altogether. See which meats are on sale on Thanksgiving week, and plan your menu accordingly. If it’s sausage or ground beef, cook up an Italian feast for Thanksgiving. If it’s chicken, make chicken and noodles. Don’t feel bad about changing things.
Slow down, iron boss
Don’t waste time thinking about complex recipes that require dozens of ingredients. Stick to simple dishes that everyone loves. For example, you can make a basic scalloped corn that a lot of people appreciate. Or you can do a simple sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes or one Green bean casserole. None of these require extremely sophisticated or expensive ingredients.
Plus, you don’t need a dozen ingredients to make food taste spectacular. Certain ingredients make all the difference: a lemon, an orange and a few spices give pride of place to roasted vegetables, cranberry sauce and other dishes ranging from the ordinary to the holiday meal.
Do it BYOS (Bring your own side)
As long as you let guests know in advance, most won’t hesitate to bring something to dinner. This leaves you with the turkey as your sole responsibility while the potatoes, vegetables, cranberries, and dessert can be assigned to other family members.
If you absolutely love to cook the entire meal, consider cost sharing. Ask family members to share in the overall cost of the dinner.
Don’t know what to cook?
Here are some helpful summaries of budget-friendly Thanksgiving recipes:
If you can, donate
Maybe Thanksgiving dinner isn’t on your to-do list this year. If so, consider donating a Thanksgiving meal to local food banks. The Feeding America network includes more than 200 food banks across the United States that work with pantries and soup kitchens to reach communities. Once you’ve found a food bank near you, be sure to check deposit information, hours of operation, and location. most needed items.
Find your local food bank
MAKE A DONATION
Donate to Feeding America*
Patch has partnered with Feeding America to help educate the millions of Americans facing hunger. Feeding America, which supports 200 food banks across the country, estimates that by 2021 more than 42 million Americans will not have enough nutritious food to eat due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. This is a Patch Social Good Project; Feeding America receives 100 percent of donations. * Find out how you can donate in your community or find a pantry near you.