The headline read, “This year’s Thanksgiving may gobble your wallet.” I love a good pun, and this sounded urgent, so I clicked on the link.
The story was based on a report by the American Farm Bureau that predicted this year’s Thanksgiving meal could end up costing American consumers 5% more than last year’s meal due to increased costs of gas, labor shortages and shipping issues.
The article went on to estimate that the average cost for a Thanksgiving meal for 10 was $111.78, with a per person cost of $11.18.
However, after studying the article’s breakdown of ingredients for the average Thanksgiving, I see some flaws in the report's estimates — particularly for Southern Americans — and I think the numbers are coming in low. Based on my experiences with cooking and (mostly) eating Thanksgiving dinners, I will attempt to address these discrepancies to give you a more accurate breakdown for holiday meal costs.
First, the article’s cost breakdown included two boxes of stuffing mix. My thoughts and prayers to anyone from the South who is served boxed stuffing at Thanksgiving. It happened to me once, and I understand the letdown that occurs when the most important Thanksgiving side dish is replaced with this concoction. So, I’m swapping the stuffing mix at $3.01 for corn meal, celery, onion, broth, and seasonings — all key ingredients for a good cornbread dressing. That will add another $4.99 to our total.
The breakdown included only 10 ounces of pecans — not nearly enough for a sweet potato casserole topping and a pecan pie. Besides there was no Karo syrup on the list, and we all know you can’t make a decent pecan pie without it. Add another $11.54.
I think the report skimped on butter. One pound of butter for a Thanksgiving dinner for 10? Are we on a diet? This is a meal we look forward to all year. Live a little. Also, add another $3.67 to our running total.
There were some unnecessary items included in the cost breakdown that consumers could easily subtract. Marshmallows, for example. Marshmallows are really not a Thanksgiving staple, and they absolutely do not belong on top of a sweet potato casserole. Please, do not email me to argue this point. My mind is made up. Subtract $1.88.
If my math is correct, that brings us to at least $130.10 to feed our families this Thanksgiving. Southerners with a sweet tooth end up spending about 16% more than the average American.
In all seriousness, thanks to our friends at UT Extension for compiling the insightful report. Rising costs are hitting us everywhere we turn. While it's never fun to pay more, I suppose those of us who can absorb the extra costs for this festive meal should be thankful we have enough. If you're looking to recoup the extra money spent preparing this year's meal, the report included some cost saving tips as well as recipe ideas for Thanksgiving leftovers that will extend your food budget.
To our readers, may your Thanksgiving be happy, healthy … and free of boxed stuffing.