Cost of classic Thanksgiving feast is mixed bag: survey

The rush is on at local grocery stores, as Central Texans scramble to get everything they need for that Thanksgiving feast. A new survey says it’s a mixed bag when it comes to the cost of your feast this year.

"I’m making some green bean casserole. We're making sweet potato casserole. My brother's doing the turkey," said Austin resident Elaine Rizzuto.

When all is said and done, the cost of that big meal may ring in a little less than last year.

According to the annual Thanksgiving Dinner Survey from the American Farm Bureau Federation, the average cost of a "classic feast" this year is $61.17. That includes basics like turkey, stuffing, potatoes, veggies, cranberries and pumpkin pie, enough to serve around 10 people.

"That’s a 4.5% decrease from last year," said Betty Resnick, an economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation.

But that cost is still about 25% higher compared to before the pandemic.

"The price has definitely gone up over the years," said Jared Detrich of Austin.

"I think it's similar, like last year," said Masud Ahammed of Austin.

This year, the biggest savings is the bird itself, with turkey now cheaper, thanks to a drop in bird flu cases.

"We saw turkey decrease about 5.6% this year," said Resnick. "Turkey supplies have rebounded. Our turkey flock is healthy and that is why we've seen a reduction in prices."

Another bright spot: fresh cranberries, meaning you might want to make your own sauce this year. But when it comes to pumpkin pie mix, expect to pay more.

"One of the products we saw had the biggest increase year over year was the dinner rolls. We don't quite know why that is," said Resnick.

Thanksgiving shoppers FOX 7 Austin spoke to in South Austin say it's been a bit of a mixed bag this year when it comes to prices.

"I got the sweet potatoes just because I saw they were a little bit cheaper here," said Rizzuto. "Cans are actually more expensive."

If you’re looking to save on your feast, experts suggest shopping around.

"Most grocery stores list their prices online now, and they'll have different promotions going on. So you might be able to mix and match your dinner a little bit to get the best bang for your buck," said Resnick.

But in the spirit of the season, some say they’re okay with splurging just a bit.

"It’s Thanksgiving, so you're kind of going to bite the bullet because it's once a year or so, you do what you got to do," said Resnick.

Experts say with Thanksgiving just three days away, prices likely won’t get any cheaper than they are right now. And another reason to finish your shopping sooner rather than later: you want to allow plenty of time for that frozen turkey to thaw.