How much has the Cost of a Thanksgiving Dinner Changed over the Years?

Subdued inflation has helped bring results one might not normally expect.

By J. Richard Fredericks, Main Management

For 33 years, the American Farm Bureau has released an annual survey of the total cost of the items that make up a classic Thanksgiving Dinner for 10 people. This year the full meal tally came in at $48.90, which is $0.22, or 0.4% lower, than the $49.12 level of 2017 and 1.8% lower than the cost incurred in 2016 which, in turn, was lower than the level of 2015. The cost of a Thanksgiving dinner is now at less than $5 per person and the lowest level since 2010.

To determine the price of the dinner, the Bureau uses 166 volunteer shoppers who have checked prices in 37 states to look for the best possible prices without taking advantage of any special promotions.

2018 Thanksgiving Dinner cost

Some of this year’s survey results indicated that:

  • This is the third year in succession that the price of a Thanksgiving dinner has declined.
  • The turkey itself amounts to 44% of the cost of the total dinner this year. The turkey (measured as a 16 pound bird) cost $21.71 this year and had the most significant decline in price of any of the components for this years’ Thanksgiving meal. The cost of the bird is $0.67, or 3.0% lower than the previous year and equates to roughly $1.36 per pound.
  • The aggregate of the other ingredients is higher this year ($27.19 vs. $26,74, or up 1.7%) as four out of the 11 non-turkey items registered a decrease, while 7 items increased.  The items registering price increases were Pumpkin Pie, the Veggie Tray, Cranberries, the Stuffing, and the Miscellaneous Category.

American Farm Bureau Federation