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Cost of Thanksgiving Dinner Declines

KSAL StaffNovember 22, 2017

The cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is the lowest since 2013 and second-lowest since 2011. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day table, the average cost for this year’s dinner for 10 is $49.12 – 75-cents less than last year’s feast.

Director of market intelligence for AFBF, John Newton, says the price per pound of the 16 pound turkey plays a major role in the total cost of the meal.

“Wholesale turkey prices are at their lowest level since 2013, and given that the turkey represents nearly 50-percent of the baskets total, it’s the biggest factor driving the price decline. Turkey prices came in this year at a $1.40 per pound, that’s down 2-cents from what we saw last year,” Newton said.

The trend in the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner over the past few years has been slightly lower. Newton says that’s good for consumers, but not for farmers and ranchers.

“We’ve seen lower commodity prices across all of agriculture that has led to relatively flat retail prices. So, we see here the Thanksgiving dinner has declined for the second consecutive year in a row and is really paced with the food consumed at home CPI Index,” he concluded.

The shopping list for Farm Bureau’s informal survey includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk – all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10 with plenty for leftovers.

Because most turkeys are bought frozen, the recommendation is to buy it a week before Thanksgiving and let it thaw in the refrigerator. However, with that window already gone, Kansas State University food scientist Karen Blakeslee says there’s another option that is safe and effective.

Blakeslee said  “one that works really well is to thaw it in cold water…in a big pan…so you can submerge your turkey in the water, and then change that water about every 30 minutes. You can figure about 30 minutes per pound to thaw.”

The minimum temperature for an oven-roasted turkey is 325-degrees. As a rule-of-thumb, a 15 pound turkey takes about four hours to cook. But Blakeslee says a meat thermometer is the most accurate way to check doneness. She said “165-degrees is what you’re looking for – and check in a couple of places. Try not to hit a bone…you know where the thigh area is, check the breast meat area.”

If you want turkey for sandwiches or other dishes later in the week, buy a bird big enough to accommodate those extra meals. Also, a turkey is about 70% white meat and 30% dark meat, so buy a bird that gives your family plenty of the meat they prefer.

Story from  Jeff Wichman / Kansas State University

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