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Thanksgiving dinner cost this year lowest in past five years

Thanksgiving hosts can buy that extra pumpkin pie for their party this year.

The average cost of Thanksgiving meal will be the lowest it’s been in five years, according the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual price survey. The survey found the average cost of a dinner for 10 people is $49.12, a 75-cent decrease from last year’s average of $49.87.

“The cost of the dinner is the lowest since 2013 and second-lowest since 2011. Even as America’s family farmers and ranchers continue to face economic challenges, they remain committed to providing a safe, abundant and affordable food supply for consumers at Thanksgiving and throughout the year,” said John Newton, AFBF market intelligence director.

The big ticket item – a 16-pound turkey – came in at a total of $22.38 this year. That’s roughly $1.40 per pound, a decrease of 2 cents per pound, or a total of 36 cents per whole turkey, compared to 2016. Foods showing the largest decreases this year, in addition to turkey, included: a gallon of milk, $2.99; a dozen rolls, $2.26; two nine-inch pie shells, $2.45; a 3-pound bag of sweet potatoes, $3.52; and a 1-pound bag of green peas, $1.53.

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Some grocery items have increased including whipping cream, pumpkin pie mix, fresh cranberries and veggies trays.

“Milk production has increased, resulting in continued low retail prices,” Newton said. “In addition, grocers often use milk as a loss leader to entice consumers to shop at their stores. Whole whipping cream is up about 4 percent in price, due to increased consumer demand for full-fat dairy products.”

Ashley Phillips, store manager of the Walmart on Kingsridge Avenue in Miami Twp., said Walmart estimates that customers could get a meal for 10 for about $33. Phillips said the major deals come from the private brands Walmart offers, but stores still carry name-brand food products too. It gives customers more choices, she said.

“It’s pretty incredible,” she said. “We’re excited to show customers that you can get a quality product at a better price.”

Thanksgiving shoppers started coming in last Saturday to purchase meal items for the holiday. On Monday morning, sales were up 50 percent hour-by-hour for the Walmart store on Kingsridge, Phillips said. The remainder of the week will remain busy, as the store continues to prep for Thanksgiving and Black Friday crowds.

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Customers will spend their biggest chunk of money on the turkey, but they can still find them for fair prices. Meijer’s frozen turkeys — ranging from 10 to 16 pounds — average about $15.34 each, and natural Honeysuckle White turkeys are on sale for $11.44 at local Walmart stores.

Jerry Post, store director for the Oakwood Dorothy Lane Market, said Tuesday and Wednesday are the busiest days for Thanksgiving shopping for the Oakwood grocer. In the 24 hours before Thanksgiving, at least 185 of the stores 225 employees will work a shift.

Post said Dorothy Lane’s turkeys are more expensive than some of the grocery stores because they are non-GMO and locally raised by Bowman Landes in New Carlisle.

“We’re all about flavor first,” he said. “We really taste homemade.”

Post also said pre-cooked turkeys have been popular so far, and he expects trendy zucchini and squash noodles to fly off the shelves for Thanksgiving dinner.

What else does Dorothy Lane carry that you can get anywhere else? “We have the best egg nog in the country. No one has Yule logs like ours, and we make our stuffing right here.”

For last-minute shopping, retailers like Meijer remain open on Thanksgiving Day. Store officials said the top five items sold at Meijer on Thanksgiving include: cream cheese, cream of mushroom soup, celery, butter and sweet potatoes. The grocery retailer also expects to sell more than 710,000 turkeys this holiday season and more than 1.8 million pounds of potatoes.

Too busy to cook? The Farm bureau said another option for busy families without a lot of time to cook is ready-to-eat Thanksgiving meals for up to 10 people, with all the trimmings, which are available at many supermarkets and take-out restaurants for around $50 to $75.

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