Special Report

Cost of a Thanksgiving Meal the Year You Were Born

Like many other things in 2020, Thanksgiving is going to look a lot different this year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, because of the surge in COVID-19 cases nationwide, “The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is at home with the people in your household.” Of course, the celebration can still certainly include the traditional spread of turkey, stuffing, cranberry, rolls, and of course pies.

While the Thanksgiving menu may not be changing, even in this pandemic year, the price of a traditional Thanksgiving meal has been steadily increasing over the years. In 1947, the cost of a turkey, sides, sauces, drinks, and dessert was less than $6. In 2020, the same food cost nearly $50 — the highest recorded price in U.S. history of any year other than 2015.

To determine the cost of a Thanksgiving meal every year from 1947 to 2019, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed price data from the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual Thanksgiving price survey. For the purposes of this story, the components of a traditional Thanksgiving meal include a 16-pound turkey, 14 oz. of stuffing, 3 pounds of sweet potatoes, a dozen dinner rolls, 16 oz. of frozen peas, 12 oz. of cranberries, a half pound of both carrots and celery, ingredients for two pumpkin pies with whipped cream, and a gallon of milk.

While the typical American can expect to spend about $50 on the basic ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner for 10 in 2020, those prices can fluctuate widely across the country. The cost of groceries in rural areas is typically much lower than it is in an affluent suburb or city. This is the most expensive place to live in every state.

With more Americans staying home rather than visiting family or friends this holiday, many may be making their first Thanksgiving turkey this year. These large birds often come frozen, so cooks must know how to properly thaw the turkey before roasting it so it is fully cooked, but not overdone. These are the 15 rules for thawing and roasting your Thanksgiving turkey.

Click here to see the cost of a thanksgiving meal the year you were born.
Click here to see our methodology.