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Thanksgiving came with a side of sticker shock last year with turkey prices skyrocketing due to inflation and an outbreak of avian flu. Things are shaping up to be a little better this year, which is great news if you’re on a budget. Here’s a closer look at how much you can expect to pay for your turkey in 2023, along with some other steps you can take to keep costs down.

Turkey prices are down this year

Thanksgiving dinner costs rose a painful 20% last year, with a 16-pound turkey costing $28.96 or about $1.81 per pound, according to the American Farm Bureau. This was due largely to an outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) that reduced the number of commercial turkeys available in 2022.

This has fortunately resolved itself and the turkey population has recovered. As a result, prices are expected to drop a little this year to about $1.27 per pound. That’s about $20.32 for a 16-pound turkey.

And if you’re willing to be a bit non-traditional, you may be able to save even more. The same survey found that boneless, skinless turkey breast prices have fallen nearly 61% from last year, and they are easier to cook than an entire bird, too.

It’s uncertain whether rising costs on other holiday meal staples will offset the lower turkey prices. A lot of this depends on what you hope to buy and where and how you shop.

How to save on your Thanksgiving meal

Though Thanksgiving is still a couple weeks away, it doesn’t hurt to start planning your meal now so you know what ingredients you need to buy. With this plan in place, you can keep your eyes out for sales and avoid purchasing items you don’t need when you go to the store.

Some retailers, like Walmart and ALDI, are running special sales throughout November and December to help customers score holiday meal items at affordable prices. These are worth checking out if you live near one of these stores. You could also check with grocery stores in your local area to see if they are running specials on turkeys or other Thanksgiving items.

Take a few minutes to check your local newspaper and online for coupons before you go shopping too. You may only save a few cents on a few items, but it all adds up over time.

And you don’t have to take on all the work yourself if you’re not up for it. Consider arranging a Thanksgiving potluck with family members so you don’t have to do all the cooking and shopping yourself. You don’t even have to go with a traditional turkey dinner if you’d prefer something else. At the end of the day, all that matters is getting together for a good meal with family.

It’s up to you to decide what works best for you and your checking account. But the sooner you begin shopping around, the better your chances of scoring great deals. If you wait until the week of Thanksgiving, you may just have to settle for whatever is left in the store.

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