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Turkey sticker shock: Prices up sharply this Thanksgiving

Don't Wash Turkey
Posted at 10:52 PM, Nov 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-01 22:52:10-04

With Halloween over, the next big holiday that's top of mind is Thanksgiving.

And you may want to start planning your meal now or risk paying even more for the food you need, because prices are up sharply this year.

Stephanie Tewes is proud of this year's turkey flock at Tewes Poultry Farm, started by her family generations ago.

But those past generations would probably be shocked at how expensive everything is getting these days, especially the cost of feeding and raising these big birds.

"The cornmeal mash is what we really want them to eat," she said. "But we have to pay for the fuel to get it up to us, and the price of that has gone up, the price of straw to lay down for the turkeys, the bedding, and everything is up."

As a result, she says, the farm was forced to raise the price of their free-range fresh turkeys from $3.50 to $4.50 a pound this year.

With some things, the longer you wait, the lower the prices. Example: sweaters, which get cheaper closer to Christmas.

But that's not the case with turkeys: Tewes says you don't want to wait, especially if you want a smaller bird.

Tewes says it's actually harder to raise a small turkey, which is why there are fewer small ones, and why they are much more expensive per pound than bigger birds.

For a frozen turkey, the USDA says prices are up 73 percent from last year, due to higher feed and transportation prices, and the avian flu affecting flocks in some parts of the country.

Some things you can do

To save money, Bankrate's Mark Hamrick suggests you stock up on Thanksgiving food items now.

"Many of the things we would use for a traditional Thanksgiving meal are shelf stable," he said, which means there is no problem holding them for two or three weeks.

Bankrate also says you should check the weekly flyer from your grocery store, and take advantage of any coupons and discounted holiday products they are offering.

But once you are in the store, Hamrick says always stick to your list.

"In many cases," he said, " they will have promotional discounted items just to get us in the store in the hope that we will buy other things, and perhaps some things we didn't even plan on buying."

Back on the farm, Stephanie Tewes says despite the higher costs, don't skimp on the turkey.

"Turkey is the centerpiece of the meal. Buy the generic stuffing, buy the generic mashed potatoes. But treat yourself to a really good turkey," she said.

She says that turkey is still worth it, despite the higher costs this year, so you don't waste your money.

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