This is an expensive time of year, from start to finish.
As Thanksgiving looms on Nov. 28, we are shopping, shopping, shopping for that big, delicious feast. Tummies will be full and wallets will be empty.
But there are strategies to cut your holiday food bill, such as planning the meal ahead of time and shopping for the best prices on turkeys and hams, which cost the most. However, the biggest way to save is to shop at stores with the lowest prices.
I wondered how prices on 12 common items purchased to make Thanksgiving dinner stacked up at grocery stores. I stopped in at Aldi, Walmart and Whole Foods to compare prices.
Thanksgiving grocery cost comparisons
Prices as of Nov. 14 are for 12 store-brand food items (when available) to make Thanksgiving dinner: 12 pound turkey; 1 bag or 2 boxes of stuffing mix; 3 pounds sweet potatoes; 5 pounds white potatoes; 1 pound fresh green beans; 1 turkey gravy packet; canned crescent rolls; canned cranberry jelly; 1 quart chicken/turkey stock; 1 pound butter; half-gallon of milk; prepared pie.
|Turkey (12 pounds, frozen)||$7.08||$8.16||$22.68|
|Stuffing mix (1 bag or 2 boxes)||$1.99||$1.56||$3.49|
|Sweet potatoes (3 pounds)||$1.79||$2.04||$2.39|
|Potatoes (5 pounds)||$2.99||$3.27||$3.99|
|Green beans (1 pound, fresh)||$1.68||$1.68||$2.99|
|Cranberry jelly (canned)||$1.49||$0.98||$2.19|
|Butter (1 pound)||$1.99||$2.98||$3.49|
|Milk (half gallon)||$1.99||$2.24||$2.79|
There were 12 items on my list: A 12 pound turkey; 1 bag or 2 boxes of stuffing mix; 3 pounds of sweet potatoes; 5 pounds of white potatoes; 1 pound of fresh green beans; 1 turkey gravy packet; canned crescent rolls; canned cranberry jelly; 1 quart chicken/turkey stock; 1 pound butter; half-gallon of milk and 1 prepared pie or dessert.
As you can see, Aldi came in cheapest at $30. Walmart was close behind at $32 and change. And Whole Foods Market was more than $62. Surprised? I'm not.
Americans will eat more than 46 million turkeys this year, spending $968.8 million, according to Finder.com. Looking at the bigger picture, imagine if you could cut your annual bill in half by shopping more carefully. Well, you can, and then bank that savings for a rainy day. Let's examine how my Thanksgiving dinner cost comparison shook out.
I'm a huge fan of this value grocery chain for one reason: price. I opted for Aldi's Shady Brook Farms frozen turkeys at 59 cents a pound, but Butterballs are cheap at 87 cents a pound. A pound of butter was just $1.99. That's almost a dollar less than what Walmart charges, and $1.50 less than Whole Foods. Considering that is a regular item on many lists all year long, it's not hard to imagine how much you may be overpaying on hundreds of similar staple items over the course of a year by shopping elsewhere.
The price is the price on groceries at Walmart. No sales, no ads, no gimmicks. You can shop at the chain with confidence knowing you're not paying double for similar items somewhere else. Jennie-O frozen turkeys are 68 cents a pound; Butterballs are 98 cents a pound. Produce prices were on par with Aldi.
One cool thing if you're pressed for time: Walmart is now delivering groceries and there is no markup on goods. Prices for items delivered are the same as in stores, which is not the case with Instacart and Shipt grocery deliveries from the other stores. Save $10 on your first $50 order at Grocery.Walmart.com with code WOWFRESH. There is a $7.95 delivery fee. Or, let Walmart shop for you and opt for free pickup at stores.
Whole Foods Market: $62.48
They don't call it Whole Paycheck for nothing. The idea that prices would drastically drop after Amazon took over has not materialized. Stores do offer weekly savings and deals for Prime members, who fork over $119 a year. For instance, through Nov. 28, members can save on organic turkeys priced at a whopping $2.99 a pound (the regular price is an even more insane at $3.50 a pound) and on regular turkeys for $1.99 a pound (regular price is $2.49 a pound). On my visit, I opted for the 365 Everyday Value frozen turkey at $1.89 a pound. All birds are animal welfare certified, which explains the higher costs.
Still, even though most of the products were 365 Everyday brands, those dozen items tallied up to more than double what you'd pay at Aldi and Walmart. Considering most of us will purchase many more items for holiday meals, Whole Foods' prices certainly won't leave shoppers feeling very thankful.
By Doreen Christensen, Sun Sentinel