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Cornelius News

Let’s talk turkey: How much will Thanksgiving dinner cost?

Nov. 19. By TL Bernthal. With the Labor Department reporting that September consumer price index rose 8.2 percent over the prior 12 months—higher than what experts predicted—we thought it would be a good idea to look at the price of the fixin’s for a Thanksgiving dinner purchased from grocers in Cornelius.

Methodology

If you’re going for the most quintessential Thanksgiving, you’ve got to have the classics. We’re talking turkey, of course, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy and pumpkin pie.

Cornelius Today looked at prices Oct. 29 of five of those items at five grocery stores in town — Aldi, Food Lion, Harris Teeter at Jetton, Publix and The Fresh Market.

Since then, frozen turkeys have gone on sale,  with Publix selling a store brand at 34 cents a pound, and Harris Teeter at 29 cents a pound for the store brand with a $40 purchase.

Aldi is cheapest

In the survey, the cheapest overall meal was from Aldi at $43 for a 16-pound Butterball, a can of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce, a small pumpkin pie, green bean casserole serving 12 (2 cans of cream of mushroom soup, 4 cans green beans, 6-ounce French’s dried onions) and sweet potato casserole with marshmallows for 8-10 people. Aldi did not have canned sweet potatoes so that price total includes 3 pounds of the root vegetable.

Aldi was followed by Harris Teeter at about $59; Food Lion at about $63 (another small pie) and Publix at about $68. A 16-pound turkey should feed eight to 10 people; fewer if you want leftovers.

The Fresh Market doesn’t sell frozen turkeys nor canned green beans and didn’t yet have a price for fresh turkey, so it wasn’t a contender.

We didn’t use sale prices in the calculations, unless the sales run through Thanksgiving.

The main attraction

The turkey costs anywhere from 99 cents a pound for a Harris Teeter store brand frozen turkey to $2.29 a pound for a Butterball frozen turkey. Fresh turkeys can be ordered, depending on availability. Better hurry.

Turkey is more expensive…

Turkey is 73 percent more expensive this year than last, by some national estimates, but the increase isn’t just due to inflation.

An ongoing outbreak of bird flu will likely make turkeys scarce and subsequently hike up prices even more.

…and less plentiful

Bird flu usually spreads during colder months, but farmers reported an increasing number of cases dating back to July — the time when producers are typically breeding for the holiday season.

Fresh turkeys

Staff at the meat departments at Harris Teeter and Publix say they’ve been told by suppliers that fresh turkeys may not be as plentiful this year and that the 12- to 16-pound turkeys will be in short supply.

If an 8- to 10-pound turkey won’t satisfy your family, better order two and plan for leftovers.

Harris Teeter and Publix, along with The Fresh Market and Food Lion, plan to offer fresh turkeys this year, although details on ordering, availability and price were not available as of press time.

Call or stop in your grocery to reserve a fresh turkey, or order one online.

Cranberries

The Fresh Market was the only store selling organic Ocean Spray cranberries; the price was $3.99 for a one-pound bag, $1 per bag more expensive than the regular Ocean Spray cranberries sold there.

Aldi’s and Food Lion didn’t have fresh cranberries, only canned. A one-pound bag at Publix is $2 and at Harris Teeter costs $2.99.

Canned cranberries cost $2.05 for Ocean Spray or $1.99 for store brand at Publix; $2.99 Ocean Spray or $2.39 store brand at Harris Teeter; $1.89 Ocean Spray or $1.50 store brand at Food Lion; $1.89; $2.99 store brand at the Fresh Market; $1.29 store brand at Aldi’s.

Sweet potatoes vs. yams

That sweet, orange-colored root vegetable cooked into casseroles and topped with marshmallows is a sweet potato. On a nutritional basis, sweet potatoes provide more nutrients and benefits than yams. They contain more Vitamin C, Vitamin A, fiber and protein.

Yams are starchier and more potato-like, usually not very sweet. Most people think that long, red-skinned sweet potatoes are yams, but they really are just one variety of sweet potatoes.

In the U.S., over 50 percent of the country’s sweet potatoes are grown in North Carolina, according to the NC Sweetpotato Commission.

Deep-fried turkey

Frying a turkey reduces the time needed to cook a turkey in a deep fryer, vs. other conventional methods such as an oven or a grill.

Until the late 1980s, deep-fried turkey didn’t stray far from its supposed birthplace of Creole country.

Bojangles offered a deep-fried seasoned turkey at Thanksgiving until 2019 when quality issues with turkey suppliers couldn’t be resolved.

So now, if you want a fried turkey, you are on your own.

For iconoclasts

Harris Teeter sells a cajun style turducken for $64. Turducken is a dish consisting of a deboned chicken stuffed into a deboned duck, further stuffed into a deboned turkey.

Duck, capons and Cornish game hens are available seasonally as well.

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