Cost of Thanksgiving Takes Toll on Tradition

Higher price of food forces families to change dinner plans

By Lauren Steussy
|  Wednesday, Nov 23, 2011  |  Updated 2:18 PM PDT
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Cost of Thanksgiving Takes Toll on Tradition

A grocery store shopper looked for a small turkey Wednesday to prepare for Thanksgiving.

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Have you had to cut back on your Thanksgiving dinner this year? Comment below or send us a Tweet via Twitter @nbcsandiego or add your comment to our Facebook page.

 

There’s a new Thanksgiving tradition on the table this year – compromise.

Families are compensating for the rising cost of food this year with alternate food choices, such as buying boxed mashed potatoes instead of fresh potatoes, or buying salmon instead of a roast, said meat manager Sergio Hicks of the downtown San Diego Ralph’s.

A 16-pound turkey with the trimmings will cost an average of $49.20 this year. This is a 13 percent increase compared to last year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. The AFBF also said it will cost more to feed 10 people this year than it has since the 1980s.

Hicks said many of his shoppers are opting for small, cheap turkeys, which cost about $10, rather than the special $30 roasts. Many have ditched poultry altogether in favor of fish.

While many shoppers said they aren’t necessarily spending less on Thanksgiving food this year to make up for the price increases, they have changed their traditions to accommodate the rising cost of food and their own tight budgets.

Sisters Yvette and Gladys Jackson said they usually buy three different kinds of meats for their family Thanksgiving dinner, but this year they’ll probably stick to a basic ham. They bought frozen green beans for their casserole instead of fresh beans, and will only buy one dessert, instead of making several.

“These economic times are making it harder to follow traditions,” Gladys said. “We want to think big and go all out for our families, but we can’t.”

The Jacksons usually spend about $150 on Thanksgiving food for their families. This year they will probably spend about $200, even though they’ve cut back on the items they’re buying.

“We have to get creative with how we prepare our food,” Yvette said.

Another shopper said she wasn’t thinking about her budget for Thanksgiving. She speculates that many people aren’t thinking as much about food, and are relying more on the quality family time for support.

“In times like these, I just have to try to make it count,” said Linda Salle of downtown San Diego. “My daughter just lost her house and she has two kids. She just wants to be with family and take her mind off her situation.”

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