(AP) – Is an American tradition taking the turkey’s place on the chopping block this fall? Instead of celebrating their gratitude and abundance with family and friends, one in four families says they’re skipping Thanksgiving altogether.
A new study by Personal Capital found that many people plan to skip the holiday get-together or dramatically cut back this year.
More than half of those polled plan to make fewer dishes to keep gatherings small and ask guests to bring something to the table. Another 42% were open to the idea of inviting visitors to contribute to the cost of the dinner.
Not surprisingly, baby boomers were the least likely generation to ask guests to donate money, food, or beverages. On the other hand, Gen Zers were most likely to adopt all four cost-cutting techniques.
When asked what guests should bring, 75% said alcoholic beverages. With the rising cost of alcohol and the expectation that it will be included in the menu, hosts may be wise to ask guests to BYOB their own alcohol.
Despite inflation and job uncertainty, 52% of Americans plan to spend the same amount of money on Thanksgiving this year as they did last year. Only 33% of respondents expected to spend less this year, while 15% expected to pay more. The majority of Americans planned to spend between $101 and $200 on Thanksgiving.
Baby boomers were most likely to break the bank with a budget of $201 or more (20%), while Gen Xers were most likely to keep a tight budget of $100 or less (40%).
The good news is you do not need to ask your guests for money to host Thanksgiving. You can also avoid shrinking your invite list by following a few tips.
Over a third of respondents said they plan to pay attention to deals and coupons to stretch their grocery budgets this year. Another 36% said they’d shop early, hoping to avoid food price hikes as the holiday draws closer and supplies run low. Nearly 1 in 3 planned to compare prices or buy in bulk.
Make Smaller Portions
Reducing the amount of food on the table is another way to fight food inflation this year. Casandra from Savoteur explained, “Every year, I buy a bigger turkey than I need for our family dinner with the intent to use it for leftovers. Inevitably a good portion of that turkey goes to waste, so this year, I’m planning only to order a turkey that will feed the number of guests at the table to prevent any food wastage.”
Casandra is not alone. A surprising 89% of respondents said they usually buy too much for Thanksgiving to have leftovers. That is in spite of the jaw-dropping amount of food that never gets eaten. It is estimated that Thanksgiving leads to 172 Million pounds of Turkey thrown in the trash can. That’s the equivalent weight of 510 Boeing 747s!
That doesn’t even include 14 million pounds of wasted dinner rolls, 40 million pounds of discarded mashed potatoes, 38 million pounds of dumped stuffing, 30 million pounds of poured-out gravy, and on and on. Reducing food waste is an excellent option to combat food inflation.
Reduce the Menu
Another popular budget-saving strategy is menu reduction. 88% of Americans plan to eliminate at least one traditional dish from their menu this year.
Turkey costs are nearly twice as much as a year ago, partly due to the bird flu. Despite soaring food costs, some Thanksgiving dinners won’t be complete without a few core items. Turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, rolls, and green beans made the top twelve dishes Americans would never have cut from the menu. Other vegetables were far less critical.
Baby boomers, Gen Xers, and millennials were the most traditional. Each listed turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, and rolls as the top dishes they would never cut from Thanksgiving dinner. Gen Z preferred a lighter meal, listing soup, salad, and sweet potatoes as their top three must-haves.
Emily Herrig of Hello Sensible is one of those hosts looking to cut back. She explained, “With food costs spiking, I’m trying to cut more expensive things from the menu without sacrificing variety for our Thanksgiving meal.”
Emily added, “One of the big ticket items is meat, and I typically serve the traditional turkey along with other options. This year, I plan to trim the menu down a bit and only offer turkey as the main dish. For side dishes, I will be scouting deals and buying as many ingredients as I can from discount stores like Aldi and Costco.”
Homemade vs. Prepackaged Meals
The study also found that many hosts expect to save this year by preparing their own meals instead of buying prepackaged store-bought options.
Monica Fish of Invested Wallet shared, “In previous years, I’ve relied on store-prepared items for many of my appetizers and sides, but they’re premium priced. This year the price is just too high to justify the convenience.
For Monica’s family, shrimp cocktail is a must-have appetizer. This year she said she would make shrimp cocktail instead of buying a ready-to-go tray from a store. She explained, “To make it easier on myself and my wallet, I’ll grab a bag of frozen shrimp that’s already deveined, peeled, and prepared, so it’s all ready to be cooked.”
Don’t Let Food Inflation Spoil This Thanksgiving
Regardless of how you plan to spend Thanksgiving, remember that the holiday is about being thankful and spending time with loved ones. No matter how you celebrate, holidays are a time to be with those you care about. No amount of inflation can take that away.
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