Turkey prices are flying higher this year. Here are affordable Thanksgiving options

Need a replacement bird for Thanksgiving? Roast duck meat with baked vegetables is one alternative to turkey. (The Grinch / Adobe Stock)

Estimated reading time: 5-6 minutes

Atlanta – If you’re feeling down on recent reports that turkey prices are going up, don’t panic. There is no need to start hoarding turkeys.

“We’re not seeing a supply shortage,” said Ben Del Corro, vice president of sales and marketing at Fossil Farms, a New Jersey supplier of sustainable, natural, and farm-raised meat.

Unlike last holiday season, where supply chain and labor issues caused ingredient shortages, there should be enough frozen turkeys to roam Thanksgiving. However, bird flu outbreaks and the impact of inflation on fuel, feed and labor costs have all contributed to higher turkey prices.

Prices for whole frozen turkey have gone up from $1.15 a pound at this time in 2021 to $1.47 a pound for the week of October 28 through November. 3, according to the USDA. While that’s about a 28% increase per pound, the “total costs are in line with what everyone has been experiencing all year” with food prices and inflation, Del Corro said. In fact, costs for all parts of turkey have increased across the board, including fresh and frozen chicken breasts, bones, drumsticks, and ground meat.

In the event that such prices seem low-cost, it is not the definitive you will see in a butcher’s case. As explained by Del Coro, the USDA’s weekly pricing report shows wholesale prices for commodity birds – not free range, organic or any other distinct descriptor. Distributors and retailers add markup costs before the turkey reaches your cart.

For those who have planned to cook a traditional Thanksgiving turkey, this year might be a good time to try something different. “Buying trends have changed,” Del Corro said. “Over the past two years, people have been eating at home and hosting smaller gatherings,” while restaurants and hotels have fallen back on serving big Thanksgivings.

With more options for takeout returning on Thanksgiving, he said, there is “an increase in demand for the same offering.” “Wholesale is back now, but retail demand is still there.” While home cooks will likely be able to find frozen turkey on the market, the size and price may not be ideal.

If you’re feeling adventurous or considering opting out of serving turkey this year, here are some alternatives to your Thanksgiving menu.

Try a different bird or cut of meat

“Personally, I understand that Thanksgiving is all about tradition, but it’s okay to enjoy tradition,” Del Corro said. His Thanksgiving meal often includes foods that were frequently eaten in pre-industrial North America.

For example, bushmeat was a common staple in the American diet, he said. “Venison was definitely part of the original Thanksgiving meal and is seasonally appropriate,” with cuts similar to roast beef or steak that can be prepared with seasonal accompaniments.

If you want to stick with the poultry theme, del Coro recommends guinea fowl, pheasant, and duck as alternative birds, which are “more available and less expensive than turkey,” he said. Try roasted whole duck with balsamic glaze for a crunchy and crunchy skin, guinea fowl with rosemary, or roasted chicken with cornbread filling.


Personally, I understand that Thanksgiving is all about tradition, but it’s okay to enjoy the tradition.

– from the chorus


Or, for a more turkey-close experience, suggests del coro posin, a small chicken weighing about 1 to 1 pound and popular in Britain. Each poussin can be stuffed individually, he said, and “everyone can have a little roasted turkey on their plate.”

Decolonize your list

Since turkey is just one component of the many myths and colonial stereotypes surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday, this may be an opportunity to revamp the menu to honor Native Americans.

The Thanksgiving decolonization movement focuses on recognizing historical racism and violence toward Native Americans rather than perpetuating the “pilgrims and Indians” narratives and celebrating the enduring cultural contributions of these tribes. Creating a decolonized menu can focus more on foods that are traditionally prepared and served by Native Americans.

Some of the common ingredients of what we think of as a “traditional” Thanksgiving meal — squash, including squash, corn, wild rice, and root vegetables like sweet potatoes and kale — are also traditional indigenous ingredients, so a decolonized menu can bring these dishes to the fore.

You can also add foods that are frequently prepared by the tribes in the area where you live. In the Pacific Northwest, this can include salmon and berries; In the southwest, you can try making homemade tamales.

Go plant-based

No, focusing on vegetarian dishes on Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you should serve up toforki.

“I’ve done a lot of surveys with my friends and family” regarding favorite Thanksgiving dishes, said Jules Aron, certified holistic nutrition coach and author of “Nourish and Glow: Naturally Beautifying Foods and Elixirs.”

She noted that people often choose a side dish as the best Thanksgiving food – “and most side dishes are actually vegetarian.” This makes Thanksgiving a natural time to include more vegetarian dishes on the table when there really is a tendency toward sampling and sharing. And if your favorite side dish recipe isn’t vegan, that’s not the end of the world.

“People get intimidated when they think about vegetarian recipes,” Aaron said, fearing they’ll have to make multiple substitutions for a dish or find unusual alternatives to ingredients. However, “if your side dishes aren’t already vegetarian, there’s usually a very easy adjustment,” such as substituting chicken broth for vegetable broth or using mushrooms in place of bacon.

Aaron recommends simple vegetarian dishes that highlight seasonal vegetables for two reasons: vegetables add color to a menu often dominated by brown and beige ingredients, and “when you buy in season, prices are lower.”

One of the favorite Thanksgiving side dishes is maple roasted veggies, which can have a mix of root vegetables like purple potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, and carrots—or whatever options your family prefers. “It’s not hard to throw it in the roasting pan,” Aaron said.

She also suggests flaunting whole roasted cauliflower as a vegetarian centerpiece. To bring another pop of bright color to the table, “Go the extra mile and find a lilac.” Cauliflower is a blank slate for flavors to absorb, so for Thanksgiving, Aaron recommends mixing a creamy tahini sauce with seasonal cranberries and candied pecans.

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