Home cooks preparing Thanksgiving dinner have something to give thanks for this year: food prices have barely budged from last year.
Shoppers will spend 1.6 percent less this year on their ingredients, according to Bloomberg Intelligence, although the American Farm Bureau Federation estimates this year's food costs will rise slightly -- by 70 cents, or less than 2 percent, to $50.11-- from a year earlier.
Their analyses take slightly different approaches to estimating the cost of Thanksgiving dinner. The American Farm Bureau bases its estimate on the average cost of ingredients to put together a dinner for 10 people, while Bloomberg analyzed what consumers would pay for shopping carts filled with yams, turkeys and other holiday goodies at 14 retailers.
Like anything in life, the actual cost will depend largely on where you shop and what type of ingredients you put in your cart. One retailer in particular will set shoppers back by a hefty margin, according to Bloomberg.
That retailer is Whole Foods (WFM), the store that's earned the nickname "Whole Paycheck" because of its reputation for higher prices. Buying ingredients for an organic Thanksgiving meal at Whole Foods will set shoppers back by $107.52, which was the most expensive shopping cart surveyed by Bloomberg. That's followed by Fairway (FWM), at $83.49, and Trader Joe's, at $72.28.
The best deal can be found at Aldi, where 20 Thanksgiving ingredients will cost $42.56, Bloomberg said. Save-A-Lot has the next best deal, at $52.94. Both of those stores sell private-label products, which often cost less than nationally known brands, Bloomberg said.
Despite fears about spikes in turkey prices after an avian flu outbreak and a shortage of pumpkin, prices and supplies remain stable, the American Farm Bureau noted.
"Retail prices seem to have stabilized quite a bit for turkey, which is the centerpiece of the meal in our marketbasket," John Anderson, the deputy chief economist at the American Farm Bureau, said in a statement. "Turkey production is down this year but not dramatically. Our survey shows a modest increase in turkey prices compared to last year."
Other ingredients that saw small price increases include pumpkin pie mix, a dozen brown-and-serve rolls, cubed bread stuffing and pie shells, the group noted. On the other hand, some ingredients -- such as whole milk, coffee, and cranberries -- declined in price slightly.
Adjusted for inflation, the cost of Thanksgiving ingredients have actually declined over the past several years, with the real price tag in 2011 coming in at $52.02 in today's dollars. That's nothing compared with the price of food in the 1980s, when the typical Thanksgiving meal cost $62.37 when adjusted for inflation.