As inflation continues to bite, Colorado shoppers can expect to pay more for their Thanksgiving meal this year. 


Centennial, Colo. — The cost of a Thanksgiving meal increased for the second year in a row, according to an informal survey conducted by Colorado Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau Federation. The national average cost of a Thanksgiving meal for ten guests jumped 20% last year to $64.05.

Colorado shoppers can expect to pay 4.8% more than the national average, putting the cost at $67.14 or $6.71 per person.

Colorado Farm Bureau members participated as volunteer shoppers for the survey at 9 locations around the state.

“This is the largest increase we’ve seen in the 37-year history of the survey,” said Colorado Farm Bureau president Carlyle Currier, a rancher from Molina. “The increases will certainly impact some family budgets, but at $6.71 per person, the meal is still a great value compared to other options.”

Survey results show the most significant year-over-year increases come from more-processed foods. Boxed stuffing is up an average of 69%. Whipped cream and frozen pie crusts are each up 26%.

“We can see the impact of underlying inflation, rising transportation, packaging and marketing costs, and continued supply chain disruptions,” said Currier. “Because of our location in the country relative to food processing and supply, the additional increase in Colorado is most likely due to increased transportation costs.”

The table’s centerpiece — the turkey — represents 45% of the total cost of the meal and is up 21% from last year due to several factors beyond inflation. Volunteer shoppers checked prices between October 18-31 before grocery stores began marking down turkeys. Nationwide, turkey production has contracted 5%, the largest drop since 2009, according to CoBank. Frozen turkey stocks are down 19% from the 2018-2021 average.

“Farmers and ranchers are doing everything they can to meet global demand for food in the face of increasing costs for fuel, fertilizer and other inputs,” said Currier. “We’re all thankful for the tremendous bounty our farms and ranches create, and we’re determined to help provide for those less fortunate than we are.”

With some of the causes for inflation taken into account, consumers can save money in several ways:

  • Waiting to take advantage of retail specials on turkey or other sale-price items.
  • Reducing purchases of more processed products like stuffing and veggie trays and making them from scratch instead.
  • Switching from fresh to frozen products where available.

This year’s national average cost was calculated using 224 surveys completed with pricing data from all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Farm Bureau volunteer shoppers checked prices in person and online using grocery store apps and websites. They looked for the best possible prices without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals.

The AFBF Thanksgiving dinner survey was first conducted in 1986. The informal survey provides a record of comparative holiday meal costs over the years. Farm Bureau’s classic survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.

Colorado average prices:

  • 16-pound turkey: $29.78
  • 14-ounce bag of cubed stuffing mix: $4.61
  • 2 frozen pie crusts: $4.05
  • Half pint of whipping cream: $2.10
  • 1 pound of frozen peas: $2.51
  • 1 dozen dinner rolls: $3.53
  • Misc. ingredients to prepare the meal: $4.13
  • 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix: $4.34
  • 1 gallon of whole milk: $3.67
  • 3 pounds of sweet potatoes: $5.03
  • 1-pound veggie tray (carrots & celery): 75 cents
  • 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries: $2.64

Regional Averages

AFBF analysis revealed regional differences in the cost of the meal. The price for the classic meal was the most affordable in the South – $58.42, followed by the Northeast – $64.02, Midwest – $64.26, and West – $71.37.