Can You Afford a Traditional Thanksgiving Meal?

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Last night, our local food bank issued a public plea to area businesses and families who have the ability to help the community’s less fortunate. The non-profit needs monetary and/or food donations immediately or hundreds of needy individuals won’t be able to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal this year.

With the economy in the dumpster and millions of moms and dads out of work, it’s no surprise that a record number of parents are being forced to swallow their collective pride and turn to community food banks for assistance.

And it’s not just the unemployed who are struggling to prepare a decent Turkey Day feast for loved ones. Millions of underemployed Americans are also trying to figure out how they can put a turkey and all the trimmings on the table next week without compromising their already tight household budget.

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, a turkey dinner and all the fixings will cost about $49.48, or 28 cents more than it did last year. That’s something to be thankful for until you do the math. In 2011, consumers were hit with one of the biggest price increases for traditional Thanksgiving trimmings in nearly a decade, after wicked weather drastically reduced the size of U.S. crops. Last year, the price of a traditional Thanksgiving meal shot up $5.73 compared with the previous year. Ten years ago, the average price was $34.56. In 1992, it was $26.39, according to the farm bureau.

Forget about talking turkey; those numbers are more like economic indigestion.

Here’s how the farm bureau broke down the 2012 Turkey Day totals. Take a look at the prices and see if you will be able to go big this Thanksgiving:

A 16-pound turkey averages about $22.23, up about 4 cents per pound or 66 cents for the entire bird than last year.

A half pint of whipping cream: $1.83

A 14-ounce package of cubed bread stuffing: $2.77

Three pounds of sweet potatoes: $3.15

Fresh cranberries: $2.45

A 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix and two nine-inch pie shells: $5.53

How will your current economic situation affect the way you celebrate Thanksgiving this year?

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About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.