Americans expected to spend $991.16 million on Thanksgiving turkey in 2018

We’ll spend less on the main course this year, despite a higher number of turkeys forecast.

For most Americans, roasting a turkey is a Thanksgiving Day tradition. In fact, up to 85% of Americans say they’ll consume this main course as part of the celebration, totaling some 45 million turkeys eaten on Thanksgiving, according to the National Turkey Federation.

In 2017, 277 million Americans gathered to enjoy this annual feast. This year, the estimate is a higher 280 million. crunched the numbers to learn just how much Americans are expected to spend this coming Thanksgiving. While we shelled out $1.01 billion on turkeys last year, Americans are projected to spend only $991.16 million, but on a higher number of birds.

That’s because turkeys are cheaper when compared with last year’s prices: Data from the American Farm Bureau Federation indicates that a 16-pound turkey will cost a low $22.03 this Thanksgiving.

Tips for choosing a Thanksgiving turkey

  • Aim for at least 1 pound of uncooked turkey per person — which is enough to feed everyone and provide leftovers.
  • Either fresh or frozen is just fine, but check the sell-by date if buying it fresh. For every 5 pounds of frozen turkey, give yourself at least 24 hours for thawing in the fridge.
  • Prices can range from a low $0.59 per pound at supermarkets to $7 per pound or higher for heritage turkeys. Shop around for the best deal based on your tastes, farming philosophy and budget.

Thanksgiving turkey facts

  • 77% of whole turkeys sold throughout the year are sold in November, totaling nearly 400 million pounds of turkey in that month alone, according to Nielsen.
  • President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863.
  • The White House tradition of “pardoning” a turkey can be traced to President Lincoln in 1863.
  • A baby turkey is called a poult.
  • June is National Turkey Lovers month.
  • Minnesota produces the most turkeys among all the states.
  • Turkey is a healthy protein source. A three-ounce serving of cooked skinless turkey offers fewer calories from fat, zero saturated fat and 8% more protein than chicken, says the National Turkey Federation.

Not sure how to pay for Thanksgiving this year?

The holiday season can be a costly time of year for many Americans. Rachel Dix,’s consumer advocate, says there are plenty of ways to avoid going into debt in the name of gratitude:

“Whether you’re hosting, traveling or just bringing a dish for Thanksgiving, chances are this time of year brings with it expenses outside of your everyday budget. Set yourself a special seasonal budget that covers everything you need to buy. If it looks like you may go into debt to accommodate it, see where you can create some savings.

Ask family members to contribute to the dinner, check with your manager about working remotely to travel on less expensive days around the holiday and shop around for the best prices on purchases.

Comparing prices for items on your list is one of the biggest ways you can save this holiday season. Don’t let a looming deadline lead to a panic shop. Take time to compare some of the costlier options — such as the turkey or plane fares — before you buy.”

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Nicole Gallina
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