The Cost of Thanksgiving Dinner Is at an All-Time High, but This Trick Cuts Your Grocery Bill by 30%

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"The cost of Thanksgiving dinner is pricier than ever this year, but a new study found making plant-based swaps can save you up to 30% on your grocery bill."

With Thanksgiving only a week away, many of us are anxiously awaiting one of the most elaborate meals of the year. But you’re probably less excited about next week’s grocery trip—and the cost that comes with it.

Experts say this will be the most expensive Thanksgiving dinner on record due to increasing demand and dwindling supply. Why? The past year has been rife with labor shortages and inflation, especially in the food industry. Between supply chain issues and the rising cost of food, nearly every ingredient is expected to be more expensive this year, from the turkey to vanilla extract.

Of course, this probably isn’t the news you were hoping to receive days before the big holiday. But we promise there’s some good news: While a traditional Thanksgiving meal may cost 10% more than last year, a plant-based Thanksgiving will actually save you money.

How a Plant-Based Thanksgiving Saves You Money

cost of a thanksgiving dinner

In a new study from the University of Oxford, researchers compared seven “sustainable” diets to average diets in 150 countries. While plant-based diets are thought to be more expensive, that’s not the case. Vegan diets cost up to 29% less than the average diet, closely followed by vegetarian diets, then flexitarian diets. Pescatarian diets—aka eating fish and seafood—actually increased costs by up to 2%.

“When scientists like me advocate for healthy and environmentally-friendly eating, it’s often said we’re sitting in our ivory towers promoting something financially out of reach for most people. This study shows it’s quite the opposite. These diets could be better for your bank balance as well as for your health and the planet.”

Marco Springmann, PhD

“We think the fact that vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian diets can save you a lot of money is going to surprise people,” said Marco Springmann, PhD, a researcher on the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food, in a press release. “When scientists like me advocate for healthy and environmentally-friendly eating, it’s often said we’re sitting in our ivory towers promoting something financially out of reach for most people. This study shows it’s quite the opposite. These diets could be better for your bank balance as well as for your health and… the planet.”

Considering vegan diets are the most sustainable of these diets, as they prohibit all animal products (which have a much larger carbon footprint than plant-based foods), the affordability is good news for your wallet and the planet. Options are becoming more accessible, too: A recent report found the plant-based food industry is growing at unparalleled rates and is expected to quadruple in sales by 2030.

Even if you’re not 100% plant-based, flexitarian diets can still cut 14% from your grocery bill. In other words, the more veggies you add to your Thanksgiving table, the better. But that’s not the only perk of having a plant-based Thanksgiving. A new Brightly report found the average Thanksgiving dinner is associated with 103 pounds of CO2, but you can drastically reduce this number by making plant-based swaps.

The Takeaway

cost of a thanksgiving dinner

When you’re planning your Thanksgiving dinner next week, consider adding vegan recipes and vegetarian recipes to the mix. There are even ways to make the most popular holiday recipes more eco-friendly. Even small changes can make a big difference this holiday season, and your grocery list is a great place to start.


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The cost of Thanksgiving dinner is pricier than ever this year, but a new study found making plant-based swaps can save you up to 30% on your grocery bill.

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