Looking for an excuse to dine out this Thanksgiving? You’re in luck.
A new report from Wells Fargo found grocery prices are rising at a much faster clip than the price of food away from home, which means some Thanksgiving dishes at restaurants could be priced similarly to what you could make in your own kitchen.
Consumer Price Index data for food at home has gone up 9.81% since November 2021, compared to just 5.79% for food away from home.
“This will be the year where you get the best relative value eating out that we’ve seen in a long, long time,” said Michael Swanson, Wells Fargo’s chief agricultural economist. “It’s not going to cost as much to pamper yourself.”
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Why do people go out to eat on Thanksgiving?
Limited-service restaurants – those where you pay before you eat – have a smaller year-over-year consumer price index change compared to full-service meals and snacks away from home.
But whatever kind of restaurant you go to, it’ll likely be a better deal this year than last.
Wells Fargo’s report notes that the cost of a restaurant meal factors in overhead and labor, which means the price of ingredients has a smaller role in the overall pricing compared to grocery stores.
Families who do plan on dining out for Thanksgiving should get a reservation as soon as possible since low staffing at restaurants can limit the number of tables they fill.
Inflation hits the Thanksgiving table: Turkey costs may be higher this year.
“We have not seen the food away from home inflation rate run below at the supermarket in decades,” Swanson said. “It’s a very unusual situation.”
Swanson suggests families who do plan on dining out for the holiday get a reservation as soon as possible since low staffing at restaurants can limit the number of tables they fill.
“Even the same company that has multiple locations will tell you they have locations where staffing is doing well and others where they can’t really find it. So it can be hit or miss, even for the same chain,” he said.
How can you save money on Thanksgiving dinner?
Wells Fargo’s findings come as Americans grapple with rising costs at grocery stores.
Those price hikes are hitting many Thanksgiving staples.
Turkey prices are expected to soar this year thanks to inflation and an avian flu outbreak, with the U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture forecasting a 23% price hike in the fourth quarter compared to last year.
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A cool spring in Idaho and Washington delayed potato and onion crops, which could hike prices. Hotter temperatures and a drought in California depleted the yield of celery, carrot and onion crops. And rising input costs are set to increase the price of cranberry sauce this year, according to Wells Fargo.
Rising input costs are set to increase the price of cranberry sauce this year.
Swanson’s advice is to be flexible. If potato prices are up, swap them for sweet potatoes. If cranberries are getting pricy, give the canned version a try.
“Open up that web browser, look for other options,” Swanson said. “If you’re trying to stretch that dollar, you might want to look at some add-ons or some adjustments.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Grocery store prices are up. Is this the year to dine out for Thanksgiving?