Inflation may have some Americans gathering around the restaurant table instead of the family table on Thanksgiving this year.
With the soaring cost of food at grocery stores gobbling up budgets ahead of Turkey Day, even traditionalists who love a home-cooked meal on the holiday may consider alternatives for Thanksgiving dinner.
"There’s no question that this year Thanksgiving is more expensive than ever before," Phil Lempert, the founder of SupermarketGuru.com, told NBC News correspondent Sam Brock on TODAY Thursday. "Typically you’re going to save if you go out this year, somewhere between 10 and 15%."
While restaurant food prices have increased up to 8.5% between September 2021 and September 2022, prices at the grocery store have jumped 13% during that time, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Those price increases have particularly hit a Thanksgiving staple. The price of a 20-pound turkey is up 28%, or about $6, from a year ago, with a recent bout of avian flu pushing the prices up even more, according to the USDA.
As far as the Thanksgiving fixings are concerned, the cost of potatoes rose 18% between September 2021 to September 2022, and the price of canned fruit and vegetables rose 19% during that time, according to the Consumer Price Index from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Restaurants are looking to seize the opportunity, with venues like Red Rooster in Miami, Florida aiming to entice families on Thanksgiving with their Cajun-spiced smoked turkey and Southern greens. "We already have reservations flying in the door and our phones are ringing off the hook," chef Amaris Jones told Brock on TODAY. The restaurant also has found a way to limit their price increases while grocery bills continue to rise.
"We have a local farm that actually services the community, and we use our lettuce and our greens from that farm, and that’s been able to really, really help us with our price," Jones said.
One area of concern for restaurants over the holidays is having enough staff to serve everyone at a time where staffing has been an issue across the industry. Red Rooster is staggering its worker shifts to make sure they are covered, while other establishments are counting on higher holiday revenues to help them boost hiring by offering higher pay.
If you're considering eating out for Thanksgiving this year, we have a list of national chains that will be open on the holiday. Also, experts suggest looking for restaurants that give you unlimited portions to get the most out of your money. You should also make sure to check out sites like Groupon to see if there are any restaurant deals for added savings.
For all the turkey junkies out there who love to enjoy leftovers for sandwiches all weekend, remember that many Thanksgiving items will be on sale at the grocery store the day after the holiday, so you can get your turkey fix for a discount. "So go out for Thanksgiving, have a ball, and then go shopping the day after, and then you could have turkey sandwiches and another turkey dinner a couple days late," Lempert said.
There also is the option of ordering takeout and having Thanksgiving brought to you or picking it up. These places, from Whole Foods to Boston Market, have a takeout option on Thanksgiving Day this year. Just remember to check if they have a delivery or pickup fee or a suggested tip so that you know how much you're spending in total.