Despite ongoing weather and trade challenges that have hampered farmers, the traditional Thanksgiving dinner is still a bargain at just under $5 a serving for a family of 10, according to the 34th annual American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Thanksgiving Dinner Price Survey.

“The average cost for the annual feast comes in this year at $48.91, an increase from just one cent from last year,” said Dr. Sam Funk, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) director of ag analytics and research and senior economist. “Despite the 6th consecutive year of a downturned ag economy with lower commodity prices, consumers are getting a deal while farmers are getting 8 cents of each dollar a consumer spends on food.” 

The average Thanksgiving dinner has been stable since 2011, averaging around $50 for a family of 10, and that’s great news for Iowans who love real meat and dairy and are shopping on a budget.

“When family and friends gather this Thanksgiving, 95 percent of Americans will enjoy turkey with their meal,” Funk says. “According to the latest 2017 Ag Census numbers, Iowa ranks in the top 10 states for turkey production and sold more than 15.5 million of these wonderful birds that year.  The economic contribution of poultry production in Iowa is significant, with 3,867 jobs attributed to the industry.”  

Turkey, a mainstay for many during Thanksgiving, is low in fat and packed with protein, providing up to 30 grams per serving. With a four-percent retail drop in the cost of turkey this year over 2018, it’s an inexpensive source of iron, zinc, potassium and vitamin B.

The full survey shopping list includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of celery and carrots, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and beverages of coffee and milk, in quantities sufficient to feed 10 people. 

A total of 264 volunteer shoppers checked grocery store prices in 38 states for the annual Thanksgiving survey.  AFBF’s staple survey menu has not changed since it was first conducted in 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.  However, as consumer demands and traditions evolve, and researchers learned nearly half of households serve both turkey and ham at Thanksgiving, AFBF has also started following trends in retail ham prices.  For the full Thanksgiving grocery list and infographics and video bites, visit