Something consumers have to be thankful for: low-cost dinner

Hoard's Dairyman: 

Something consumers have to be thankful for: low-cost dinner

Date: 
Wed, 11/17/2010

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is just a week away? I almost did until of course, I spent a good hour of my evening going back and forth with family about what time the big "to-do" should be. One of my favorite parts of this all-American holiday is helping plan the menu. Of course, it will include the traditional turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing. But, this year, we're hoping to add a few new things to the menu. Let's hope the addition of homemade macaroni and cheese will appease the increasing number of little ones we have running around.

Thanksgiving traditionally reminds me how thankful I am to have a great family that still is dedicated to production agriculture year after year. But, this year, I'm also thankful for something else, and I hope you are, too: an affordable meal. The American Farm Bureau annually publishes an estimated cost of a 10-person Thanksgiving meal. The meal includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and beverages of coffee and milk. They also note that the shopping list includes enough for plenty of left-overs. You can view the below graphic to visually see what the cost is this year and what it was in the past.


The cost of a 10-person Thanksgiving meal

The meal increased a modest 1.3 percent with a total ringing up to be $43.47 (last year it was $42.01). That equates to about $4.35 per plate. One gallon of whole milk, an item on the shopping list, posted an increase in cost of $0.38 cents this year compared to last. Cream, used for cooking and whipping cream, increased in cost by $0.15. But what is most telling to me is the line on the graph that adjusts for inflation. You'll notice that it is nearly flat since 1990 — which tells me that the cost of food, has barely increased. Certainly, what is likely even more important is the track record American farmers have in producing not only low-cost, but high-quality, and safe food.

As a parting comment, be sure to look back at this traditional thanksgiving menu and look for ways you can incorporate a little more dairy into your meal. Maybe try a herb and butter rub for the turkey breast to add some flavor and juiciness. Or, try my favorite triple-dairy mashed potatoes by adding butter, some cream cheese, and sour cream while beating the spuds. I was also reminded of the opportunity to make that great pistachio green jello dish that includes cottage cheese. And, please don't forget the cream in your coffee after battling to stay awake from all the tryptophan in the turkey!

Do you have a favorite family Thanksgiving recipe? We would love to hear about it!