Inflation Taking Big Bite of 2011’s Thanksgiving Day Menu

In a little more than a week, American families will gather around the table for traditional Thanksgiving meals. Classic dishes like turkey, stuffing, cranberries and pumpkin pie will be on millions of home menus nationwide.

Unfortunately, thanks to rapidly inflating food prices, there will either be a whole lot less food on the table or a much bigger price tag on the Turkey Day feast.

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, a traditional meal containing dishes described above and the basic trimmings will cost about 13% more this year. In real dollar amounts, the typical family will be spending $49.20 to feed 10 people — up $5.73 from last year’s $43.47.

The AFBF shopping list includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, coffee and milk. The meal is large enough to serve 10 diners, plus leftovers.

As should be no surprise to anyone who has followed past stories about runaway inflation in American kitchens, meat is the biggest driver of increased grocery bills. Beef is up, pork is up and poultry is up this year. As a result, the average price for a 16-pound turkey in the AFBF shopping spree totaled $21.57 this year, or roughly $1.35 per pound. That’s a quarter per pound more than last year, with the bird costing $3.91 more — the lion’s share of that $5.73 headline increase in the bill.

Inflation has been the bane of consumers and savers in recent years. With rock-bottom interest rates, a 1% CD or a 2% Treasury note is hardly a profitable investment, and really just a way to tread water. The recent Social Security increase is a farce, considering the runaway inflation that has occurred since the last boost in payouts for the program.

The worst part is that higher costs hardly end on Turkey Day. Thanksgiving is just a prelude to higher prices consumers likely will be paying at the mall this holiday season, and that doesn’t bode well for cash-strapped Americans completing their shopping lists.

Perhaps the only upside to rampant inflation is that it makes investing trends a little easier for those with the luxury of money to throw around. Investing in gold has been profitable in recent years; so has focusing on commodity stocks that trade in the raw materials and therefore command higher sale prices to other merchants and manufacturers.

And most obviously, there’s the opportunity to invest in high-flying farmland prices.

But those investment opportunities are cold comfort for the millions of American families who will gather for a hot meal next week and pay a little bit more, or eat a little bit less.

Jeff Reeves is the editor of Write him at, follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP and become a fan of InvestorPlace on Facebook.

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