Flexibility, bargains for an affordable Thanksgiving feast

Although the cost of food has risen, local grocery store executives and food experts say this year’s Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to break the bank.

But families need to plan ahead, buy the weekly grocery store announcements for Thanksgiving staples, and be flexible on brands to create an affordable treat.

Amid soaring food prices, turkey prices are expected to hit all-time highs this year.

Nationally advertised turkey prices average $ 1.54 per pound for fresh turkeys and 88 cents per pound for frozen birds, according to the US Department of Agriculture National Retail Report.

Frozen turkeys are selling for 49 cents a pound this week at Giant Eagle and Acme Fresh Market.

But store-brand frozen turkeys are only 49 cents a pound at Giant Eagle in the latest ads running through Wednesday, and the same price with an Acme card at Acme Fresh Market stores. And other grocers in the area, including Marc’s, Aldi, and Dave’s, run ads for frozen turkeys for under $ 1 a pound.

In fact, there’s no better time to buy a turkey cheaply than Thanksgiving week.

“It’s the cheapest week to buy a turkey of the year,” said Katie Swartz, Acme vice president of marketing, citing the store’s special pricing for the holidays.

“We’re doing everything we can to keep these prices low on key Thanksgiving items,” she said last week.

Swartz said Acme has seen prices rise across many categories in the store. But on Thanksgiving, there are some great bargains to be had.

Following:Frozen turkeys are selling everywhere before Thanksgiving – here’s where you can still buy them

As of Thursday, the baked pumpkin pies at Acme will sell for $ 6.99, she said.

Thanksgiving shoppers, including dietician Danielle Dimengo of Akron Children’s Hospital, have noticed higher prices for dried spices.

Look for store brands and other potentially cheaper labels.

To keep costs down, for example, Swartz recommends the Acme spice brand, which starts at $ 3.99 in large 5-ounce containers.

Pass the sauce, but maybe not your favorite brand

Shortages are another concern for buyers this year, along with rising prices caused by supply chain issues, labor shortages, inclement weather and inflation. The key is to plan ahead and purchase the key elements of the Thanksgiving meal ahead of time.

Dan Donovan, director of corporate communications for Giant Eagle, said all supermarkets, including Giant Eagle, are in a better position this year with product availability.

“We literally had a year to prepare for [the holidays] and learn from last year, and I think that made all the difference, ”he said.

Swartz said Acme buyers have been working on supply issues for the past 18 months as well, and Thanksgiving is no different.

“We encourage early shopping, but we’re going to be in stock and ready to take care of families for Thanksgiving,” Swartz said. “We do not anticipate any shortage of basic Thanksgiving meals.”

Tyler Nigh, store manager at Acme Fresh Market, works on a display of Thanksgiving preparations in green.

This year, Donovan said, there is no problem with shortages in entire product categories, like toilet paper and butter last year. Grocery store executives also don’t expect panic buying among holiday shoppers.

One of the main things buyers should keep in mind is the flexibility of the brand, Donovan said.

Thanksgiving dinner:How Are Inflation and Rising Grocery Prices Affecting Your Holiday Meal?

“I think the flexibility of the brand you are willing to buy will help both in terms of product availability and also potentially in terms of cost,” he said. “Giant Eagle store brands are a great way to save money compared to national brands.”

For example, Giant Eagle might not have that many turkeys in a certain brand this year, but they do have more brands of fresh and frozen turkeys.

“In each of those categories we have a number of brands. So while the Honeysuckle brand may be our most popular, we definitely want to bring in as many as possible, but it’s really important that we have brands as well. alternatives, ”Donovan said. “So this year it’s about making sure that – while we may not know that it’s the Honeysuckle brand or the Giant Eagle brand in as much quantity as we want – we need to make sure that we have several options for customers to kind of pivot and choose from. ”

Her top three tips for shoppers to cut meal costs are to buy frozen turkey, veg and fruit as soon as shoppers find deals, keep brand flexibility in mind, and consider the quantity you buy.

“I think it’s important that we try to buy only what we plan to use for our gathering,” he said, “being very careful about whether or not you would use the leftovers.

“Planning so that you don’t have this abundance of leftovers, I think, can be a big way to save money.”

One thing Giant Eagle is watching out for are canned sauce brands. Some national brands may not be as available store by store, Donovan said. The company therefore worked with suppliers to offer lesser-known brands as well as the Giant Eagle brand.

“The availability of national brands may not be as high as we would like,” he said.

Buy in advance for offers

A Thanksgiving display at the Acme Fresh Market in green.

Swartz said Acme sees a lot of double buying when it comes to Thanksgiving entry, with families buying both turkey and ham to serve. But the turkey remains the main feature.

Early purchases for the deals include buying the frozen bird, stuffing mixes, canned goods and wine at a good price.

Acme has prepared for customers to buy for larger family reunions this year, Swartz said, as opposed to small household meals during the height of the pandemic last year.

Serve seasonal fruits and vegetables

Dietitian Dimengo suggested that families buy seasonal fruits and vegetables to avoid the risk of not being able to find certain foods. Seasonal vegetables include Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, okra, and collard greens. Cranberries are in season, but blueberries, blackberries and strawberries are not.

She recommended boiling fresh cranberries with clementines, which are in season, to make a homemade cranberry sauce with the added benefits of clementines rich in antioxidants and vitamin C.

Be prepared to shop multiple stores for deals, even dollar stores, she recommended.

Even packaged buns have become more expensive due to the higher cost of most ingredients for commercial bakers, according to the New York Times.

“If you can find the ingredients to make something and you can’t find it all ready, just do it at home,” she suggested. “I would just make the homemade buns and then you control the ingredients as well.”

For convenience and fun, family members may plan to bring side dishes to keep costs down for the host and also have a recipe swap that includes sharing recipe cards.

Go to old school

Moe Schneider, owner of Moe’s restaurant in Cuyahoga Falls, said food prices will influence his family’s Thanksgiving dinner this year.

“For me, the oyster stuffing is over; I’m not doing this… just because oysters are so expensive,” she said. “The prices are astronomical, especially for the high end stuff.”

To keep prices in check, Schneider suggests a return to Thanksgiving. Stuff a skillet with day-old bread from Schwebel’s Bakery in Cuyahoga Falls, adding celery, celery leaves, onions, thyme, and lots of butter, a side dish Schneider’s mother made. regularly.

Another of her favorite sides, Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Balsamic, will be more expensive this year due to the rise in bacon prices.

A Thanksgiving display of ingredients for the Green Bean Casserole and Stuffing at Acme Fresh Market in Green.

For a simple and inexpensive return, she suggested a green bean casserole with cream of mushroom soup, canned or frozen cut green beans, and a garnish of fried onions. Another is the cornbread pudding with canned corn, creamed corn, a mixture of cornbread, sour cream and cheddar cheese.

For dessert, she swears by the pies from the Gardner Pie Co. outlet store in Portage Lakes, which sells frozen pies for $ 3.50 to $ 5.

And to get around the higher prices for wine, brought on by everything from higher energy costs to labor shortages, Schneider is a big fan of cheap varieties at Heinen’s in Hudson.

Heinen’s “Pick of the Vine” wines from around the world are available for under $ 15 and for many as low as $ 9.99.

Ultimately, cheap nostalgic foods could be the key this year, Schneider said.

“Keep it simple and do old-fashioned stuff that people don’t see anymore. I think it’s also incredibly heartwarming to have a good old-fashioned Thanksgiving,” she said.

Artistic writer Kerry Clawson can be reached at 330-996-3527 or kclawson@thebeaconjournal.com.

A Thanksgiving display awaits Acme buyers in green.

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Peggy P. Gilmore