By Mike Pomranz
Updated November 17, 2016
Credit: ©GraphicaArtis/Getty Images

It’s that time of year again: Where the American Farm Bureau Federation releases its Thanksgiving dinner price index, and you figure out whether you can actually afford to celebrate this season or will once again spend Turkey Day spoon-feeding yourself a lone can of cranberry sauce.

Last year, after 30 years of crunching the numbers on feeding ten people a twelve item Thanksgiving dinner, the AFBF found that the price of the meal had topped $50 for the first time in the index’s history. However, with all the news we’ve heard of dropping grocery prices in 2016, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that, this year, the Farm Bureau’s 31st annual price survey found that cost of dinner had dipped back down below 50 bucks, making the meal a mere $49.87.

“Consumers will pay less than $5 per person for a classic Thanksgiving dinner this year,” AFBF Director of Market Intelligence Dr. John Newton said on the group’s website. “We have seen farm prices for many foods - including turkeys - fall from the higher levels of recent years. This translates into lower retail prices for a number of items as we prepare for Thanksgiving and confirms that U.S. consumers benefit from an abundant, high-quality and affordable food supply.”

The Farm Bureau’s listed price of a 16-pound turkey was down 30 cents this year, dropping to $22.74. Newton also specifically called out two other items from the AFBF’s index. “Due to a significant expansion in global milk production, prices fell to the lowest levels since 2009, leading to lower retail milk and dairy product prices,” he said. “Additionally, this year's pumpkin prices are slightly lower following the production decline and higher prices seen in 2015.” The two biggest increases on the index (at least purely in dollar value) were rolls and pie shells, meaning that the carbs are doing more than attacking your waistline this year: They’re also taking 33 cents more in total from your wallet.

According to the AFBF, “a total of 148 volunteer shoppers checked prices at grocery stores in 40 states for this year's survey” looking out “for the best possible prices, without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals, such as spending $50 and receiving a free turkey.”

So true bargain hunters could probably serve up dinner for even cheaper than $49.87. Or save even more money and just stick to your can of cranberry sauce tradition. Tradition is really what Thanksgiving is all about anyway.