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This Popular Grocery Store Offers the Most Affordable Thanksgiving

Between Aldi, Walmart, Publix, and Whole Foods, who has the best prices?
harvest thanksgiving with friends

Fact: Thanksgiving dinner is expensive—really expensive. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, in 2018, the average American family spent about $50 shopping for all the traditional ingredients of a Turkey Day meal for 10 people. Luckily, someone figured out how to host a full holiday for just $30 by shopping at one specific grocery store, a total savings of 40 percent!

Last week, a reporter for the South Florida Sun Sentinel visited four of the nation's major grocery stores—Aldi, Walmart, Publix, and Whole Foods—armed with a grocery list and a mission: to figure out which one has the most affordable prices for a dozen of the most common Thanksgiving food items. The result? If you live near one, Aldi should be your go-to grocer for the most affordable Thanksgiving.

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So, what exactly gets included in a "common" Thanksgiving meal? To evaluate prices, the reporter bought these 12 staple Thanksgiving items:

  • one 12-pound turkey
  • a bag (or two boxes) of stuffing
  • three pounds of sweet potatoes
  • five pounds of regular potatoes
  • one pound of green beans (non-frozen)
  • one packet of turkey gravy
  • a can of crescent rolls
  • a can of cranberry jelly
  • a quart of chicken (or turkey) stock
  • a pound of butter
  • a half-gallon of milk
  • one prepared dessert

All told, the final results across the four grocery stores were:

  • Aldi: $30.36
  • Walmart: $32.73
  • Publix: $40.18
  • Whole Foods: $62.48

Even though Aldi's overall meal was the most affordable, there was variation among prices between the stores:

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  • Publix sold the lowest-priced turkey: $5.88 compared to $7.08. (Meanwhile, the Whole Foods turkey was nearly $23.)
  • Walmart offered cranberry jelly ($0.98) and chicken stock ($1.22) at lower prices than Aldi.
  • Publix had the priciest sweet potatoes: $4.47 for three pounds. (Even Whole Foods offered three pounds of sweet potatoes for $2.39.)
  • Most astounding, desserts at Whole Foods (which were $10 each) cost nearly twice what they did at Aldi and Walmart (which were around $5.90 each).

All in all, outside of the egregiously priced turkey (and pies!) at Whole Foods, most items between the stores didn't differ too much. But when you're buying a dozen things at once for an entire holiday feast in one go, things add up quickly, and every dollar counts.

To be sure, an intrepid host could peruse the entire report, pinpoint the lowest-cost individual items, and drive from chain to chain, picking up only the most affordable items at each grocery store for the ultimate cost-saving Thanksgiving meal. But that poses another question: How much would that cost in gas? Your best bet: Stick to Aldi if there's one near you. And if not, beeline to your nearest Walmart (you're probably already going there anyway, right?).

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Ari Notis
Ari is an editor specializing in news and lifestyle. Read more