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A time to celebrate family, food and its affordability

The average cost to prepare a traditional thanksgiving dinner for 10 is less than $5 per person.


To my surprise, our son recently announced how much he loves Thanksgiving. Keep in mind, this comes from a kid who started his Christmas wish list in August. For a couple weeks this fall, he and his sister discussed whether our 10-month-old farm dog should dress as a delivery driver or a hot dog for Halloween.


So, Thanksgiving? He says this holiday of thankfulness starts with a cool parade on TV. We spend the day with cousins, and the food is “really, really good.” I agree, and it rates one of the most affordable for many reasons: No gifts, simple decorations, and comfort food at a comfortable price. In fact, the ingredients to make the classic Thanksgiving meal cost about $50 for a gathering of 10 people, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF). For 35 years, the nation’s largest farm organization has calculated the cost of the classic fixings of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie, coffee and milk to be under $5 per person. AFBF even predicts leftovers at that bargain price.



Most fast-food meals cost more than that. Our family’s Thanksgiving likely does, too, as we traditionally exceed the meal’s basic menu requirements. Then again, every household participates to share in the expense. My sister-in-law’s cheese ball shaped as a turkey makes a festive appetizer. My aunt pan-fries sweet potatoes to a delectable glaze ladened with margarine and sugar. While green in color, my grandma’s pistachio pudding layer salad certainly doesn’t meet the universal definition of salad. Yet in good-old Midwestern fashion, we treat it like a salad in the food line despite the whipped topping. Then, we have dessert, too.


My British brother-in-law loves Thanksgiving for layered pumpkin-pecan pie. His parents like it, too, and sometimes visit from England during this traditionally American holiday. They like how the celebration brings family together for a combination of great food and company without the obligations and pressure to purchase presents. Still, they bring us boxes of British chocolates.


Our son’s favorite part of the meal is turkey with Grandma’s dressing. Our daughter loves Granny’s butterhorn rolls. My tastebuds like everything, including a dollop of homemade cranberry sauce that took me nearly 40 years to appreciate. Kudos to my son for appreciating the simplicity of this holiday so young. If I can only get him to crave the cranberries earlier in life than me.

About the author: Joanie Stiers’ family grows corn, soybeans and hay and raises beef cattle and backyard chickens in West-Central Illinois.



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