Originally created 11/18/99

Cost of Thanks



For many American families, Thanksgiving Day means a house full of extended family and long days of laborious cooking and cleanup.

But fewer people will be slaves in the kitchen this year, basting, baking and loading a steady stream of casseroles into the oven. Instead, they'll leave the cooking to the professionals and eat out or order a catered dinner from a grocery store. And in most cases, they'll dine for less money than it would cost to cook themselves.

Winn-Dixie has been offering prepared Thanksgiving dinners for 15 years, and each year the grocery store sells more of its hassle-free meals.

"The demand is definitely growing," said Harold Greene, marketing director of Winn-Dixie's Charlotte Division. "Today's working, dual-income family is time pressed, and they contribute to the growth of the prepared dinner category. The people ordering for Thanksgiving are usually ordering for four to six people, but we do have some larger groups that take advantage."

Winn-Dixie offers a prepared Thanksgiving meal, including a turkey, dressing, gravy, green-bean casserole, sweet-potato casserole, cranberry sauce, one dozen dinner rolls, and a pumpkin pie for a family of six to eight, for about $40.

The groceries needed to prepare the same meal at home would cost almost $74, in addition to the time spent cooking and cleaning. Other supermarkets offer the same size catered dinner for about the same price, ranging from $40 to $54.

"We're seeing more and more customers wanting the prepared dinners every year," said Anet Granger, Kroger advertising manager. "Around 70 percent of all women work, and a lot of people work up until the night before Thanksgiving. They have company coming in, and this is so much easier."

At Kroger, prepared holiday meals can be ordered up until Thanksgiving Day. Like the other supermarkets, basic turkey dinners are available to serve groups as small as four people and as large as 12. Prepared casseroles and side dishes can also be purchased a la carte.

"The complete dinner sells more than the side dishes themselves, but we offer them separately for those who want to prepare some of their own meal," Ms. Granger said. "It all depends on how much of the labor you want Kroger to do."

Other families avoid kitchen hassles by visiting their favorite restaurants on Thanksgiving Day. For some, the trip to the Thanksgiving buffet has become a holiday tradition in itself.

"Thanksgiving Day is one of our busiest days of the year," said Ruth Griffin, restaurant manager at the Sheraton Augusta Hotel, which offers a Thanksgiving buffet for about $20 a person. "We have everyone from families that don't want to cook to people who are staying at the hotel during the holidays to retired couples whose children are spending the holiday with other family members."

All but two of the Thanksgiving reservations taken so far this year for the Sheraton buffet have been repeat customers, Ms. Griffin said.

The Partridge Inn has offered a Thanksgiving buffet every year since the restaurant opened 12 years ago, and every year it's booked solid.

Adult plates ring in at $24.95 this year, which includes music from one of the house jazz bands.

"Coming here for Thanksgiving is a tradition to a lot of people in Augusta because they've always come here, and they have a lot of close friends that eat here," said Kevin Kilchenstein, food and beverage director.

Prepared vs. homemade

Here's the estimated cost of buying groceries for a homemade Thanksgiving dinner that feeds six to eight people as opposed to purchasing a prepared meal at a grocery store.

Dinners include 8- to 10-pound turkey, gravy, dressing, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole (2 pounds), sweet potato casserole (2 pounds), one dozen packaged dinner rolls and a pumpkin pie. Prices do not include tax.

Our grocery list called for: salt/pepper, all-purpose flour, cloves, ginger, sage, vanilla, cinnamon, brown sugar, two sticks butter, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, 11 eggs, three onions, celery, two carrots, one orange, cranberries (two cans), seven sweet potatoes, pecans, green beans (three cans), condensed chicken broth (six cans), mushroom soup (one can), canned pumpkin (one can), 8-10 pound turkey, soft bread crumbs, 12 dinner rolls, cornmeal, pie crust, milk, evaporated skim milk (one can), buttermilk, fried onions and corn flakes.

If cook has typical staples such as salt, pepper, flour and baking powders on hand, cost for groceries would be reduced by about $4.50.

Items were matched brand for brand when available. When exact brand was not available, items comparable in cost and size were substituted. (Click here for an itemized list of groceries required for Thanksgiving dinner and their prices at local grocery stores.)

PUBLIX

Homemade: $72.09

Prepared: $48.36

Reservation deadline: Monday

KROGER

Homemade: $79.19

Prepared: $54.96

Reservation deadline: Thanksgiving Day

WINN-DIXIE

Homemade: $73.45

Prepared: $40.94

Reservation deadline: Noon on Thanksgiving Day

FOOD LION

Homemade: $68.39

Prepared: $45.93

Reservation deadline: Monday

(Dinner includes mashed potatoes)

BI-LO

Homemade: $75.89

Prepared: $41.85

Reservation deadline: Monday

S&S CAFETERIA

A take-out meal with a 10-pound turkey, dressing and gravy is $26.95. Side dishes sold separately. Green beans, sweet potatoes, etc., $5.69 a quart; pie, $5.89; rolls, $4.20 per dozen. Total for meal comparable to grocery stores above: $48.82

Cost of Thanksgiving dinner at some Augusta-area restaurants

THE PARTRIDGE INN

Thanksgiving Day buffet: Menu includes six gourmet salads, smoked fish display, roast prime rib, shrimp & grits casserole, cornbread and oyster stuffing and seven desserts.

Seatings at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

AUGUSTINO'S, RADISSON RIVERFRONT HOTEL

Thanksgiving Day buffet menu (upstairs) includes salad bar, traditional turkey dinner, mashed potatoes, vegetables and cornbread.

Seatings from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Adults: $18.95

Seniors: $13.95

Children 5-12: $8.95

Under 5: Free

Reservations required: 823-6521

Augustino's downstairs dining room will be open for lunch and dinner. Menu includes roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, squash casserole, salad and dessert.

Adults: $9.95 (lunch); $14.95 (dinner)

Children half price, seniors 10 percent off

Reservations preferred: 823-6521

ANDREW'S SEA GRILLE, SHERATON AUGUSTA HOTEL

Thanksgiving Day buffet menu includes traditional Thanksgiving meal, fresh fruit, imported cheese, smoked salmon, crab legs, two soups and 10 desserts.

Seatings from 11:45 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.

Adults: $19.95

Seniors: $18.95

Children 5-10: $9.95

Under 5: Free

Reservations required: 855-8100

RAMADA PLAZA HOTEL, Broad Street

Thanksgiving Day buffet menu includes turkey, stuffing, roast beef, baked Virginia ham, broiled flounder, salads, vegetables, dessert bar. Available 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Adults: 12.95

Seniors: $11.95

Reservations requested: 722-5541, Ext. 7112

ASHLEY'S, HOLIDAY INN, GORDON HIGHWAY

Thanksgiving Day buffet menu includes traditional holiday cuisine. Available 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Adults: $11.95

Children: $6.95

No reservations required.

S&S CAFETERIA

Open all day, regular menu includes salad, turkey, two vegetables and dessert

Adults: $6.62

Children 10 & Under: $1.99

SHONEY'S RESTAURANT

Thanksgiving Day buffet menu includes turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, assorted vegetables, rolls, soup and salad bar, fruit and pumpkin pie

Adults: $6.99

Children 6-12: $3.49

5 and under: Free

CRACKER BARREL RESTAURANT

Thanksgiving dinner includes turkey, ham, cranberry sauce, cornbread dressing, sweet potato casserole, two vegetables, iced tea and pie. Available after 11 a.m.

Adults: $7.99

Children: $2.99

Itemized grocery list

Here is an itemized list of groceries required for Thanksgiving dinner and their prices at local grocery stores:

PUBLIX:

Saltpepper: $1.35
All-purpose flour: 99 cents
Cloves: $3.49
Ginger: $2.09
Sage $2.89
Vanilla: $2.29
Cinnamon: 99 cents
Brown sugar: $1.19
2 sticks butter: $3.09
Sugar: $1.19
Baking soda: 33 cents
Baking powder: $1.49
11 eggs: 50 cents
3 onions: $1.50
Celery: $1.19
2 carrots: $1.15
1 orange: 25 cents
4 cups cranberries: (2 cans) 89 cents, buy one get one free
7 sweet potatoes: $4.14
Pecans: $6.29
Green beans: (4 cups or 3 cans) $1.63
6 10-ounce cans condensed chicken broth: $4.14
1 can cream of mushroom soup: 89 cents
16 oz. canned pumpkin: 99 cents
10 lb. turkey: $12.64
Soft breadcrumbs: $1.69
12 dinner rolls: $1.99
Cornmeal: $1.69
Pie crust: $1.49
Milk: $1.79
Evaporated skim milk: 89 cents
Buttermilk: $2.19
Fried onions: $1.49
Corn Flakes: $1.29
TOTAL: $72.09 (plus tax)

KROGER

Saltpepper: $2.78
All-purpose flour: 99 cents
Cloves: $3.99
Ginger: $3.49
Sage: $2.49
Vanilla: $2.39
Cinnamon: $1.79
Brown sugar: $1.19
2 Sticks butter: $2.50
Sugar: $1.19
Baking soda: 50 cents
Baking powder: $1.49
11 eggs: $1.99
3 onions: $1.35
Celery: $1.39
2 carrots: 59 cents
1 orange: 33 cents
4 cups cranberries: (2 cans) $2.38
7 Sweet potatoes: $4.14
Pecans $6.99
Green beans (4 cups): $2.07
6 (10 oz.) cans condensed chicken broth: $3 (2 for $1)
1 can cream of mushroom soup: 79 cents
16 oz. canned pumpkin: 99 cents
10 lb. turkey: $13.08
Soft breadcrumbs: $1.69
12 Dinner roll: $1.39
Cornmeal: $1.89
Pie crust: $1.79
Milk: $1.99
Evaporated skim milk: 79 cents
Buttermilk: $1.59
Fried onions: $1.69
Corn Flakes: $2.49
Total: $79.19 (plus tax)

WINN-DIXIE

Salt/pepper: $1.45
All purpose flour: 79 cents
Cloves: $4.79
Ginger: $2.78
Sage: $1.99
Vanilla: $2.88
Cinnamon: $1.97
Brown sugar: $1.18
2 Sticks butter: $2
Sugar: 99 cents
Baking soda: 41 cents
Baking powder: 98 cents
11 eggs: $1.12
3 onions: $1.32 (yellow)
Celery: 98 cents
2 carrots: 50 cents
1 orange: 25 cents
4 Cups cranberries: (2 cans) $2.38
7 Sweet potatoes: $4.96
Pecans (smallest): $9.37
Green beans (4 cups or 3 cans): $1.63
6 (10 oz.) cans condensed chicken broth: $3
1 Can cream of mushroom soup: 99 cents
16 oz. canned pumpkin: 97 cents
10 lb. turkey: $10.05
Soft breadcrumbs: $1.09
12 Dinner roll: $1.99
Cornmeal: $1.79
Pie crust: $1.39
Milk: $1.99
Evaporated skim milk: 79 cents
Buttermilk: $1.32
Fried onions: $1.39 (smallest)
Corn flakes: $1.97
TOTAL: $73.45 (plus tax)

FOOD LION

Salt/pepper: $1.54
All purpose flour: 89 cents
Cloves: $2.59
Ginger: N/A
Sage: $2.89
Vanilla: $2.39
Cinnamon: $1.39
Brown sugar: 99 cents
2 Sticks butter: $2.99
Sugar: 89 cents
Baking soda: 33 cents
Baking powder: $1.39
11 eggs: 97 cents
3 onions: $1.38
Celery: 99 cents
2 Carrots: 69 cents
1 orange: 25 cents
4 Cups cranberries: (2 cans) $1
7 Sweet potatoes: $3.68
Pecans: $5.99
Green beans (4 cups or 3 cans): $1.99
6 (10 oz.) cans condensed chicken broth: $4.94
1 can cream of mushroom soup: 85 cents
16 oz. canned pumpkin: 89 cents
10 lb. turkey: $10.33
Soft breadcrumbs: $1.32
12 Dinner rolls: 99 cents
Cornmeal: $1.59
Pie crust: $1.29
Milk: $1.94
Evaporated skim milk: 79 cents
Buttermilk: $1.94
Fried onions: $1.50
Corn Flakes: $1.99
TOTAL: $68.39

BI-LO

Salt/pepper: $1.94
All-purpose flour: 99 cents
Cloves: $4.59
Ginger: $2.89
Sage: $3.59
Vanilla: $1.99
Cinnamon: $1.39
Brown sugar: $1.39
2 Sticks butter: $2.99
Sugar: $1.25
Baking soda: 39 cents
Baking Powder: 89 cents
11 eggs: $1.49
3 Onions: $1.93
Celery: $1.19
2 carrots: 99 cents
1 orange: 50 cents
4 cups cranberries: (2 cans) $2.18
7 Sweet potatoes: $5.53
Pecans: $6.98
Green beans: (4 cups or 3 cans) $1.93
6 (10 oz.) cans condensed chicken broth: $3.90
1 can cream of mushroom soup: 89 cents
16 oz. canned pumpkin: 99 cents
10 lb. turkey: $9.47
Soft breadcrumbs: $1.35
12 Dinner roll: 89 cents
Cornmeal: $1.89
Pie crust: 99 cents
Milk: $1.89
Evaporated skim milk: 89 cents
Buttermilk: $1.99
Fried onions: $1.45
Corn Flakes: $2.29
TOTAL: $75.89 (plus tax)

Reach Scotty Fletcher at (706) 823-3217.