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Despite high inflation and avian flu outbreaks that killed over 6 million turkeys and are contributing to higher prices on turkeys, 87% of Americans are still planning to serve them for their Thanksgiving meal. But if you’re still on the fence about your holiday dinner consider this – analysts at Wells Fargo say dining out for Thanksgiving may be more cost-effective than cooking at home this year when you consider all the time and money people spend on the huge meal.

How can that be? For one thing, there’s been less of an inflation hit to the cost of dining out than grocery costs. And when it comes to Thanksgiving, analysts say the cost of ingredients for the meal have seen some of the biggest year-over-year increases, including eggs (up 32.5%), butter (up 25.8%) and flour (up 17.1%).

But if you’re a traditionalist who likes to cook the Turkey Day feast at home, experts advise not waiting to buy your bird. Those who shop early will find more selection on size and typically score better deals and discounts, too.

According to a recent survey from Morning Consult:

  • Half of those hosting Thanksgiving bought their turkeys between late October and early November and only 11% plan to wait until the week of Thanksgiving to do so.
  • That’s down from the 29% who planned to buy their turkeys a few days before Thanksgiving in 2021.
  • To bring down the cost of the meal, more hosts are planning to cut down on the number of side dishes at their holiday meal.

Since those who hosted Thanksgiving last year estimate they spent 9.6 hours cooking and preparing the feast, maybe dining out is starting to sound like a better option. And as the experts at Wells Fargo said, “You could spend about the same on a dish at a restaurant as you would preparing it at home.”