A looming turkey shortage coupled with rising inflation means that your Thanksgiving turkey is going to be hard to find and really pricey this year. Not only have food costs continued to creep up at an alarming rate thanks to inflation, turkey supplies are particularly tight thanks to a decision back in 2019 by turkey producers to cut back on the number of birds they raise after the price of turkey crashed. All this has been exacerbated by the ravages of avian flu, which killed 3.6% of the nation's turkeys this year, reducing the number of birds available to purchase in the grocery store further, according to The New York Times.
What that means is that prices for turkey are going to be a lot higher than they were last year — in fact they could be as much as double. And it also means you might want to do your Thanksgiving preparations well in advance. Like, yes, right now. "I tell people if they are going to buy one of our turkeys, if they see one in the store they better pick it up and put it in the freezer," poultry producer Greg Gunthrop told The New York Times. He added that "I've never seen anything as crazy as the turkey market right now."
If turkey is a priority for your Thanksgiving meal, it's worth taking some extra precautions to get it this year. But if you're open to Thanksgiving meals that don't include turkey, there are still plenty of excellent options. Last year, former Food52 staffer Rebecca Firkser developed a $30 Thanksgiving menu with those with tight budgets in mind. Focusing on side dishes — a fan favorite anyway — is another good way to avoid the price hike in turkey. And, of course, you could go all vegetarian or vegan and avoid the fluctuations in meat prices altogether, often the most pricey part of the holiday meal. But if you do decide to go the turkey route, and you manage to snag that coveted piece of poultry, we also have a few suggestions for how best to cook it.