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Holiday heartburn: Thanksgiving feast could be more expensive than ever

The price of just about everything has increased this year over last but there are ways for you to keep costs down while still enjoying the holiday

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Thanksgiving is less than three weeks away, and now is the time to start thinking about the feast and budgeting for it. Experts say just about every aspect of the meal — from the turkey to pumpkin pie — will cost more due to inflation. 

Ingredients for traditional Thanksgiving dishes, like yams and apples, could be pricier and harder to find this year.

"Thanksgiving last year versus Thanksgiving this year couldn't be any more different," Dr. Trey Malone, an agriculture and food economist at Michigan State University, told NBC's Today Show. "Last year, we saw shockingly low prices in terms of what the average Thanksgiving was costing. I think we're expecting very high Thanksgiving prices this year."

The star of most feasts, the turkey, is set to surpass all-time record costs per pound by the end of the year. But why? 

Experts say the nation's food supply has been hit hard by transportation costs, delivery disruptions, labor shortages and of course, inflation. There's also higher demand this year. 

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After COVID-19 forced many people to have smaller celebrations in 2020, people are planning large gatherings this year because of vaccine availability. 

Another thing you may not immediately think about? The price of gas. According to GasBuddy, a website that monitors fuel prices nationwide, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded in North Carolina this time last year was $1.89. Now? AAA says the average price is $3.24 a gallon, so you'll spend almost twice as much on fuel getting to your celebration. 

But don't worry, it's not all doom and gloom. Sure, you can't do anything about gas prices, but there are ways to make sure your Thanksgiving dinner doesn't bust your budget. 

When it comes to the turkey, consider buying a smaller one or opting for just a breast instead of the whole bird. Experts also recommend shopping early. 

Customers should compare prices at stores where they may not normally shop and use a rebate app or rewards cards to save money. 

In the spirit of sharing and caring, consider hosting a potluck-style dinner to spread costs between guests so it's not on just one person to pick up the bill for a full meal. 

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