Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and once again, many shoppers are feeling a financial squeeze that could make paying for the turkey and all the trimmings a real challenge.
The good news is that turkey prices have been falling — they were down 13% as of Oct. 30, Wells Fargo’s Agri-Food Institute told Bloomberg, and they’re expected to drop even more before the big day. But food-at-home prices are still up 2.4% overall compared with last October, the institute noted, so the cost of putting a Thanksgiving dinner on the table could very well end up costing more this year, even if the gobbler isn’t gobbling up as much of the budget.
Related: Spending like crazy? Struggling between paydays? Consumers are sending mixed signals ahead of the holidays.
Fortunately, many grocery store chains and retailers, including ShopRite
BJ’s Wholesale Club
and Lidl, have brought back their annual free-turkey promotions for their loyalty-program members. This usually involves spending a certain amount of money before Thanksgiving, which then earns the shopper a free turkey or ham for the holiday meal.
Supermarket giants like Walmart
and Aldi, meanwhile, are offering heavily discounted turkeys or Thanksgiving dinner ingredients to help take the bite out of their customers’ holiday budgets.
And food banks and food pantries are ready to help consumers throughout the year as well as for the Thanksgiving holiday.
MarketWatch has rounded up the deals and discounts. First up: the turkey.
Where to bag a free turkey this Thanksgiving
Here are eight supermarkets where shoppers can earn a free turkey over the next few weeks.
Acme: These grocery stores under the Albertson’s
brand are offering a free Signature Farms frozen turkey (between 10 and 22 pounds) or a frozen turkey breast (between 4 and 7 pounds) for loyalty shoppers who spend $400. Customers must clip the free-turkey coupon in the Acme for U app and spend $400 cumulatively between Oct. 13 and Nov. 23 to get the free turkey, which must be redeemed by Nov. 23.
BJ’s Wholesale Club: Starting Nov. 1, anyone with a BJ’s digital account who spends $150 in one transaction (after discounts but before taxes and fees) through Nov. 9 will qualify for a free Butterball fresh or frozen turkey (excluding organic varieties) valued at up to $25. Once a customer has made the qualifying $150 transaction, they can check their coupon gallery in the BJ’s app or on BJs.com between Nov. 11 and Nov. 22 to claim their free-turkey offer, then return to a BJ’s club or place a pick-up or same-day delivery order for their bird by Nov. 22.
Foodtown: Regulars who shop with their club card now through Thanksgiving and spend $400 (before taxes and after discounts) qualify for a certificate for a Turkey Day freebie of their choice, including a free frozen Shady Brook Farms turkey of between 10 and 20 pounds, a free Stouffer’s lasagna entrée at 90 to 96 ounces or a free $10 store gift card. Those who hit the $400 rewards cap can score reduced prices on a Cook’s Ham Portion for 49 cents a pound, a Cook’s Spiral-Sliced Ham on the bone for $1.49 a pound, a turkey breast for 49 cents a pound or any other brand of turkey, kosher turkey or turkey breast for 49 cents a pound.
Giant: Beginning Nov. 1, loyalty members who redeem 400 points in store or online through Nov. 23 can claim their choice of a free Thanksgiving dinner centerpiece, including a free frozen Shady Brook Farms turkey up to 20 pounds, a tofurkey (tofu turkey) roast or a “party-size” Stouffer’s entrée. Or they can get $1 off per pound on other premium turkeys up to 20 pounds. And if shoppers don’t need the free turkey or entrée, they can donate it to a local food bank.
H-E-B: From Nov. 1 through Nov. 7, shoppers who purchase select H-E-B spiral hams can get a free frozen Riverside turkey up to 12 pounds. There’s a limit of one per customer, and the discount will be applied in the cart, no coupon-clipping necessary.
Lidl: The German discount retail chain that’s been giving Aldi a run for its money in the U.S. is also giving out a free turkey or ham for its “myLidl” loyalty-program members who spend $500 in November. But if hitting that $500 total feels like a stretch, there are also rewards for smaller spending milestones, including a buy one, get one free offer on select pasta after hitting the $100 reward tier, or a free bakery bread or baguette after hitting the $250 reward tier. All rewards, including the free turkey, are valid until the 7th of the following month.
ShopRite: Shoppers who present their Price Plus cards to the cashier when they check out will be racking up a spending balance — and once they spend $400 between Oct. 15 and Nov. 23, they qualify for one of the following freebies: A ShopRite or Bowl & Basket All-Natural Frozen Turkey, any size up to 21 pounds; a Cooks Butt or Shank ½ Smoked Ham; any Cook’s Spiral-Sliced Ham, Boneless Ham or any other smoked ham up to 12 pounds; an Empire or Kosher Frozen Roasting Chicken up to 8 pounds; a frozen Gardein Plant-Based Roast at 35.2 ounces; a frozen 56-ounce tofurkey (tofu turkey); or any variety of Stouffer’s Frozen Lasagna at 90 to 96 ounces. Hitting the $400 spending mark also unlocks discounts on other fresh, frozen or kosher turkey brands and other items. There’s a limit of one per family. Customers can check the bottom of their receipt, which will have their running total of purchases. Once they’ve reached the $400 purchase requirement, they can pick up the free item the next time they shop at any ShopRite store.
Weis Markets: Weis Rewards Card holders who accumulate 400 points (by spending $400, as most qualifying purchases earn one point for every dollar spent) through Nov. 23 can earn a free Thanksgiving entrée — or in some cases, shoppers who hit 200 points can get these items for a discount: a Weis Quality frozen turkey (free with 400 points or 69 cents a pound with 200 points); a frozen turkey breast (free with 400 points or 99 cents a pound with 200 points); a Smithfield Smoked Bone-in Ham (free with 400 points or 99 cents a pound with 200 points); a Butterball frozen turkey (99 cents a pound with 200 points); a Weiss Quality fresh turkey (99 cents a pound with 200 points ); a Butterball fresh turkey ($1.99 a pound with 200 points); or a frozen kosher turkey ($2.99 a pound with 200 points).
How to find a food pantry near you
Many community organizations, food pantries, churches and other religious organizations, as well as local shelters, also provide free Thanksgiving dinners or ingredients. Here are some resources to help you find one in your area.
Feeding America: This nonprofit organization has a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 meal programs to help people find free food. There is a search tool to locate the group’s food banks or programs by Zip code. You can also click here for help with applying for federal assistance programs like SNAP or EBT benefits.
Meals On Wheels: This program delivers meals to people age 60 and over who are unable to purchase or prepare their own meals — including Thanksgiving dinner. Click here for more information.
United Way 211: Call 211, the United Way assistance line, to tell an operator where you live. They can help you locate organizations in your area that are offering free turkeys or Thanksgiving meals. The 211 network in the United States responds to more than 20 million requests for help every year, all calls are confidential, and you can remain anonymous if you wish. This assistance line can also answer questions about supplemental food and nutrition programs, shelter and housing options, utilities assistance and more.
Where to score discounts on Thanksgiving turkeys and sides
Some retailers aren’t offering a free bird, but they are slashing the prices of their turkeys and hams, as well as the ingredients needed to make traditional Thanksgiving side dishes.
Aldi: No free or discounted turkeys have been announced at Aldi yet, but the German chain has advertised savings of up to 50% off on over 70 holiday staples like gravy, green beans and cranberries, beginning Nov. 1 and running through the end of the year. Aldi estimates these savings mean that shoppers can afford to invite three more guests to their Thanksgiving dinner table — depending on product prices by location, of course.
Costco: The big-box retailer has opened preorders for a ready-made Fortune Gourmet Thanksgiving Dinner that serves eight people for $149.99. Costco members can score a 5-pound turkey breast, 2 pounds of stuffing, 1.5 pounds of mashed potatoes and 8 ounces of turkey gravy, 1.25 pounds of macaroni and cheese, two 8-inch pies and more. Preorder by Nov. 5 for delivery between Nov. 8 and Nov. 17.
Target: The retailer announced on Nov. 1 that it’s hawking a Thanksgiving meal serving four for under $25: a 10-pound frozen Good & Gather Premium Basted Young Turkey, 5 pounds of Good & Gather Russet Potatoes, 14.5 ounces of Good & Gather Cut Green Beans, a 22-ounce can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup, a 14-ounce can of Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce, 6 ounces of Stove Top Turkey Stuffing Mix and 12 ounces of Heinz HomeStyle Roasted Turkey Gravy. Target is also offering turkey for under $1 a pound and sides for under $5.
Walmart: The retail giant says 92% of surveyed Walmart shoppers have expressed some level of concern about how inflation will affect their holiday celebrations. So the retailer is doubling down on the inflation-fighting holiday discounts it rolled out last year, when it offered Thanksgiving ingredients at 2021 prices. Walmart says those discounts saved customers more than $1 billion between Thanksgiving 2022 and Easter this year. Starting Nov. 1, Walmart is “removing inflation” again, offering a traditional turkey dinner for an even lower price than last year, including turkey for less than $1 a pound.
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