What Does Cooking a Thanksgiving Meal Cost You Besides Your Sanity?



If you have ever hosted a Thanksgiving dinner at your home, you know how hard it can be to coordinate all those hot dishes at once. Also, you must well make sure the turkey isn’t dry, and that your house is spotless because your mother-in-law will make a snide comment if she finds a speck of dust. Add to the list your attempts to get your kids to dress nice and pose for a picture before slopping gravy all over their outfit; you understand Thanksgiving comes with some financial and emotional costs. Many people recognize the cost of buying all that food, and if you have ever hosted a Thanksgiving you understand the emotional cost to your mental health. But what about the hidden costs of energy? What are the other impacts of your Thanksgiving dinner?

If you are environmentally conscious, you may want to know your turkey dinner’s carbon footprint. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have done a state by state comparison of the Thanksgiving Dinner carbon footprint. Carnegie Mellon University researchers calculated the carbon footprint of a typical Thanksgiving feast – roasted turkey stuffed with sausage and apples, green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie. The team based their calculations on the way the meal is cooked (gas versus electric range), the specific state’s predominant power source, and how the food is produced in each area. You can see where your state lands on the list here.

My home state (Missouri) was in the top 10.

In case you were wondering how much electricity you were spending to make your Thanksgiving Dinner and the corresponding financial impact to your wallet, my crack staff and I have done all the calculations. Consider this our Festivus gift to you! (If you disagree with our estimates, you can address them during the “airing of grievances”).


18lb Turkey  – Oven time 240 minutes

Stuffing – Oven time 45 minutes

Green Bean Casserole – Oven time 45 minutes

Sweet Potato Casserole – Oven time 60 minutes

Mashed Potatoes & Gravy – Stovetop 35minutes

Cranberry Sauce – Stovetop minutes 10 (apparently some people eat hot cranberries?)

Rolls with butter – Oven time 15 minutes

Stuffed Mushrooms – Oven time 45 minutes

Spinach Artichoke Dip – Oven time 25 minutes

Pumpkin & Pecan Pie – Oven & Stovetop 125 minutes

We also took into consideration brewing coffee, doing two loads of dishes in the dishwasher (including heating water in the water heater), and the kids playing on their Xbox in the basement for a few hours to avoid Uncle Larry’s version of holiday spice. The above menu would cost the typical Missouri family $5.32 (based on a 12cent/kWh cost of electricity).

So, after Thanksgiving Dinner, relax and emotionally recover, and consider putting out a tip jar to recover your costs next year. You could use that extra money to hire a caterer. Happy Thanksgiving.

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