Turkey is the time-honored centerpiece of most Thanksgiving Day meals and we’ve gotten used to it being an economical buy, especially as the holiday grows closer.
But with inflation still rising and food prices soaring to 11% more than they were this time last year, Thanksgiving could be pretty expensive this year.
And as for that delicious bird?
Farm Bureau says the cost of a turkey could reach record prices this year thanks to the impacts of inflation and bird flu. The price of a fresh, boneless skinless turkey breast reached $6.70 per pound in September — 112% higher than this time last year. The average price per pound of a whole turkey sits at $1.99 compared to $1.21 in 2021, a 60% increase.
But all is not lost. Consumers still have plenty of options when it comes to getting inexpensive and even free Thanksgiving turkeys.
We’ve rounded up some of the best deals in 2022 to make sure you have that delicious bird as the centerpiece at your Thanksgiving table.
How to Get a Free Turkey This Year
Luckily, there are a number of grocers who offer free turkey promotions to bring more hungry holiday shoppers into their stores and to help keep budgets in check.
In general, it’s not worth it to spend $300 on random items just to score a bird you could get for $20 to $30. But if you’re going to spend that money anyway, why not get the turkey on the house?
Think about some of the food you’ll be making for December celebrations and if you need to stock up on spices, dried herbs or other shelf-stable ingredients, you can buy those now. Stock, flour, sugar, canned goods and more will keep through the next cooking cycle.
One word of warning on our list: All of these offers vary by store, so you’ll want to call ahead to make sure your favorite location is participating.
Here are stores that have announced their free turkey promos for 2022.
1. Acme Markets
Then, you’ll have to spend $300 or more while shopping in store through Nov. 24. After you’ve met that minimum spend, you can claim your free turkey at the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states chain.
If you don’t want a whole frozen turkey, you also have the option to choose a ham or a $10 Foodtown gift card.
If turkey isn’t your thing, you can also redeem your certificate for a free Stouffer’s family-size lasagna or a free tofurky roast. You can also choose to donate your turkey through Giant to a local food bank.
You can redeem your certificate beginning Nov. 11.
Purchase a Hormel Cure 81 ham by Dec. 13, and Hy-Vee will reward you with a free 10- to 14-pound Honeysuckle turkey. For each ham purchased, they will also put 50 cents on your Fuel Saver card. The amount of hams you can buy to receive this deal is unlimited.
First, you have to earn points on purchases from Oct. 16 through Thanksgiving with your Price Plus club card.
Once you spend a certain amount (check your local store’s circular for details), present your Price Plus club card to the cashier to receive one of 10 free items, including a free turkey up to 21 pounds, turkey breast, chicken, lasagna, Gardein plant-based roast, tofurky, ham or a whole picnic.
You can pick up your free item any day up to and including Thanksgiving Day.
6. Weis Market
If you’re part of Weis’ rewards program, your reward points could get you a Thanksgiving turkey for free.
It’s pretty simple: You earn one point for every dollar you spend, and it takes 400 points to receive a free turkey, tofurky roast, tofurky ham, frozen lasagna or frozen mac and cheese.
You also have the option to purchase discounted turkeys and hams after earning 200 points. For example, a Weis frozen turkey can be had for 59 cents per pound after you spend 200 points in the rewards program.
It’s important to note that your points do have an expiration date, which is printed on the bottom of your receipts. You can claim your free turkey until Nov. 24.
Where to Get a Turkey for Cheap
According to the USDA, the average price of a whole turkey this year is $1.99 per pound, up from $1.21 per pound just last year. However, this number will vary greatly by region.
Here are some other stores offering reasonable prices, and some stores where we can expect prices to go down during Thanksgiving promotions over the next few weeks.
Whole turkeys are currently going for $1.07 per pound, as advertised at Aldi.
This is lower than the average, but Aldi is known for offering even lower prices during the week of Thanksgiving.
City Market currently sells a Kroger brand frozen, whole turkey (10 to 14 pounds) for $21.48 and a Butterball frozen turkey for $23.88. These will run you around $1.53 to $2.15 per pound, depending on the size of the turkey.
Keep an eye out for even better deals throughout the month of November. In the past, City Market, a Kroger store in the Rocky Mountains region, has offered deals for shoppers who met a minimum spend of $25.
Currently, Cub Food offers a range of whole turkeys for sale — including 12- to 15-pound Butterballs at $2.39 per pound, an 18-pound Essential Every Day turkey for $35.82 ($1.99 per pound) and an 8-pound Honeysuckle frozen turkey breast for $23.92 ($2.99 per pound).
But keep your eyes on the Cub Food weekly ads in the coming weeks. Turkeys have been discounted in the two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving in past years. Good news for folks in Illinois and Minnesota, where the Cub Food stores are located.
Currently, you can get a Meijer or Honeysuckle frozen turkey at the Midwestern chain Meijer for $1.99 per pound.
However, this is another store that tends to offer great promotional pricing during the month of November, especially for the store’s mPerks members.
This large chain store also has a wide variety of whole frozen turkey options.
The brands range from Butterball to O Organics to Open Nature to Honeysuckle. Depending on the brand, prices are typically offered between $1.99 to $3.49 per pound.
Shaw’s also has the usual brand name offerings like Butterball and O Organics, plus more, that sell for between $2.19 and $4.99 per pound.
In the past during the week of Thanksgiving, Shaw’s offered discounted turkeys to customers who made a $25 purchase. Look out for other possible deals like that to save you a lot of money at the Northeastern food chain.
Shaw’s also tends to price match during the holiday season, so if you see a lower price elsewhere be sure to talk to your cashier.
Walmart currently offers some of the best deals on this list with incredible savings.
They currently have a 16- to 24-pound Butterball turkey for $24.49 or $1.18 per pound. You can also choose a 10- to 16-pound Butterball for $16.91, the same size Great Value turkey for $13.82 (98 cents per pound), or a 16- to 24-pound Jennie O frozen turkey for $20.92 (also 98 cents per pound).
Currently, you can get a Wegmans frozen turkey for $2.79 per pound, as well as a Shady Brook brand whole turkey for $1.69 per pound, or $23.32 for a 14-pound bird.
In years past, the beloved Northeast food chain now in some Mid-Atlantic states has offered turkey for a nice discount in the two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, and also offers a price-match guarantee.
Maybe earning 400 points to get a free turkey isn’t reasonable for your household. But if you rack up at least 200 points prior to Thanksgiving, you can get a fresh turkey for $1.49 per pound at Weis, a Mid-Atlantic states chain.
Redeem your points by Nov. 24 to secure the low price of 59 cents per pound.
Free Thanksgiving Turkey and Meals for Families in Need
If you or someone you know can’t afford to spend the money to get a free turkey from the grocery stores above, you can look to your community for help.
Food banks are hard at work hosting turkey drives and fundraising events to help put Thanksgiving meals on the tables of those in need. Food bank turkey distributions are usually held during the weekend before and days leading up to Thanksgiving. You can search by state or ZIP code for your local food bank, as well as food pantries.
United Way chapters also host turkey drives to help families in need. You can search for your local United Way chapter, or you can use the United Way 211 resource to contact a representative who can possibly help you find free turkeys or meals in your area.
Meals on Wheels
Many Meals on Wheels providers have a program specifically for the holiday season, like this Thanksgiving Meals on Wheels program offered Minneapolis-St.Paul.
These meals consist of turkey, dressing, potatoes, peas, corn, cranberries, rolls, pumpkin pie and milk. They are delivered directly to your home, and available to all families and individuals in need — not just seniors.
You can see what programs are available in your area by contacting your local Meals on Wheels.
The Salvation Army also gives free Thanksgiving dinners to those in need. Each program is administered locally, so you will want to look up your local chapter.
Churches and Charities
Many local churches and charities usually collect donated food items to provide low-income families in their communities with Thanksgiving meals. Check with your church or local charity if you need help providing your family with a Thanksgiving meal.
Robert Bruce is a senior writer with The Penny Hoarder. Jamie Cattanach and Brynne Conroy contributed to this story.