It’s the time of year to talk turkey — literally.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates some 248 million turkeys made it to the Thanksgiving table last year. There’s an extra thing to be thankful for at this year’s table: turkey prices are down.
Frozen turkey prices currently average $1.62 per pound, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, down from $1.68 last year. (Unfortunately, that’s still 40 cents per pound more expensive than in 2007.)
But savvy shoppers are unlikely to pay even that much. There are plenty of ways to get a cut-rate price on turkeys this time of year:
“A frozen turkey can be as much as 40% cheaper than a fresh turkey,” says Matthew DiStefano, community manager for Saverr, a coupon app. If you go this route, make sure to allow ample time for defrosting to avoid putting a still-frozen bird in the oven.
“Most local grocery stores will discount the price of the turkey per pound if you purchase over $100 in groceries,” says Jamie Yahne, owner of dinnerware site GlitzeeGlee.com. Stores usually give you a few weeks to hit the total, so earning a freebie also requires joining the store loyalty program.
You can even score a free turkey just by doing your regular grocery shopping. For example, ShopRite offers a free whole turkey with $300 of spending between Oct. 14 and Nov. 22.
Hunt for sales
There are plenty of turkey sales this time of year, so keep an eye on supermarket circulars. Genuardi’s recently offered its store club members a price of 88 cents per pound on a 10- to 24-pound bird, and Stop & Shop knocked prices down to 59 cents per pound.
If you want a free range, organic or heritage bird, prices tend to be higher and can run anywhere from $2.50 to $7.50 per pound. Because of the wide range in cost, it’s especially important to shop around for the best deal.
Wyoming Grass Fed Meats sells its free-range heritage turkeys for $3.75 per pound, with the average 11- to 16-pound turkey costing $35, while some online sites charge as much as $180 for a 14-pound free-range, heritage bird.
This tip isn’t for the squeamish. Friends of Frugal Foodie’s get a free turkey every year by volunteering at a local poultry farm, processing birds for customers. If you have unrequited fantasies of becoming a farmer, this might be the perfect route for you.
Check the Sunday paper and online sites for coupons. A spokeswoman for Butterball says the brand will have a coupon on its Facebook page the week before Thanksgiving, as well as a $5 rebate up on its site.
Make sure you’re using reputable sources for coupon hunting: there are currently $10 and $15 fakes for Butterball turkeys circulating, the brand warns.
Save on the fixins’
If you can’t save on the turkey itself, look for ways to get a deal on everything else. See last year’s guide on how to cut back on your Thanksgiving grocery bill.
Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie.