Cheapest store to buy your Thanksgiving meal?

HOUSTON Our frugal shopper compared prices at three stores. Her plan was to buy the same items at each store and find out which store is the best place to save money.

Amanda Grossman writes a blog called "Frugal Confessions," and this year she was inspired by a news article to go on a three-store shopping trip in her neighborhood to find out who had the cheapest prices.

"I saw this article where it says that this year people are spending 40 percent less in their Thanksgiving meal plans than previous years," Grossman said.

So she set out to find where families could spend the least amount of money on Thanksgiving dinner ingredients.

For her experiment, she shopped at Walmart, Target and HEB.

"We've compared apples to apples," Grossman said. "We bought the same amount of food, the same number of items, the same type of items and the same sized items for everything."

Grossman did use store brands where she could find them.

"We are going to cook green beans; we are going to have a pumpkin roll for dessert; we are going to roast a Turkey," she said.

Grossman found green beans the cheapest at Walmart for $1.42 a pound and at HEB, $1.68 a pound. Target was the most expensive at $1.99 a pound, which is 57 cents more expensive than Walmart's price.

A can of Libby's 100 percent pure pumpkin was the cheapest at Target for $1.29, and at Walmart and HEB the price was $1.50. But at HEB, right next to the can of pumpkin, was a store coupon for a free can of evaporated milk.

"I didn't use manufacturer coupons for this experiment; however, this HEB coupon, you get a free other product without messing with the experiment at all, so I did use this coupon," Grossman said.

But it was the price of an 11-pound turkey that made the biggest difference. Target's store brand turkey cost 68 cents a pound; Walmart's Butterball turkey was 98 cents a pound and HEB's Riverside brand turkey was 22 cents a pound with a $20 purchase, and that's what put HEB over the top when it came to saving money.

"This made a big difference because at Walmart, the cheapest turkey I could find was 98 cents a pound," Grossman said.

HEB was the winner with a total price of $26.89 for a complete Thanksgiving meal. Target came in second place with a total of $33.19 and Walmart was the most expensive at $35.43, something that surprised even Grossman.

"Honestly, I thought that Walmart was going to win," Grossman said.

The bottom line: the turkey is the key to shopping for a cheap Thanksgiving meal. If you are brand loyal, you are probably not going to find rock bottom prices like at HEB, where we found a turkey for 22 cents a pound.

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