How Hard Do You Work for Thanksgiving Dinner?

how hard you work for ThanksgivingIt's that time of year for getting cozy, sipping cider and looking forward to a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. How many hours do you need to work to get ready for turkey time? Depending on your job, you may need a couple of hours or a couple of days to pay for the best meal of the year.

Online salary database ran the numbers on how much time different workers must put in on the job to afford their Thanksgiving meal. To get our cost estimate for a dinner for 10 adults, we turned to Chef Patrick Frank of Cochon Catering in Seattle, Washington. He came up with the following estimates.

Food Item




18 lbs. x $1.58 per lb.



2 bags x $4.50 per bag


Mashed Potatoes

6 lbs. x $1.50 per lb.


Cranberry Salad

2 cans x $3 per can



1 quart


Green Bean Casserole

3 lbs. total



1 dozen



1 lb.



Assorted Veggies


Baked Sweet Potatoes

4 lbs. plus topping


Pecan Pie

1 pie


Pumpkin Pie

1 pie



1 tub




With this estimate, dinner costs about $11 per person. Yet, that number is low considering other costs like gasoline to drive to the store, hours spent in the kitchen and energy to heat an oven all day. Your true total may be more.

Frank mentions two ways to quickly boost your costs: organic ingredients and ordering out.

"If you want to go organic, you can add 30 percent per person," he says.

Or, rather not mess around with all of the above? Grocery chains and caterers in some cities can prepare the entire meal for you. "If you just want to pop some stuff in the oven for a half hour, Whole Foods can give you what you need for about $160," says Frank.

Hours Worked for a Thanksgiving Meal

Who earns their Thanksgiving Day meal the quickest? PayScale crunched the numbers on a variety of jobs' hourly rates then figured out the number of hours and minutes needed get that turkey on the table.

Job Title

Hourly Pay

Work Time Required
to Pay for Dinner

General Surgeon


59 min



2 hr 17 min

Account Executive


3 hr 56 min

Elementary School Teacher


5 hr 30 min

Retail Store Manager


5 hr 47 min

Truck Driver, Heavy


5 hr 47 min



10 hrs



10 hrs



12 hr 13 min

We'll finish with some inspiring thoughts from Frank. "Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. As a kid my whole family got together, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and even friends. Grudges were forgotten and family was all that mattered. Perhaps if we all gathered around the table more often than once or twice a year we would have tighter knit families and communities."

That sounds good. We may just need to make those extra meals potlucks.

Next:Tipping Guidelines For The Holidays And Beyond

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