How much will your cookout cost?


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That’s the question our reporters asked, looking forward to July 4.

We went to Giant Eagle in Amherst, Oberlin IGA, and Village Market in Wellington to scout prices on all the ingredients needed for an all-American-style meal, assuming we’d be grilling for 10 adults.

Here are the averages:

• 12 hamburger patties — $14.32

• 12 hamburger buns — $2.05

• 12 beef hotdogs — $3.28

• 12 hotdog buns — $1.82

• 32 oz. ketchup — $2.61

• 20 oz. mustard — $1.98

• 1 medium jar of relish — $1.69

• 1 white onion — $1.24

• 1 head of lettuce — $1.82

• 3 tomatoes — $2.01

• 1 medium jar of dill pickle slices — $2.63

• 1 package of American cheese — $2.67

• 1 party-size bag of chips — $4.09

• 1 watermelon — $4.18

• 12 ears of corn — $5.09

• 2 (2 liter) colas — $2.46

• 1 apple pie — $7.16

• 1 medium bag of charcoal — $6.65

• 1 bottle of lighter fluid — $3.86

• 1 box of matches — $0.99

• 24 pack of disposable plates — $3.24

• 1 box of mixed plasticware — $1.86

• 1 medium pack of napkins — $1.96

• 20 pack of disposable cups — $1.84

GRAND TOTAL — $81.50

Findings

Reporters saw big differences between stores, especially when it came to meat prices. Generally, the larger the market, the lower the prices.

We were also struck by how different the grand total was in 2015 compared to our 2014 survey of the same items at the same stores, which rang up at $92.11.

Food prices are not down overall, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While the country is seeing slightly slower-than-normal food inflation (increases of 1.75 to 2.75) so far this year, they are still up — which means other factors must be at play with the prices our reporters found.

Hotdogs, cheese, watermelon, and plasticware all had big drops over their 2014 prices that helped bring this year’s total down.

Methodology

Prices are going to vary among food brands and quality, so how did we get our averages? Reporters were given lists of exactly what types of food and package sizes to price. Editor Jason Hawk gave instructions to choose the brand and price that gives the best-quality product while keeping costs low. The bottom line: We chose the food we would feed to our families and kept a strict budget in mind.

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