‘Tis the season for visits with friends, families, holiday meals and celebrations. Economic forecasters suggest that you just might have a little more cash to go around.

The American Farm Bureau Federation has been tracking Thanksgiving dinner costs since 1986 and costs have been averaging higher. But in a news release, the AFBF says the average cost for a holiday dinner for 10 is expected to be slightly down this year, from $49.48 to $49.04.  Although this is a modest drop, certain items on your holiday menu have gone down significantly while others have risen.

Here is some information that might help you get even better odds in savings.

You’ll find bargains in that dinner bird. Turkey production has been higher this year. The big-ticket item – a 16-pound turkey – came in at $21.76 this year. That was roughly $1.36 per pound, a decrease of about 3 cents per pound, or a total of 47 cents per whole turkey, compared to 2012. The whole bird was the biggest contributor to the final total, showing the largest price decrease compared to last year.

John Anderson, chief economist for the AFBF says, “Slightly higher turkey production for much of the year coupled with an increase in birds in cold storage may be responsible for the moderate price decrease.”

And the American Farm Bureau Federation says there are plenty of food bargains out there.

Strategic shoppers may pay even less for a frozen Tom turkey compared to AFBF’s 167 volunteer shoppers who checked prices at grocery stores in 34 states. “Special sales and promotions on turkey and other holiday food items will continue right up to Thanksgiving,” Anderson explained. “If you have the patience to wait until the last minute to buy a turkey you might come home with an exceptional bargain,” he said.

Those other dinner items, however, are another story.  Sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie mix and milk made up the biggest increases on this year’s menu, while the prices of green peas and rolls saw modest drops. Specifically, a dozen brown-n-serve rolls, $2.18; one pound of green peas, $1.54; a 14-ounce package of cubed bread stuffing, $2.67; fresh cranberries, $2.42; a half pint of whipping cream, $1.85; and two nine-inch pie shells, $2.49.

Items that showed a moderate price increase from last year included three pounds of sweet potatoes, $3.36; one gallon of whole milk, $3.66; and a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix, $3.10. And AFBF survey takers reported a combined group of miscellaneous items, including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (onions, eggs, sugar, flour, evaporated milk and butter), increased to $3.20. A one-pound relish tray of carrots and celery increased to 81 cents.

So how can this information be helpful? Be strategic… know the trends and shop for sales. Check out those holiday grocery sales flyers and use those coupons. Armed with this information about what you might be paying, you’ll know if a bargain is at hand!