Unexpectedly Intriguing!
15 June 2022

Last year, President Biden made news when he boasted how Americans were saving 16 cents in the cost of a summer Fourth of July cookout under his administration compared to the $59.66 they paid for the same meal in the summer of 2019.

Here's the White House's tweet announcing President Biden's accomplishment:

Biden White House Tweet, Savings on Summer Cookout, 1 July 2021

A year later, we were curious to find out what Americans might pay for the same meal in 2022 now that we're living with the worst inflation in the last four decades under the workings of the Biden economic plan. So we took the Farm Bureau's summer cookout menu and shopped for the items on it as closely as we could at Walmart. The following table presents our shopping results from our virtual shopping trip to America's largest grocery-selling retailer on 11 June 2022.

Comparison of Cost of Summer Cookout Menu from 2021 to 2022
Summer Cookout Items 2021 AFBF Summer Cookout Prices 2022 Walmart Prices Change from 2021
Two pints of strawberries $5.30 $4.48 15.5% decrease
13-ounce bag of chocolate chip cookies $4.02 $3.58 10.9% decrease
8 hamburger buns $1.66 $2.58 55.4% increase
2.5 pounds of homemade potato salad [1] $2.75 $3.74 36.0% increase
2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts $6.74 $9.48 40.7% increase
32 ounces of pork & beans [2] $1.90 $2.48 30.5% increase
2 pounds of ground beef $8.20 $9.14 11.5% increase
Half-gallon of vanilla ice cream $4.69 $7.44 58.6% increase
3 pounds of center cut pork chops $11.63 $15.12 30.0% increase
2.5 quarts of fresh-squeezed lemonade [3] $3.65 $4.18 14.5% increase
1 pound of sliced cheese $4.05 $4.98 23.0% increase
13-ounce bag of potato chips $4.93 $4.78 3.0% decrease
Totals $59.52 $71.98 20.9% increase

Assuming we've come reasonably close in matching the actual products on the Farm Bureau's shopping list, we find that the cost the summer cookout menu has risen by $12.46 from 2021 to 2022. That is a 20.9% increase. Do you think President Biden will be as excited to claim credit for that year over year increase as he was in claiming credit for a $0.16 decrease last year?

About How We Shopped

The prices we show for 2022 are those we found by shopping online at Walmart on 11 June 2022. The links for the 2022 prices will take you to the specific items we included in our shopping trip so you can see for yourself both what the item is and how the price may have changed from the day we shopped for them.

The specific items we added to our cart represent our best guess at the national brand name items the Farm Bureau's grocery shoppers put into their shopping cart when compiling their annual summer cookout costs. When a specific quantity of an item wasn't readily available at Walmart, we substituted the next closest item we could find for it. For example, in the case of the homemade potato salad, we substituted a ready-to-eat potato salad product since we didn't have the Farm Bureau's recipe for making their homemade version, which also meant getting less potato salad. The notes below describe where the quantity of items in our Walmart shopping trip differs from the Farm Bureau's shopping list:

[1] 2 lbs (32 ounces) of ready-to-eat potato salad (vs 2.5 lbs, or 40 ounces, of homemade)
[2] 28 ounces of pork and beans (vs 32 ounces)
[3] 2.8 quarts of ready-to-drink lemonade (vs 2.5 quarts of "freshly squeezed")

Finally, there's no question that a thrifty shopper could easily beat the Farm Bureau's costs while shopping in either 2021 or 2022. If that's you, a good strategy would be to substitute store-brand versions of the products, assuming you're okay with any differences in quality. You could also shop at other grocery stores that may offer lower prices.

The Farm Bureau should report their 2022 summer cookout cost within the next few weeks and we're curious to see how closely their results match our single online shopping trip results. We'll update this article when their 2022 summer cookout cost is available.

Update 28 June 2022

The American Farm Bureau Federation has released their 2022 Fourth of July summer cookout cost. They find the cost rose by 17%, which is in line with what we found in our previous single-store shopping trip several weeks earlier. Here's their infographic showing how the cost changed from 2021:

Farm Bureau July 4, 2022 Summer Cookout Cost

The biggest difference is they found a cheaper price for cheese, which they found for $1.45 less than what we had. If you're shopping at Walmart, that means you're buying a one pound package of Velveeta cheese slices instead of the one-pound package of Kraft's cheese slices we found in our original shopping trip.

At $5.16 per half gallon, the Farm Bureau also bought cheaper ice cream than we did. The closest we could get to that price at Walmart was $4.74 for Blue Bunny ice cream, which comes in a 48-oz container, and which is 16 ounces shy of a half gallon. The 64-oz container of ice cream we found was one of just two flavors Walmart carries in that size.

On the other hand, at $5.56 per pound, they paid more for ground beef than we did. We think they opted for an 80-20 ground beef chuck instead of the slightly fattier and notably cheaper blend we found.

If we run through this online shopping trip next year, we'll switch out the ground beef and sliced cheese selections to more closely match the results from the Farm Bureau's 2022 shopping list, but will keep the half gallon ice cream because of the lack of options available for ice cream in this size container at Walmart.

Please do click through for the details from the Farm Bureau's summer cookout shopping list in their press release!

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