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Your Super Bowl platter may cost less this year – if you follow these menu twists

An order of Buffalo chicken wings sits on a counter at a restaurant in San Francisco on Feb. 11, 2022. Party trays of frozen chicken wings are cheaper than last year, according to the USDA. The National Chicken Council expects Americans to gobble up 1.45 billion wings this weekend.
Justin Sullivan
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Getty Images
An order of Buffalo chicken wings sits on a counter at a restaurant in San Francisco on Feb. 11, 2022. Party trays of frozen chicken wings are cheaper than last year, according to the USDA. The National Chicken Council expects Americans to gobble up 1.45 billion wings this weekend.

Before sitting down to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, a lot of people will be hitting the supermarket, stocking up on chips and dip and all the other delicious super snacks.

And in this period of inflation, it's still possible to feed your friends and family during the big game without having your wallet tackled for a loss.

While overall grocery prices are still inflated — up nearly 12% from a year ago — some favorite football foods are relative bargains.

Party trays of frozen chicken wings, for example, are 28% cheaper than last year, according to the USDA.

"It's finger food," says Chef Oji Abbott, who expects take-out wings to be flying out the door of his Oohh's & Aahh's restaurant in Washington, D.C., this weekend. "You pick it up with your fingers and you're watching the game. You're cheering. It's easy to do both at the same time. It's just good party food."

The chicken versus the egg

With more people giving and going to Super Bowl parties this year, the National Chicken Council expects Americans to gobble up 1.45 billion wings this weekend, 84 million more than last year.

The drop in wing prices is remarkable, given the much-publicized jump in egg prices.

"Must be something to that," Abbott says. "What came first — the chicken or the egg?"

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Chicken and egg production have both been hampered by a widespread outbreak of avian flu. But it takes much longer to raise egg-laying birds, so farmers who raise chickens for meat have been able to recover much more quickly.

"Two completely different flocks," explains Michael Swanson, an agricultural economist at Wells Fargo. "The eggs really got hit hard. But luckily for us, the chicken breasts, all those other pieces, have not gotten hit that bad."

Beer versus wine

Swanson says there are other bargains to be found on the Super Bowl menu, but like a quarterback reading the defense, shoppers have to keep their eyes open and pick their opportunities.

Beer prices have jumped 8.6% in the last year, and soft drink prices have popped up 13%, according to the consumer price index, compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wine prices, on the other hand, have risen less than 4%.

"So maybe some sangria to celebrate the Super Bowl," Swanson suggests. "Wine is a global market. So the U.S. wine producers are under a lot of competition so they can't price up."

Avocados are XXIII% cheaper than last Super Bowl

Shrimp prices have also shrunk from a year ago.

"My wife's Colombian, so we always serve ceviche, to go along with guacamole, so it's looking pretty good for us," Swanson says.

Avocado prices have dropped 23% since last year's Super Bowl, thanks to super-sized imports from Mexico. In just the last four weeks, some 250 million pounds of fresh avocados have crossed the border, like a big green running back, just in time for kickoff.

Fresh avocados sit in a bowl while guacamole is prepared at a restaurant in San Franscisco on Feb. 9, 2022. Avocado prices have dropped 23% since last year's Super Bowl.
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
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Getty Images
Fresh avocados sit in a bowl while guacamole is prepared at a restaurant in San Franscisco on Feb. 9, 2022. Avocado prices have dropped 23% since last year's Super Bowl.

"This is the second highest Super Bowl volume in history for avocados," says Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas. "Of course, guacamole is one of the absolute feel-good, fun time snacks of all time. It's really popular this time of year and everyone from grocery stores to the restaurants are trying to capitalize on that."

Super Bowl party hosts might consider stocking up on bargain foods, rather than run the risk of leaving guests hungry.

"You'd rather have a little extra, but you don't want to run out," says Chef Abbott. "Nothing wrong with some chicken wings for breakfast."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.