Katie Moore / Eyewitness News
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NEW ORLEANS -- Experts estimate it'll cost slightly more to fill up your Thanksgiving table this year, and New Orleanians made their final preparations Wednesday.

More opted to buy ready-to-heat meals this year from local grocery stores.

'The roasted turkey, I have the two sides,' said LeRoy LeBranch, who bought a prepared turkey dinner at Rouses.

'I got it all for under $79. You can't beat that. I don't have to do anything. Yeah. Plus my wife gets the day off,' he said.

He's not alone. Local grocery stores said they're seeing an increase in the number of people opting for take-and-bake meals.

'This year, we have quite a few orders coming in and we're still taking orders right now. We're actually selling more prepared dinners than we have last year and in the past,' said Tim Acosta, marketing director at Rouses.

Other grocery store chains said they're seeing the same trend. It can often be cheaper than buying groceries and cooking, but you may not get every traditional dish you're used to having.

'My grandmother used to make what they call pigs in a blanket,' LeBranch said.

If sales of merlitons are any indication, people were still sticking to their family traditions in large part.

'Within the last two weeks, we sold over 250,000 merlitons. So, there's a lot of merliton dressings out there,' Acosta said.

The American Farm Bureau Foundation estimates the average cost of a turkey dinner is up slightly this year. However, their estimate puts the average cost at just under $50.

'50 bucks? That's not enough,' said Glenys Castro.

She and her son Lorenzo picked up last-minute groceries Wednesday morning at Walmart for their big feast.

'When we do regular groceries, it's like $100 plus. So, I don't understand why it would cost $50 just for Thanksgiving,' Lorenzo Castro said.

With Louisianians often making seafood-laden side dishes, the cost can climb even higher. So whether people splurged, or ordered out, LeBranch said they should remember the reason for the season, giving thanks.

'Just be blessed that you're livin'. And that you're alive. And that you have something to eat,' LeBranch said.

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