The headlines during the holidays often focus on how much we spend. But, this time of year also can be a great time to save -- especially on food costs.
To lure shoppers to their stores, supermarkets and discount stores across the country advertise big sales on holiday staples such as turkey, ham, produce, canned goods and baking supplies.
The sales make it easier to be mindful of our wallets as we gear up for Thanksgiving, Christmas and other seasonal holidays. But they also offer great opportunities to stock up the pantry and freezer with items that are on deep discount.
Turkey: In late October, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, found that the average price for a whole frozen turkey was about $1.15. But, during November grocery store sales, you’ll be able to pick them up for as little as a third of that price.
In past years, stores have discounted frozen turkeys ahead of Thanksgiving to as little as 25 cents or 40 cents per pound. So buy one for now and one -- or two -- for later. According to Butterball, a whole unopened turkey can be stored in the freezer for up to two years. You can store cooked meat in the freezer for about two to six months, according to FoodSafety.gov.
Ham: Most of the year, you can pick up a spiral ham for around $3 and $4 or more per pound. But, during Thanksgiving and Christmas (and, don’t forget, Easter), prices drop to as little as $1.50 per pound, depending on where you shop. So stock up! You can freeze a spiral-cut ham for one to two months, according to FoodSafety.gov.
Produce: Shoppers can take home holiday produce staples such as celery, cranberries and sweet potatoes for great prices around Thanksgiving and Christmas. A bunch of celery might run less than $1. A bag of cranberries could be on sale for $1.50. Sweet potatoes could go for just 30 cents a pound or so. Buy extra celery to chop up and freeze to include in soups or casseroles this winter. Store extra bags of cranberries in your freezer to make cranberry muffins all year. Stock up on sweet potatoes, which last about a month in a cool, dry place.
Baking supplies: Items such as flour, sugar and butter all go on deep discount during the holidays as bakers gear up for cookie season. Look for sales that discount these items by 50 percent or more. Flour, depending on the kind, can last a year or more. Sugar is good for up to two years. Freeze extra butter for up to a year.
Canned goods: Stores often slash prices all along the canned food aisle during the holidays. You know it’s time to buy when prices are cut in half -- or more. Most canned goods, other than tomatoes and citrus fruits, can last up to five years.
So, as you make your grocery lists for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, take the opportunity now to fill up your kitchen with food that will feed your family all year. If you do, you’ll be thanking yourself for that gift of savings six months from now.
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