Holiday Food Shopping Tips
Eileen St. Pierre, The Everyday Financial Planner
Last year around this time, I was working for a month in El Paso and later spent Thanksgiving with my family in New Mexico. My husband and I stayed at an extended-stay hotel with a kitchen and full-size refrigerator/freezer. We went to Albertson’s to begin to buy food for a month. Our eyes popped out of our head when we saw all the sales and in-store coupons. We currently live in a small town and don’t have access to all these sales. We were like kids in a candy store.
If you spend $100, you get a free turkey.
Wow! We couldn’t pass this deal up. How many other government contractors had turkeys stored in their freezer? After seeing what the others were grilling for dinner every night, I wouldn’t doubt that at least one had a turkey in there. I was skeptical the turkey would fit in our little Playmate cooler to transport to my folks for Thanksgiving, but my husband assured me it would fit. No room for anything else though. Put it in frozen for the 270-mile journey and it was perfectly thawed for the big day.
The usual holiday food staples suddenly start appearing around mid-October.
It’s time to stock up on chicken stock, evaporated milk, pumpkin filling, and Pillsbury pie crusts. Suddenly everyone is making green bean casserole – I make mine with reduced fat cream of celery soup and serve it with pork chops. The Sunday coupon harvest gets a bit more exciting. My ultimate deals:
- Getting something on sale (especially a BOGO) with a coupon that doubled.
- Buy advertised items at Target and get a gift card – and also use coupons. We accumulated over 10 pounds of Barilla pasta this way. We used a series of $5 gift cards to purchase a new Epson printer for 29 cents.
- We make a monthly trip to Big Lots to scour the food aisles. Our last trip netted 12 cans of good quality black olives for $1 each, and Cheerios for $1.50. Just watch the expiration dates.
Taking an hour or two to organize your shopping can really pay off.
I try to plan our meals at least a week (preferably two) in advance. This way I can organize my shopping list, plan where I’m going based on the stores’ sales, and get my coupons ready. If I know a staple such as chicken stock, soup, or sugar is going to be on sale, I can make plans to stock up.
- I go to coupons.com once a month to print out online coupons.
- The closest Target is almost an hour from us, so we go about once a month. I always check their website for coupons and the current sale ad before I go.
- For those pricier items we buy only a few times a year, I’ll go directly to the company’s website to see if they have any coupons available. It’s too time consuming to do this for every product.
My husband’s Aunt Helen grew up during the Great Depression. Her Chicago basement contained a very organized food pantry. She made sure she never ran out of anything. We’re not that bad. Our “stockroom” is in our guest room closet. Where’s yours?