Don’t let entertaining bust your budget. Our expert grocery shopping tips and tricks will save you beaucoup bucks throughout the holiday season — and the year to come
Snap Up Staples Early
Getting a great deal on cranberry sauce is easy during the holidays. But a great deal on the everyday stuff? Not so much Holiday staples are usually cheapest during the holidays — it’s the rest of the groceries that don’t go on sale. The idea is that you’ll buy inexpensive pumpkin puree but then load up the rest of your cart with regular more expensive groceries. So stock up on your usual staples ahead of time, and pick up your holiday must-haves in the weeks leading up to the big feast.
Speaking of staples, barring any sales, you’ll do better financially buying generic versions of flour, sugar, spices, pasta, napkins, paper towels, vegetable oil, cereal, bread and other essentials. And be sure to snap up your favorite spices and baking items in November — they typically go on sale right before Thanksgiving, and many can keep for a year, she says.
Buy in Season
These days, there’s almost no fruit or vegetable that’s beyond reach in any given month. But just because you can buy blueberries in December, should you? If money, taste, health and the environment matter to you, the answer is a resounding no. According to Lempert, out-of-season produce costs more and has less flavor and nutrients than seasonal favorites like cranberries, canned pumpkin, sweet potatoes and fall fruits, which can be had for a song. Kelly Hancock, founder of the daily savings blog Faithful Provisions and author of the book Saving Savvy: Smart and Easy Ways to Cut Your Spending in Half, and Raise Your Standard of Living… and Giving! takes advantage of the season’s bounty by serving either a Sweet Potato or Hashbrown Casserole made with in-season ingredients that are always on sale this time of year. Not sure what’s in season when? Here’s a list.
Cozy Up To Coupons
Crazy extreme couponing has giving the art of clipping a bad name. Savvy shoppers absolutely, positively cannot do without them. With just a little bit of effort you can save 15 to 20 percent off your grocery bill. Your best bet is to scour the Sunday papers for coupons on brands you already know and like. If there’s anything particularly good that week, snap up extra papers, or check the recycling bin at your local cafe on Sunday a.m. for tossed inserts. Websites like Smartsource.com and Redplum.com let you click and print coupons at home. It’s also smart to check out your favorite brands online for potential promotions and savings.
Stock Up on Favorites on Sale
Scan supermarket and drugstore weekly sales circular and never pass on a great deal, especially for items you always have on hand. Eighty percent of what we buy, we buy week after week, so if your child’s favorite peanut butter is deeply discounted, buy four — or more. Even better, pair multiple coupons with multiple items to maximize your savings. The only downside of all this couponing is the time and organization required to make it all work. But if you’re after savings, it’s worth the effort.
Buy Gift Cards… for Yourself!
Many retailers rely on holiday sales to make their yearly numbers, and will go to great lengths to encourage you spend your money — even if they have to give a little back to get you through their door instead of the competition’s. Which is why some major grocery stores promote their gift cards around the holidays with a bonus offer. For instance, you buy a $100 grocery store gift card, and you get a $10 bonus card. Usually, the more you buy, the higher the bonus. Nothing is stopping you from using those gift cards to buy your groceries, and using those bonus dollars yourself.
KISS (Keep it Simple, Silly)
Food magazines taunt us with such luscious, artfully presented meals that our own ho-hum offerings seem a little pedestrian by comparison. Don’t fall for the hype! Most people don’t really want fancy pants, mashed potatoes with truffle butter — they want plain old ’taters just like Mom made. Make simple dishes that everyone likes, and don’t waste time and money serving a huge selection of creative sides that most people won’t eat anyway. Not sure what should stay or go? D’Arabian likes to co-opt the famous Coco Chanel accessory trick about always taking off one item. Make your list of everything you want to make for a holiday dinner and remove (at least) one item. You’ll save money and enjoy the less stress too!
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HAPPY HOLIDAY!! 🙂