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I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
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Monday, May 11, 2009

Frugal Kitchens 101 - Shopping Food Sales

Frugal Kitchens 101
One of the easiest ways to save money on your grocery bill is to shop the sales. That sounds like an obvious statement however, shopping the sales is a bit more complicated than the obvious. Today's Frugal Kitchens 101 will highlight some of the finer details of shopping food sales effectively. When it comes to sales most grocery store flyers are available online. Do that comparison shopping from the comforts of your computer not by driving around! Don't forget to use unit costs when comparing the sales as well. In many cases grocery stores have eliminated being able to pair coupons with sales so if you are a coupon shopper keep that in mind.

Things to keep in mind when shopping food sales:

  1. sales are cyclic: Grocery store sales follow a few trends. In general certain types of food will consistently go on sale just before holidays, certain events (eg. March break, back-to-school) or seasonal. For example one of the best times to stock up on baking items is just before Christmas; turkeys routinely go on sale just before Thankgiving; and hams go on sale just before Easter. Snacks, pastas and convenience foods go on sale just before March break and just before the kids go back to school. Some grocery stores run an annual $1 sale usually as spring approaches while others will run this type of sale both spring and fall. Local produce sales will follow the local growing season however, other produce such as mandarin oranges follow the season of availability in their country of origin. Meats too follow cycles. Farmers who do not want to over winter live stock put them up for sale meaning an influx of cheaper meats at butcher shops and abattoirs. Fish tends to be cheaper during the fishing season if you are shopping fisheries.
  2. loss leaders: For those not familiar with the term loss leader, it refers to a product the store will put on sale at a loss simply to get you in the door knowing that you will more than likely buy other products while you are there. A frugal shopper will cherry pick the loss leaders without buying anything else. This is why you will see stores put limits on loss leaders per purchase often worded as for example limit 2 per family purchase. Loss leaders tend to be staples like milk, butter and meats but they can also include other foods like certain sauces.
  3. cherry pick: Cherry picking refers to buying only those items on sale and especially to buying only those loss leaders. This can be a very inexpensive way to stock up on certain items but if there is a limit you will need to either take another person with you and split the shopping so you can get extra or make a few stops. If the option is making more than one stop consider the cost of doing so
  4. in store specials: Most grocery stores have in store specials either to promote the store or move certain perishable items quickly. Always budget an extra $20 to $40 to take advantage of these sales! One local store where we used to live always put fresh cut meat that hadn't been sold that morning on sale at 2 PM so I was able to get a lot of great deals. Other stores have cold bunkers (open refrigerator units) with in store meat specials. Meats and produce are guaranteed to be on sale late Saturday and Sunday before their new shipments come in Monday morning. One of our local grocery stores always reduces rotisserie chickens from $8 to $5 every evening at 6 PM.
  5. reduced for quick sale: Most grocery stores have a small section for items reduced for a quick sale. These are foods that are close to their sell by date or sometimes items with damaged packaging that does not affect the quality of the food. The items vary but generally range from produce to dressings, canned foods and left-over holiday specials.

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