Friday Food Storage Quickie: Holiday Sales Time!

Sharon November 21st, 2008

Well, it is time to take advantage of the holiday sales to stock up - maybe even for next holiday, when harder times are coming.  This week we’re going to focus on the deals that are out there around Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Grocery stores usually are willing to take a certain loss this time of year, on the expectation that people will spend more.  My guess is that the margins are tighter and the deals may not be as good, but they will probably still be out there.  Here are some things to look for, and some ways to use them outside the holidays:

- Baking Materials - Baking powder, the “sweet” spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, cloves, allspice, etc…), flour, cocoa,  sugar, pie cherries, etc….

Obviously, you can think of uses for flour (remember, whole grain ground flours don’t keep that long, so don’t buy more than a six month to 1 year supply) and the rest - most of this stuff doesn’t go on sale very often, so now is a good time to stock up.

- Canned Pumpkin, sweet potatoes and squash.  Skip the ones that are already sweetened and have marshmallows in them, but the ones that are just the pureed vegetable are pure gold.  Rich in vitamin A, they can replace fat in baked goods, and give them a golden color and delicious flavor, and adding a light sweetness.  We add pumpkin to bread and biscuits, to lasagna (surprisingly good), make pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake and pumpkin pudding along with pumpkin pie.  The whole vegetables are also often a good deal around now, and are even better, because they come with the delicious and highly nutritious seeds.

- Turkeys.  If you have a lot of freezer space and reasonable confidence in your power situation, or if you are handy with a pressure canner, and your grocer is offering a deal like a free turkey or dirt cheap one, now’s a good time to get an extra or two, and cut them up or can or freeze them.  I’m not a big fan of industrial meat, but for those who are worried they might not have any meat, this is a good time to get a little ahead.

- Root vegetables. Your local farmstand may well be offering good discounts right now on those veggies that most Americans eat only at the holidays - Parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, etc….  They all keep in a nice cold spot, so stock up, and look around on the net for some recipes.

- Chocolate chips.  Need I really make a case for this?  Chocolate keeps easily a year, and the occasional batch of chocolate chip cookies is the closest thing to universal comfort food on the planet.

As for a non-food item, this week, I’m going to remind you to have a couple of good quality manual can openers if you have any canned goods at all. I’ve never used an electric can opener, but I’m continually surprised by how many people don’t have one.  And manual can openers can wear down - so having a spare somewhere accessible isn’t a bad idea.  Heck, there’s a decent chance the can opener will be on sale this week too!




40 Responses to “Friday Food Storage Quickie: Holiday Sales Time!”

  1. Karion 21 Nov 2008 at 8:47 am

    (Okay, I’ve been reading you for 2 years, I paste your links on my blog, I love your book, I drive my husband crazy with “Sharon says,” and I’m risking mutiny by keeping my thermostat to 60 degrees…. guess I’ll start posting once in awhile ;)
    I’m seeing turkeys here in Northern VA(where nothing is cheap) for 49 cents/lb, and the big cans of pumpkin for $2 apiece. The turkeys are tempting but I thought maybe they’d be even cheaper after Thanksgiving. Is this true or should I just pick a couple up now?

  2. Chileon 21 Nov 2008 at 9:34 am

    I combine two of the items you list for my favorite muffins: pumpkin spice muffins with chocolate chips. The last batch I made didn’t have enough chocolate chips per muffin, though. That’ll teach me to skimp!

    Unfortunately, dark chocolate chips without milkfat in them have gotten expensive in the past year or so. Even bulk, they are up to $3.99/pound. I have to wait until they go on sale for $2.99/pound to stock up and then I have to hide them in the freezer from my sweetie. He likes to snack on them plain and doesn’t understand why I grouse at him about it.

    Actually, that’s a good question for you, Sharon. How do you deal with family that wants to snack on the food stores? When there’s 5 pounds of chocolate chips in the freezer, it’s hard to argue that their snacking will use up what you need for the next batch of cookies.

  3. Fernon 21 Nov 2008 at 10:02 am

    Kari, Giant and Safeway don’t tend to reduce their frozen turkeys after the holiday - in large part because they also get a glut of people buying the for Christmas. I think that after Christmas they just throw the ones still left back in the deep freeze and take them out as needed and sell at higher prices.

    Fern, just east of the beltway in Maryland

  4. Jennaon 21 Nov 2008 at 10:05 am

    I’ll be stocking up, sealing baking goods, and breaking down turkeys until I drop this weekend. For all our beef, pork, and chicken - I go local and quality raised… but for turkey at the moment, well…

    4 in the freezer and more thawing to be dismantled and processed on through. Can’t really bring myself to miss it at $.69 a pound.

    As for the can opener, can I make one more suggestion? Most multi-tools and swiss army knives have can opener functions ON them - but few folks I know have any clue how to USE them (they can be tricky little beggers). Might I suggest taking a little time this weekend and figuring out how to use them properly without slicing onces fingers to bits? I think in times of hunger and stress - slashed hands from a deadly can of sweet potatoes might be enough to send a person over the edge for an afternoon!

  5. Judyon 21 Nov 2008 at 10:06 am

    Thanks for the post, the timing is perfect. I was planning to go out later today and see what I could find to put into storage, especially since my husband found out yesterday that he is being ‘restructured’ out of his job at the end of the year. Happy New Year to us. At least he isn’t one of the ones at his workplace that found out yesterday that they were laid off effective immediately. We have another month and a half to prepare. I’m not worried that we will starve without his income but we definitely won’t have room for any luxuries. I don’t have high hopes that he will be able to just walk into another job so we’re preparing for a long haul with a significantly lower income. I’m just glad that my freezer and pantry are already well stocked but I hadn’t thought of the spices. Thanks again.

  6. Kate in CTon 21 Nov 2008 at 10:10 am

    Oxo’s manual can opener is extremely easy to use (I really can’t use those inexpensive all metal ones) and if there’s a Linens n Things going out of biz nearby, may still be able to get one or two on sale.
    warm wishes

  7. […] Casaubon’s Book » Blog Archive » Friday Food Storage Quickie: Holiday Sales Time! Well, it is time to take advantage of the holiday sales to stock up - maybe even for next holiday, when harder times are coming. This week we’re going to focus on the deals that are out there around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Grocery stores usually are willing to take a certain loss this time of year, on the expectation that people will spend more. My guess is that the margins are tighter and the deals may not be as good, but they will probably still be out there. Here are some things to look for, and some ways to use them outside the holidays: […]

  8. Heather Grayon 21 Nov 2008 at 10:52 am

    I hadn’t thought pineapple was a holiday food for most folks, but when we were in Big Y the other day for a few things they had cans of pineapple (in its own juice, yay!), 12 for $12. Not huge savings maybe, but I bought the dozen. Checked the expiry date and they’re good for two years, so we can spread them out.

    Anyway, I guess it pays to check out what’s being offered on sale.

  9. Shambaon 21 Nov 2008 at 11:04 am

    Swanson’s various broths are always on sale at this time of year and I always like to have their vegetable broth on hand. the cost of the vegetable broth alone has gone up about 40 cents in the past years.


  10. Susan in NJon 21 Nov 2008 at 11:16 am

    Kari, around here, Wegman’s said in their most recent weekly flyer that the Sunday before Thanksgiving was the last day for frozen turkey on sale, after that only fresh turkey will go on sale. Just to add to the information stream.
    Sharon, maybe you should do a Chatellaine merit badge?

  11. ctdaffodilon 21 Nov 2008 at 11:34 am

    I stocked up on cranberry sauce (the jelly kind) at 80 cents a can, cream of mushroom & chicken soups at 89 cents a can and will be stocking up on stove top stuffing….not too nutritous, but on busy nights its a 5 minute side dish and helps round things out on clean out the fridge nights too. Plus I pulverize it and add some to bread crumbs when I make home made chicken tenders - I read about that online somewhere, my kids really like it too.

    White sugar was on sale this week so I got the limit yesterday and will get the limit again tomorrow - I’m baking for all the teacher gifts and for our church christmas fair - I’ll use at least 7 poounds for all that baking - the rest is for my own baking and coffee (my vice)

    My husband laughs now but in June when he wants my cranberry barbeque sauce he won’t laugh when we don’t have to pay $1.69 for a can of sauce -

  12. curiousalexaon 21 Nov 2008 at 12:38 pm

    the only way chocolate lasts a year around here is if it’s unsweetened powdered coco! The chips tend to disappear as snack food. I highly recommend Wicky Wacky Cake as a cupboard staple moist chocolate cake for those inevitable chocolate cravings when someone’s eaten all the cookie chips. I’m trying to NOT figure out how to make that in a single serving size… [g]

  13. bridgeton 21 Nov 2008 at 12:39 pm

    I noticed CANNED MILK was a good deal this week too. We’ve been stocking on the baking items. The sales are not quite as good as the last couple years but very close.

  14. Cindyon 21 Nov 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Dear Sharon,

    I heard your piece on NPR yesterday - you were so inspiring! I called my grandmother when I got home and told her I wanted her to teach me how to can!

  15. DEEon 21 Nov 2008 at 1:29 pm

    No one gets into my stores without permission…and the key! I consider myself the mistress of the castle and I hold the keys to the freezer and storage room. Since I keep a store of everything in the household pantry and shop in my storeroom there is no reason for them to be snooping!
    When all 4 kids were home they knew the rules…fruit was free range,bread and butter or peanut butter/jelly was fine,carrotts and celery was fine…you could browse for ‘maters in the garden but you weren’t allowed to browse the frig!! You know how kids do– looking to eat two hours after dinner? Yeah. Popcorn was almost a nightly thing but we didn’t buy chips/soda ever. The prices of snack foods have gone sky high …a lowly potato turned into $3.50 for a bag of grease,salt. My kids would make baked potatoes for a snack and actually be full until supper. Note,these were hardworking farm kids with chores to do before off for hours or horseback riding or hiking the woods. They actually did something to get hungry.
    Yes,they got treats and I always knew the chips would be right were I put them! DEE who just stocked up on cocoa at bargin prices…….

  16. Karinon 21 Nov 2008 at 1:35 pm

    Yup the turkey thing is a tricky one for us. 4.50 a pound for local free range; minimum 14 pounds. 60 dollars for a turkey. Nope, can’t do it. We’ve done it plenty of times before. We have even pondered just cooking a roast from our pig but pork sandwiches are not turkey sandwiches with mayo and salt. yum yum. But we are biding our time. The state announced another round of shortfalls and cuts with possible mid year staffing cuts in education. Hubby is a music teacher so we are just stashing cash in the savings account right now.

    Sugar is on sale here for 1.79 a bag but the evaporated milk is still 1.25 a can. Im thinking that when this weekends flyers come out the sales will be a little better.

  17. any bakeron 21 Nov 2008 at 1:37 pm

    Down here in Texas we love our canned sweet potatoes. There used to be a recipe somewhere out there for making sweet potato bread in a coffee can. And as for sweet potato pecan muffins, they are breakfast ecstacy.

    Also good deals now on canned black eyed peas. Another southern staple food. Cooked in chicken broth with chopped celery. Mmmm, this is making me hungry.

    Cheap baking supplies. Baking soda is a great thing to have around. It’s a cleaning agent, a heartburn antacid, a toothpaste and a deodorizer, in addition to making yummy baked goods. Even when past its expiration date it can be used for cleaning and softening bathwater. Great multipurpose item.

  18. Anonymouson 21 Nov 2008 at 2:08 pm

    I think you should read this.

  19. Roberton 21 Nov 2008 at 2:13 pm

    A Swedish can opener is a very simple one piece gadget that lasts forever. It is similiar to a US Army P38 can opener. There is one pictured here:

    There are also ones with longer handles that are easier to use. My wife brought a couple with the handles back with her from Sweden in the 80’s and we still use them every day.

  20. Matriarchyon 21 Nov 2008 at 2:17 pm

    Know what else is really cheap right now? Turkey backs. This is the time of year they sell more turkey parts than any other, and turkey backs, which are quite meaty, are a by-product of that. I just paid .20/lb for 10lb at the farmer’s market, and I will get more next week, after I make freezer space. They make great stock that substitutes perfectly for chicken stock in most recipes, or for cooking rice, noodles, grits, potatoes, etc. Easy way to add protein to your diet if you are short of money for meat.

  21. Taraon 21 Nov 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Oh, so jealous! I’ve never in my life seen turkey backs for sale, anywhere. :(

    An annual turkey or two is one of the few (but unfortunate) areas where I break down and buy industrial meat (the others being seafood and deli meats). I adore roast turkey, hardly ever get to have it, and it is quite a lot of bang for the buck. I missed the deadline for a pastured bird this year (and really couldn’t afford it anyway), but next year I want to try raising my own.

  22. Throwback at Trapper Creekon 21 Nov 2008 at 5:47 pm

    In our area the baking goods are on sale at Winco, chocolate chips for $1.68 per pkg., as soon as the holiday season is over, they will be right back up to 2.99 pkg. Not true survival food, but they can help brighten a treat and they keep a long time.

  23. Shelleyon 22 Nov 2008 at 12:03 am

    Prices down in the lower 48 look almost as high if not higher than they are here in Anchorage. I’m shocked.

    But our gas is still $3 a gallon while you all I hear are paying $2. And the pipeline is over there…really…its…right over there! No I can’t see it from my back but, come on! Talk about industry doing everything it can to NOT be local!

    Did anyone see Sarah Palin at the turkey farm on TV? Well, that farmer is a chicken and turkey farmer who would fit right in to a Michael Pollan book and probably reads Wendell Barry and Pollan and others. He’d be friends with Joel Salatin, you know. He’s our only local poultry farmer that I know of. Palin was, in essence, promoting his business! I’m kind of proud of her. At least she can afford that $60 locally grown organic turkey!!! It was a funny video. Link over to Crunchy Cons if you haven’t seen it…

    Shelley in Alaska

  24. Rebeccaon 22 Nov 2008 at 1:27 am

    I went shopping with my best friend to help her stock up for Thanksgiving today and Publix had some incredible deals -as long as you were willing to comparison shop. We got some really good bargains.

  25. Rebeccaon 22 Nov 2008 at 1:28 am

    Could you post a note about when you were on NPR? I tried to find it on their site and couldn’t.

  26. Erikaon 22 Nov 2008 at 2:05 am

    Every time someone mentions to not forget a manual can opener, I remember when asking my mom where she got this ugly brown can opener… the only opener she has… she got it in the 70’s, and it still works, as well as it ever has, and it’s the only one she uses. I also remember when I first started driving, having a “just in case” kit in the trunk of my car… and me and my 16 year old brain didn’t bother to put anything to eat food with or open food containers in the kit… needless to say, I’ve always got a set of silverware and a leatherman in my car… :-P


  27. Throwback at Trapper Creekon 22 Nov 2008 at 8:42 am

    Shelley, I saw that video and it is driving people to my turkey butchering post. But I have been getting crazies too who think the turkeys are being handled poorly. It can’t be a huge operation if they are still using cones and actually bleeding the birds properly. I thought the video was fine, and not greenwashed like so many press conferences people see.

  28. WOW Traineeon 22 Nov 2008 at 1:50 pm

    I need words of widom. This spring I began sharing new about the coming economic changes with two women friends. One told me she was to busy to deal with that stuff. The other frequently reminded me that her husband made good money at his job and with their savings etc, they’d just buy whatever they need. I continued doing what I can.

    Now ss the saying goes “the worm has turned.”
    The woman who had no time is now a 70 plus year old woman looking for extra work. Like a nightmare story, the other woman’s husband has been terminated. Suddenly, they have no income etc.

    I’m at a loss how to deal with the situations. I knew the economy was rapidly changing. I just didn’t think it would happen so fast and close to me. I’ve emailed and phoned them about being in my thoughts and prayers. They haven’t asked for help or suggestions. I just feel very uneasy. What are you guys doing?


  29. KatJon 22 Nov 2008 at 3:00 pm

    If you have an Aldi’s near you, they have a lot of baking supplies right now. I’m kind of finicky about my flour (I like King Arthur) so I didn’t buy flour there, but I did get pure vanilla extract (not the artificial kind) for $1.99/2 ounces. They have cheap baking soda, baking powder, coconut, walnuts (I just ate some- quite good quality). I recommend that you not buy the graham crackers, though. Even though the ingredients are the same as in Keebler, they are dreadful! ( I don’t know how they managed that!)
    I can relate to the WOW trainee. I have tried to talk to people about this and they just don’t want to hear it. I have recommended Depletion and Abundance (and no, I am not sharing my copy with anybody!!) to several people because it makes such a powerful case for being prepared, but in a positive way, because the last thing we need is panic and paranoia right now. My husband, who has indulgently called me his little farm girl a lot lately since I’ve given up my dishwasher and my clothesdryer and started stocking up on food, confessed a few nights ago that, “You may be right, dear. This is starting to look like a depression!”
    I am so grateful for this community that you have started, Sharon! It is such a bright spot in some pretty bleak times.

  30. Ponyon 22 Nov 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Safeway has turkeys for 27 cents a pound (99 reg) with your card, also flour, spices & herbs, broth, all on sale. Veggies are higher than at my regular store (Fred Meyer) though.

  31. Fernon 22 Nov 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Dang, Safeway here only has turkeys for .49/pound, and after today you have to buy $25 worth of groceries to get them at that price.

  32. Kation 22 Nov 2008 at 5:23 pm

    4 weeks running, now, the hubby has told me not to go over $100 on groceries for the week. And yet, he expects me to put out full meals every night. I’m reminding him almost DAILY now how smart it was to stock up on food-stuffs, when he was griping about me spending so much at the store while we had it. As it is, we’re wondering how we’re going to buy even the kiddo a christmas present this year (she wants an AG doll)….. Not to mention the furnace has started acting up, we’re trying to get the kiddo in for a psycological assessement (ADD/Learning disabilities we need to figure out) which is going to be $500 up front (then we sent in the invoice and insurance reimburses us at their leasure)…..

    Ya know, it’s not just major medical issues that can crop up and knock down a “living paycheck to paycheck” family, it can be a bunch of little things, like a $250 midnight call out visit for a furnace that up and quit, a lot of little medical issues and one large out of pocket payment to make, and christmas coming on and wanting to get your only child ONE gift. (She’s never been terribly greedy, and we’ve never gifted her overly much, usually only 2 or 3 items under the tree, and Santa fills the stocking with things like matchbox cars and lip gloss.)

    But yeah, no stocking up for me this week. *sigh*

  33. WOW Traineeon 22 Nov 2008 at 7:42 pm

    Kati, thanks for reading and commenting on my response. I don’t know where you live. Are you in the US? Can you use your school system assistance in getting the ADD evaluation? It seems like I’ve heard of other people doing that. It’s from the school tax funds etc making sure all children have access to positive learning experiences. Perhaps someone else here can offer more helpful information. If not the universities offering educational degrees can be a resource. The ADD Support Groups also offer support. The local school board people sometimes are penny tight and reluctant to spend the money. Sometimes they need some reminding about equality etc.

    As for the toy/s, I’ve learned of several groups that help with toys. Are you or your husband veterans? Here in my town, the American Legion gathers up money to purchase children’s toys. The gifting and celebration has been going on since the Depression Days. Even though most of the members are now elder Korean and WWII vets, they proudly continue this tradition. They really make the effort to gift quality toys not just a pieces of junk. So in a way, you are actually helping “the guys” feel good about their efforts. Please remember that “the guys” are both men and women.

    I also asked the Paster of my local ELCA about gifting toys etc. This might be another resource….if not offically from a church then via efforts of individual members. Helen

  34. WOW Traineeon 22 Nov 2008 at 7:52 pm

    I’ve come to realize that, I may not hear from my friends. Perhaps after they’ve regrouped and regained their customary social status, I may again hear from them. They circulated in a higher circle and socialized with similar people. Yes, I know it’s hard to imagine how little towns have all these social ins and outs, but they do. The groupings even go back generations!

    I was never part of them and usually went off on my own adventures. Probably most irritating ito them s the fact that I listened to my own advice. We’ll all see what happens as time goes by. Helen

  35. Heather Grayon 23 Nov 2008 at 10:43 am

    We do a Christmas gift exchange in my husband’s family (so you’re only getting one gift instead of many) and the upper limit was $25 but has now been lowered to $10 because of the economy. Emphasis was on the gift being something thoughtful that the recipient would really like, not on trying to spend up to the limit (although if what you really want to get the person costs more than $10 and you can afford it, then the limit shouldn’t be a show-stopper. The gift and not the money, is the focus). I’m delighted because although so far we’re doing all right, I’ve found plenty of nice, recipient-appropriate gifts that were less than $25.

    After the holidays, there will be more discussion, but it’s possible that we may eliminate the gift exchange entirely. This is the large family gathering rather than the small individual families, who do whatever they do amongst themselves. This would suit me just fine, as the most important part of that gathering is sharing a meal and having fun together. Folks always bring some games and it’s a great time.

  36. Emmaon 24 Nov 2008 at 12:34 pm

    You have been given an award!

  37. Veganon 24 Nov 2008 at 2:03 pm

    Sharon, our local public library just processed two copies of your book. Both copies were immediately checked out. I had to put a hold on one since they failed to notify me (I requested the book). I can’t wait to read it. :)

  38. homebrewlibrarianon 24 Nov 2008 at 3:43 pm

    I’m so used to the elevated prices for organic foods in Anchorage that I was astonished at how much more expensive the organic sales items were over regular sales items. Conventional turnips, rutabagas and parsnips - $.79/lb! Regular canned vegies - $.59/can! Wow! Mind you, this is holiday sales prices, but still…

    The sales got me thinking. The daughter of my friend the building owner has a birthday coming up soon. Her husband has inconsistant work so I’m thinking that for her birthday, I’ll take her shopping to help her with her food storage dreams. She’s confessed to her dad that she’d really like to have more food around than they do and I may be able to help out somewhat. She doesn’t know that I have enough stored food to keep all six of us in the building fed for several months but that’s my TEOTWAWKI backup. I figure my gift would really be more peace of mind on her part than perceived charity. Not that I think she would care, after all they’ve got a 2 1/2 year old to feed as well.

    Might be helping someone else stock up this season!

    Kerri in AK

  39. Shauntaon 24 Nov 2008 at 4:19 pm

    I’m in rural Nevada where groceries are usually EXPENSIVE. But we had some great sales this week. Turkey was 19 cents a pound if you spent $100. They also gave a free turkey last week to card members. So we got two 20 pound or so turkeys for something like three bucks. Not bad. Sadly, local or free range or organic meat isn’t available to us at all. I stock up if I go to a bigger city. In the meantime, we just eat less meat.

    I also got the big cans of pumpkin for 87 cents a can. I bought two cases (24 cans.) The checker and my husband both thought I’d lost my mind. Even the people in the next lane were looking. But that’s okay. They last two years and are usually almost $3 a can. I make pumpkin bread and muffins and pudding. I’m going to try to look up some more recipes.

  40. Shambaon 24 Nov 2008 at 9:15 pm

    I haven’t had anyone think–or at least tell me–that I was a little off buying more food to keep on hand. My one friend my age though has been listening to me about food, environment, money, etc for a couple of years and agrees with me in principle.
    She has had far harder times than I have in my life and she agrees that knowing how to have food on hand and cook has been her life saver many times in her life.

    There are more people all around me watching what they buy, eat and spend money on that are willing to talk about it to me. what is so astonishing is how fast this is all showing up in our local news, stores and neighbors. Maybe it was there before and we just didn’t talk about it but we are now. And we all agree that it’s going to get harder before it gets better (crossing fingers and praying it will get better again)

    Peace to you all,

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