How to Save Money on Your Holiday Groceries | Holiday Grocery Guide
Cut Holiday Food Bills
IN THE SUPERMARKET
1. Buy non-perishables well in advance. At holiday time, when turkey prices plunge to get you into the store, the costs of stuffing ingredients, cranberry sauce and traditional trimmings often rise.
2. Check the small print on supermarket flyers. You'll be out of luck if you shop on Wednesday for a sale item limited to "Friday only" or "starting Sunday."
3. Compare prices of different forms of the same food. If there's little difference between the price of fresh and canned sweet potatoes, and you plan to mash them anyway, buy canned. (You pay for the skin on fresh.)
4. Rolls made with refrigerated dough or roll mix are less expensive than bakery rolls.
5. If you're planning to serve a tossed salad, but the price of lettuce has soared, substitute spinach, cabbage, cucumbers and other vegetables.
6. When buying corn, check the drained weight of canned. Frozen may cost less.
7. Don't feel obliged to make every side dish from scratch. Some convenience foods may actually cost less—and there's no waste: canned beets, frozen squash, pearl onions and many other unsauced frozen vegetables (especially in large bags).
8. Be flexible. If the price of broccoli is up, be ready to choose something else.
1. Check out supermarket specials the day after Thanksgiving and stock up for Christmas.
2. Make sure anything you buy on special at Thanksgiving and plan to keep for Christmas won't spoil in the meantime.
3. Buy frozen pumpkin, mincemeat and apple pies a month or so before the holidays, when many markets put them on sale.
4. Though you pay a membership fee, warehouse shopping can save you big bucks. In a supermarket, pure vanilla extract costs almost 5 times more; ground black pepper 4 times more; shelled walnuts and semisweet chocolate chips more than twice as much.
5. If there's an Asian, Middle Eastern or other ethnic market near you, chances are you can save on items such as nuts, tea, ground spices and rice.
MEAT AND POULTRY
1. Why buy a whole turkey if your family will eat only dark or light meat? Buy a turkey breast or legs instead.
2. Prices slashed on sausage you could use in your stuffing? Check the expiration date, especially if it's an unannounced or unadvertised special.
3. No wonder turkeys are so popular for feeding Thanksgiving crowds—they're the least expensive form of poultry. Based on yield of edible meat per pound (minus skin and fat), they're about 46 percent edible. Chicken yields 41 percent edible meat, duck and geese about 22 percent.
4. Ham, beef, pork and lamb roasts also grace tables at holiday time. Compare yield per pound with cost: 1 pound boneless meat serves 3 to 4; with a minimum amount of bone, 2 to 3; and a large amount of bone, 1 to 2.
5. Instead of buying cocktail franks, save about a pound by buying regular franks and cutting them up for pigs-in-a-blanket and other hors d'oeuvres.
1. Use reconstituted dry milk or diluted evaporated milk for cooking and baking.
2. Follow this rule when buying eggs: If there's less than a 14-cent difference between two sizes of the same grade of eggs, the larger is a better value.
3. When your cake recipes calls for 1 cup buttermilk, there's no need to buy a whole quart. Substitute "sour" milk made by stirring 1 tablespoon lemon juice with enough milk to equal 1 cup and letting it stand 5 minutes.
4. Whipped cream in a 7-ounce aerosol can can cost more than twice as much as buying 8 ounces of heavy cream and whipping it yourself. Or an inexpensive substitute, whip evaporated milk (not skim), but be sure the bowl beater and milk are ice-cold.
1. A pound of one kind of fresh vegetable (as purchased) can yield a different number of servings than a pound of another. For example, you get 5 to 6 servings per pound of green beans, 4 to 5 per pound of Brussels sprouts and 3 to 4 per pound of broccoli.
2. If you're planning a fruit bowl centerpiece, check the cost of similar fruits: compare tangerines to Clementines, Delicious apples to McIntosh, Comice or Bosc pears to Bartletts, green grapes to red.
3. An inexpensive holiday dessert is Ambrosia: traditionally, layers of sliced oranges, bananas (and sometimes pineapple), sugar and sweetened flaked coconut. Buy the heaviest oranges, which are the juiciest, and compare prices for coconut in cans versus bags.
4. If you're paying for fresh greens by weight, shake off the excess water before you take them to the register. You'd be amazed how much may be hidden in the leaves.
Video: Economides' Money-Saving Tip: Buy Discounted Holiday Food
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