Attention holiday shoppers! This is my favorite list of the best foods to stock up on during holiday grocery sales! Take advantage of good deals to save money and stretch your grocery budget! Use your price book to know when a sale is at rock bottom price! Check out my post on how to maximize holiday savings when doing online sales.
I’ve learned a lot about real food on a budget over the years, and it’s hard to pinpoint just one thing that can make or break your success.
But, if I HAD to name one thing, it would be good planning.
There are lots of ways to “plan” for the holiday shopping season.
- Meal planning. This is helpful so you don’t buy food you don’t need at the grocery store.
- Planning a budget. Having a budget is so you know exactly how much you can spend at the store.
And when do you want to stock up on holiday grocery sales? You need to plan ahead to know what to look for, and what price is considered a good deal.
Psst! I’m talking about stocking up on holiday grocery sales in this post, but I go into EXTREME detail on meal planning and budgeting in my course Grocery Budget Bootcamp. Click HERE to get started with three FREE training videos on how you can save at the grocery store TODAY!
How Do You Know What The Best Holiday Grocery Sales Are?
If you’ve been keeping up with your price book, you’ll know right off the bat whether the sale price is worthy of stocking up or not.
If you haven’t been keeping a price book, that’s actually one of the reasons you might not be saving money on food!!
Step 1. Go to this post and learn how to make your price book. Then watch the sales for the month leading up to the holiday season and track the prices. When the price hits the lowest you’ve seen, buy your ingredients for the holiday meal.
Step 2. That same week, re-evaluate your budget and see if you can dedicate any funds to stocking up on the good deals you found. Prioritize the deals according to what would benefit your family most – i.e. baking supplies if you bake often, or meat if you have a “meat and potatoes” type of family.
Personally, I stock up on pumpkin. Between pumpkin cookies, pumpkin donuts, overnight pumpkin French toast, and pumpkin chili mac, I have PLENTY of uses for it all year!
When is the Best Time to Buy?
- If your store has a “sales cycle” that starts on Wednesdays, the best time to buy will be the week before Thanksgiving.
- If your store follows a traditional Sunday-to-Saturday sale cycle, the best time to buy will start the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
Can you find good deals in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving? Yes of course!
However, we want to focus our time and energy on the things that will yield us the best return, so don’t jump the gun on shopping. Wait until the week before (if your sales start mid-week) or the week of (if your sales start on Sunday) and take care of your list in one fell swoop.
Best Foods to Stock Up on During Holiday Grocery Sales
- Turkey. Look for all cuts – whole, breasts, legs, ground – and then use as you’d like, but consider substituting for chicken in these 39 rotisserie chicken meals.
- Ham. Slice it thin for homemade lunch meat!
- Whole Cranberries. Use them in slow cooker cranberry sauce, cranberry orange granola, and sweet kale Costco-copycat salad.
- Onions. Save some prep time later by dicing them now, and freezing them in 1 cup portions.
- Green Beans. Fresh, frozen, and canned are usually on sale this time of year.
- Sweet Potato. Make crash-hot sweet potatoes OR cook them in the Instant Pot and freeze them for later!
- Pumpkin. Look for pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice, but also whole pumpkins to make your own pumpkin puree. Consider pumpkin-flavored things. Just read the ingredients to make sure it’s not filled with junk!
- Nuts. If you won’t use them up within 6-8 weeks, freeze them to prolong their shelf life.
- Chocolate Chips. This will be the best price you’ll see for chocolate chips all year. Stock up for banana chocolate chip muffins and healthy peanut butter cups!
- Other Baking Chips. Think vanilla chips for white bean blondies, butterscotch chips, sprinkles, etc.
- Shredded Coconut. Make your own homemade coconut milk, or as I prefer, make sweet and salty energy bites.
- Sugars. Look for all types – granulated, powdered, light brown, dark brown, etc.
- Honey/Maple Syrup. Raw honey is your healthiest option but consider processed honey for baking.
- Cocoa. My family loves raw cacao or dutch processed cocoa!
Baking and Cooking Supplies
- Parchment Paper. (we use this one)
- Aluminum Foil.
- Muffin Liners. (we use re-usable silicone liners at home, but we keep a few disposable ones on hand for when my daughter hosts a bake sale or when we take baked goods to school)
- Plastic Storage Containers. (we’re slowly switching to glass containers at home, but again, having plastic ones on hand make it easy to cook and bake for others without worrying about getting your “good” containers back)
Keep an Eye Out For Discounts on:
- Seasonal Blends of Tea, Cocoa, and Coffee.
- Spice Blends. (it’s cheaper to make your own, but you might break even if they’re marked down enough)
- Paper Plates. (great for hosting parties so you can focus on the fellowship and not clean up… look for solid colors to use year-round)
- Meat, Cheese, and/or Vegetable Trays. (depending on the price, you can break even on the cost of food and save time on the prep work!)
- Clearance Halloween OR Thanksgiving specific items. (depending on when you shop)
Questions about Holiday Grocery Sales
All retailers are different. Find out if your store has a “sales cycle” that starts on Wednesdays or if your store follows a traditional Sunday to Saturday sale cycle. Once you find out, you will get the best buy.
It is better to shop at the end of the holiday season, the sales will save you money. If you go before, you will run into the peak time. You will be able to find great bargains, sometimes 90 percent off! Make sure to check with your holiday foods ad.
Holiday Grocery Sales: Honorable Mention
It is ALWAYS cheaper to make your own chicken stock, and when you make slow cooker chicken stock, you don’t even have to be home! That’s why this is one of the best foods to make from scratch.
However, I know it’s convenient to have a can or a carton of stock in the pantry, just in case. Or maybe you just prefer to buy chicken stock instead of making it.
Whatever the reason, if you tend to keep cans or cartons of chicken stock on hand, this is the time to stock up.
Condensed Cream Soups
Ever since I realized that homemade cream of mushroom soup takes about 5 minutes and tastes WAY better than the can, I don’t buy cans of condensed cream soups anymore.
But… like chicken stock… you might not have the ability or desire to make condensed cream soups at home and simply prefer to buy them. If so, watch for those sales!
Gravy is one of those foods that seem hard to make but is actually really easy once you do it. I made Pioneer Woman’s turkey gravy recipe last year and I swear, I could have skipped the turkey and just eaten gravy with a spoon for dinner!
If homemade gravy sounds scary to you, track prices and pick up a few extra jars when the price is best.
More Holiday Tips
- Thanksgiving Dinner Meal Plan
- Teaching Kids About Money with the Holidays
- Healthier Sugar Cookie Recipe
- How to Maximize Holiday Savings When Shopping Online
Good ideas! I’ve found good deals on cream cheese and butter during the holidays. And we try to buy an extra turkey when they go on sale to use later.
YES on pumpkin puree and cranberries. I do 60-70% of my shopping at Aldi and last year i determined to stock up on these two items which they only have seasonally. I started buying 2 cans of pumpkin a week the first week of October when it appeared in the store until February when it was all gone. Last week, when I saw pumpkin at Aldi for the first time, I still had one can sitting on my shelf! It’s literally half the price of anywhere else.
I bought 4 bags of cranberries every time they were on sale at Aldi (basically 2 weeks in November & 2 weeks in December). I still have 1.5 bags left.
Ready to start stocking for next year! Generally, I don’t believe in stocking up for more than just a month or so (it just encourages us to eat too much) but these two items are the exception!
Ditto Rosa! I definitely make exceptions for pumpkin and cranberries.
In addition to items mentioned above, I stock flour (White Lily—one store has it cheaper than anyone else at holidays, including Easter), canola oil, Carnation milk, Cool Whip, pie crusts, vanilla, marshmallows, canned pineapple, sausage, cheese, and frozen pies.
Thank you for this!