Friday, November 22, 2013

Grocery Shopping for the Holidays

Grocery shopping this time of year can be stressful but it's also a great time to save on lots of pantry items, especially in the baking department. Whether you are looking for an organic turkey, a full Thanksgiving meal or the perfect holiday recipes, here are some tips to help you get the best deals. 

1. Cooking, Baking & Holiday Staples
This is the best time of year to find good deals on sugar, flour and even nuts and chocolate chips. Many stores also have chicken broth on sale right around now, even Costco. Scour the ads before you shop. I recommend the Safeway iPhone app, it's much better than clipping coupons. You can search for discounts on items you need and save when you shop. This year Safeway is offering a lot of holiday Wilton baking items and decorating kits. See what you can find at out your local supermarket.

Look for house brands like the Whole Foods 365 line and bulk bins for good value, and don't forget about fresh cranberries! They can be frozen and used later in the year. Other seasonal items include fresh Brussels sprouts, canned pumpkin, butternut and sweet potato purees. Whole Foods also offers easy build-your-own-brie with rounds of cheese and various toppings sold by the ounce. 

2. Thanksgiving turkey
A lot of people like heritage and heirloom birds, one source is Diestel organic birds. You can find where they are sold locally.  But you do need to order them ahead. Either call your local store or order online from Whole Foods. Expect to pay about $3 per pound. 

3. Help!
Yes, stores offer that too. While every food magazine has a Thanksgiving guide, so too do grocery stores. Here are some good ones to check out for recipes, tips, turkey guides and more.

Safeway Holiday Tips & Recipes  lots of recipes including cocktails

Whole Foods Best Holiday Ever plenty of recipes, serving calculator and even decorating ideas

Fresh Market Holiday Turkey Tips and Tricks roasting, brining and stuffing recipes

Wegmans Turkey FAQ includes videos on roasting and carving 

4. Delivery
Facing the parking lot at a supermarket this time of year can be daunting. If you have a large order, delivery can be cost effective. Some stores like Safeway offer special deals this time of year, like free delivery and a free turkey with minimum purchase of $200. Check out Instacart, Google Shopping Express for more online shopping options.

5. Whole meals or prepared food
For those who don't want to cook, there is a much less expensive option than dining out. Many stores like Whole Foods offer the option of ordering a whole holiday meal. Whole Foods all have a holiday table in store where you can order and get advice for planning or "rounding out" a dinner. Whole Foods also offers both gluten free pies and pies made in house. I tried the Whole Foods brown butter walnut pie recently at a dinner and can definitely recommend it.

What are your best tips for holiday grocery shopping? Share them in the comments section.