One of my favorite strategies for saving money on food costs is stocking my pantry and freezer to serve me all year long. Packaged foodstuffs generally last for many months, which means I can stock up on a great sale and use those items far past their typical "season."
Also, learning a few tricks in food preservation allows me to extend the shelf life of seasonal produce and enjoy summer fruits in the dead of winter. Here are few of the seasonal deals I look for throughout the year.
Building a Budget Pantry and Freezer
Building a budget pantry isn't hard. You have opportunities in every season to stockpile seasonal sale items that you can use all year long.
For instance, early January is a great time to buy holiday staples, like cranberry sauce, pumpkin puree, and graham cracker crumbs. These items sell for a significantly lower amount than they do during Thanksgiving or Christmas.
I always check the expiration date and let that information determine how much I buy. One year I bought two flats of organic pumpkin for 25 cents a can, because their "best-by" date was two years out. I had pumpkin whenever I needed it, but at a great price.
This practice works for a myriad of items, including some fresh items. That same week I found gourmet butter and fresh cranberries on a deep markdown. I bought as much as my deep freeze could hold.
Stock Up in Summer and Save
But the seasons around the holidays aren't the only times to think about good deals. Summer has its own specials. Think about the events of summer that marketers want to maximize on: outdoor cooking, entertaining, and back to school. The grocery store jumps into this pool with both feet, offering great promotions for a number of "seasonal" items.
Stocking up on seasonal grocery items is a great way to offset your costs now as well as later. Consider these items that you should find on sale this summer that you can make the most of in the coming months.
Some items you can store in your pantry, being sure to rotate your stock so you use the oldest first. Other items may need to be stored in the freezer. Still other items, like seasonal produce, will need to be processed in some way, such as blanched for freezing or prepared for canning.
(When filling your freezer, check the shelf-life of items you might want to freeze before buying more than you can use in the allotted time.)
Seasonal Summer Foods to Stock Up On
- Grilling cuts of meat, hot dogs, and sausages
- Barbecue sauce, mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise, and other condiments
- Ice cream, as well as cones and toppings
- Popsicles and other frozen treats
- Lunchbox-sized items, like pudding cups, snack crackers, chips
- Quick breakfast items for busy school days
- Seasonal produce to freeze or can: basil (pesto), bell peppers, blueberries, cucumbers (pickles), green beans, mangoes, mint, peaches, plums, raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes, zucchini, and summer squash.
Tell me — what other great deals have you found in the summertime?