Easter – a Cyclic Holdiday

I’ve mentioned before to Take Advantage of Cyclic Changes in the Market – Strategy Four.  Here are some specifics regarding the Easter Holiday.  Be sure to look over Saving on Basic Ingredients for a little more information on storage and care.  Think of Easter as the last big sale on many items (especially pantry staples like baking items) until Thanksgiving, so stock up on those if your budget allows – even if you have to scrimp a bit to do so, its well worth the savings.

Pysanky, borrowed from Wiki

Remember, too, that Leftovers are often the most expensive items in your home – one spends money AND time preparing the foods that sometimes languish in our fridges after any Holiday.  See Leftovers in the top menu for ideas on how to transform leftovers into additional meals and treats.  Smidges and Titches covers all the little bits of this and that you might have hanging around your fridge, while  12 Days of Turkey and 12 Days of Ham has recipes for more substantial amounts of leftovers.)

Meats and Poultry and Seafood:

Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are all great times to stock up on the larger, maybe fancier, but still budget priced items. You can really maximize your savings if you have a freezer, and think about buying enough in quantity to last to the next Holiday, or perhaps even throughout the year. Many chains have great specials pre – Easter, but some stores will mark down after the Holiday to clear out any items that didn’t sell. The big box stores often have specialty roasts, cuts and seafood at good prices.

Pork Items are BIG at Easter:

  • Hams reach an all time low in our area at Easter (Christmas is a great time to pick up a ham, too.)  Prices can drop to 69 cents a pound, and it’s easy to find one for 99 cents a pound. Look for specials, too, where you may buy so many items, and get a discount on the ham, or coupons from the producers. I generally avoid the spiral cuts – they tend to be very soft and wet and very expensive – all of which are turn offs to me. I look for the budget priced Hams, preferably one that isn’t injected with a lot of salt and water. It’s hard to find any protein item for 69 cents a pound:  When I do, I stock up and buy a couple and chuck them in my freezer.  I consider the bone to be a great bonus – I’ll make at least two soups with each bone, and have two additional very inexpensive meals.  I go for the shank end, whenever possible.  See my “12 Days of Ham” for some budget recipes for leftovers.
  • Center Cut Pork Loins are often on sale, though generally I don’t find them as inexpensive as I do during the fall/winter sales. If they are at a great price, pick up a couple of them and slice for pork chops, bag and freeze.
  • Standing Pork Roasts:  Often at sale at Christmas, they are also usually at a great price at Easter.  Even on sale, they are generally pricey and difficult to wrap well to freeze.  If you buy, buy with the idea of using it fresh or at the very least within a few weeks.
  • Bacon and Sausage : I think grocers respond to the idea that Holidays are a prime time for company and overnight guests – bacon and sausage is often on sale during the Easter week. If my freezer isn’t already stocked from the fall/winter sales, I’ll pick up several packages.

Beef:  A few roasts are often on sale prior to Easter – I don’t see them for as low here in my area as I do around Christmas or New Year’s but they are still lower than the usual sale prices. Still very expensive cuts even on sale, pick them up if your budget allows and you appreciate them.

  • Tenderloin:  It drops to 6.99 a pound prior to Easter
  • Rib Roast:  In our area, it will drop to about $7.98 a pound.

Fancier Fish and Seafood:  The best prices I find are prior to New Year’s, but there will still be specials at Easter.

  • Seafood:  look for fresh or frozen Crab and Shrimp. I tend to avoid the platters of Shrimp that are already made up – to me, shrimp is expensive even on sale and these are often more expensive than the frozen and are often bagged and mushy.  If I buy frozen shrimp, I look for raw in the shell. Thawed overnight in the fridge on several layers of paper towel, I find them less offensive.)  Of course, if you can afford fresh, or it’s local to your area, go for it!
  • Fish:  Lent is a great time to pick up budget fish, whether fresh, canned or frozen.  Stock up on canned Tuna and Salmon for the year. Check out your drug stores for tuna and salmon, too.  You’ll be surprised at how low the prices are during specials. Fresh Salmon is often $4.99 to $6.99 a pound.

Poultry:  Generally cheapest prior to Thanksgiving, Easter usually has a few specials of it’s own.

  • Turkey:  Often 98 cents a pound, compared to 69 cents a pound at Thanksgiving, I’ll still try to pick up if I’m not stocked up.  Just like Ham, it’s hard to find a cheaper protein and I can get a LOT of meals out of a turkey.  See “12 days of Turkey” for leftover ideas.  (I’m in the process of copying to my organized recipes under family favorites, but the complete 12 recipes are not there yet.  You’ll need to scroll through the link above to find them all.)
  • Whole Chickens:  You’ll find them on sale prior to Easter, but usually for about 99 cents or so a pound.  I look for these to drop one a year or so in my area to 68 cents a pound – and that’s usually late, late spring.  Still, 99 cents a pound is a pretty good price, and if you buy a four pounder or so and use a lot of sides, you can usually have enough for a meal, some type of chicken for a leftover dish, and soup.
  • Cornish Game Hens:  Fun for a fancy dinner, they’re often on sale at Easter.   They’re generally not one of my Frugal items, even on sale.

Baking Items:  Easter is the last great sale on baking items until the fall – you’ll see them going on sale in their quarterly rotations, but until pre Thanksgiving, you won’t see great prices en masse like this week.  Producers and Manufacturers often put out coupons prior to the Easter Holiday.

  • Yeast:  Generally 25 percent off, often there are coupons.  (I like to pick up a jar if I’m low and keep it in the fridge.)
  • Flour:  I can pick up five pounds for $1.99, less if I can find sales with coupons.
  • Sugar:  Just like flour, I look for sugar on sale with coupons.
  • Chocolate and Chocolate Chips:  They do go on sale periodically, but any Holiday is a good time to stack up.
  • Spices and Extracts:  Every year I find great buys on McCormick items, especially vanilla.  Stores in our areas often offer sales and Catalinas (money back on next purchase when you buy so many…these are often unadvertised and I find out about them through my coupon matching sites like “Pocket Your Dollars.”  Now and then I’ll buy something at the store that will trigger a little coupon that tells me of upcoming Catalinas.
  • Baking mixes are generally on sale at Easter – I just don’t generally buy them.

Pantry/Grocery Items:

  • Vinegar is the most notable:  pick up vinegar now at Easter – often unadvertised, you’ll find coupons if you’re lucky, but generally not only the basic vinegars, but also the higher end flavored ones are on sale.  You may find the higher end vinegar on sale through out the summer, but rarely do I ever see any of the basic ones discounted.  Check for coupons in the paper or at the manufacturer’s websites.
  • Dried Beans and Peas:  On sale, often unadvertised before, during or after any major Holiday when Ham is likely to be served.
  • Mayonnaise:  Much cheaper in the summer, it often goes on sale at Easter.  Next great sale price will probably be Memorial Day.
  • Crackers:  If you keep crackers on hand, buy enough now to last through Memorial Day.  Use your coupons.
  • Pop and Junk Food:  Rarely bought in my Frugal House, if you’re buying, buy it on sale, and preferably with a coupon.  These items are on sale at almost every major Holiday – the next great sale will be Memorial Day.
  • Bottled Dressing:  If you use and need some, pick up now, but keep in mind that you can generally pick it up for free or near free during the summer.  Next big sale will probably by Memorial day.  Use your coupons.
  • Canned Soup, Mandarin Oranges and canned Pineapple are usually on sale during any major Holiday.  Use your coupons.  These will probably be at their lowest right now and the next big drop in price will be fall for the soup and Thanksgiving for the fruit.
  • Coffee:  Buy at Easter – the prices are usually slightly higher than you’ll find around New Years, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a lower price through the next few months.  Coffee can be highly competitive, and you’ll find sales prices that you can use with coupons, so if you aren’t stocked up for the year at Christmas, buy now.  I’m speaking canned, here, of course, vacuum packed, not whole beans.
  • Jello and Pudding is often on sale at Easter.
  • French’s Fried Onions – I don’t generally use, but if you do, get them now to last through Thanksgiving.
  • Pickles:  Pickles are big sale items at Easter – generally the best pricing until Memorial day and summer sales.

Dairy/Eggs:  Sales are big prior to Easter for baking (and for dyeing Easter eggs.)

  • Butter:  Sales go down to about $1.49 a pound, regular SALE price in our area is $2.29 a pound, with an occasional sale price of $1.99 a pound.  Pick up as much as you can and freeze.  You probably won’t see a better price till Thanksgiving, and by then it may be very well be more!
  • Cream Cheese:  Drops to about 98 cents a package – if you’re lucky, you’ll find a few coupons for the name brand.  I’ll now and then see a special (usually a store coupon from the ad) for 68 cents a package, but in our area they’re limit 1 – Cream cheese keeps for months, so stock up.  (It does freeze, but I don’t like to use if for Cheesecake after it’s been frozen – it’s still fine in dips and cooking.)  By the way, I find the premade dips and cooking cremes too expensive.
  • Cream, Sour Cream & Half and Half:  You’ll find great sales at Easter for these items – pick up several.  (They’ll generally last way beyond their “buy by” or “best if used by” date – remember, this is NOT an expiration date on dairy.)  This year I’ve found coupons for half and half and sour cream.

Produce:

  • You’ll usually find specials on whole mushrooms, asparagus, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, lemons and potatoes. Pick up extra of the ones that will last longer like the cauliflower and broccoli.  If you make stuffed mushrooms, try freezing some in small packages to reheat another time.  Smell those strawberries – they’ll be out of season and maybe not so good.  Pick up that asparagus – throw it around on your kitchen floor and roll in it – it’s probably going to be the best pricing and if you live in the right area, in season.  It means spring is here.  Seriously, this is one vegetable that is so significantly cheaper in season and tastes so much better, take advantage of it for its short life.
  • Lettuce:  I’ll often find Holiday sales on bagged lettuce and Spinach – Scroll down to Lettuce under Saving on Basic Ingredients, Vegetables and Fruits for detailed discussion on how much more expensive some of the bagged lettuces can be.

Frozen:

  • Breads:  Rhodes frozen Bread is often on sale, and combined with coupons, I pick up a package or two of brown and serve for free during almost every major Holiday.
  • Cool Whip or Frozen Topping.
  • Vegetables:  I have an aversion to most of the frozen ones, but I do buy frozen peas, frozen spinach and frozen corn, most of which I’ll use in recipes.  You may have read my “Rant” on the Green Giant Baby Brussels in Butter Sauce (hope I wasn’t too hard on the Jolly Green) or my “Rant” on Frozen Broccoli.
  • Frozen Fruit:  Check to see if there are sales, advertised or not.
  • Frozen Pie dough:  Easter and Thanksgiving are great times to pick up free or near free pie dough – use coupons combined with sales.

Grocery Items:

  • Look for sale priced items and use coupons for things like garbage bags, storage containers, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, cooking bags.  I can usually pick these items up (with the exception of garbage bags) for free or near free.  Stock up!
  • Paper plates, cups and napkins are generally on sale – I’ll usually find better sales during the summer.  Look for coupons.

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