I don’t know what I like more about Thanksgiving, the holiday itself or all of the sales grocery stores nationwide usually have on Thanksgiving-dinner staple ingredients as soon as Halloween passes. You can find rock-bottom prices on the foods most frequently consumed on the biggest eating day of the year. Don’t miss your chance to stock up on cranberries, canned pumpkin, stuffing and more.
Don’t fear you’ll be eating Thanksgiving Day meal repeats for months. Many of these ingredients can easily be transformed into deliciously diverse foods to enjoy in the coming months.
- Cranberries and sauce: Fresh berries freeze very well. Stock up so you’ll have enough to make these simple cranberry bars. You’ll also want to grab a few extra cans of cranberry sauce. You can turn it into an easy cranberry barbecue sauce that can be used on leftover turkey as well as with pulled pork, grilled chicken and more. Cranberry sauce also can be mixed with mayo for a flavorful sandwich spread. Or use it as-is as the spread in one of my favorite sandwiches: turkey, cheddar and thinly sliced green apple on a croissant or wrap.
- Stuffing: Crush up dry stuffing mix or cubes to use in place of breadcrumbs in meatloaf or as a breading for chicken or pork cutlets. You can also use it in this easy Salisbury steak recipe. The shaped patties freeze well, so if you have a small family go ahead and make them all, then wrap and freeze those you don’t need for a quick dinner on a busy night.
- Canned pumpkin: Probably the most diverse of all the ingredients used on Thanksgiving, you can use pumpkin to make Pumpkin bread, to eat now or freeze for later, or to give as gifts once the holidays are here. Pumpkin pancakes are also a fun way to pack some extra vitamins and flavor into breakfast. Pumpkin risotto can be a unique side dish and Pumpkin soup can be warming on a cold winter day. You can even make delicious Chocolate cupcakes with just a cake mix and canned pumpkin. If you’re a pumpkin lover, there’s even more reason to load up now. Libby’s only harvests and cans pumpkin once a year, so once it’s gone, it’s gone. Be sure to get 100% pumpkin puree, not pumpkin-pie filling for use in future recipes.
- Turkey: Not only are whole turkey and turkey breast prices as low as they’ll be all year, many stores will even give you a free turkey if you spend a certain amount of money. If you have freezer space, consider getting an extra turkey and freezing for later, or even roast it and freeze the cooked meat in two-cup amounts. Weeks later, you can enjoy a comforting turkey pot pie or turkey Tetrazzini.
- Canned veggies: Though many don’t realize it, because vegetables are canned so quickly after being picked, they are often just as nutrient packed, if not more, than the fresh ones that were transported in trucks for a day or two. Take advantage of the low prices to stock up so you can easily serve veggies at dinner even on busy nights. They can also be used in the following recipes to create an entire meal or at least an interesting side dish. Green beans are delicious in garlic beef stir fry or green beans with Parmesan. Corn can be turned into avocado corn salsa or cheesy potato and corn chowder. Peas are perfect in tuna noodle casserole and Parmesan rice and peas with bacon. While this calls for frozen peas, canned peas can easily be substituted.
- Baking items: Whether you bake often or just a few times a year, you may want to consider stocking up on these pantry items, many of which can be stored in a cool, dry place for months or even frozen to last longer.
- Butter can be frozen for six to nine months and the sales are usually worth getting a few extra pounds. The name brand in my store sells for $4.39 a pound, but at the holidays I can find it for $1.99 per pound, a 55% savings.
- Chocolate chips will last in a cool, dry place for two years. These usually go for $2.79 for a 12-ounce bag, but at this time of year are often two for $3, a savings of 46%.
- Canned milks: Both evaporated and sweetened condensed milks will last in a cool, dry place, unopened for a year. You can often save 35% or more on these in November and December.
- Nuts: One of the most expensive baking items can last in the freezer one to two years past the sell-by date. In my area, an 8-ounce bag of walnuts typically costs $9.49, but sale prices are usually $5.49 or less, a 43% savings. Pecans that are normally $9.49 for a 10-ounce bag can be found on sale for much less as well.
Even though sales are great, don’t get so excited you forget to bring along coupons to save even more. You can print these coupons right from your computer or consider buying an extra Sunday newspaper for additional coupon inserts.