Saving money on groceries means snatching up good deals on things you regularly buy. Keep an eye open for Christmas clearance groceries on sale at your local grocery store after a holiday. Many regular grocery items will be marked down to amazing prices, making it a great time for you to stock up.
Shopping the Christmas clearance is a great way to Stock Your Pantry on a Budget. You can find great deals on foods that you normally buy and either include them in your meal plan this month or freeze or store them for the weeks to come. Building your pantry with budget groceries is a key component of the Good Cheap Eats System, and one that will serve you well for months to come.
As I type, it’s 4 days until Christmas. In no way do I want to detract from Christmas itself, but, at the same time, I do want to alert you to the fact that the days after a holiday are great days for grocery shopping.
This is NOT because the regular sales will be great — in fact, they will pretty much suck — but the Christmas clearance racks will offer some stellar deals.
You may think that only Christmas-y items, like wrapping paper and decor, go half-price after Christmas, but you’d be wrong. All kinds of food and food-related items are packaged for the holidays or heavily pushed in the weeks before Thanksgiving and Christmas.
This means the store has a lot of it in anticipation of the holiday rush and then needs to unload it quickly — to make room for Valentine’s Day, which they will be stocking on the shelves next week, if not sooner.
Here’s the short list of things I have bought in the past on December 26th or 27th:
- butter: $1.24/pound
- fresh cranberries: $0.42/lb
- cranberry sauce: $0.42/can
- canned organic pumpkin: $0.50/can
- boxed stuffing mix: $0.50/box
- heavy duty aluminum foil (with snowmen on the box but not the foil): $1/roll
- holiday cake mixes: $0.30/box
- holiday frosting and decorations: $0.40/can
- Starbucks “Christmas” coffee blends: $2/bag
- paper plates: $0.25/package
Why Do This
You can save a lot of money! You can stock up on Christmas clearance groceries and other food-related items to use all year long. Often times, the food stuffs are marked at least half-off, sometimes more if they have a big supply and little time to sell it.
You can help avoid waste. Some grocery stores have programs to repurpose food nearing its sell-by date, but not all. If the store is marking it down, they want to move it, and you can benefit from the cost savings as well as divert something from a landfill.
Tips for Success
You will be pleasantly surprised at how you can build a frugal pantry by stocking up on food items during the Christmas clearance. Follow these tips for success:
- Do you have room in the budget? A sale isn’t really much help if you don’t have cash on hand to take advantage of it. No Christmas clearance groceries are not worth going into debt for.
- Do you have the storage space? After the holidays, many of us have pantries, fridges, and freezers full to the brim. Do you truly have room to bring home Christmas clearance groceries? If not, just pass the sale by.
- Check dates on all items. In my experience, I usually have a year to use many of the shelf-stable Christmas clearance groceries I purchase, but that is not always the case, especially with produce, dairy, and meat. Keep in mind that sell-by, use-by, and best-by dates all mean different things.
- Have a plan to use it. If the Christmas clearance groceries are regular, everyday items that you use, then great. If not, then you need to have a plan to use it if you’re going to bring it home. It does no good if it sits in a cupboard, never being used.
- If it’s not marked down yet, ask. Seriously. It seems awkward, but I verified with Robert the Meat Leader (really his title) in my local store’s meat department. It helps them to move things. Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount if something is close to its sell-by date. Someone just may have missed that item when they were making a sweep.
Where to find the deals
Items like fresh cranberries and veggie trays, as well as more gourmet items, get marked down this week, maybe even before Christmas. Look for convenience items like salad mixes and seasonal things like nuts in the shell or caramel apple fixings in addition to regular every day produce that needs to move.
I’ve found large organic trays of veggies for less than five bucks and cranberries as low as $0.42/bag! These are great prices and worthy of stocking up on.
There are lots of things that you can do with that veggie tray besides just dipping. Chop them up and add to soups and salads. Bags of cranberries can be tossed in the freezer as is. Use them when you’re ready.
You can Freeze Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs that you find on sale to use another time.
Whipping cream, butter, egg nog, cream cheese, eggs: these are all seasonally popular items that the store has probably been pushing for the last few weeks. They may have stocked more than they can normally sell and therefore will let you have them for a great price.
Depending on the sell by dates instituted by the manufacturer, the store may need to unload these quickly.
Meat and Deli
While meat and deli cuts are technically always in season, there is always something being clearanced due the to the fact that these items are highly perishable.
Christmas clearance in the meat department may include hams, turkeys, and gourmet seasonal items like prime rib, goose, or lamb that were too highly priced to move quickly. You may find yourself enjoying a really fancy dinner one night in January (on a budget!) because no one wanted it for Christmas.
In the deli department, you’re likely to find party trays of meats and cheeses. You don’t have to serve them in a Charcuterie Board. Add them to pizza, pasta, sandwiches, and wraps.
In the bakery department, expect to find things like holiday desserts but also baked goods sold for entertaining, such as dinner rolls or large bread bowls. I’ve found packs of dinner rolls as low as a quarter and sourdough boules for less than a buck!
Check the dates and examine for freshness. Remember that you can freeze bread, so if you’ve got the room and the budget, load up and save it for another time.
Shelf-stable and Canned Goods
Many food brands offer holiday themed packaging. This means that the stores will want to move it asap. They will most likely start discounting it at 50% and then increase the discount as they diminish their supplies.
The shelf-stable and canned goods will include Christmas clearance items ranging from baking supplies to canned pumpkin and cranberry sauce to holiday flavored coffees and Christmas candy to even plastic bags and storage containers.
It doesn’t matter if your freezer burritos are stored in bags with snowmen on them, and you can repurpose red candies for Valentines and green for Saint Patrick.
Think outside the box and even decidedly Christmas items can be used in new and creative ways.
The last week of December is a great way for you to stretch your grocery dollar with Christmas clearance groceries!
Share your wins!
How have you saved on budget groceries after the holidays? Share your wins or any questions you might have. Post-holiday clearance is a great way to save money!
This post was originally published on December 22, 2011. It has been updated for content and clarity.