Thursday, May 14, 2009

Eating by the Seasons

I know I said I’d write about the Good Pantry today, but while shopping last night I realized it is Hot Dog Season. What is Hot Dog Season, you ask? The time of year when hot dogs are cheap and plentiful, especially my favorite kinds. I realized that part of my strategy is to shop by the seasons, and today I share part of that strategy with you.

Every year our local paper runs the article detailing how to plan shopping for your home by the seasonal sales. For instance, in January, stores have “white sales” with linens and such being on sale, while back to school encompasses items such as stationery supplies and storage.

I plan some of my household shopping by those sales, but what no one ever seems to talk about is that food can be seasonal as well. I’m not talking eating fresh fruits and vegetables in season, though that is excellent and I am eagerly anticipating the pears from my favorite farmer’s market vendor this summer, but something else.

My seasonal year looks something like this:

Janaury: Chips and soda, also party foods, frozen pizza and hors d’oeuvres (I call this Superbowl Season)

March/Early April: Easter Season, generally baking supplies, eggs, butter, sugar, stuff like that. This year Kroger’s had eggs for $0.98/dozen, and butter for $1.50/lb

May-August: Picnic Season, the time when corn is plentiful and cheap (this week $0.19/ear), chips are once again cheap ($1.98 for a bag of Lays at Wal-Mart), soda flows freely, and best of all it is Hot Dog Season, when we can get a package of Hebrew National Kosher Beef Franks for as little as $3/package, (I also am a big fan of Ball Park Franks Smoked White Turkey hot dogs, yummy and my pants still fit after eating them). Frozen treats, ice cream, popsicles, etc are also really cheap this time of year (one reason I buy those low-fat hot dogs! more ice cream for me).

September/October: Back to School/Candy Season, lots of places have convenient put up packs of individual servings of things like chips and granola bars. Candy is also on sale, usually starting in late September. There’s nothing like having a good stash of $100,000 Bars laying around on a dreary November day, and I generally find they run anywhere from 3/$5.00 to around $2.00 a bag. Try places like Wal-Mart and Kroger’s on the day after Halloween for even better deals.

November/December: Holiday Baking Season, also end of year party season, Thanksgiving, et al. Turkey can be had cheaply this time of year (of course) but also baking supplies tend to be more plentiful. This is the time of year I pull out those coupons and use real Nestle’s Toll House Chips in my recipes. We also stock up on tasty staples like Stove Top Stuffing, Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce and Heinz Turkey Gravy.

So there you have it, my Year Of Savings by the Seasons. I know there are other sales year round, but you can pretty much be guaranteed that certain items will be plentiful and cheap at certain times of the year. By buying when things are less expensive, you can free up money for other treats, like real raspberries out of season or even going out to see a movie.

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