Shopping for T-day
I recently posted a question about how much people spend on T-day and everyone talked about how if you "shop around" for weeks before T-day you can get a lot of great deals on different things.
That got me thinking, while I am not opposed to a deal and I do watch some items (mostly proteins) and buy them when they are on sale, I just don't have that kind of time when the Holidays roll in. So for me Thanksgiving is really 1 or 2 shopping trips when I have time. I will buy things on sale if it is my brand for Thanksgiving but it isn't a meal I typically take risks with.
So I'm just curious about other people's shopping habits for THANKSGIVING specifically. Do you shop multiple stores and across multiple trips to get the best deals on different items?
We are having 26 this year, and have already started shopping. A trip to Trader Joes for gluten free stuff ( we have 5 celiacs coming for dinner!"), a trip to Ocean State Job Lot for tin pans for turkey roasting, napkins, and paper goods for munchies before dinner. At the supermarket I have already bought stock, peas, cranberry sauce ( we serve both canned and homemade), canned corn, butter, relish tray "stuff". Next Saturday, we will go to the farm stand for all of our produce and cheeses. Supermarket for stuffing bread and any last minute things. We are cooking two turkeys, so I cant pick them up until Wed afternoon. I dont necessarily get the best deal on everything, but it is easier to spread the damage over a few weeks!
For me it's not just about saving money, but I find the food stores are packed and shelves are empty leading up to the big day. I don't want to chance not being able to find, for example, heavy cream (this happened once).
A lot is on sale now- two weeks before. There won't be many sales and what is will be sold out by next week. Also there have been coupons in the paper up to this weekend (there won't be any next weekend). I did buy 5 lbs of fresh cranberries at Costco because I know they won't be that inexpensive (75¢/lb) anywhere.
I normally shop for sale items only and don't shop the day before or the day of for any of my cook at home meals, unless to buy fresh bread /rolls or dairy for that meal. I absolutely avoid Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving unless some sort of accidental forgetfulness has occurred, in which case I am at the store when the door opens.
I'm cooking this year for the first time in a loooooong time.....have been going out for years only to be dissatisfied lately. So I'm cooking only for 2 people - 1 a vegetarian. I plan on getting my turkey for free from BJs with a coupon and keeping everything else really simple. So shouldn't really cost that much in the long run.
I don't find I have to shop around much, but it helps to figure out the menu and make a master grocery list early in the month. That way, I can snag a few items at a time during my normal grocery runs, when they're at rock bottom price.
I made a list of what I needed. Ok...backtrack. I cleaned out every cabinet in the kitchen--the pantry because I knew deep in the bowels of my shelving units, I would have some stray canned goods waiting to be used. I found one can of cream of mushroom soup for the dreaded green bean cass. So..I need to get another...and this is how I started my list.
This past weekend, I did a lot of the shopping and will finish it up this weekend. On Sunday, I will make the "fillings" for the pies and will refridgerate them until wednesday night when I do the pie crusts and my pumpkin roulade. I'll start all the sides on Thursday morning. This is the first year I am letting Wegman's make the turkey. I hate turkey so much that I cannot stand to even have it in my oven. Luckily for us, the kids are all grown so I can concentrate on appetizers, sides and desserts. But yeah....I"ve been hitting the stores for good deals on ingredients.
I've lived in different parts of the country and I know that different regions have different prices and practices. Here in the NW, where I've spent most of the last 20 years or so, I know that about ten days out, they'll be practically giving Turkeys away with a minimum purchase. So about a month before, I start making a list of things we've run out of but don't desperately need so I can use those things to fill out the list to qualify for the free or cheap bird. If the list is big enough, I can split it into two and get two birds.
I've got three supermarkets within five minutes of my house so if they all have these specials, I can make a loop and hit all of them without going out of my way and even if I hit all of them, I could have all my shopping done in a couple of hours.
Last year we ended up with six Turkeys and gave away four of them. I imagine this year will be similar.
I shop multiple places on multiple days, but not for best prices - for the best stuff. There's the turkey farm's store, the fish monger, the cheese shop, a farmers' market, two liquor stores. It may cost a bit more in time and money, but, come on, it's Thanksgiving! Plus, more of the money spent stays local.
Even if I am not cooking for Thanksgiving I take advantage of special prices. I just bought a bunch of cranberries @ 1.19 to put some in the freezer and to make cranberry-orange relish to freeze. Cranberry sauce is wonderful in hot summer with cold chicken but try and find a cranberry then. And for years I bought large quantities of sweet potatoes when they were 19 cents a pound rather than a dollar a pound---to freeze. Boil up a bunch of them in a big pot. Drain. Let cool. The skins slip right off. Mash up the potatoes using a hand potato masher (or anything---they mash easily). Add a can of crushed pineapple (liquid and all). Freeze this for future dinners, a staple if you have sweet potato lovers in the family.