by Michelle Jones, GrocerySavingTips.com
Tip # 1 - Mega Frozen Food Sales
At certain times during the year (including January), stores will have a mega frozen food sale, cutting prices in half or even better. This is a great time to stock up if you have room in your freezer. Always read your weekly store flyers so you'll know when the sales are in progress.
Tip # 2 - Convenience Frozen Foods
There are several types of frozen convenience foods my family likes (chicken tenders, frozen pizza, waffles, ice cream). However, I do not buy these convenience items unless they are on sale. Period.
Tip # 3 - Waffles
Store brand waffles are good, sometimes even better than the name brand. If you have kids you may also know that frozen waffles are a basic food staple through the school year.
Tip # 4 - Ice Cream
When not on sale, ice cream can be as high as $5.00 or more for a half gallon. When on sale, it can be as low as Buy 1/Get 1 Free. This is just a no-brainer. Buying ice cream when it's not on sale is like throwing money away. Unless, of course, you have an intense craving for a particular ice cream and if you can't have it you'll end up spending even more money on something else. ;o)
Tip # 5 - Frozen Veggies
Store brand frozen vegetables are great. Not only are they convenient because you can cook a small portion at a time but frozen vegetables are quick-frozen, which means sometimes they have more nutritional value than even the fresh vegetables in your grocer's produce section.
Tip # 6 - Family Value
Be careful about packaging. Sometimes the larger 'family value' packages of frozen foods (created for our convenience), costs more by volume than the smaller packages.
Tip # 7 - Fresh Foods
Try fresh foods instead of frozen, they will often cost less than the frozen variety when they're in season. Read our Produce Aisle tips for a seasonal list.
Tip # 8 - Pie Crusts
Frozen pie crusts are a great convenience, but you'll save quite a bit by making your own at home. And they'll taste better too! Visit our baked goods section for our favorite pie crust recipe.
Tip # 9 - Biscuits
Premade "ready to bake" frozen biscuits are great. We've had several coupons for the name brand so we have tried them a few times, but the store brand is almost just as good and about half the price. And, yes, you'll save even more money by making your own biscuits at home!
Tip # 10 - Pancakes
I can understand buying frozen biscuits for convenience, and even frozen waffles, as homemade waffles can be a bit of a pain to make--unless you have room on your kitchen counter for a waffle maker and don't have to crawl to the back of the pots and pans to find it. But frozen pancakes? Homemade pancakes are so easy to make and can easily be stored in a zip plastic bag in the freezer for quick and easy breakfasts throughout the week. If this is a convenience food your family has grown accustomed to, you'll save a lot of money by making your own pancakes at home, even with a convenient pancake mix. And they'll taste better too. Check out my favorite homemade pancakes recipe. (at BetterBudgeting)
Tip # 11 - Coupon Matching
For whatever reasons (including supply and demand), the price on many frozen convenience foods continue to rise. Warehouse clubs can be great for stocking up on these type of grocery items, but there are also other ways to get around the rising prices. Thankfully, frozen convenience foods are always going on sale at local grocery stores so that's when I buy them, often with a matching coupon.
Tip # 12 - Cheese
Don't pay extra for frozen veggies with melted cheese, please! Buy your own cheese that melts easily like Kraft's Velveeta or even the store brand is fine. Keep stored in the fridge. Then, whenever you want to add a bit of cheese to your fresh cooked or frozen family value packs of plain veggies just melt a spoonful of cheese in a small serving dish in the microwave, or in a small pot on the stove, over medium heat.
Tip # 13 - Family Packs
Even if you're cooking for one, you can save money by purchasing the large family packs of frozen veggies and use as needed. Veggies can keep in the freezer for six to twelve months, though I think they really taste better if you use them up one to three.
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"I have noticed that the biggest sales come once about every 4 or 5 months, or a couple of weeks before a holiday or a major event, never the week OF... so don't wait 'til then. Remember that most sale weeks start either Thursdays or Fridays. For instance, the sale week before Superbowl Sunday, there was a major sale on the family size box of TGIF appetizers (2 for $10; regularly $9.99 ea.) and Tyson chicken strips, nuggets etc. ($5.99 ea. compare to $9.99 ea.). Last year Pepsi went on sale for .69 cents (the lowest ever) about 2 weeks before 4th of July. Again a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving the supermarkets had another major sale. My family eats a lot of meat, so we bought a large upright freezer. This makes it easier to stock up on all those frozen foods that go on major sales. Don't shop when your hungry... you'll buy on impulse (after breakfast works best for me). Don't shop with others that buy on impulse (husband, kids). Try to stock up on anything possible in order to avoid going to the store more during the week. Think before you buy... do you really need that item, especially if it's not on sale. Try the store brand. I found certain Krasdale and America's Choice items taste exactly the same or extremely close to a brand name. Don't buy the store brand if you find yourself using more of it, it'll run out faster and you end up spending the same at the end because you have to buy more." - Judd D.
"When freezing meat in bulk, sometimes you don’t want to freeze it pre-cooked, so you can be ready for whatever recipe you may crave when it’s time to cook. To give lightning-quick thawing, divide raw ground meat into 1/2-pound portions and wrap each of those tightly in plastic after flattening the meat to about 3/4” thickness. Then put those flat plastic-wrapped portions into a 2-gallon Ziploc bag. The small, very thin, very flat packets can conform to whatever freezer space you have, and they stack well. When ready to cook, pull out the number of 1/2-pound portions your recipe needs, and thaw them very quickly in the microwave. Ditto for chicken breasts; wrap one individual breast or one meal’s worth of tenders in one packet as flat as you can make it. Then put all the packets into a 2-gallon Ziploc to freeze and pull out whatever amount you need. Also, fresh onions and garlic will spoil if you’re too rushed to do the cutting and caramelizing or roasting when making the meal. It’s easy to chop or slice the onion when you first get home, then freeze the raw cut onion loose in a Ziploc ready to pour out when you’re cooking. Or you can caramelize it, then divide it into individual-recipe-sized amounts, freeze those amounts individually wrapped in flat plastic packets all stored in a large Ziploc bag. They thaw in a flash if they’re made very flat. Likewise, garlic can be chopped and frozen raw. Or it can first be roasted, then divided into small plastic-wrapped packets of several cloves each. When you’re ready to cook, just whip the number of roasted garlic packets you need out of the Ziploc and thaw quickly." - Barbara Samuelson
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Copyright 2003-2013 © by Michelle Jones, Founder of GrocerySavingTips.com. All rights reserved.