If you're looking for a way to save money at the grocery store, shopping for a Thanksgiving meal is a good way to find deals that you normally won't find the rest of the year.
Turkeys are historically less expensive in November and December than in other months, so now is the time to clean out your freezer to make room for as many turkeys as you can. And as a high-protein, low-fat food, it's a healthy meal.
And some Thanksgiving side dishes, such as cranberries, are cheaper now than they are the rest of the year.
A Thanksgiving tradition at American tables, turkeys are promoted as sale items at supermarkets during the holiday season and are a "loss leader" to get people into stores. They figure that while you're there, you'll also pick up cranberries, pies, stuffing and other food to fill out the feast.
Despite that marketing technique, it's still smart to buy now at prices that typically only get that low in April. Last year, for example, the average price in the United States for a whole, frozen turkey in December was $1.01 per pound, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The high for the year was $1.24 per pound in October, followed by a drop to $1.11 per pound in November. Prices climb in the spring and summer.
Note that those prices are for frozen turkeys. Fresh turkeys are usually more expensive, about 10 to 20 cents per pound, because they are perishable and require special handling and merchandising. Coupons and sales also often promoted at grocery stores as ways to move frozen turkeys. And remember that store-brand turkeys can cost 20 cents less per pound that private labels, although if you've enjoyed a specific brand for years, you may want to pay the extra $3 for a turkey you've always liked.
And besides using coupons, look for in-store sales as supermarkets and food companies try to pull in customers. Ocean Spray, for example, is battling private labels by selling cans of cranberry sauce for about 99 cents, down from the $1.39 per can that they normally sell for the rest of the year. To boost sales of fresh cranberries, Ocean Spray is offering an instant $1 off coupon for fresh cranberries on its cranberry juice bottles.
This weekend at my house, more than a week before Thanksgiving, we're having turkey and all of the trimmings. We'll be out visiting friends on the actual holiday, and the day after Thanksgiving wouldn't feel right without some leftover turkey to pull out of the refrigerator.
Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job hunt at www.talesofanunemployeddad.blogspot.com