When I initially wrote my “Super Bowl Savings” post, I was a little dismissive of Valentine’s Day as a Food Holiday, a time when you can save a lot of money on groceries. See, I mentioned it’s a great time to buy chocolate. It’s also a great time to buy cards, flowers & plants, but these days, the grocers have gotten more savvy and upped their game on sales. There are a few surprises and some deals to be had during Valentine’s Day Grocery Sales. While Valentine’s day might not be a Big Food Holiday, it’s ranking higher than it used to.
Before we proceed: Long post alert! I promised years ago I would never write incomplete cutesy articles that only give you the breezy easy answers or make you click and click to get the information you need. So fair warning! And FYI: You’ll find links at the bottom of the page for other holidays.
So whether you have a sweetie or not, whether you’re into hearts and flowers, just indifferent or even a hater of all things pink, it would be wise to be aware of what’s on sale and stock up on items your family will use in the next few weeks to months. And these days, it’s not just candy that’s on sale during Valentine’s (though there will be plenty of it before and after) but maybe some surprises. I’m excited to highlight the best deals.
The next great “Food Holiday” will be Easter with very particular items on sale during Lent (hint: the best time to buy most fish & seafood and great deals on baking items) but there will only a few minor food holidays driving great sales between. There’s Mardi Gras which usually ties into Easter & Lent, March Madness, and St. Patrick’s Day.
Easter and Lent sales start about six weeks before Easter, a little bit before Ash Wednesday, and the dates vary every year; the earliest possible date for Ash Wednesday is February 4th, the latest is March 10th and you can check the date for the current year here. The earliest date Easter can fall on is March 22nd and the latest is April 25th. Check the dates and plan accordingly.
While some items are likely to be at their best pricing during Valentine’s Day, many other items will also be on sale during the Lent/Easter season and at a better price. What that means for you as a shopper is that you can plan to stock up on the best Valentine’s day specials and plan to buy just enough of the others to last until they are on sale during the Easter/Lent (or any of the minor holiday) sales.
Back in the day, the best grocery pricing was always AFTER an event so stores could get rid of surplus. That’s usually not so these days, with only few exceptions, and one of those is Valentine’s Day when both before and after the event will have great sales.
The competition is high before the holiday, though. Those clever grocers want to lure you in with a few rock bottom sale prices in the weeks prior and hope you’ll buy everything else you need there, whether it’s on sale or not. They hope since you are already spending extra $$ that you won’t be stocking up on their sale items.
That’s because any holiday where you are already spending extra time, effort and money can stress ya out. Usually, the last thing you want to think about is spending more money than usual on groceries.
Shift your mind to open up to the possibility that if you can shop around and focus on cherry-picking Valentine’s Day Sales for what you need for the big day AND pick up extra for the next few weeks or months, you can come out financially ahead.
Here’s what to look for on sale before (and after) Valentine’s Day. Keep in mind that some stores (most ads come out on Sundays or Wednesdays) will pull out a last-minute ad before the holiday, which is always February 14th but will fall on a different day of the week every year.
Playing the “grocery market” is like playing the stock market; these are my picks and best advice; your good judgment should prevail.
You’re going to find a variety of meats, both fresh and frozen as well as already prepared options ready to heat. During the Valentine’s Day sales, Seafood rules, though there will be some great beef on sale, especially smaller “fancy” steaks and tenderloin along with Prime Rib, Rib Roasts, and a few other heartier steaks.
First of all, many “Prepared Options” like cooked prime rib or lobster tails (and of course desserts) may be on sale but will likely be much more than if you make a similar item at home. Do whatcha have to, but know you will paying a premium price when you buy anything prepared, even when it’s a sale price.
- You might find some pork shoulder or pork chops on sale, but Pork Tenderloin is what you want to look for now. While pork tenderloin will likely be on sale sporadically through the year, especially in the fall, watch the ads and consider buying a few extra if the price is right. See my post on Buying and Prepping a Tenderloin.
- Bacon and Breakfast Sausage is usually on sale during every holiday. Get in the habit of picking up several packages as you see it at a low, just enough to last to the next holiday.
Where’s The Beef:
- Roasts: Your higher-end roasts like Prime Rib, Standing Rib, and Beef Tenderloin will likely be on sale. Larger roasts will likely be at a better pricing during the Easter/Lent sales, so keep that in mind if you are considering buying extra. Tenderloin is less likely to be driven by Easter sales and will be a fabulous buy around Valentine’s sales but know what’s a great price in your area, shop accordingly. Stock up on tenderloin if it’s in your budget to do so and you use it.
- Filet Mignon is usually at a great price during Valentine’s but buying a tenderloin and slicing it yourself may give you a much better deal. See my post on Buying and Prepping a Tenderloin.
- Look for New York strip at a great price, as well as Rib Eyes and T-bones. These great grilling steaks will likely be on during the Summer holidays, but the pricing is not as likely to be as good as right now. The best time of year to buy these steaks is right before Christmas and New Year’s.
- Premium already “mixed up” burgers filled with cheese and so on are often at a low for Valentine’s day. There is no doubt they’re delish but not a great value, even on sale. Consider mixing up your own. The next great sale will likely be Memorial Day.
Chicken & Poultry:
- You are very likely to see Cornish hens on sale in the weeks prior to Valentine’s but look for them around Easter, Christmas and New Year’s, too.
- Chicken in various cuts may be on sale but not likely at rock bottom stock up pricing.
- You could see great pricing and availability of lamb but it’s likely much better pricing will be around Easter.
- Veal may be on special, even when it’s not usually available at your grocery; again, better pricing will probably be around Easter.
Fish & Seafood:
Usually, every holiday will have at least some frozen and/or fresh Shrimp & Salmon on sale; during Valentine’s Day sales though you are likely to find some of the best pricing on Fish & Seafood until Lent. Keep in mind that the pricing on some seafood won’t be this good until the Christmas sales so look especially for great pricing on Lobster, Crab Legs, Scallops and other specialty seafood which might be considered a little “fancy” for Lent and not drive as many sales.
I don’t know anyone who stocks their freezer with seafood (frankly anyone I know that could afford to do this isn’t worried about buying frozen to save money) but if you have special occasions, birthdays, company or anniversary dinners or so on coming up, consider picking something up for it.
If you live in a Coastal area, your buying strategies might be different due to the availability of fresh, local seafood as it comes in season.
- If you love fresh lobster, buy it! The next rock bottom pricing is likely (other sporadic sales may pop up) to be in the weeks before Christmas. Frozen lobster will be on sale now, and the same principle applies. Buy extra if you’d like to have it in the next few months. Be aware that frozen lobster, for best quality (it will still be safe) should be used before 6 to 8 months of purchase.
- If you love Crab legs, you’re likely to find a deal or two, fresh or frozen and at all levels of quality. Shop around for best deals.
- Scallops may be at the best pricing until Christmas. Stock up if you use the frozen or have a special dinner for Valentine’s day if the sales priced fresh scallops look great.
- Shrimp, fresh and frozen will be at a great price but might be on sale during Lent, especially as it gets very close to Easter. Know your pricing and when looking at frozen, if it’s at a low in your area and you eat shrimp regularly stock up in enough quantity to bring you close to the Christmas sales if your budget allows. If it’s not at rock bottom, watch the Easter/Lent sales.
- Salmon, both fresh and frozen. is going to be at a great price but will very likely be around the same pricing during the Easter/Lent sales. Again, know the pricing in your area and if it’s rock bottom, use your best judgment on stocking up.
- These same applies to any other fish or seafood you might spot on sale. The more “common” the more likely they are to be on sale around the Easter/Lent sales.
- Packaged Grocery Cheese of all types will be on sale.
- Watch for the rock bottom pricing in your area and pick up in quantity when you see it, enough to last until March Madness. Hint: Keep an eye on the ounces in each package. Shredded, sliced and grated may contain different amounts.
Near Deli Cheeses:
- Now is when you are going to find all kinds of wrapped and packaged cheese and cheese products on sale. Watch for great sales on everything from Ricotta to Mascarpone, hard grating cheeses, mixed cheese products like Boursin or Laughing Cow and so on.
- If they’re wrapped or packaged, it’s likely you’ll find coupons in the form of “hang tags” around or coupons at the producer’s sites. Always pick them up and wait it out for a sale. Check the producer’s site, too. Buy in limited quantity; they will likely be on sale at Easter, too.
- If your store has a great cheese selection, now is the time to splurge and watch for sale items.
- It’s likely anything on sale during Valentine’s day will also be on sale before Easter; buy in limited quantities.
- It’s likely Sour Cream, Cream Cheese, Butter, Whipping Cream will all be on sale.
- Buy, if you need, in enough quantity to last until Easter, when the sales will be just as good, if not better. All have long shelf life in the fridge; freeze the butter. Check Aldi for all these items; they may be less than the grocery store sales price. Note that the amount of whipped cream in a can is minuscule compared to what you can make yourself from a carton; you might need it, but it’s generally not the best value.
Any holiday will generate some sales on “junk” type food, including Valentine’s day.
- Many holidays have good sales prices on cereal, name brand or generic.
- Buy it if you use it and need it, enough to wait out the next great sale. If you keep it on hand, you probably already know the score: The best sales “pop up” sporadically and are often clustered in grocery ads, buy so many get $ back. Apply coupons (there are always coupons online, at producer’s sites & paper) for rock bottom prices. Generally, these sales are cheaper than generic or store brands and/or holiday sales.
Bagged Chips, Pretzels & Such:
- All of these items will be on around Valentine’s Day.
- These are usually on sale during every holiday. If they are a regular item at your house and you have the ability to ration them out, buy extra but expect sales around March Madness.
Crackers & Cookies:
- Both will likely be on sale, especially crackers of all sorts.
- Stock up if the sales are great, in enough quantity to get your through to Easter.
- You’ll likely see some bagged and jarred nuts and mixes on sale, but generally, for some unknown reason, I often see bags of peanuts on sale during Valentine’s day.
- Generally jarred nuts are not the best bargain, although tasty. They may be bought to be set out for snacking but often used in recipes like the famous Chex mix. Consider instead looking for better bargains in the bagged nuts.
It never hurts to check your store’s bakery as well as the bread aisle. Often your bakery will beat out the larger producers in price. You may find English Muffins in the refrigerator section, too.
- English muffins may be in the dairy case or the bread aisle, but they are going to usually be at a great price.
- If you use regularly or plan on using in the near future, check for coupons and buy. Chuck them in the freezer in limited quantity. The will be at a great price around Easter and Mother’s day, too.
Brownies, Bars, Baked Items:
- They will be on sale, but many rotate in and out of sale regularly.
- There is no doubt people buy these. My recommendation, budget-wise? Even on sale avoid like the plague. Make something homemade instead.
Frozen foods other than seafood, which is covered above under meats, are not your biggest sales items around Valentine’s day, but there will be some.
- There is likely to be some brand or another of pizza on sale.
- Rock bottom pricing is usually around the Super Bowl; other sales will happen around March Madness.
Ice Cream (and related products):
- If you love ice cream and related products, toppings and so on, they are usually at great prices.
- If it’s a regular item at your house it might be worth buying a little extra; it will be on sale prior to almost any holiday and regularly throughout the year.
You’re going to find some great pricing on several items, especially berries, although other items can be at a low, too. If you have an Aldi, it is often the best bet on most items.
- Do check and see what berries are at a great price!
- Pears will often randomly show up during Valentine’s sales. The might make a marvelous dessert.
- Apples might well be on sale during January & February as the come out of gas storage.
- Look for Avocados & Tomatoes and pick up in various stages of ripeness.
- All kinds of peppers will be on sale and last for a week or so. Pick up a couple of extra if they are at a low. Have stuffed peppers. Roast and freeze all kinds if the price is great.
- Mushrooms are likely on sale; buy extra, turn the package upside down to store and poke several holes in the bottom.
- Green Onion are on a low almost any holiday. Don’t forget to stick the ends in water or dirt and regrow.
- Carrots, Celery, Cabbage store well for a couple of weeks. Pick up if at a great price. Close up the end of the celery package and it will last longer.
- Any Citrus will be reaching a low this time of year, so look for oranges, tangerines & related items as well as lemons and limes may be at a low and last for a couple of weeks if kept out of moisture.
Things that will be on sale, but still likely cost more than if you buy the veggies and prepare yourself:
Salad & all kinds of salad mixes:
- These items are often on sale in the week prior to any holiday.
- Even on sale often 4 to 10 times the cost of making your own. If you use, sturdy ones might last into the next week.
Fruit & Veggie Trays:
- A whole array of these may be on sale.
- Frankly, I’m only mentioning here (because you can’t really “stock up”) because they are such a horrendous value. Avoid them like the plague!
You’ll see some sales on baking items, many which will be on sale again during Lent and up to Easter, and maybe at a lower price. Some of these items may be better priced at your buyer’s club or Aldi.
- The pricing will likely be one of the best of the year.
- Stock up to last until the Lent and Easter Sales. Use coupons if you do, for sweeter deals. The pricing may be just as good as sales pricing at your buyer’s club. Aldi sells its own brand of chips; be aware that with this particular Aldi product, there are distinct quality differences.
- Varieties may be on sale at a decent price.
- You are likely to see better pricing in the weeks leading up to Easter with more coupons available. Store brands may be on sale for less than brand names with coupons.
- Sugar & Flour will likely be on sale.
- Watch and know your pricing. Pick it up if it’s a bargain but both will be on sale during the weeks leading up to Easter, possibly at a lower price. Again, store-brand may beat out name brand with coupons. Pricing may be better than grocery store sales prices at your Aldi or Buyer’s club.
Oatmeal is kind of a special deal; February is National Oatmeal Month! Look for sales all month long and coupons if you are going name brand.
- While all kinds of Oatmeal products will be on sale, the only ones I can recommend from a frugal point is plain old Instant or Old Fashioned Oats in the cardboard canister and just because they are so good for you, though pricier, some of the other options like Steel Cut or Pinhead Oats.
- Oats are historically at a low in the fall and in May when the new harvests are coming in, but sales driven by this holiday have made a big difference in pricing. If you need Oatmeal stock up now to last until May.
Most beverages are really a probably really unnecessary, but what a difference they can make in your life! Most canned and bottled will be at a good price before any holiday. Stock up in quantities to last until the next holiday.
Pop or Soda:
- Often on sale, but probably not at rock bottom.
- Buy in limited quantities. There are likely to be better pricing around March Madness and Easter/Lent. Cans will almost always be less on sale than any bottles, including liters and two liters.
Beer, Ciders, Etc.
- Many of these items will be at rock bottom around any holiday, some of which are more seasonal or tied to specific holidays will only be at rock bottom during specific holidays.
- Sales prices will likely be ok, but not rock bottom. Shop around. You can count on some sales during March Madness, then Easter, but the Summer Holidays will have great pricing, too. Learn how to store and for how long on this excellent article by Eat by Date.
Hard Liquor & Liqueurs:
- You’ll find many opportunities to buy on sale around any holiday, both at the grocery and at liquor stores but around Valentine’s Day you’ll see some of the fancier Liqueurs popping up on sale.
- Sign up for email alerts, watch the sales and know your pricing. There is really never any reason to pay full price on almost anything. Most liquor stores have a big sale once a year, usually late February to March. That’s usually going to be the best time to stock a cabinet as you’ll probably find a bigger variety on sale and rock bottom pricing.
- All the different coffee you can want will usually be on sale before any holiday.
- Some holiday pricing is better than others, especially around Christmas and New Year (you should be well-stocked up then) but if your not, really keep an eye out for sales around any holiday. There are so many myths around coffee! The best article I’ve found to reference is this one from John Beans. If you use pods (if you are interested in saving money, don’t) check your Buyer’s club for the best pricing (and again, stock up during those winter sales.)
- Items like Water, Energy Drinks, Juices: Most of these items will be on sale at some point leading up to any holiday.
- If you use, stock up at a low.
Almost all of these items are almost always on sale during every holiday, although many have better sales pricing popping up throughout the year and savvy shoppers might want to shop at stores other than the grocery for most of these items.
Use these sales to your advantage. Plan ahead, know how much you need & use of items, which is a great price in your area, and what a good deal is. If you have a party in the near future, buy your paper goods ahead (unless you’re going themed). Valentine’s Day Holiday-themed items are one thing that is usually best bought during after-holiday sales, although many of those items may not be available at your regular grocery.
Storage & Basis:
- You’ll likey Aluminum Foil, Plastic Wrap, Ziplocs, Plastic Storage Containers on sale and Garbage Bags.
- If you need it and the price is right, pick up enough to last until the next great sale. Typically you’ll find many of these items on sale during the multitude of sales in the Spring.
- Dish Soap, Dishwasher & Laundry Detergents will be at a discount.
- Buy if needed, but keep in mind that in the Spring, there will likely be campaigns, especially from PG&E with lots of coupons and money-back deals. Buy enough to get buy, for now, knowing they’ll be on sale for a better price, later and also on around every holiday.
- If you’re into things like air fresheners and sprays, they’re often on sale, too.
- Better pricing is likely better during spring sales. They’re not really a frugal item and proven to be not good for your health. Enough said.
As we all know, candy is a featured item at many holidays, especially Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween & Christmas. But there are sales galore and it pays to know what good prices are especially if you need candy (yes, some ppl need it, right? j/k) for a gift or for the kids or a sweetheart. Shop around because it is everywhere. And afterward, It’s going to be on a rock bottom special, especially the next day but does sell out fast.
I look at candy differently – I like to pick up after the event. Frankly, when I make cookies in May, I don’t care if the m&m’s are pink, white and red! And I like to look for good chocolate on sale, whether it’s in the form of hearts or not and use it in my baking.
If there is anything to be aware of, it’s that premade trays, even on sale at holiday prices are not a great deal. I get that they are convenient, but if you want the most bang for your buck as far as pricing, avoid them like the plague. I’ve mentioned that here and there in the above post. These are crazy expensive. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Shrimp Ring, a cheese tray, a meat & cheese tray or a veggie or fruit tray.
You can almost always buy the individual items in full sizes for less than what is in the tray and you can save even more if you aren’t worried about being exact.
The cute $4.99 shrimp tray, below, is $19.96 a pound. The 12-ounce package of frozen, cook your own, is $3.98 per pound. Buy the shrimp, cook it (it takes like 4 minutes), pick up cocktail sauce, a full bottle for $1.98 or horseradish to mix with your ketchup for $1.79 and you will have spent as little as $4.78 to $4.98 for three times the amount of shrimp.
Consider it will take you about 10 minutes to grab cocktail sauce and cook your shrimp but you have 3 times the amount of shrimp. The extra shrimp has a value of about $10.00. You’re 10 minutes “pays out” at $60.00 an hour.
If your answer to all of this is, “I’m on a budget & I can’t afford to buy a couple of hundred dollars worth of food on a holiday!” First of all, you’re going to “cherry pick” these sales, buying what makes sense for you, so it’s not likely to cost you a fortune. Keep in mind, that when you are used to spending a set amount of money every week (a great way to keep in budget, not a great way to buy your food) it can be difficult to stock up, especially if money is tight. Start out small.
The best way to save at your Supermarket is the best way to buy stocks. “BUY LOW.” And the best prices are usually around holidays. Know your prices and learn how to buy, store and keep stocked up until the next great sale. If you have a well-stocked pantry, even if it’s makeshift and a freezer (and you should have a stand-alone deep freeze if you are interested in saving money on your groceries) you’ll never have to pay full price, or even just a good sales price. You’ll always pay a great price!
- Start small if you have to. Very small if necessary. But do stock up at a low.
- Buy what makes sense to you and what you can use and store.
- As you start building up a stash of foods, you’ll see your weekly grocery store bill go down. Slowly but surely.
- Hang on to that extra cash if possible, to apply towards the next great sale.
- Trust the process; it makes sense and it works!
So whether or not you have a Sweetie, whether or not you celebrate Valentine’s Day, think of it as more than just a sale on candy, flowers, and cards.
Leverage the sale items and stock up at a low and stock up in enough quantity to last until the next great sale.
Buying low is the way to go and the only way to save the most money and you want to apply the most $$ to the food at the lowest price.
So many Holidays have great sales – while it “seems” to make sense sometimes to budget a set amount of money per week for food, food doesn’t cost the same every week! The amount of savings can be much greater if you can identify when to expect great sales on items, and what those items are and budget a bit extra for those weeks.
Then beat the grocer at their own game! Instead of passively being drawn into a store to pick up one or two specials and then buy whatever else you need for the week, buy as much as possible of the specials for the Holiday week and weeks or months beyond.
Make up the rest of your meals from low priced staples and such you have “banked” at home. Of course, only buy what you can store and use in a reasonable time period.
check out what might be on sale at your store during a specific holiday