So you’re not Irish? It doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the sales St. Patrick’s Day is going to generate at the grocery store. And if you want to celebrate it like the real Irish, enjoy the parade, and go home a marvelous dinner an evening with your loved ones. Leave the heavy partying to the 20 somethings…well, maybe one beer!
St Patricks Day falls every year on March 17th, although parades and parties usually happen at whichever weekend is closer to the holiday. And while some people might think about celebrating, others might just give it a passing nod, but it’s my guess that most of us don’t think of it as being a time to stock up on the many specialty items that might be on sale at the grocery.
These days, it’s no longer just corned beef & green beer when we’re talking about St. Paddy’s Day, although there will be plenty of that! We’ve gotten a little more sophisticated and the grocers have as well. While you may not find some of the cutthroat bargains of the biggest food holidays, you’re going to find some interesting items on sale along with the expected ones.
The next great “Food Holiday” will be Easter and the sales begin with the start of Lent, the 46 days (about six weeks) leading up to Easter (hint: the best time to buy fish & seafood) and those sales almost always overlap with the St. Paddy’s day sales. The earliest day Lent can begin is February 4th and the last, March 19th.)
You’re also going to see grocery stores being more responsive to March Madness, the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Ment’s Basketball Tournaments. March Madness starts off with Selection Sunday in mid-March and usually runs into the first week of April.
Why should you care? If you’re interested in buying your groceries at a low, knowing the cycles that drive sales will help you out, and one of the biggest drivers of grocery store sales is just about any holiday.
- Knowing those dates and cycles is going to help you identify what’s going to be on sale.
- Knowing why it’s on sale will help you figure out how long an item might be on sale.
- Knowing when the next big holidays, with their own particular items that might be on sale is will help you figure out when an item might be on sale again.
This knowledge is going to help you cherry-pick those sales. let you leverage those sales to your best advantage, and stock up at a low. The competition is high before any holiday. Those clever grocers want to lure you in with a few rock bottom sale prices in the weeks prior to any holiday 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 $$ on groceries for whatever party or event might be planned for the holiday, that you won’t be stocking up.
Back in the day, the best grocery pricing was always AFTER an event so stores could get rid of the surplus. That’s usually not so these days, with only a few exceptions, although you are bound to find some after St. Patrick’s Day sales. More on that, below.
Here’s what to look for on sale before St. Paddy’s Day! Keep in mind that some stores (most ads come out on Sundays or Wednesdays) will pull out a “Hail Mary” and toss out a last-minute ad. Playing the “grocery market” is like playing the stock market; these are my picks and best advice; your good judgment should prevail.
Corned Beef will be on sale, but Lamb and Chuck Roasts are also popular around St. Patrick’s, for stews and more. Your big box store is a great place to look for bargain-priced lamb. The Lent fish and seafood sales in most yers will be in full swing, and Salmon is a popular choice for St. Pat’s. Stock up and freeze the items you love and enjoy the savings through the next few months.
With the coinciding sales that come about as March Madness starts, you may find pork shoulder & bacon on sale.
- Pork, in general, is not a big St. Patrick’s day item but it’s likely you will see pork sausages of all kinds, fresh and smoked, imported, local and all the usual brands.
- You’ll see the usual brands on sale often but if there are some specialty sausages that aren’t normally at your grocery, you might want to consider.
Beef Roasts/Stew Meat:
Ground beef is another item that may be on sale around this time period, and again, probably a response to March Madness.
- Chuck roast and cheaper cuts often used for stew are sometimes at a great price, along with “stew meat”.
- Watch for great pricing; these items will be less likely to be at a great price again until fall. Stew meat, in general, is not usually a great deal; check the price per pound. It’s usually a mix of cheaper cuts.
- Corned Beef Brisket rules. You’ll usually see sales running from the last week of February right up to St. Patrick’s day. It can run from very inexpensive to super-pricey. There will usually be some quality differences in different brands and cuts but there will be sales across the board.
- Shop around and stock up. It’s likely you’ll never see any cut of beef as cheap as corned beef is on sale and it will keep several weeks in the fridge and can be frozen. In my area, corned beef generally doesn’t get marked down after a holiday but goes right back up to the regular price. If it’s the same where you live, don’t wait it out.
Fish & Seafood:
Usually, every holiday will have at least some frozen and/or fresh Shrimp & Salmon on sale and that includes St. Patrick’s day, where Salmon is a popular choice. When St. Paddys shares the Lenten season sales, grocery stores may put out some of the best pricing on some items around St. Paddy’s, although fish and seafood will be on sale all the up to and including Easter.
It’s very likely you’ll see fabulous prices on Salmon. Fish typically associated with Ireland and the British aisles, fish that makes good fish & chips, as well as frozen, boxed battered fish will all most likely be at rock bottom.
- Watch all the sales closely. Know your pricing, the highs, and the lows, and what quality is important to you. Pay special attention to salmon and breaded frozen fish items.
- The Lenten season is when you will want to stock up in quantities to last until the pre-Christmas sales on many fish and seafood.
Lamb is becoming more available in many areas and is also becoming a more popular choice for St. Patrick’s Day; Easter, usually a few weeks away will also be a prime time to buy lamb.
- Watch for various cuts; generally, in my area, the smaller cuts and ground lamb are on sale.
- Better pricing and better availability will likely happen right before Easter. Buy if you’d like but unless you find stock up prices, wait it out.
Condiments aren’t usually at their low during the winter, even though you’ll find some good sales around the Super Bowl. I’ve been seeing more sales around the weeks preceding March Madness, and more (especially salad dressings, mustards, vinegar) around Easter.
- You never know when a great sale will pop up; if you aren’t stocked up until summer, keep your eyes open.
- You will always find the best pricing on these items during Summer, usually around the Holiday Sales. You will probably want to stock up for the year, then, so buy enough to get your through, now.
- You are probably going to see an assortment of Irish Cheeses on sale if your grocery carries them and possibly a special selection of them if your store has a good deli. Some may not be available at other times of the year.
- If it’s your jam, pick up what you love; there will be great sales on many specialty cheeses as Easter approaches, so if you just love good cheese, keep that in mind.
- You’ll be likely to see refrigerated bagged sauerkraut on sale; if not in the deli, check the meat section.
- It’s a worthwhile pick up if you enjoy better sauerkraut than you’ll find in the can; if all you need is a bit for your Reubens, consider making something else as a spin-off meal. If not, divide, label and pop leftover in the freezer.
- Look for Kerrygold butter at a discounted price.
- Buy, if you use it. Stock up. It’s likely that you’ll rarely see a better price.
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’ll be likely to find Soda Bread sales starting early; it was in my store in February.
- Buy last-minute; of all the bread, soda bread goes stale the fastest and just isn’t as good the next day. Try toasting it. Soda bread is drop-dead simple. and fast and pennies to make and you’ll be a lot better off making your own.
- Now is when you’ll find great deals on pumpernickel, rye, and marbled bread. The little packaged squares of rye bread might be on sale and all of these make a great choice as a base for appetizers or dipping.
- You may be able to pick up a loaf or two on sale, wrap well and freeze, but this isn’t a stock up item. Do look for a good sale on whatever bread you like to make your Rueben sandwiches on if that’s a thing at your house.
Brownies, Bars, Baked Items:
- They will be on sale, but many rotate in and out of sale regularly. Most of the. Patricks Day items will have lots of fun decorations.
- There is no doubt people buy these. My recommendation, budget-wise? Even on sale avoid like the plague.
While Condiments & Junk Food are listed elsewhere, here are some of the things to watch for and stock up on if the price is great.
- St. Paddy’s is one of the best times to buy sauerkraut!
- It’s likely you’ll see some sales in the fall, but if you do like to use sauerkraut, it comes bagged in the refrigerator section which is usually pricer or canned. Stock up.
Canned Corned Beef Hash:
- Yep, I’m gonna go there!
- Cans of Corned Beef Hash are very likely to be at a low, often unadvertised.
St. Patrick’s Day sales on fish will often coincide with the Easter/Lent sales. While the Easter/Lent sales go on for weeks, the weeks leading up to St. Paddy’s may have particularly good deals on frozen Salmon and all kinds of boxed and bagged beaded fish & seafood items.
Frozen Fish & Seafood:
- Bags and boxes of all kinds of breaded fish and seafood will likely be on sale.
- Know your pricing and buy appropriately if at a low. Figure out how much of these items you use and fill your freezer in appropriate amounts.
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.
While all your usual veggies will go on sale, as usual, St. Paddy’s Day is a great time to pick up cabbage, potatoes, and carrots. It’s also one of the few times of the year when you may see celery and onions on sale.
Sometimes you’ll find these vegetables bagged and ready to go either “on sale” by themselves or tied into the sale price of corned beef. Crunch those numbers and compare them to what you’ll pay if you buy the veggies individually.
- Cabbage these days has been getting pricier.
- Stock up if you can. It’s going to be dirt cheap somewhere, sometime, around the holiday. The challenge is how to store such a bulky vegetable, and you may want to create alternative storage.
- Carrots are definitely going to be at a low, too.
- If you pick up larger quantities than normal (and you should) just like cabbage, think about alternative storage. Use them liberally in the next few weeks for sides, late winter soups, stews and maybe an Easter carrot cake.
- Red potatoes rule and you’ll likely find big bags of the larger ones as well as smaller bags of the babies and sometimes you’ll see Yukon Golds or other specialty potatoes on sale.
- Stock up in appropriate amounts for the next few weeks. Store in a dark, cool place. Serve them more, use them in more recipes and if the small baby reds or Yukons are on sale, think about setting some aside for Easter dinner.
Bags of Potatoes, Carrots, & Onions:
- These are often bagged up and seemingly on sale. It’s an easy option to toss in the cart and people buy them, knowing that their initial outlay for their corned beef dinner or stew is less than if they buy bags of sales priced vegetables.
- We are conditioned to want to spend “less” not to “buy low.” These very same vegetables are the ones you should be stocking up on right now, not buying in a very limited quantity by the mixed bag.
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 fabulous price before any holiday. Stock up in quantities to last until the next holiday. Beer will be at and if you drink any Irish beer, or Irish liquor and liqueurs this is when you should be buying them, enough to last for the holiday and beyond.
Beer, Ciders, Etc.
- Now is the time to stock up on anything that’s considered “Irish” whether it’s actually Irish or not! Pick a couple of your favorite stores and sign up for their sales emails.
- Sales prices will be from 1/3 to 1/2 off, and it’s likely that your favorite brand will be on sale at some point, somewhere, but not being brand loyal will give you more opportunities for saving. Stock up. 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 your favorite Irish products on sale, usually at rock bottom, both at the grocery and at liquor stores.
- 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 so the opportunities for saving are multiplied with the St. Patrick’s Day sales. This is the time of year 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 any holiday, even St. Paddy’s, will generate some sales. 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, 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 around for most of these items. Batteries and grilling items are on sale only during some holidays.
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. St. Patrick’s Day-themed items are one thing that is usually best bought during after-holiday sales, although many of those items may not be the best deal your regular grocery.
- Batteries are at a great price around Back to School Sales & Christmas but are often on sale on the weeks prior to the Time Change. Start looking for great sales prices now..
- Rechargeable batteries are really where it’s at. Watch for specials on those, though the best prices won’t be at the grocery. If you’re not going to do that, make sure to have a few regular batteries on hand so you won’t have to pay full price, ever. Your hardware store might have better pricing.
Paper Goods & Plastic Plates, Cups, Silverware:
- Toilet Paper, Tissues, Paper Plates, Cups, Napkins, Paper Towels all fall into this category and will all be on sale during most holidays.
- Know your pricing on these items and keep in mind that of the above, the TP is probably the only necessity. Generally, the grocery store is not your best bet for TP unless it’s a sale with buy so many items, get $ back combined with coupons. If you see sales like that in your grocery ad, it’s probably a campaign. Check your CVS, Walgreens & Rite-Aids to see if the deals and pricing are better.
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.
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’re Irish (and it turns out genetically a surprising number of us are) think of St. Patrick’s Day as more than just a sale for yet another “Food Holiday” where you buy what you need for the week or the party and are stressing at the extra cost.
Leverage those sales to pick up items 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 it’s 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.
If you have Corned Beef and Cabbage, don’t forget to set a bit aside for another meal or recipe. Stretching the leftovers on a big protein item like Corned Beef allows you to average the cost over more than one meal.
I might not hesitate to stab a greedy family member in the hand with the serving fork if they were attempting to eat the last bit of Corned Beef and deprived me of any leftovers to work with! Especially if I’ve had a beer or two…you’re going to find a few great ideas for your St. Patrick’s day party or meal and more than a few leftover ideas on my post, below. just click on the photo!
If you made it this far, what am I missing, guys? What bargains do you look for when St. Patrick’s Day rolls around. Do you find bargains in your area you love to stock up on?
I would like to thank Starline for the shamrock graphics used in my pin and menu.