As summer rolls in to fall there are events that spark changes in the pricing of food; some are surprising. All are Cyclic Changes in the market. Cyclic changes are changes that happen on a predictable cycle.
The period of time from the Labor Day Sales (which is the last of the great summer holiday sales) right up to the beginning of our Thanksgiving Sales (which is the first of the great winter holiday sales) is a unique one, sparked by seasonal changes and our cycle of Holidays. And that means Fall Sales and Halloween Sales.
Some people might always shop seasonally, and think nothing of it; for the rest of us, there are certain things to watch for and some might be a surprise.
Fall and Holiday pricing often extends weeks prior to the Holiday itself, much to the joy of some and chagrin of others, although at the grocery store these changes may be more subtle and easy to miss; with the exception of obvious Halloween items, there are other things to look for.
Fresh Vegetables & Fruits:
While items so popular in the summer are often still available, they begin to wane in sizes and quality and/or increase in pricing. In early Autumn, you’ll likely see great prices on broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers and chilis as huge harvests are brought in and moved quickly. Apples and pears begin appearing in more quantity with more varieties.
Stone fruits are often on sale to move quickly. Summer fruits and veggies begin to disappear; items like watermelon, berries, green beans, etc. You might find a few “surprise” or sporadic sales on items that aren’t seasonal but are shipped in from a distance. Berries, for instance. If the pricing is great, and they look good, pick them up. Those types of sales become more seldom as winter sets in, with the exception of sales clustered around the other winter holidays yet to come.
By mid to late September, it’s a different story. Potatoes and onions are going to be at their absolute rock bottom prices, as will apples, pears, pomegranates, squashes, and Brussels sprouts. Look for root vegetables at a great price. Turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, and beets will be plentiful. Even the common carrot will often be on sale or at the very least, look a lot better than usual. Cabbage, kale, spinach and other greens that enjoy cool weather and grow best in the spring and fall should be at great prices.
Moving into October, it’s likely the prices of these items will start to rise a bit in price and the quality begins to fall, with the possible exception of potatoes, onions, and carrots. Many summer vegetables will simply not be available but when they are, there is usually an increase in cost and/or a decrease in the sizes if they are in bundles or packages.
Frozen Vegetables & Fruits:
There is a “season” even for frozen vegetables and fruits. Coupons and sales begin happening in abundance in early fall, and while there will still be sporadic great sales though out the winter, by spring they wane and become fewer and prices rise.
Keeping this in mind, a good couponer with a freezer may very well be able to stock up until summer with great sales. Be especially careful of flimsy packaging (use a Ziploc to bulk it up) and avoid vegetables that have obviously thawed and refrozen. If the package is mangled or the items are frozen together or in chunks, avoid them.
Canned Vegetables & Fruits:
Even canned vegetables and fruits are at a low during the fall! Start to pick up items that are at a great price: Tomatoes & tomato products will often be at the lowest price of the year, as will other vegetables and fruits, etc. This is a great time to pick up applesauce and juices in quantity if your family uses it regularly and the same can be said of any type of canned beans.
When rock bottom pricing for an item hits the grocery store, buy for the year or at least until summer. The exception for this is items like canned sweet potatoes and pie filling, which are more likely to be on a great sale around Thanksgiving.
Begin looking for dried fruits in early Autumn and watch for coupons and sales. It’s very likely the best pricing for these will be prior to Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Pork & Pork Products:
Fall is absolutely the best time to buy fresh pork – not only have the animals reached the size for the fall slaughter, there is a huge amount of pressure to process them during the fall in order to produce ham for the Christmas and Easter holidays.
You’ll find pork shoulders, loins, ribs, fresh and cured or smoked sausages on sale at the lowest pricing of the year. A person couldn’t go wrong with picking up and freezing what they might estimate they’ll eat until next season. There will be some sales on bacon but the rock bottom sales will be more likely to cluster around the winter holidays.
While not as driven as the pork market, there will be some reasonable pricing. Chuck roast is often at a lower price than through the summer, and sporadic sales will be found on many other cuts. Cherry pick these sales and freeze what makes sense for your family.
You’ll likely find great prices for specialty steaks and roasts on special around Christmas and New Year and cheaper prices for the basic roasts during January as a result, so there isn’t as much pressure to stock up.
Grains, pulses, beans, legumes, rice, etc.
These items will usually be falling in price through the fall, although the lowest pricing will likely be prior to Thanksgiving. Beans are often at their best pricing right after a big holiday and are often not advertised. You’ll not likely find the best prices during fall, although the prices are usually lower than they are in the summer.
Holiday Sales & Halloween:
While there are many Religious & Declared Holidays in the early fall & up to Thanksgiving (more on Thanksgiving in another post) few have as much impact during these few weeks as Halloween.
Cities with groceries and markets serving specific populations will respond to the religious and ethnic holidays in a way the big chains across the nation won’t, though.
Holloween sales begin in early September when coupons start coming out for candy and popcorn.
- While Holloween used to mean just candy, as more families are throwing parties and get-togethers, the grocery stores are slowly responding.
- Look for good prices on “party” type foods in the week before Halloween, as well as some great prices on Chocolate chips and other baking items. Ground beef is often at a low price as well as cheese, chips, dips, etc. Popcorn is often heavily discounted and buying a bag or a jar, and buying enough to last the family for the year is the way to go from a frugal standpoint.
- Candy, of course, is the biggest seller of the season – thinking outside the box can lead you to great prices: Watch for coupons from early September on and use your Coupon Matching sites to purchase at a great discount. Pick up bags of candy (which can be used for baking and desserts) in the days after Holloween.
- Recipes for goodies and cakes made with Holloween candy is only a google search away!
Click below on the winter holidays, which include the Thanksgiving sales, which overlap, in part, the Fall sales. In the meantime, clip coupons and watch your Coupon Matching sites. Even those of you who don’t regularly “coupon” might want to take advantage during the Winter Holiday Sales.
The Best Food Holidays, What’s on Sale and What to Buy!
Links for The Twelve Strategies:
- Strategy One: Bank Your Foods
- Strategy Two: Pay Attention to the Bottom Line
- Strategy Three: Control Costs – Maximize “Profits” and Minimize Losses
- Strategy Four: Take Advantage of Cyclic Changes in the Market
- Strategy Five: Be an Investor, not a Gambler
- Strategy Six: Give Back to the Community
- Strategy Seven: Have a Business Plan
- Strategy Eight: Invest in Training
- Strategy Nine: Know the Products you Buy
- Strategy Ten: Know your Suppliers
- Strategy Eleven: Take Advantage of Special Offers & Incentives
- Strategy Twelve: Use Sound Investment Principles
If you made it this far, what am I missing, guys? What bargains do you look for in this extended Holiday season?