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"You must be cooking two Thanksgiving dinners, huh?" the supermarket cashier said to me.
I hadn't realized it, but my groceries marching down the conveyor belt did look like a parade headed toward Noah's ark: two bags of sweet potatoes, two sacks of cranberries, two frozen turkeys, two bags of onions.
"No, just stocking up," I said, wondering to myself if I'd forgotten the creamed corn. Or maybe that was the unicorn?
Although the American Farm Bureau Federation says that the costs of preparing a traditional Thanksgiving dinner went up about 13 percent over last year, most places around the country had some terrific - and healthy - sale items worth stocking up for Thanksgiving. And now, it's worth checking to see if there is inventory left over. Call ahead to a few stores and ask if you really want to save time and money.
I'm a "cherry picker" - someone who's not too inconvenienced (or proud) to go to a couple of different stores just to buy only their best sale items. Heck, if they don't like it, why do grocery chains build their stores so close to one another?
So, one turkey - at a sale price of just 59 cents per pound! - was served at our house on Thanksgiving Day. Sale prices on turkey tend to be the lowest at Thanksgiving (it's all about luring you into the store), so buy an extra and keep it frozen for later. Or roast it, slice it up, and refreeze the meat to use as lunchmeat ... compared to roast turkey at $6.99 per pound in the deli department, quite a deal.
Most root vegetables, including sweet potatoes (29 cents per pound!) and onions (49 cents per pound!), can be stored for weeks - if not months - if you keep them in a cool, dark place with proper ventilation. They're not only delicious and inexpensive, but very healthy.
And cranberries (two pounds for $5!): They're not just for sauce or Thanksgiving anymore. I like to add cranberries to my baked apple crisp or morning oatmeal. Fresh, they'll keep in the fridge for up to two months, or in the freezer for up to a year.
Thanks to Thanksgiving sales at the grocery store, I'll be giving thanks for months to come. Hopefully you can score some post-Thanksgiving food savings in your area, too.
For more information about how to turn these frugal foods into delectable dishes, see this story about healthy holiday feasts, and browse AARP.org's Food section for articles and recipes.
Photo by svacher via Flickr Creative Commons.