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Create Your Own Menu (Part 2): Research Sale Items

If you are trying to choose from among all of your family recipes or the recipes that are out there all over the blogosphere and want to narrow them down, a good place to start is to find out what is currently on sale at your local grocers. This is also a good way to cut the cost of your cooking. You are already going to be buying in bulk, but if you are also buying items that are in season and on sale then you will get extra savings as well.

Researching Sale Items

1. Seasonal Grocery Items

Grocers run in approximately 12 week sales cycles. That means that a particular product is likely be on deep sale every 12 weeks or so. In addition, there are trends in grocery stores on what items are likely to be on sale in a particular month. These usually revolve around holidays and national X months (for example, national oatmeal month, national chicken month, etc) but not always. Below I will list several resources that I utilize when researching what grocery items will be on sale.

2. Seasonal Produce

Flickr Creative Commons, photo by mandy pantz

Flickr Creative Commons, photo by mandy pantz

It isn’t always plausible that all produce we are using is in season, but there are a lot of ways to “plan” for what produce is in season thereby reducing your overall cost. For instance, you can do stuffed green peppers as part of your oamc day but it is going to be way less expensive if you make these in July or August when they are at peak season than in February when they are not. Below I will list several resources for finding out what produce is in season for the time of year that you are cooking.

3. Holidays

Many grocers will have discounts on items that are related to a holiday. Considering upcoming holidays is important in predicting which foods might be on sale during a certain month. The resources listed below also list national holiday events

4. Resources

Yes, the important part of this post. What sites/resources do I consult to find this information? There are hundreds more out there but these are the ones that I focus in on each and every month:

  • Hot Coupon World – Sales Cycles – A month by month guide to holidays and sale cycles.
  • Organic Grocery Deals – A month by month guide to holidays, national product months and organic seasonal produce.
  • The Grocery Game – A weekly breakdown of key sales items and stock-up prices. This is a great and easy resource for those of you that want to take the guess work and time out of shopping for cheap. (If signing up for the fist time please use referral email address tricia @ onceamonthmeals.com)
  • Our Ohio – Seasonal produce available in Ohio (where I live).
  • Swagbucks Search – Use swagbucks.com and search for seasonal produce and your state. And earn rewards while you search.

Overview Questions – Researching Sales Items

1. Which grocery items are on sale right now?

2. Which produce items are in season?

3. What holidays are this month that might mean sales items?

4. Any additional information that would influence sales?

**Hint, hint – I am also dreaming up a great contest for having readers create March’s Once A Month Mom menu. Study up on this series and stay tuned for more details coming soon.

Please feel free to direct questions in the comment section below. However, keep in mind that this is a multi-part series. Please review previous posts for answers before submitting questions and review upcoming topics to see if your question will be answered shortly. Thank you.

Previous “Create Your Own Menu” Posts:

Future “Create Your Own Menu” Posts:

  • Part 3 – Planning Recipes
  • Part 4 – Finding Recipes
  • Part 5 – Selecting Recipes
  • Part 6 – Evaluating Quantity
  • Part 7 – Creating a Grocery List
  • Part 8 – Creating Instructions
  • Part 9 – Substitutions & Equivalents
  • Part 10 – Creating Labels
  • Part 11 – Bringing It All Together

9 Responses to “Create Your Own Menu (Part 2): Research Sale Items”

  1. nancy says:

    I have been a member of hcw for several years now and I have done the grocery game before. I ahve not heard to much about oamc on those sites to much but it is good that you are bring it out. I hope to learn some new ways to save more money.
    I did pretty good on cooking up while I was out of classes of Christmas( and the kids were out too), but now that all of us are back in classes – food goes really quick and so does the time.
    I am working on a list for the week or 2 weeks- at least get my self started in a postive note again.

  2. nancy says:

    I am curious. I have not see this in some of your posting and I wondered if you had tried this- http://www.mixingbowl.com/message/recipe/view.castle?g=931007&m=8052366
    I wonder if it would be ok without the picante sauce and if you could add cheese or something else instead?
    just asking what you think about it.
    I think this maybe something my teen would eat.

  3. [...] opportunity to determine how much your family is going to need for a given month and where you find what items are going to be on sale. Now we are on to planning your [...]

  4. Kirstin says:

    Hi, I just found your site, and I’m loving it!

    I’m a member of the Grocery Game, and I was wondering how you go about incorporating it, especially since The List doesn’t come out until Friday and is only good for a few days. Do you look at the sale ads earlier in the week to see what might be on the List later? Or are you able to put together your OAMM menu relatively quickly, quickly enough to still shop using that week’s List?

    Thanks!

    • Tricia says:

      The OAMM menus are built around monthly sales and produce trends. I have been doing it long enough and use enough resources that I can predict pretty well. When you are creating your own menu it is best to plan a little ahead and shop the sales for a week or two before cooking if you can for best savings. And then shop your list from the Grocery Game when things are on sale, then just purchase the missing items at whatever cost. Either way I am sure you will see significant savings.

  5. Amanda says:

    I love this website & this series! But I am a little overwhelmed with this part of it… There are so many ways to approach this. The Grocery Game sounds good but there is NO extra money in my budget and very little in my grocery budget, so i am hesitant to join. Any suggestions?

    • Tricia says:

      You might try Food on the Table (http://www.foodonthetable.com/), I think last time I checked they were offering free services. There are also a TON of websites out there for every area of the country that focuses on local sales items. Our menus, if you use them, are based around seasonal sales so we have done much of that work for you.

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