Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How to Read a Grocery Ad

Grocery ads are not like really good novels. You don’t have to read the whole thing. A glance at the first and last pages is enough to get the goods on the best real food deals a store has to offer. For the inner pages, there are plenty of websites such as Pinching Your Pennies that detail the really good coupon matchups (as well as the not-so-good ones. Be discriminating.), usually in the day or two before the ad actually comes out.

Grocery store owners want you to come into their store. They know you are busy and they know you have choices, so, like a headline in a newspaper, they lead with their best story. They want to grab your attention, lure you into the store even though those First Page Items represent a financial loss to them. That is why those front page items are referred to as ‘Loss Leaders’.

Loss Leaders are the hook, the items you find on the perimeter of a store in the fresh food areas.  Once the store hooks you, they’ll lure you into the inner pages of the ad, or the inner aisles of the store, promising you cheap, processed calories at prices that often aren’t all that much lower than the regular price for the item.

Resist. Be savvy. Don’t be embarrassed to walk into every one of those stores, purchase only their loss leaders and depart. Getting a good deal on one item does not require you purchase all your groceries there. There’s  no law that states you have to purchase one item more than the absolute very best deals when you do your weekly shopping.

That’s the essence of stockpiling. Buy low and in bulk, enjoy the savings for months to come.

Fry's turkeys at 59c/lb is the best loss leader in all this weeks ads. (EDITED TO ADD: Grrrr...see correction post above re: this price at Fry's.) Best part about this loss leader is that the price is good until Thanksgiving. That means, if you want to hedge your bets that turkey will go lower somewhere before the holiday, you have time to make your decisions. Or, if you’re like me and you find yourself with an unexpected free day and a little bit of freezer room, you may want to head to Fry’s and get all your turkeys now. That's my plan. I find that it’s easier to find turkeys in the early part of a sale. Here’s my reasoning:

1.       Smaller turkeys are usually more tender and have better flavor
2.       Smaller turkeys are more likely to be cooked like big chickens, rather than reserved for once a year holidays
3.       Smaller turkeys are easier to freeze and take much less time to defrost.
4.       I can debone and process a smaller turkey more easily than I can a larger turkey

Here’s a fun tidbit I learned least year. The store butcher will saw a frozen turkey in half for you. Take advantage of this service. It makes cooking, deboning, processing and freezing that much easier. Remember the blog post I did on DeboningChicken? The process for a turkey is much the same, but instead of yielding small filets, will yield entire boneless turkey roasts, such as demonstrated in this video:

and in this series of videos:

The bones, of course, will yield gallons and gallons of turkey stock. At 59c/lb, a 15 pound turkey costs $8.85 and, with a little ingenuity, will feed your family for days. Fill your freezer.

And for those of you who just aren’t all that ‘into’ turkey. Your dogs and cats are. Boil them whole, pull the meat from the bone, give the stock to your neighbor and freeze the meat  in reasonably sized portions.

Other items worth purchasing this week:

Pro’s Ranch Wednesday Produce deals:
Oranges 5 lbs – 99c. Think cheap, fresh juice, and lots of good snacking. Or maybe even Turkey l’orange.
Limes 4 lbs – 99c. These would be great cooking with turkey also.
Bananas 25c/lb – always a staple. Banana/orange smoothie anyone?

The produce ad for the Glendale Ave store is here. Note the cheap apples and watermelon.

Food City Wednesday/and week produce deals:

4 lbs tomatoes 99c. – Think cheap and fresh tomato gravy, which is a no effort item to make yourself. Here's how: Cut up the tomatoes and cook in a pot with a little bit of water. Add herbs to taste. Stir on occasion. Ladle over pasta.

Cucumbers are 11c/each. Along with the tomatoes, sounds like chopped salad to me. Today only, zucchini is 20c/lb.

Apples and Onions are also cheap cheap today. Celery is Cheap all week. This all sounds delicious chopped into a roast turkey salad.

Of note: Fry’s has their Halloween Deals tomorrow evening (10/27) from 3pm to 9pm. The only item which sent my heart a-flutter were the Honeycrisp apples at 88c/lb. Honeycrisp are scrumptious and make amazing applesauce. I’ll be in the produce aisle at 3 pm bagging up and carting out pounds and  pounds of them with a big smile on my face.

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