Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on Living on the Cheap.
I don’t know what I like more about Thanksgiving: the holiday itself or all of the sales grocery stores nationwide usually have on Thanksgiving staple ingredients as soon as Halloween passes.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year to stock your pantry, cupboards and even your freezer with great grocery store bargains.
November is the best month to stock up on baking and pantry staples, as well as the traditional Thanksgiving foods like cranberries, canned pumpkin and stuffing mix.
The great thing about these grocery items is that you can use them on Turkey Day and you can use them in the coming months in your regular meals. (See our article about how to save money on Thanksgiving dinner for tips.)
But we don’t mean you have to eat Thanksgiving Day meal repeats for months. Many of these ingredients are common to your everyday meals or can easily be transformed into deliciously diverse dinner options.
We’ll give you a list of the grocery items you’ll find on sale in November that will help you stock your pantry on the cheap, as well as some ingenious uses for more of the traditional Thanksgiving sale items.
Best grocery items to buy in November
One of my favorite things to be thankful for is all of the great grocery deals in November. This is when I buy baking and pantry items every year.
Some I have to replenish frequently, but others will last at least a year if stored properly.
Be sure to check the “Use By” dates on everything before you purchase.
If you’re stocking up on pantry items, try to find the containers with the longest shelf-life. For freezeable items, if you pop them into the freezer before their “Use By” dates, they will keep for a long time.
Shelf-stable items you may find on sale around Thanksgiving
- baking powder
- chocolate chips
- pudding mix
- gelatin (e.g., Jello or packets of unflavored gelatin for recipes)
- “cream of” soups
- shortening (e.g., Crisco) and oil
- certain spices and seasonings (if you have a spice grinder, buy whole spices because the flavor usually lasts longer)
- broth or stock
- canned pumpkin
- canned cranberry sauce
- evaporated and sweetened condensed milk
- canned vegetables
- mashed potato flakes
- graham cracker crust pie shells
- possibly: nuts, crackers, olives
Refrigerator or freezer items on sale in November
People are often surprised when I tell them you can freeze butter and shredded cheese with no change in quality. (Solid cheeses are different; they’re still usable after defrosting but often have an overly crumbly texture.)
And there are tons of other things you can store in the freezer as well, often without repackaging them.
- butter (buy 1-pound boxes of butter on sale and just pop them into the freezer; no need to repackage)
- pastry or pie crusts
- crescent roll dough
- non-dairy whipped topping (like Cool Whip)
- frozen juice concentrate
- fresh cranberries
- frozen vegetables
Next, let’s look at how to store and use Thanksgiving grocery sale items.
Cranberries and sauce
Fresh berries freeze very well. Stock up so you’ll have enough to make cranberry nut bread or simple cranberry bars.
You’ll also want to grab a few extra cans of cranberry sauce. You can turn them into an easy cranberry barbecue sauce that can be used on leftover turkey as well as with pulled pork or grilled chicken.
Cranberry sauce also can be mixed with mayo for a flavorful sandwich spread. Or spread it on a croissant or wrap or top it with turkey, cheddar and thinly sliced green apple for a yummy sandwich.
Stuffing does not only belong in a turkey. Crush up dry stuffing mix or cubes to use in place of breadcrumbs in meatloaf or as a breading for chicken or pork cutlets.
You can also use it in this easy Salisbury steak recipe. The shaped patties freeze well, so if you have a small family, go ahead and make them all, then wrap and freeze those you don’t need for a quick dinner on a busy night.
Pumpkin is probably the most diverse of all the ingredients used on Thanksgiving.
You can use it to make pumpkin bread, which you can eat now, freeze for later or give as gifts once the holidays are here. Pumpkin pancakes are also a fun way to pack some extra vitamins and flavor into breakfast.
Pumpkin soup can be warming on a cold winter day.
You can even make delicious chocolate cupcakes with just a cake mix and canned pumpkin. We’ve even seen recipes for homemade dog treats that use pumpkin.
If you’re a pumpkin lover, there’s even more reason to load up now. Libby’s only harvests and cans pumpkin once a year, so once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Be sure to get 100% pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling, for use in future recipes.
Not only are whole turkey and turkey breast prices as low as they’ll be all year, many stores will even give you a free turkey if you spend a certain amount of money.
If you have freezer space, consider getting an extra turkey and freezing it for later, or even roast it and freeze the cooked meat in 2-cup amounts. (Remember to slice some turkey for lunchmeat.)
Because vegetables are canned so quickly after being picked, they are often just as nutrient packed, if not more, than the fresh ones that were transported in trucks for a day or two.
Take advantage of the low prices to stock up so you can easily serve veggies at dinner even on busy nights.
Canned vegetables can also be used to create an entire meal or at least an interesting side dish.
Whether you bake often or just a few times a year, you may want to consider stocking up on these pantry items, many of which can be stored in a cool, dry place for months or even frozen to last longer.
- Butter can be frozen for six to nine months, and the sales are usually worth buying a few extra pounds. The name brand in my store sells for $4.39 a pound, but at the holidays I can find it for $1.99 per pound, a 55% savings.
- Chocolate chips will last in a cool, dry place for two years. These usually go for $2.79 for a 12-ounce bag, but at this time of year are often two for $3, a savings of 46%.
- Canned milks: Both evaporated and sweetened condensed milks will last in a cool, dry place, unopened for a year. You can often save 35% or more on these in November and December.
- Nuts: One of the most expensive baking items can last in the freezer one to two years past the sell-by date. In my area, an 8-ounce bag of walnuts typically costs $9.49, but sale prices are usually $5.49 or less, a 43% savings. Pecans that are normally $9.49 for a 10-ounce bag can be found on sale for much less as well.