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Jill Cataldo

Jill Cataldo

“Dear Jill,

I have learned a lot about stocking up at the right time, but I have noticed something else recently.

Some groups of similar groceries seem to be on sale around the same time as each other.

For example, right now coffee and tea both seem to be at lower prices than usual. I have also seen really good prices on snack crackers.

Is this normal or just because the holidays are here?”

Crysta B.

It’s a little of both!

Prices at the grocery store are always fluctuating. A good rule of thumb is that prices will hit both their highest points and lowest points once over a 12-week timespan.

If the regular price for a box of crackers is $2.99, you might expect the same box to go on sale for $1.99 at some point during the price cycle.

However, there are also month-specific sales cycles that are dependent on larger shopping events going on in the world too.

Those hot beverages and crackers are on sale right now because cold weather has moved into many parts of the country, and the holidays are approaching.

Tea, coffee and hot cocoa mixes all take a price dip in December, along with snack crackers, cheese cubes and charcuterie meats, as all of these items are popular purchases during entertaining season.

The same is true for baking mixes and products, including flour and sugar.

Want to save more money in the year ahead?

Take note of when to expect better-than-normal prices on the following products, and you can stock up when prices are traditionally at their lowest points:

January: Vitamins, herbal supplements and weight loss products all take a big dip in price, because many people make health-related resolutions at the beginning of the year.

Look for high-value coupons on all of these categories to further drop prices for you.

February: Think canned foods and hot breakfasts! February is Canned Food Month, so watch for significant price dips on canned items. February is also Hot Breakfast Month, so you’ll see sales on oatmeal, toaster waffles, pancake mixes and syrups.

March: Hit the freezer cases, because it’s Frozen Food Month!

Enjoy great prices on frozen fruit and vegetables, entrées, pizzas and meats.

April: Earth Day brings lower prices on organic and natural foods, and we also see better-than-usual prices on eggs, butter, spices and seasonings.

May: Think barbecue! May is a great month to stock up on charcoal, condiments, chips, dips, soda, and grill-able meats.

June: National Dairy Month brings great prices on cheese, milk, butter, yogurt and ice cream.

July: Did you know July is National Ice Cream month? Look for June’s ice cream sales to continue, and also look for a repeat of many of the May items for outdoor cooking and eating.

August and September: Think back-to-school lunches – granola bars, pudding cups and packaged lunch meats.

Around Labor Day, we’ll see another repeat of similar grilling and outdoor dining items, similar to May.

October: Baking season begins, and we’ll see great prices on baking mixes, chocolate chips, canned milk, canned pumpkin and pie fillings. Of course, candy sales abound due to Halloween.

November and December: Deals on hot beverages begin and continue through December.

Baking products continue to cycle low, and we also see great prices on turkeys and hams. (In fact, as we have a chest freezer, this is the time of year that I buy an extra turkey and an extra ham to serve later in the year, because the per-pound prices are so good!)

My goal as a coupon shopper is always to cut the regular, non-sale price of an item in half.

If I see a package of teabags with a regular price of $3.99, I want to pay $2 or less for that item.

If the tea goes on sale for $2.49, and I have a 50-cent coupon, I’m paying half of the normal price.

Then, I’ll stock up, knowing a good sale may not come around again for a while.

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