9 Ways to Avoid the Plague of High Holiday Prices
Did you know you can coupon for Passover? That’s coupon, the verb. “Couponing” is the act of finding the best deal, tracking sales and then using coupons to obtain the lowest prices possible. A lot of people don’t realize how many coupons are available for Pesach products and that it’s possible to save big when preparing for this very expensive holiday.
New to couponing? Take it from me, finding coupons for Pesach is actually easier than you might think. (They don’t call me The Kosher Coupon Lady for nothing!) Here are nine tips to help you avoid being plagued by high prices at Passover.
1) Manufacturer’s coupons, unlike store coupons, can be used anywhere. You might think that coupons found in store ads can only be used in that specific store, but in fact, you can cut them out of the ad and use them anywhere, as long as they say “manufacturer’s coupon” at the top. (Coupons marked “store coupon” can only be used at the place that offered them.) Store coupons tend to offer things like “free matzo with purchase.” Some places put out special flyers or savings booklets that contain both manufacturer and store coupons. Make sure to look for them in the kosher section, or ask for them at the customer-service counter.
2) You can combine store coupons with manufacturer’s coupons for extra savings. Use one of each per item you buy. These can also be used in conjunction with e-coupons (online coupons that get loaded to your store’s loyalty card). Generally, the way I combine coupons for Passover shopping is as follows: I’ll use a store coupon for five free pounds of matzo and a manufacturer’s coupon that says “Buy five pounds of matzo; get a free matzo-ball mix.” This way, when I get my free matzo, I also get an additional free item.
3) Buy products that are kosher-for-Passover all year round. They’re the easiest to save money on. With brands such as Maxwell House and Domino sugar you can watch competing store ads for the best sale prices. Additionally, you can often find coupons for these items in the Sunday paper and online.
4) Look for kosher-for-Passover items outside the kosher section. These will be significantly cheaper. When shopping at supermarket chains, you can often find dairy, soda, canned goods and other items that are labeled “kosher for Passover.” Some companies make store-brand as well as name-brand items and some put out special Passover batches of their products (such Coca-Cola, for example).
5) Make meal plans. Before tackling Passover grocery shopping, it’s important to do your meal planning. At this holiday — perhaps more than at any other — shopping carts are overflowing, because people who aren’t sure what to buy end up with significantly more than they need. If you plan your meals, you are a lot less likely to overbuy, and therefore you will cut added expense. Write down your meal ideas along with a couple of alternates. Bring a good list to the supermarket. Don’t buy items until you know you need them (except when you think a particular item is likely to sell out quickly). If you are planning to make your famous kosher l’Pesach apple cake, but you’re not sure if you are going to make poached pears, hold off on the pears for now.
6) Stick to whole foods and basics. Shop for meat, dairy, eggs, fruit, veggies, sugar — and cook with them instead of pre-made items like bottled salad dressing. (Making your own will easily save you $3 to $4.) If you do your own baking instead of buying baked goods or cake mixes, you can save $5 to $7.
7) Buy wholesale. Many people love the idea of buying wholesale, but tend to buy the wrong items in bulk. Packaged goods can actually be cheaper at the supermarket, if you grab a good sale and use a coupon. Do buy disposable items such as aluminum pans and plasticware in bulk. And the best item to buy wholesale is meat. Most communities have at least one wholesaler to buy from. If a package is too much for your family, split it with one or two others.
8) Shop during chol hamoed, the intermediate days. On the first day of chol hamoed, Passover items will usually go on clearance. Many stores do overbuy. Basic items like packaged potato starch are the sort of thing you’re likely to see in surplus. Whatever items you buy during chol hamoed can be wrapped well and saved them for next year. (Just make sure the expiration date won’t pass.) Having said this, I wouldn’t wait to buy any real necessities. (Last year, I heard a number of stories in which people didn’t buy everything they needed, waited for items to go on clearance and then were shocked to see bare shelves.)
9. Compare and save. Take a careful look at the ads from your local kosher supermarkets as well as your larger supermarket chains, to see who has what on sale for less. Store A may be the best for produce, but store B might have the best prices on paper goods. In some cases, depending on what you’re looking for, it may actually pay to spend a little extra time traveling to two or three stores.
The Kosher Coupon Lady is a sale and coupon maven who keeps track of sale patterns. Check out her website, TheKosherCouponLady.com, for the most up-to-date deals.