Like last minute holiday shopping, leaving your grocery shopping to the eleventh hour can be risky. The closer we get to the big day, the more often these must-have staples begin to sell out, leaving you without key ingredients for your festive feast. Get ahead of the game and stock up on these popular ingredients now to avoid disappointment this season.
Baking season means lots of butter for cookies, cakes and squares. Stock up now on your favourite brand of unsalted blocks so you’ll always have lots on hand for your famous sugar cookies. Butter also freezes incredibly well, so stock up while it is on sale and keep a stash in your freezer.
Baking Chocolate, Chocolate Chips and Sprinkles
Semisweet and milk chocolate chips fly off the shelves come holiday time as everyone starts their baking frenzy. Go for other baking chips like toffee and mint while you’re at it, and don’t forget to pick up sprinkles for your cookie decorating. The cute varieties and popular colours will be gone the first week of December.
Sweetened Condensed Milk
If you plan to make fudge, pudding or other creamy holiday treats, condensed milk is often the best place to start. It can also be turned into indulgent dulce de leche, so stock up on this sweet canned syrup now before it’s all snatched up.
Come the holidays, vanilla extract is like liquid gold. A must-have ingredient in most holiday treats, the sweet smelling substance can often make or break your holiday baking. Invest in a big bottle of the good stuff; it can last for years in a cool, dark cupboard.
You never know when a little chicken stock can save your holiday dinner. A splash of this stuff can help revive dry turkey, thin lumpy gravy and is a great base for turkey soup.
Nuts and Dried Fruit
For snacking or baking, people can;t get enough of this staple this time of the year. Stock up on your pecans, walnuts and dried cranberries now, before they’re harder to track down. Store nuts in the freezer until you’re ready to bake a pecan pie, roast your own spiced nuts, or turn them into a healthy, post-holiday granola.
Frozen Phyllo and Puff Pastry
You can never have enough frozen dough come the holidays. Ready to be made into last-minute appetizers, tasty pinwheels, rustic fruit tarts and tops for turkey pot pies. Buy it ahead of time or make your own homemade freezer stash.
Unless you pre-order a fresh bird, don’t wait until last minute to go searching for a holiday turkey. Keep an eye out for sales and buy now, while birds are on sale. If you wait, you may be left with slim pickings, or worse, a monster bird that you may have a hard time fitting in your oven.
Canned Pumpkin and Pie Filling
Pumpkins are out of season, so unless you stockpiled your own supply, you’ll likely be reaching for the canned stuff to make a pie. Buy an extra can or two, just in case, because this seasonal ingredient can be in short supply come December.
A staple in dips, cheese balls and your beloved holiday cheesecake, cream cheese can be in short supply during the holidays, especially when it goes on sale. Don’t let your cheesecake dreams be ruined if you’re a bar short for your recipe.
There’s no denying that the smell of cinnamon and spice gets you in the mood for the holidays. Cinnamon, peppermint, rosemary, thyme and sage are all major players in holiday dishes, and are often the first to sell out.
Boxed Stuffing and Instant Mashed Potatoes
Even if you make these holiday staples from scratch, it doesn’t hurt to have a box or two handy in case of a last-minute cooking disaster. Plus, everyone knows the stuffing is the first dish to be devoured, so it helps to have a little extra, just in case.