Food, Grocery Bargains Available in January

PHOTO: Oranges are cheaper in January.

New Year, new budget.

Luckily, after the champagne is gone and the confetti has been swept away, January still has a few gifts for consumers.

From discounts on ham and citrus fruit to price cuts on domestic beer and Dungeness crab, January is not a bad month for people who like to eat well -- and spend a little less money doing it.

So whether you prefer to avoid the weather and settle in with a hot bowl of soup or venture out and score a few white-sale bargains to brighten the house, you can save some money.

Here are a few items that should cost less in January.

Dungeness crab

January is prime season for a foodie favorite: Dungeness crab.

"It's never going to be cheap," but in January, "the price will be lower than when the season opened" in December, says Bruce Aidells, author of "The Great Meat Cookbook."

Costs vary depending on where you live, and you often get your best buys direct from the fisherman, he says.

In the stores, prices could be up to 50 percent less, says James Parker, global associate perishables coordinator for Whole Foods Market.

So if you've been paying $8 to $9 a pound, you could find fresh crab for $4 to $6 a pound, he says.

What you might not know: After you buy it (fresh), many stores will cook it for you and crack the shell. "All you have to do is remove it from the shell" and enjoy, Parker says.

Ham, braising meats

January is "a good month for ham," Aidells says.

While many may see ham as a Christmas-y item, the truth is that it can be great for football and bowl game parties -- and it's a good buy this month, he says.

Just how much you save depends on where you get it -- and whether the store overbought for the Christmas holidays, he says.

"January is also the time to do the braising dishes," Aidells says. "Most of the country is pretty cold."

Not so coincidentally, braising dishes, such as soups and stews, are traditionally made with less expensive cuts, like beef or pork shanks. And those cuts will be well-priced this month, Aidells says.

For many, ham hocks are traditional at the New Year. But prices -- often less than $2 a pound -- will drop after that, he says. "You don't get a lot of meat, but you get a lot of flavor," says Aidells, who likes them for pea soups and hearty winter vegetable soups, as well as in cooked winter greens, like collards.

Craving a good cut of beef? Savvy buyers might spot buys on prime rib if their favorite store overstocked for the holidays, Aidells says.

Citrus fruit, blueberries

You might not see much of the sun in January, but at least sun-drenched citrus is on sale.

Navel oranges are a particularly good buy -- as much as 25 to 30 percent off, says Parker.

Grapefruit will often be discounted by 15 to 20 percent, he says. And because it's associated with health and wellness (and those New Year's resolutions), you might see some stores running additional promotions, he adds.

Another deal this month: Minneola tangelos. Buyers should see discounts "in the 25 to 30 percent range," he says.

Shoppers will continue to see good seasonal prices on clementines, even as the supply drops this month, Parker says. Look for prices to match December lows at $7 to $8 per box, he says.

And if you're planning your new diet around your budget this month, check out blueberries, Parker says.

The fresh ones are from the peak of the season in South America, where it's summer. Prices will likely remain the same, but buyers will get a lot more fruit -- from those 6-ounce boxes up to a pint, 2 pints, even "5 pints, as we hit our seasonal peak," Parker says.

Salad greens, yogurt, soup and juice

Vowing to eat more yogurt and salads in January? You're in luck.

"Salad greens and cooking greens are very popular in January," says Parker. "People adjust their diet."

And while supplies are up and down in mid-winter, "that will be offset by promotions," he says.

Because supplies and prices vary, "the advice I offer is: Don't be married to a particular variety," Parker says. "Wait until you get into the store and shop the sales."

Another good buy this month: yogurt.

"Yogurt is a big deal in January," says Parker. Expect specials and promotions all month with discounts of 20 percent, he says.

Also on sale: Those foods that you turn to when you're feeling under the weather. Look for up to 20 percent off on soups and up to 25 percent off fruit juices, says Parker.

Gameday supplies, turkey

Super Bowl XLVIII isn't until Feb. 2. But the Super Bowl bargains begin in January.

So if you're planning a party for the Super Bowl, or any of the other big games this month, some of your supplies will be on sale.

Look for discounts starting around Jan. 15 on domestic beer, says Phil Lempert, editor of SupermarketGuru.com.

"These will be the best prices of the year," he says.

And you can find price cuts on snacks -- everything from chips and pretzels to popcorn and snack mixes, he says.

Frozen appetizers and snacks will also be on sale -- up to 20 percent off, says Parker.

The week before the Super Bowl, look for deals on delivery pizza, too, Lempert says. You'll see two-for-one specials, package deals and other price breaks, he says.

Another good buy this month: turkey. "And it's a great one for feeding a crowd if you're watching a bowl game," says Aidells.

Look for bargains on turkey legs. For those popular January soups and stews, they're "one of the cheapest proteins out there," says Aidells. The legs often sell for "well under $1 a pound," and they make a great tagine or turkey gumbo, he says.

Fitness gear, gym memberships, tax prep software

Fitness equipment and gear, gym memberships, tax prep software © Inga Ivanova/Shutterstock.com

Retailers want to move exercise-related merchandise while New Year's resolutions are still fresh in shoppers' minds. So "January is an excellent time to get a deal on fitness gear and equipment," says Sharon Banfield, public relations director for PriceGrabber.com.

Look for price cuts of 15 to 60 percent on everything from workout clothes and DVDs to equipment such as stationary bikes, elliptical trainers, treadmills and home gyms, says Banfield.

Don't want to assemble your own gym at home? The neighborhood fitness center might be running some specials, too, says Jody Rohlena, deputy editor for ShopSmart magazine

Look for membership deals and specials all January, she says.

And if you're looking for a mental workout, tax preparation software is often discounted in January.

Deals tend to pop up early in the month, and shoppers can save about 35 percent, says Banfield.

Linens, bedding and furniture

Looking to spruce up the house in the New Year? Look for white sales.

While they started as a retail gimmick to move merchandise during a slow month, the sales have become an annual staple every January, says Rohlena.

While you trade selection for discounts, prices typically drop 35 to 55 percent, says Banfield. Look for deals on everything from blankets and towels to sheets and mattresses.

You might also be able to pick up deals on new furniture while you're at it.

Most furniture companies release new products in February (and again in August), so "January is a great clearance time" in stores, says Banfield.

Depending on the retailer, you could see deals of 25 to 35 percent off, she says. And smaller stores could have "even deeper discounts," she says.

Read the story on Bankrate.com.

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