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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Non-Food Items to Bulk up the Grocery Shopping and Get the Best Turkey Deal

The turkey deals have been announced. The best deals in my local stores involve very large (for me, at least) purchases in order to qualify. At Fred Meyer, if I spend $150, I can get a 20-lb turkey for free. If I spend just $50, I can get a turkey for 49 cents per pound. WinCo also has a free turkey deal, with a minimum spend of $100. I will be sticking with Fred Meyer for my turkey, though. Here's why. Fred Meyer is a department store, much like Target, selling an extensive variety of non-food goods in addition to groceries, whereas WinCo is more limited in what they carry.

The last two afternoons, I have brainstormed all of the products that I could possibly buy at FM (and not overpay per item) and spend that $150. I actually don't buy a lot of food at Fred Meyer, because frankly, I can do better, price-wise on food items at many of the other stores and markets in my area. But I do buy household items at Fred Meyer, because their store-brands of household items are quite good. For example, I buy Fred Meyer's Everyday Living LED lightbulbs and Office Works copy paper -- both are house-branded, priced well, and have performed well for me. 

So my list is comprised of almost exclusively non-food items that can be found at Fred Meyer and many other grocery stores. It occurred to me that some of you might also be considering whether or not you will be spending a substantial amount in order to qualify for a free or reduced-price turkey. I thought I'd share what I've come up with for bulking up my grocery list and snagging myself a free turkey.

I'll be buying my turkey (or rather, getting my free turkey) on this coming Tuesday, which happens to be another bonus 55+ shopping day at Fred Meyer. In putting together my shopping list, I have literally walked around my home and garage, opening drawers and cupboards and asked myself "is this something I would normally buy at Fred Meyer?" I discovered that there are quite a lot of non-food items that I buy over the course of a year, there, or in a similar store. Here's a list of items that I've come up with so far.


  • bath tissue
  • facial tissue
  • hygiene supplies
  • toothbrushes/paste/mouthwash/whitening strips
  • personal items like lip balm, cosmetics, soap/body wash, shampoo/conditioner, hair color
  • first aid, such as epsom salt, bandages, ointments, cotton or gauze balls/pads/swabs, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol
  • OTC meds and supplements
  • bathroom cleaners, sponges, toilet brushes, shower squeegees
  • travel containers for vacations
  • hair accessories, tools, and appliances
  • razors
  • baby supplies
  • hangers
  • moisture control products for the closet
  • lightbulbs
  • batteries
  • cleaning solutions (hard surface and carpet/upholstery) and tools
  • candles, matches, lighters, pressed logs, charcoal briquets, flashlights  
  • copy paper
  • tape -- duct, Scotch, packing
  • pens, highlighters, Sharpies
  • sticky notes
  • file folders
  • scissors, rulers
  • dishwashing liquid
  • dishwashing powder
  • paper towels, waxed paper, plastic wrap, foil, baggies, napkins, coffee filters
  • small kitchen tools/gadgets, like can/bottle openers, rubber spatulas, pancake turners, mixing/serving spoons
  • storage and lunch containers, glass or plastic
  • small electric appliances -- mixers, kettles, stick blenders 
  • bakeware, cutting boards, cooling racks
  • motor oil, other car fluids
  • chamois cloths
  • gas cans
  • ice scrapers for windshields
  • bag of sand or kitty litter to keep in trunk for dealing with snow/ice
  • spray paint, wall patch putty
  • measuring tape
  • snow shovel
  • emergency auto supplies, like road flares
Holiday Specific
  • holiday lights
  • extension cords
  • wrapping paper
  • small gifts/stocking stuffers
  • umbrella
  • mittens
  • socks
  • shoe polish, shoe inserts

This isn't a list of everything I intend to buy, but simply a list of possibilities. Many of these items I buy at other stores, simply because they're less expensive at places like Dollar Tree, and I only need a basic level of quality for particular items. I left them on this list because they may be less expensive for you at the store with your best turkey-deal. 

Do you know what? I am extremely close to that $150 threshold for a free turkey. It helps that I've spent extraordinarily little on things like lightbulbs, bandaids and tape, and just allowing us to run out of many of these items over the past 6 months. In addition, I'll be buying a couple of holiday gifts at FM, ones that turn out to be less expensive there compared to other stores. I need just a couple more items to reach that spending threshold. I'm looking for suggestions for my list, if you can think of anything else. 

So, what else could I add to my list of possibilities?


  1. We don't have Fred Myer here, but something I purchase at Target (on clearance) that I wouldn't expect to be less expensive necessarily is good gardening gloves. I buy the slightly nicer kind with the elasticized backs and "sueded" palms because I use them for bouldering when hiking. If those or any other gardening supplies that you use happen to be sold at FM, they may be on the clearance racks right now.

    You continue to amaze me with your skill and forethought in planning ahead so well! Yours is one of the few blogs I continue to read regularly.

    And thank you, to whichever reader suggested the Hope and Thrift blog recently! I started at the beginning and leave it pulled up on my desktop to read a few entries here and there, in order, and am thoroughly enjoying it.

  2. Hey Lili. Check for digital coupons for Fred Meyers as well. I get cheap soap, toilet paper, razors and such with the coupons online. Hoe this helps.

  3. I'm very surprised that you are doing this strategy for a free turkey, Lili! Are you sure it is worth it? Are all those items on sale that you are buying to reach the threshold for the free turkey? Consider that carefully. Forty nine cents/lb is a very good price for a turkey.

    For the past several years, I have bought a fresh turkey at Trader Joe. They really are delicious and make the best gravy, but the price is usually in the $30 range. This year, I am buying a Butterball at Aldi for 87 cents/lb. I am not quite as fond of these because of the salt content, but I do need to trim costs this year!

    I admire all your strategies in keeping your food bill down!

    Midwest Girl

  4. So that's what Fred Meyer is. I thought it was only a grocery store. All of the other merchandise opens up all kinds of possibilities.

  5. Don't forget about the garden center. Do you need potting soil or garden tools?-Kathryn

  6. Lili,
    For fill-in's we always look around socks and Hanes or fruit of the loom underwear or those stretch gloves that look like they are for children but stretch to fit and adult hand. They often are inexpensive and a good fill-in when you need that few dollars more to hit the goal.

  7. That list seems pretty comprehensive to me. Your Fred Meyer store sounds similar to our Meijer store. I like to do a "drive-by" through the clearance items--I have found small items that make good presents by doing that.

    Will you be buying more than 1 turkey? I seem to recall that you, like us, stock up on turkey and ham during the holiday season to get good prices on meat, and then freeze them to cook later on in the year.

    I don't know if this interests anyone, but I take my kids to Great Clips to get haircuts. They currently have a deal in which you can buy a card and pre-purchase haircuts--the haircuts come to $10/cut by doing it this way (normally $14/cut for adults--"adults" defined as over 10 years old) so it's a significant savings. I've done this for a few years now and have been pleased with it. I had to ask about the sale when I took my son yesterday. You can individualize the amount you have loaded on the card. Hope that helps someone out there! (I am willing to pay someone to cut hair as that isn't a skill I possess!).

  8. Yes! Kris! we do the Great Clips card every year. My son introduced me to this a couple of years ago. We load enough for 6 haircuts and that lasts us through the year. I don't get my hair cut every six weeks so this should last us a while.

  9. Hi Cat,
    Welcome back! How was your adventure? I hope you had an amazing time.

    Gardening stuff -- oh, that's good. I usually buy a 3-pack of gardening gloves at FM. The 3-pack beats Home Depot's price. So I'll check those out, thanks!

  10. Thank you for the reminder, Lona. I do use the digital coupons from FM' site. But sometimes forget to check. I have 1 loaded for $3 off OTC meds, so I'll be using that. I need to check the rest of the coupons, though. So thank you for that reminder!

  11. Hmmm.....yesterday in my grocery store that also has quite a bit of other items I saw organic cotton bath towels for a really good price.
    Our towels could use an infusion of a few new ones.
    Like you I’m waiting for the right deal.
    Will they go on sale?
    Will they have store points attached which work well for future purchases?( This is the lowest grocery store generally and they price match all surrounding stores when the flyers come out. They actually change the tags in the store so you don’t even need to bring the flyer just look at other flyers so you know the sales).
    Could I combine this purchase like you are doing Lili to get a certain threshold and the item for free?
    Glad to think I am not the only person doing the mental gymnastics in the grocery isle��

    On another note for any of your readers in Canada we have an app called Flashfood that is making its way through parts of the U.S.
    If a store near you brings in this program you might want to peruse it.
    You purchase boxes of mixed produce for $5.00.that are ugly produce or near their best before date.
    I cannot believe the items I have been purchasing. Yesterday I received 5 gala apples, 3 yellow mangoes,7 mini cucumbers,3 good sized zucchini’s,1.5 lbs, mixed mini potatoes, 4 bananas, 3 large avocados. In Canada in November these are ridiculously priced
    Frequently organic fruits and vegetables are moved in these boxes.
    They also markdown meats, fish, prepared foods, dairy, and bakery. Anything in the store that could be thrown out as it comes close to an expiration date is placed on this app. It’s even better than the markdown cart or markdowns on the shelves.

  12. Hi Midwest Girl,
    I totally understand your concern on this. And you're right, this wouldn't be a good strategy if I couldn't find the items that I want at a great price. In that case, I will just buy the 49 cents/lb turkey. But I'm checking to see if this will work for me. On every item that I choose, I'm checking prices at other retailers, local and online vendors, to see if the price is the best I can do for the same quality. Some examples -- I use FM's store brand dish detergent powder, exclusively. It's on sale right now, plus I get 10% extra off on Senior day. I've let us almost completely run out, so I can safely stock up on 4-6 boxes (a year's supply). Or the facial tissues, I can get a store brand box of tissues for 62 cents (using discounts). I haven't bought any tissues at all yet for this cold season. So, at 62 cents each, I'll buy a year's supply for our household. One of the Christmas gifts I had planned for a family member is also on sale, plus I get my Senior Discount, bringing the price down to below any other price for same item, anywhere. I'm still checking around at different stores for best prices on many items, which means I'm still not certain this will be possible, but I'm giving it a serious consideration. I appreciate your words of caution -- thanks, Midwest Girl!

  13. Hi Live and Learn,
    Yes, Fred Meyer stores can be really big. I said it was like a Target. It's more like a Target with a full grocery store attached. They even have a decent shoe department, and offer the Senior discount on shoes, too. And full paint department, for buying house paint. It's a big store. I know I couldn't spend $150 on food alone to get a free turkey. I just don't shop that way. But with household, clothing, garden all thrown in, it may be possible for me. Still not certain, but working it all out.

  14. Hi Kathryn,
    thank you for the mention of the garden department. I may be able to buy a bag of soil for starting seeds in winter (indoors) for the garden. Thank you for that suggestion!

  15. Hi Alice,
    great suggestions for the socks, underwear, and stretch gloves! I'll check prices on all of those items, so thank you!

  16. Hi Kris,
    great suggestion for the clearance rack looking for gifts. I've found some good gifts there, too. So I'll definitely check that out on Tuesday. Thank you!

    Also, thank you for that info about Great Clips pre-loaded cards. I'll check that out. Great Clips is in the same complex as Fred Meyer, so this will be an easy stop. You know, a pre-loaded Great Clips card would be a good holiday gift, too. With cutting one's own hair, it isn't just being skilled at cutting hair, but it's so hard to cut your own and get the back right, even if you're just cutting a straight line and not layering. I trim my own hair a few times per year, but also like to go in to Great Clips every 6 months to get my mistakes cleaned up. Thanks for this info!

  17. Hi Teresa,
    Mental gymnastics is a very good description! I think it's worthwhile to think these sort of deals through. Many times, the deals aren't worth it. But every once in a while they are. In the US, the turkey deals are the only major grocery store deals that incentivize making a very large purchase. Even at Christmas and Easter, you don't need to make a minimum spend to get a good price on a ham. So, I tend to let us run out of a lot of household items from mid-summer on, just so these items might be ones I could use to get a good price on a turkey.

    I haven't heard of Flashfood yet. But I will look for it. Thank you for that! Yes, for $5 in November, that is an excellent price for those produce items! I hope that the quantity continues through the winter for you. Thanks for sharing this information -- I think this could be valuable for many folks. And I'll be watching it for the US.

  18. Alice and Lili, glad the Great Clips idea is usable for you both. I load 10 haircuts on it and that gets my kids through the year. I wasn't seeing it promoted when we were there yesterday so I wanted to put it out there for my fellow frugalistas. :)

    Teresa, I'm curious as to where you are in Canada--I'm in Michigan so I think of Ontario as a neighbor. My best friend lived in Ontario for several years and I know the cost of living was pricey for her--glad you've found good ways to save money.

    Alice--I haven't asked lately--how's your husband? Sounds like you have navigated your menu planning well.

  19. Lili said "Hi Cat,
    Welcome back! How was your adventure? I hope you had an amazing time."

    I did, thanks! Made it 128 miles, which was not as far as I had hoped, but my back blistered and the weather was getting bad, so decided, with my husband's encouragement, to head home a little early. The fall scenery was amazing, though!
    Thanks for asking!

  20. Hi Kris,

    Thanks for asking about my husband. He is doing well. A few ups and downs that has a lot to do with internal swelling yet. That might take 6 months or so.

    He will be released to go back to work on Dec. 2 and we'll just see if he can manage that. He drove 5 hours one way to see our daughter this past weekend and he did really well both there and back.


  21. Lili - can I ask you about the whitening strips you use - do they work well and which ones do you buy? I've tried using some through the years and can't really tell a noticeable difference.

  22. Hi Kris,
    thanks for mentioning that the Great Clips offer wasn't well-advertised. I'll know to ask now!

  23. Hi Cat,
    that's just amazing! 128 miles! I'm glad that you enjoyed this challenge.

  24. Alice, I'm glad to hear about your husband's recovery. I can imagine that this has been a long road for you both. I'll say a prayer that his return to work goes smoothly for him.

  25. Hi Ruthie,
    my experience with whitening strips is somewhat limited, but I'll share with you what I've experienced. I use the Kroger brand at Fred Meyer, the cheapest version. It's the 10-day type that is like very flexible tape. They work a little, but not nearly as well as professional whitening. I also use Colgate Optic White toothpaste. The combination of the two seems to make my teeth somewhat whiter. But I have to admit, my teeth don't look like those of people who have their dentist do the whitening. I'm willing to accept that as it's so much less expensive to do it myself. My daughters both tried Kroger whitening strips right after getting their braces off and the strips did make a difference for them both, just not a huge difference. They were in college when their braces came off, BTW. I've never tried any of the pricier strips, so I don't know if there is something better on the market for at-home whitening.


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