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.

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