The farther ahead you plan, the more time there is take advantage of grocery store sales and save money ahead of a season full of big expenditures. Here are 10 standard baking ingredients and tools to buy on sale ahead of the holiday baking season:
Flour can last up to 1 year in the pantry (and even longer when stored in the freezer), so it’s fine to purchase 1 to 2 months ahead.
Granulated and icing sugars
These baking staples will last almost forever when stored in a cool, dry place. Avoid buying brown sugar until needed, as it can have the tendency to harden in its package. If this happens, wrap the bag of hardened brown sugar in a moist tea towel and microwave on high for one-minute intervals. Your brown sugar should soften up right very quickly.
Butter is a gold mine when you can find it on sale. Store it in your freezer, and let it thaw at room temperature before use. We’re partial to unsalted butter for baking, but salted butter will freeze just as well.
Pure vanilla can be pricy, so be sure to pick up a large bottle when the price is right.
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A staple in the Chatelaine Kitchen, and indispensable when it comes to baking. It helps save time on cleaning baking sheets, and makes transferring cookies to a cooking rack a breeze. Bonus: you can reuse it again and again, if it’s crumb free.
A small can of this is sufficient for your baking needs. A light spray on baking sheets/pans ensures baked goods slide right off. Kitchen tip: Not a fan of aerosol cans? Purchase a re-usable food-safe spray bottle, and pour in canola oil inside.
Not surprisingly, sometimes you can purchase these cheaply during the off-season. Assess your current collection, and see if there are any that are broken or un-mendable. Throw these out, then treat yourself to some fun, new cookie cutters.
If you’ve got storage space to spare, this is also a great time to pick up some storage tins if you’re planning on participating in cookie exchanges or gifting cookies. Dollarama often has inexpensive and fun tins that can be used for any occasion. (It’s great to be able to gift your cookies in packaging that can be used year-round and not just during the holidays.)
Often Bulk Barn is a great go-to for cookie decorating tools, such as fine brushes, piping bags and tips, coloured sugar, sprinkles and gel food colouring (the colour is more intense and concentrated than liquid food colouring).
Note: Other ingredients such as spices, nuts, dried fruits, and brown sugar are best purchased closer to the holidays so they’re all as fresh as possible.
Originally published 2014. Updated November 2017.
Watch: How to decorate cookies with royal icing