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8 Things to Stock Up on This Summer

With summer comes barbecue and pool party season—and plenty of deals you can score, thanks to sales that take place from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

The key to finding goods you know will come in handy later? Follow the seasonal trends, says cookbook author Jessica Fisher.

“Think about the events of summer that marketers want to maximize on: outdoor cooking, entertaining, and back to school,” writes Fisher at The Kitchn.

“The grocery store jumps into this pool with both feet, offering great promotions for a number of ‘seasonal’ items,” she adds.

That goes for other items, too, so don’t just scout around for summer berries and fruits. Think about all the swimsuits marked down at the end of July, or the half-off school supplies crowding shelves at the end of August, too.

Here are 8 things you can stock up on this summer to save all year long:

1. Seasonal Produce

If you miss the taste of strawberries or tomatoes in the wintertime, nab fresh fruit while you can—when it’s perfectly ripe, and much cheaper than during the winter months.

It’s easy to buy berries to flash freeze, or tomatoes to can—and processing foods on your own is a guaranteed money saver, too.

But there’s a trick to freezing summer produce, so you can savor all of its flavors later, says food editor Heath Goldman.

“When fruits and vegetables freeze, the water inside turns into ice crystals, which rupture cell walls and make for watery, brown thawed produce,” explains Goldman at Real Simple.

“The quicker produce freezes, the smaller the crystals—and the less damage they cause. Read: the colder your freezer, the better,” she adds.

Check out Saveur’s guide to the best summer produce you can save for later.

2. Grilling Goods

Even if you’re not throwing your own 4th of July or other summer party, consider nabbing that family size package of hot dogs, hamburgers, or buns anyway.

Popular grilled meats, buns, and condiments tend to be on sale during the summer months, when retailers are pushing barbecue season, say the experts at the Krazy Coupon Lady.

“Right now, hamburger and hot dogs buns are overflowing on the shelves, and stores are looking to get rid of them before they go bad,” advises the shopping blog. You may even be able to score a package of hamburger buns for close to a buck!

Take advantage of the sales now, but freeze what you don’t use so you can indulge yourself later this year.

3. Ice-Cold Treats

When the weather turns hot, retailers want nothing more than to sell you ice-cold treats, like ice cream, popsicles, and other frozen snacks. And in July, National Ice Cream Day makes it easier than ever to score deals on scoops, pints, and tubs of your favorite flavor.

According to USA Today, you’ll find deals at major chains like Bruster’s, Dairy Queen, Baskin Robbins, and Cold Stone, where you can often walk away with a free cone. Brands like Halo Top and Godiva will offer specials that make it easier for you to nab extra pints to save for later, too.

Keep an eye on your grocery circular, savings apps, or other deal alerts for deep discounts on ice cream, so you can stock up on the good stuff for later this year.

4. School Snacks

As the school year approaches, you’ll start to see sales for portioned snacks perfect for lunchboxes. Think pudding cups, packaged crackers, and pretzels.

When they’re on sale, buying snacks like these can make plenty of financial sense—and when they’re not...it may not be worth it.

If you’re in a pinch, you can also make your own snacks using bulk foods, says Tiffany Aliche. “Experiment with homemade granola bars and other baked goods,” suggests Aliche at U.S. News & World Report.

“Of course, your children may enjoy a special treat like pretzels or chips once in a while, and that’s OK, too,” she adds. “Just buy the entire bag instead of the snack size, and portion it yourself to make the snack last longer.”

With Labor Day sales around the corner, you should be able to stock up on healthy party snacks you can size into portions perfect for a packed lunch.

5. Sunscreen

Retailers almost never sell out their supply of sunscreen for the summer, which means you can catch a break in late July and August.

But, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), as many as 67 percent of sunscreens aren’t effective—and can potentially use harmful ingredients.

As a general rule, always make sure to check the expiration date, since expired sunscreen won’t do you any good.

SPF labels and ingredients also make a big difference, says Newsweek. Oxybenzone, for example, might cause allergic reactions, and is the suspected ingredient behind coral bleaching.

For a full list of sunscreens and their rankings according to EWG, click here.

6. Swimsuits & Summer Clothes

Thinking of picking up a new suit? Why not go for two? Once “Back to School” fever hits retailers, swimsuits and summer clothes for the whole family get deep discounts.

“This is more of a season than a day, but check out Labor Day weekend,” suggests retail expert Kristin McGrath at U.S. News & World Report.

“Not only is it a three-day weekend but, positioned at the cusp of a new school year, it features tons of deals on clothing, especially at department stores and big-box stores,” she adds. “Fall items will be on sale, and summer items, which are still wearable in many climates, will be on the sales racks.”

Steep end-of-summer discounts on expensive clothes and swimsuits are the one time it pays to avoid back-to-school fever in early July!

7. Bug Spray

Summer is great, but bugs are terrible. The best time to buy bug spray is actually right before the season starts, in May, as well as during the late summer months, when the seasons are about to change.

Like sunscreen, however, it’s important to pay attention to the ingredients and effectiveness of any spray before you start buying in bulk. According to health editor Lauren Oster, the Environmental Protection Agency provides the best guide to a good buy.

“Most skin-applied insect repellents must be registered by the Environmental Protection Agency before they reach the market,” explains Oster at Health. “[If] you see an EPA registration number on a product label, you know that it’s been tested for safety and effectiveness.”

For more insider reviews about the best bug sprays to pick up when you start seeing sales, visit Consumer Reports.

8. Back-to-School Gear

Back-to-school gear will start filling stores by mid-July, but if you and your little ones can hold out until the end of August, you can score deals on all sorts of gear.

According to Trae Bodge, the senior editor of RetailMeNot.com, late summer is when retailers are ready to get early fall merchandise off the shelves. "By August, we're well into back to school, so discounts on backpacks, lunch totes and tech like laptops and tablets will most likely go deeper at this point," Bodge told U.S. News & World Report.

Need a new computer? Now’s the time to snap one of those up, too—retailers like Apple and Dell are trying to snag the business of college students, which means you can clean up.

You don’t need a side hustle to afford all the deals that come your way during the summer months. Retailers are ready to move seasonal products and make way for fall, which means you can score big—without breaking the bank.

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