Shopping at a salvage store can save a ton of money!
No matter how much money you make you are wise to try to hang on to as much of it as you can. It is too easy to fall into the trap of spending just as much as you make. When I help people with their budget I often find that the only wiggle room in a person’s budget is in the amount they spend on groceries. When all of the other cost are fixed and there is no choice but to spend the entire amount, the grocery budget can usually be cut a bit in order to use it on other things.
I know, you are sitting there shaking your head and thinking to yourself that the price of groceries is going up seemingly every week. How can you possibly save on the food your family needs? Well here is an example of a very frugal grocery budget although perhaps not very healthy. There are a lot of great ideas to cut costs.
But one tip that I want to hit on today is to find a salvage or discount grocery store in your area if you can. If you are near Kansas City, MO here is one of the stores we shop at frequently.
What is a Discount or Salvage Store?
It is essentially an outlet that sells items that your normal grocery store won’t handle like almost expired food or packaging that is no longer perfect. Sometimes the items are simply overstock items that didn’t sell as well as the store anticipated so the salvage store snatches it up at a great price and then passes that savings to you.
You can never count on a place like this to carrying the same thing from week to week. If you find something there that you really like you had better stock up because that item will be out the door and another taking it’s place the next week.
Can I save very much?
Just like any store you have to be careful. Some prices will be great and others not so much. Being a savvy shopper will come in handy. But typically you can get items like chips and snacks for .59 to 1.19. This can sometimes add something to the plate next to that hamburger at a very minimal cost. We went today and got a cart full and the cost was $45. It wouldn’t have been that much but I splurged on a very large container of cappuccino for $4.98 that is the equivalent of at least four smaller cans for the same price.
Another example is the Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars that I picked up today. They have 12 in a box and they were .99. I find a lot of organic food at the salvage store that just didn’t sell at the traditional store. I assume either because the price is too high or people just don’t like the item in question.
They had a huge chunk of fajita meat for only $7 that is a rare find and I was sure to pick it up. Since I wanted to do a post about fajitas in my recipe section I actually saved money on something I would have put on my list anyway.
A couple of weeks ago they had jars and jars of one flavor of baby food on sale for ten cents a jar that was still within the best by date. Since my daughter wasn’t sure that my granddaughter would eat it she only got two during that trip. When she went back to get more it was all gone. That is the thing with salvage stores – you have to take advantage of the sale right when you see it or it will be gone.
A word of caution
Sometimes it is easy to get carried away because you are so happy to find such low prices. You load up the cart with the back room (our expired foods are in the back room) super cheap prices that they are practically giving away. Hey 8 granola bars for fifty cents, specialty crackers for only .59, chocolate caramel sea salt candy that you will surely like because you love the Ghirardelli kind right? Now I am not a food snob in any way, shape or form but when you find kind of the same chocolate caramel sea salt candy and it is only fifty cents a bag you might want to beware. Oh my goodness, first of all I believe it was close to false advertising to call that chocolate. Anyway, I bought 6 bags and secretly pitched the other 5 after I tried one bag.
Now I not only didn’t save money but I wasted $2.50. Usually there is someone in the household that will eat the food but not always. If you have not tried a particular item you might want to go to the car and taste it first before you buy more than one. Don’t go too far though because they will be gone by the time you get back.
Eew, isn’t this food going to make me sick?
As a general rule, no. This discounted grocery store has to pass government regulations too. They are not going to allow them to sell you food that will make you ill. (At least not knowingly.) But use some common sense while you are shopping just to be safe.
- If a can is bulging or a jar has popped the seal, you shouldn’t buy that item. I have never found such an item at our salvage store.
- If fruit or vegetables seem mushy consider what you will use the item for and be sure to look for mold. Just because an item isn’t pretty doesn’t mean that a good percentage of it is useful and you can often get it more than fifty percent cheaper. This way you can afford to cut away the ugly.
- When you buy baby formula and food be sure you will use it up by the expiration date. While it is possible it will still be good you are not going to chance making your baby ill.
- Remember that if a food has been frozen that the expiration date you see doesn’t really apply to it’s frozen state.
They usually carry more than food
We find all kinds of items at the two stores near us. They have a bit of everything. I can find kitchen utensils, furnace filters, kitchen appliances, cleaners, towels, diapers and tons of other stuff at our local stores.
A few more hints
- See if your local salvage store has a Facebook page. Ours does and if you pay attention you can find out about great new items before they are gone. Also, you will sometimes find out about a storewide sale. Ours has 10% off on Tuesdays.
- Don’t assume that just because you are in the discount store that you are getting a better price. You should have a good idea of what things cost before you shop there. For instance: they had bananas 4 for $1. Well, I can generally get about eight bananas that are not quite ripe yet for about $1.89. So technically I would be saving a tiny big on their bananas but the quality of their bananas happens to be banana bread ready. I never buy my bananas there.
- Think things through. Why does a container of salt have an expiration date when salt sits in salt mines for thousands of years before being used? That box mix with about a cup of rice and a packet of spices that says it expired probably is perfectly fine since I don’t see how rice can expire and the majority of people keep spices around for years and years unless they are a chef. I got 42 boxes of a spicy bold meal for a quarter each.
- You are bound to find a lot of junk food at a salvage store. As always shop the outside of the store for the healthier stuff and don’t buy an over abundance of the snack cakes, donuts and chips.
So all in all we save a lot by going to the scratch and dent store as they are sometimes called. Yes, occasionally we get a product that doesn’t taste good but that happens at the regular grocers too.
Do you have a salvage store in your area?
*Note this is NOT a sponsored post. We shop at the local salvage stores regularly and I wanted to share what a huge savings it can be. This post may contain affiliate links which help support this blog if you make a purchase at the same price or cheaper than you would normally pay.