Food savings: 5 things to consider before shopping at salvage groceries

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As grocery prices soar, some consumers are turning to non-supermarket options to feed their families on a budget. Salvage grocery stores are one of the most attractive options for shoppers.

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Also known as grocery stores or discount grocery stores, salvage groceries pick up “unsellable” inventory from a grocery salvage center, a location that has a supply of consumables which may not be as appealing as items on the shelves of traditional grocery stores. This includes goods arriving on or past a displayed expiration date, dented boxes or torn packaging, overstock items and any seasonal products that may appear to be “expired”.

For this reason, shopping at recovery food stores can mean big savings. The other benefit of shopping at salvage grocery stores is that it is environmentally friendly. Rather than these “unsaleable” food items ending up in a landfill, customers can purchase the items and also save money.

And that can be up to half of what you’d pay at a grocery store, depending spruce eats. With the “food at home” category up 13.1% over the same time last year (according to the latest consumer price index), these savings really matter to families’ bottom lines. . As such, many have since jumped on this trend.

According to The New York Times, which analyzed data from more than 405,000 receipts submitted on the Fetch consumer rewards app, it appears that purchases at salvage grocery stores are up 8% from a year ago. a year. A store owner they featured in North Carolina noted that sales increased by 36%.

It’s not just fridge and pantry staples that customers can use (although 98 cents for a bag of granola, as the New York Times cited as an example, is a bargain). Those on special diets can also find products. The vegan butter was $1.99, about $5 less than the list price at Whole Foods.

Bargains are so good that salvage food transports are starting to trend on TikTok, as much as Costco and Trader Joe’s, with The New York Times noting a viral video that actually closed an Oklahoma store as their shelves were emptied of an influx of customers. Since many items may be name brands, shopping at salvage food stores may be more familiar to shoppers sometimes put off by generic products at dollar stores.

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While it’s not always clear where salvage food stores are located — with their bargain prices, that leaves no budget for advertising — consumers have taken matters into their own hands. A fan started the website Buy recovery food with a national directory of options in each of the 50 states. Extreme business is another option for finding salvage food stores in a particular area.

After finding a local store, there are some things to keep in mind before shopping:

1. Flexibility is key

Unlike regular supermarkets which stock items daily or weekly, salvage food stores have variable stock depending on what is available to salvage and sell. You may not always be able to find everything on your list, but it’s a good place to start. It is also important to note that stores do not always operate during the same hours as a grocery store and may have limited availability.

2. Food is safe to eat

There’s no way the FDA would allow recovery food stores to exist if they didn’t follow the guidelines. While buying items on an expiration date or beyond might seem like a moot point, there’s a big difference between a “sell-before” or “best buy” date and something that’s truly spoiled, noted The Spruce Eats. If it’s a non-perishable product, there’s a lot of wiggle room. For example, if it is a frozen perishable product, it is fine as long as the food has been kept frozen all the time. However, it is best to plan to buy only what you need in the short term, as salvage food items are not the best to store as they are close to their shelf life.

3. There are signs to watch out for

When it comes to dented cans, it’s usually just a minor cosmetic defect. But if there are any very large dents, especially near the top or the seams, or if the box is leaking, move on. Most salvage food stores will notice this before they list the item for sale, but it’s good to check. Also, it’s best to make sure that any plastic-wrapped food isn’t compromised – however, a tear in a box or outer packaging is usually good and is just another example of a cosmetic defect.

4. Most only accept cash and sometimes debit cards

Credit cards and checks are generally not accepted at the cash register of salvage grocery stores. Some take coupons from the manufacturer, so plan ahead just in case.

5. It’s not just the grocery store

You will also be able to find household items, cleaning supplies, beauty products and home office supplies.

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About the Author

Selena Fragassi joined GOBankingRates.com in 2022, adding to her 15 years of journalism with signings to Spin, Paste, Nylon, Popmatters, The AV Club, Loudwire, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine and others. She currently resides in Chicago with her pets and is working on a first historical fiction novel about World War II. She holds a degree in fiction writing from Columbia College in Chicago.

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