Why You Should Shop At Salvage Grocery Stores
Some grocery stores sell majorly discounted food items with one catch – these are food items that aren’t sold at conventional grocery stores, for a variety of reasons. Salvage grocery stores take good, usable products that other supermarkets pass on, and sell them at a major discount. Keep reading to find out how you can save a lot of money on groceries, just by changing where you shop.
What Are Salvage Grocery Stores?
Salvage grocery stores sell heavily discounted food that other grocery stores will not or cannot sell. These grocers purchase these discounted food items and sell them back to consumers, also at a discount.
Where Do They Get Their Inventory?
There are many reasons why these heavily discounted grocery items show up at salvage grocery stores:
- The cans (or packaging) are dented or scratched
- The food is near or just past its “best if used by” date
- The food items are seasonal and outdated
- The labeling is missing or incorrect
- The manufacturer has overstock
- Inclement weather caused delays in the distribution schedule
- A supermarket is changing locations and sells its leftover inventory to a salvage grocery store
- The food items have been salvaged from a delivery truck that was in an accident
What Do Salvage Grocery Stores Sell?
The selection of food items varies greatly from store to store – and from day to day.
You can find some very interesting foods at salvage grocery stores. I have found a lot of organic, special diet foods (like gluten-free cauliflower tortillas), paleo chicken meatballs, and keto energy bars.
I have had luck finding my favorite paleo crackers (Simple Mills almond flour crackers) for less than half of what I usually pay. Typically, these crackers are about $5.00 a box, and at the salvage grocery store, I have found them at different times for $1.99 a box, and $2.50 a box.
The produce selection varies from store to store, but it tends to be a few days more ripened than more traditional grocery stores. Plan accordingly. I recently purchased a package of 6 organic Romaine hearts for $1.00.
There is usually a huge variety of sauces, salsas, and salad dressings sold at a huge discount.
You can save a lot of money by shopping at highly discounted salvage grocery stores. But not every item is a good deal. Keep these tips in mind before you go:
- Watch expiration dates: A lot of foods are fine to eat after their expiration date. But some aren’t. For example, I purchased a bottle of organic heavy whipping cream that was 2 weeks past its expiration date. I was hopeful, but the cream was sour and unusable.
- To in with an open mind: While I always advocate for shopping with a grocery list, this is one time where it’s not necessarily practical. Why? Because you never know what you’ll find at a salvage grocery store. Their inventory is always changing. So go in with an open mind and buy foods you know you or your family will eat.
The Problem With Salvage Grocery Stores
There is really no downside of shopping at these discount grocery stores.
However, you may not be able to do all of your shopping there. These stores probably do not stock all of the items on your grocery list.
Therefore, an additional trip to a regular grocery store may be needed.
What I Purchased At A Recent Trip To A Salvage Grocery Store
- Spice Islands cinnamon: $1.49
- Lindt chocolate truffles: $1.99
- Santa Cruz organic sparkling spritzers: $1.99
- Mini charcuterie kit: $1.49
- Spanish peanuts: $1.00
- Dole organic romaine lettuce: $.99
- Grape tomatoes: $1.99
- 3 peaches: $1.16
- 2 heads of garlic: $1.20
- 2 lemons: $.60
- Kalona SuperNatural organic heavy whipping cream: $.99
- Creamy ranch dressing: $.99
- Heinz culinary crunch: $1.99
- Deli-style mustard: $.99
- Snow Days organic pizza bites: $3.99
- Firesticks cayenne pretzels: $.79
- Johnsonville smoked chorizo sausage strips: $.99
Here’s another recent grocery haul from Mike’s Discount Foods in Princeton, Minnesota:
How Much Can I Save?
I regularly shop at salvage grocery stores, and my assessment is that products are, on average, 30% to 70% cheaper than regular grocery stores.
Sometimes the savings is more.
If you find something you regularly use, and you have the fridge, freezer or pantry space available, stock up on it.
Price Wars: Salvage Grocery Store vs Whole Foods
I didn’t intend to do a Whole Foods vs salvage grocery store comparison, but recently I visited both stores in one day, and spent about $30 at each place.
Clearly, I got a lot more for $30 at the salvage grocery store (top photo) compared to what I bought at Whole Foods (bottom photo):
Whole Foods shopping haul:
Where Do I Find A Salvage Grocery Store Near Me?
Your best bet is to do a quick Google search for salvage grocery stores (also known as “scratch and dent grocery stores”, discount grocery stores, or grocery outlet stores.)
Low Income Relief has compiled a list of grocery stores by state.
How To Save Even More Money On Groceries
It’s no secret that grocery prices have increased dramatically over the past year or two. Smart shoppers have had to come up with new and creative ways to feed their families without spending their whole paycheck.
Shopping at salvage grocery stores is one of many, many ways to save money on food. Start there. Then learn some delicious cheap recipes your family loves, learn how to stretch your meals, incorporate more affordable foods into your diet, and make use of your leftovers.