It's been a long time since I've done a What's Working Wednesday and I want to get back in the habit. I started looking at my life and wondering: "Is anything working in my life right now??" It was a bit depressing coming to the realization that, um, not much is working well in all the transition of our lives right now. I did come up with one thing though: salvage grocery stores!
Salvage Grocery stores are stores that sell close date, damaged, and overstock food items, often at a discount. I've only recently become familiar with the term but I've shopped at them before and they've definitely helped our grocery budget. When I lived in NY I would often shop at Glenwood Foods in Seneca Falls and Buda's in Syracuse and I would consider both of them salvage grocery stores to an extent. I even vaguely remember shopping at a bent and dent store in Chattanooga occasionally though I couldn't tell you where it was. Ollies and Big Lots have food sections that might qualify as well.
Since moving to the Metroplex I have found a winner. My friend who lived in Dallas did a lot of her grocery shopping at the Grocery Clearance Center. I went once or twice while we were staying out there and, hoping for one closer to home in Fort Worth, a quick google search took me to Town Talk and on first visit I was in love.
Every visit to Town Talk, or any salvage grocery, is like a treasure hunt. You never know what you are going to find. I've never personally shopped for my own groceries overseas but every visit to a salvage grocery reminds me of stories I've heard from friends who have lived overseas and their excitement over finding Hershey bars or brownie mix on the shelves in their local grocery stores. When found they quickly purchase all they can and set something special aside for an upcoming birthday, squirrel some away and share some with expat friends. For example, on one visit to Town Talk we saw CliffBars for $5 a case. There was a man there in a shirt and tie that cleared the shelf of them, filling his cart because they were a flavor that he really liked. I don't think that I've seen Cliffbars there since.
Salvage grocery stores are also a great places to shop if want to buy specialty foods cheap or if you are on a special diet. I have found lots of gluten free and organic groceries for WAY less than at traditional grocery stores. There are also often international foods and mixes available for cheaper than at your normal Asian market.
Here are a couple of pictures of items I picked up on a recent visit to Town Talk:
|A case of 12 8oz mango Noosa yogurts for $2 and 1/2 gallons of 2% organic cream on top milk for 50 cents each (both were delicious and splurges I could not afford at traditional grocery stores where 1 of those yogurts goes for over $2)|
|Terra Sweet Potato chips 3/$1, Garden of Eaten Blue Chips 99 cents, Popchips 2/$1|
Find one to check out? Here are a few tips for shopping at a salvage grocery store:
1. Check dates
Decide how comfortable you are with pasta a month past it's expiration date or a case of yogurt that will expire tomorrow. In my experience both of them will be used up before they go bad in my house but you may have a different opinion on that. I once found some Pace Salsa Verde for a great price, it expired the next month so I bought a couple of them, then bought a couple more on a later visit. I finally stopped buying them because they got discolored and they were so far out of date but the store still had them on their shelves 3.5 years later when we moved - yuck!
2. Know your prices
Most things are cheaper but I have found that some things are actually priced more expensively at salvage groceries than at traditional grocery stores.
3. Don't be married to one brand.
Last time we went there we were hoping to get noosa yogurt but, sadly, there was none. What we did find was Stoneyfield Organic and Chobani yogurts for 99 cents each for 32oz. We're big fans of yogurt around here so we were thankful.
4. Try new things
Because of the cheap prices I am not afraid to try things that I would never pay full price for at a grocery store. I may never buy them again but at least we've tried them once.
5. Treat each visit like an adventure or a treasure hunt
Pretend you're grocery shopping in a foreign land. You never know what you are going to find. If you see something you like buy it because it might not be there next time. Don't get super disappointed if something that you were really hoping would be there isn't. It might be the next time.