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Last week’s post on Backwards Menu Planning generated a number of questions about the non-traditional grocery store locations for purchasing food that I mentioned. So this week, we’ll look at unconventional sources for food.
I mentioned using a salvage last week. A salvage is a discount grocery store that sells things with damaged packaging, close to being out of date or items where the store has purchased too much stock. For example, I’ve been able to find 50 pound bags of sucanat for 69 cents a pound there- a massive savings. Packages of Bob’s Red Mill GF Steel-cut Oats for $2.70 each, because the label was slightly damaged. Quarts of plain, whole milk, grass-fed yogurt for $1.80-2.25. Frozen, organic fruits and veggies for $0.90-1.80 a bag. Jars of organic sunnut butter for 99 cents apiece.
To locate a local salvage, you’ve got a few options. There are a couple of online lists here and here. Look in your local phone book under both ‘grocery stores,’ ‘discount grocery stores’ and ‘salvage.’ Locally, we have three discount chains- Dickie’s, Amazing Savings and Grocery Outlet.
It is very important when you go into a salvage that you know which expiration dates to pay attention to and which to ignore. We’ll post on that next week.
It’s also important to know what to purchase organic and what is ok for conventional. The Grocery Outlet doesn’t carry much in the way of organics, but I know that there are things I can purchase there at a major price cut without problem. For example, they recently had cubed, conventional butternut squash what was frozen for 59 cents a pound. I can’t get a whole butternut squash for that low, and most of the work has already been done for me! I know that winter squash is 28 in the dirty dozen list, and because we don’t eat it often, I go ahead and purchase conventional since organic is over double the price of conventional here.
If you’d like a little help knowing what is safe to purchase conventional and what you should purchase organic, check out the dirty dozen list linked above as well as our Good, Better, Best series and our Friday Food Fights. If you have specific foods you’re wondering about, please leave a comment and I’ll gladly research it and write a post on it.
It’s also important to know the prices in your area. I’ve seen items at the salvage that were priced too high compared to a health food store or the conventional grocery store. Just because it’s there doesn’t guarantee it’s a good deal. Be especially careful if it is an organic item that a salvage that doesn’t normally carry organics. I’ve seen things for double the price, but I’ve also found some very good deals, such as large bags of frozen, American-grown, organic broccoli for 99 cents a bag. We don’t eat frozen veggies as a rule, but they’re nice to have on hand for times where you run out of fresh and can’t run to the store.
Salvages don’t have consistent stock, as a general rule. You need to know that in many cases, you might see something there only once a year, and other items might be available regularly. Once they sell out, the deal is gone and will be replaced with something else. Those 50-pound bags of sucanat I mentioned above I’ve only had happen twice. in the five-and-a-half years I’ve been visiting the salvage. But some brand of natural yogurt is almost always available.
Where do you purchase groceries outside of the Farmer’s Market and local grocery stores?