Sunday, December 30, 2012

Using Food Salvage Stores

A reader sent me the following, which, with his permission, I am posting. He writes:
I came across an article about shopping at food salvage stores. http://lifehacker.com/5971552/shop-at-a-salvage-grocery-store-and-save-a-ton-of-money-on-food?tag=saving-money
The article points to a couple of outdated lists of food salvage stores. But, a commenter posted a link to what looks like a reasonably current list:
http://www.extremebargains.net/store/Independent_Discount_and_Salvage_Grocery_Store_Directory.html
The article also points to an earlier article on another site that appears to be the source for the lifehacker article, which explains more about food salvage stores.
http://www.mint.com/blog/consumer-iq/grocery-outlets-the-secret-to-saving-green-on-groceries-082012/
We have shopped at food salvage stores before. They are great for a family with ravenous teenagers. They are less beneficial for empty-nesters trying to eat a low-fat diet. The store we shopped at had lots of canned food, lots of frozen convenience food, frozen meats, frozen vegetables and institutional frozen food that they had repackaged into consumer friendly sizes. They also had a walk-in refrigerator area with a variety of refrigerated and fresh foods. And, they had lots of boxed and dry goods (cereals, pasta, crackers, cookies).
As the articles indicate, the inventory of these stores will vary significantly from one visit to the next.
The food I've seen has included stuff that came out of damaged cases (I don't care if the paper label is stained or torn), food that is about to expire or is slightly expired, and overstock goods. For example, I once saw bags of salad that were expiring that day, but had been properly stored, and hence looked (and tasted) fresher than what I typically saw in the regular stores. Many of the canned goods may be close to expiring, but in my experience, most canned foods are good for quite a while after the expiration date.
Some foods are not good for any appreciable time after their expiration date, such as soft drinks sweetened with aspartame, chips, and saltine crackers.
I wouldn't look to a food salvage store as a primary source for food storage foods since the foods will typically be near the end of their marked shelf life, but they can be a good source of non-food items like soaps and paper goods.

Also, like any other shopping activity, you need to be aware of the prices. Sometimes the prices on some items in a food salvage store are excellent, and sometimes, the prices are not very good, and may occasionally even be higher than the price at big-box retailers like Walmart.

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