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Friday, February 6, 2015

Just call me queen of the markdowns?

Running errands on Wednesday --

I hit the jackpot at Fred Meyer. I always make a pass by the packaged produce section, dairy case, and the marked down meat bin when I stop in a store. I was tired and had a head cold on Wednesday, s nearly didn't make these usual stops. Am I ever glad that I did!

I was only going in for eggs ($1.25/dozen), but halfway through shopping, I had to upscale my shopping cart from the small one, to the large!

I found eleven 8-oz cartons of sliced white mushrooms for 79 cents each. I'm cooking some of them in butter, to freeze for future use.

four 10-oz clamshells of broccoli crowns for 99 cents each

three 5.5-oz clamshells of 50/50 baby spinach and spring leafy greens for 99 cent each

nine gallons of 2% milk for $1.50 each (I could have bought more, but that's the limit of my freezer storage

four 16-oz containers of sour cream for 79 cent each

two 16-oz containers of cottage cheese for $1.09 each

and two 1-lb packages of 93% lean ground beef ($3.89 each) and one 1-lb package of 93% lean ground turkey ($2.49)

I left with a large shopping cart filled to the brim, and spent about $50. Not bad!

It varies from one store to the next, but each store usually has several markdown (reduced to clear) spots.

  • bulk produce, where you'd find pieces of fruit or veggies, especially bananas
  • packaged produce, where you'd find ready-to-eat, preached items in plastic clamshells or bags such as lettuce, fresh spinach, mushrooms, cut melons, fresh broccoli tops, and sometimes tofu
  • the dairy case, where you'd find containers of yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, canned biscuit dough, packaged cookie dough
  • the milk cooler, where you'd find cartons and jugs of milk, whipping cream, some non-dairy creamers, some non-dairy beverages like some cartons soy milk, and sometimes "fresh" orange juice
  • the egg cooler (I've only once found eggs on mark down)
  • the fresh meat department -- meat may be in a special section of the meat dept, or it may have markdown labels on the packages in it's regular spot
  • the packaged deli/meat dept, for items like fresh sausage, bacon, hot dogs, lunch meat, cheese, sometimes tofu
  • a dry goods clearance section, where discontinued, post-holiday, and about to expire items that do not need refrigeration, often at the back of the store
A few of these marked-down-to-clear items, such as fresh melon cubes and lettuce, need immediate consumption. But for most of them, they can be easily frozen, with minimal preparation.

Cartons of liquids (like "fresh" orange juice, milk) will need room in the carton for expansion while freezing, and I'll need to pour a small amount off and use it right away. Some items may need a small amount of preparation, such as pre-cooking the mushrooms before freezing, or blanching fresh broccoli crowns, or whipping the whipping cream, spooning into mounds on waxed paper, then freezing. But many of the items, like the tofu, whole bananas, lunch meat, bacon, hot dogs and fresh meat can go in the freezer in the package that it was purchased in.

And then, a few items store in the fridge for many weeks past the expiry date, such as fresh eggs, canned biscuit dough, refrigerated cookie dough, cottage cheese, sour cream, and chunk or loaf cheese.

Of course, those pantry items, like boxed pasta, that are merely discontinued or post-holiday, will keep on the shelf for many weeks beyond your purchase, if unopened. I buy our holiday candy (such as Valentine's, Easter and Christmas candy) each year, immediately after each holiday, on clearance, then save until the next year.

Some great deals to had. But it is hit or miss!

Do you look for clearance markdowns? What have you found marked down to clear at the grocery store? Tell me what your stores will mark down. Are you in an area that only marks down very old bananas? Or do you find meat on mark down, too? What's been your *best* deal, ever?



  1. I typically only find produce on markdowns like that at my "regular" grocery store--Aldi will do post-season clearance on canned/boxed foods (I don't remember what I paid for it, but I bought a lot of steel cut oats last spring for a song). Aldi has "seasonal items" so when the "season" has passed, it's a good time to find deals. I could have bought avocados for 39 cents apiece this week, but we aren't huge avo fans here and these were pretty squishy.

    1. Hi Kris,
      Oooh, sounds like you got a good deal on the steel cut oats!! And really, those could keep for a couple of years, barring pantry moths.

      The avocados, even squishy, might have been good for making guacamole. Even just mashing with lemon/lime juice and freezing, to make guac later, would work. But otherwise, with squishy avocados, you do run the risk of dark spots -- not so appetizing in a salad.

      Hope you have a wonderful weekend, Kris!

  2. Great buys - it looks like that cottage cheese has several days left on it before the sell by date. I always look for markdowns and have found an expensive grocery store that I only buy loss leaders at always has marked down meat. I buy 90% of my meat that way and cruise by there at least 1 time per week - not weekends though it gets too picked over.

    1. Hi Cheapchick,
      That's awesome that you can buy so much of your meat on markdown! I'm sure that you save an earns amount on your grocery bill that way.
      I find the same to be true of our one high end grocery store -- that they have some of the best loss leaders and best markdowns of the grocery stores I frequent.

      And that cottage cheese will keep long past the sell-by date. I've had cottage cheese keep many weeks past expiry. But I only bought 2, as even at $1.09, it's a bit pricy for just a milk product.

  3. But my husband is the KING of markdowns! He always runs around the grocery section looking for the markdown tags and often gets great deals. He once got a big pork roast (prob. close to 8 lbs. for something like $2.79 as the total price). I have noticed that it depends who is doing the markdown whether or not the price is worth paying or not. Some days they are really well marked for a markdown and other days not so good. We pretty much eat all meats/poultry/fresh veggies/fresh fruit/yogurt from discounted prices. I've never seen milk or eggs marked down yet. This week I got two bags of chicken quarters for $3.34 and $3.40 and got those nicely repackaged for meal sized portions. I'm out of mushroom and haven't see those discounted for the longest time.

    I'm glad there is someone else like me out in this world. A "friend" told me once that she would never consider a marked down food item. I just laughed to myself thinking about what her grocery receipt looks like. It really pays IF you are willing to work and sort through things like fruits and veggies if you buy them from the discounted racks. I'm willing and has saved me lots of money.


    1. Hi Alice,
      Ha ha! King of the markdowns it is!! But seriously, that buy on the pork roast is a prize-winner! Yeah, I can't believe the inconsistency on pricing with markdowns.

      I have friends and family who also would never buy marked down anything. I say, "oh well, all the more for me!"

      have a great weekend, Alice!

  4. I can't get your "reply" to work ... anyway, hope you also have a good weekend! My husband and son are going winter camping (!) with the boy scout troop so my daughter and I are watching Anne of Green Gables and maybe going swimming tomorrow.

    We don't like guac around here ... I sometimes make a chocolate fruit dip with avocado and I tried an avocado brownie recipe with great success a week ago, but that's about as far as we can tolerate the avo. But thanks for the suggestion.

    1. Hi Kris, these blogging platforms can be so wonky at times. I sometimes can't reply on my own blog!

      Well, a bargain isn't a bargain if you don't want to eat it! For me, even if liver were marked down to free, I still wouldn't take it!

  5. I think we must have different laws here about food. I've never seen any kind of dairy or egg product on mark down. I've occasionally seen meat and produce on markdown, but not a lot. The bread products go to the senior center, but we can buy out-of-season seasonal items.

    What a great haul you had. I would have been so excited.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      I think we've discussed this about milk in your area. The dairy industry may have some sort of block on marking down milk, or selling below a certain price point. That doesn't mean it will always be that way. things could change some day.

      Anyways, great that you can find produce and meat on markdown (especially the meat, with sky high prices these days). And those seasonal items can be nice to have. I've seen canned pumpkin marked down after the holidays, which for me would be useful year round, in muffins and quick breads. And I pick up things like candles, and holiday paper napkins on clearance that I can save for the following year.

      For the most part, I don't really look at the grocery store bakery discount rack any more. I think it's over priced in our area. A better alternative is a bakery thrift store. We have an Oroweat outlet not too far from here. And in years when I just wasn't able to make time for baking bread, they had great prices on marked-down bread.

      I was pretty excited to find so much at one time!

      Have a great weekend, live and learn!

  6. Replies
    1. Hi Belinda,
      I know! I was excited to find so many markdowns.
      Hope you have a great weekend!

  7. Great job! These should really help your stock-up!

    As for here, I don't ever see mark-down dairy. I know that Oklahoma has some sort of law on meat pricing that keeps us from getting the super low prices on turkeys that some places have...maybe it applies to dairy as well? I will occasionally find mark-down bananas at the health food store, but not at regular stores. The case of oat "cheerio" cereal from Aldi may have been due to clearing out close expiration dates as many of the boxes had an expiration of about two weeks out. However, sealed, they should keep well past that, and in sorting through to find more of them, I found the lower boxes don't expire till June.

    1. Hi Cat,
      Years ago, I used to buy close-out boxes of cereal. I had read that cereal retains it's freshness, unopened, for up to 8 months past the sell-by date. So, you should be good on those Cheerios.

      Your health food store may be small enough that they don't have enough of any past-prime produce on a regular basis to offer to a food bank, or dispose of cost-effectively. So they just put it out in their store for their customers. Whereas, the local supermarkets may have arrangements with local food banks, soup kitchens, or may even have one of those gigantic garbage disposals, for old produce.

      A while back, I read that many supermarkets think it's better for their "image" if they only stock perfect-looking produce. So they want to get the past-prime stuff out of sight as quickly as possible.

      Have a great weekend!

  8. Great finds. Mark downs are hit and miss here. I have with rare exception never had any problems with mark down items. If I am finding something I can preserve or use up quickly I'm more than happy to buy marked down things and I often find good deals on meat at or near the sale buy date.

    1. Hi Shara,
      I've seen some of your great markdowns on meat that you've been able to get, there. In fact, with the package of ground turkey that I bought, I was inspired by the Italian sausage that you made a while back (about a month ago). So, that's what I'll be doing with the turkey! thanks to you! I might not have thought to make it into Italian sausage otherwise, and would have just passed it up.

      Hope you're having a great weekend!

  9. Oh, you did good!

    I'm always on the prowl for markdowns. After a bit of a drought, I scored some grapefruit and small zucchni for $1 a bag today.

    1. Hi DW,
      Great snag on that produce! A bit of grapefruit and zucchini would be so fresh this time of year!

      It is hit or miss! I was at the store again today, and NOTHING! Oh well, maybe next time.


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