Sunday, August 14, 2011

Working the Mananger Special-Grocery Style

My daughter opens the refrigerator, pulls out a carton of milk, and looks at the bright orange tag and asks if we buy anything that isn’t a manager special. Not too often, I admit. The manger special is only good if you know how to work the manager special. Learn your grocery store to know where they place the manager specials.

When you enter the store, head for the specials first. You’re not the only one looking for a deal. Where I live the grocery ads start on Thursday, which means Thursdays are not good days to look for specials. Once the grocery blitz is over, the day before the next ad yields better deals as the store readies itself for the next shopping onslaught. Less people shopping means less competition for you.

With dairy items, especially milk, you can buy items with today’s date and they should have a shelf life of seven days. I often buy yogurt that is dated that day and freeze it. Cake mixes and cereal can be frozen to keep them fresh, especially since they are already past date. Remember to place them in plastic Ziploc bags first.

Meat can sit in the case for a couple of days, a week at the most. Meat that doesn’t sell can be dressed up as stir-fry, kebobs, even meatloaf with a brand new date extending the shelf life of the meat and raising the price. This is not a good deal. I avoid all the pre-made delicacies since I know it’s usually old meat masquerading as new. If you buy discounted meat and it’s bad, take it back. The store doesn’t want you sick or dissatisfied.

Frozen foods are usually always a good bargain because there isn’t much that can go wrong with them UNLESS the package has been ripped. Avoid any ripped packages. Most dinners and pizzas are on clearance due to the decision not to carry that item. If you like the item, buy all you can them, because there won’t be any more coming. This is when a small chest type freezer comes in handy. They run a little bit over a hundred dollars when you catch them on sale. Don’t overlook yard sales when looking for a freezer either, but always test it first.

Cosmetics and toiletries end up as clearance because the package is damaged or the item is discontinued. Check the box carefully. If it is a product that contains more than one item in a box, such as hair coloring, often one of the items is gone, which makes it unusable. Most of these items don’t have a shelf life, so even if they do have an expiration date, no worries. Avoid any cosmetics over a year old because they won’t work as well.

Pet products are usually clearance because the box or bag is damaged. Instead of getting a seventeen pound bag of dog food, you’ll get more of a 16.5 pound bag at half the price. This is a real savings if your pet will eat it. Canned food does have expiration dates. The food isn’t going to sit around your house long so go for it.

Canned goods usually appear as manager specials when they are dropped and get dents. No one wants dented cans because they remember vaguely that’s a sign of spoilage. Actually, it’s swollen cans and the food has to be pretty old. First, check the date to make sure it is current. Your grocer is not going to keep old cans on the shelf because making five cent on a rotten can of green beans is not worth losing his job and having a class action lawsuit directed at the store. Still, if the can is dusty or rusty, avoid it.

Dead ripe produce will often be bagged for clearance. These items must be used that day. Ripe bananas can become banana bread, smoothies, or banana pudding. Vegetables must be cooked because they won’t stand up well in a salad. Salads mixes need to be used that day and may need to be checked carefully before buying. The smaller leaf salads like baby lettuces or spring mix become wilted and bitter quicker. Coleslaw can get strong quickly too. Romaine or iceberg is your best bet.

Organic juices and bagged vegetables in the produce aisle do not contain any preservatives. You must use them in three days. You can freeze the veggies if you want to extend their shelf life. They are limp when they thaw, but work well in soups, stews, and casseroles.

If bread is on clearance it is stale or is a day away from being so. This is an item I usually avoid getting since most stores run bread specials every week The exception to the rule is the specialty rolls and bread. You’ll want to freeze these too. The fridge does not work because it allows the bread to go stale. On top of the fridge, where many people store their bread, speeds up the process of going bad.

Cleaning products are a no brainer. The only thing you want to check is to see if the applicator or spray nozzle works. If you can’t get the cleaner out of the container it is worthless. This is one of the few times, you might buy an open container. An example of this is those little packs you use for dish washing or the clothes washing can be bought for a fraction of their original cost is the package is missing a few packs. A wall air freshener that is missing the warmer, but still contains the scent bottle is great IF you only wanted the scent to begin with.

In closing, it isn’t bargain if you don’t need it, won’t eat it, or can’t afford it. Hair spray that was seventeen dollars and is marked down to twelve, stays on the clearance table. Happy Savings.

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