One of the most frequently asked questions that arrives in my inbox is some form of...
"How do I find a Grocery Liquidator/Salvage/Surplus/Outlet store in my area?"
Without one of these stores to shop at I wouldn't be able to get the bargains that I do, stick to my budget, or avoid the need to spend countless hours clipping and researching coupons. These types of stores save my hiney when it comes to shopping.
Just in case you don't know what these are, these are stores that sell off products sent back to the grocery warehouse by a store OR excess inventory sold to a liquidator by a manufacturer. It can range from items that are close to the sell-by date, cans that have been dented during transport or display, seasonal items that didn't sell in time and need to be cleared off the regular retail shelves, new products that didn't sell well in the mass market, or items with labels that have misprints. There are untold treasures to be found.
These stores are also regulated and inspected by the USDA. So if you are concerned that you might be purchasing items that have gone bad or could be harmful you aren't at any more risk than if you were buying from your local chain store.
Another point of note is that Best If Used By dates are the date that the manufacturer would like their item kept on display but many items are good well past this date. It is not the date that the item becomes rotten or inedible. Even milk is still good days after the Sell By date. The only foods required to have an actual expiration date are baby foods and formulas.
Some times these types of stores are well organized and clean and other times they are grubby and the items are piled in bins. But don't let that determine whether you shop there or not. One of the cheapest stores I shop at feels like I need to apply hand sanitizer when I leave but it's also the place where I find cans of tomatoes and veggies for 39 cents each...sometimes 3 or 4 for a dollar.
Another thing to keep in mind is that these stores don't always have the same items available. If you see something, grab it. It might sell out by next week and be replaced by a completely different item. The store owners are never quite sure what will be on their shelves each month.
So if you are interested in adding one of these stores to your shopping routine, I have a few web sites that may be able to help you locate one in your neck of the woods.
Grocery Outlet's website has locations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California and Nevada
United Grocery Outlet has locations in Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama, and Georgia
gnivas.com has a list of stores all across the U.S. as well as hours and websites.
Anderson Country Market has a directory also.
None of these lists are exhaustive. Several of my local stores were missing but it's a great place to start.