Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saving the Moola: salvage food stores have big benefits, but do they also have big risks?

We've heard of salvage food stores over the years, but we've never seen one in our area so they just kept slipping our minds. When I recently heard about them again, I decided to seek one out. I was incredibly disappointed when I found the closest one to us was an hour away! You can view the full list of salvage food stores in Michigan here. Most are about two hours+ from where we live.

I desperately wanted to visit the store closest to us, which was in Bay City, so we coupled a visit there with a visit to Jason's brother and his family. We didn't have many expectations heading into the store, as we had no clue what the store held, if the food items would be horrifically expired, or if they would horrifically disfigured.

What we found was a pleasant surprise, overall. Some of the items were expired - some only within the last few months and some a bit older than that. Some of the items had an expiration date within the next few upcoming months, but were dented, etc.

We didn't buy anything that was expired that we didn't feel comfortable eating with an expired date on it. We found loads of good deals, both in our opinions and factually so. Moreover, all of the items are guaranteed to be "wholesome" despite being expired. Save your receipt if the salvage foods store you visit also has this guarantee, and if something doesn't look, taste or smell right, return it for a refund!

Here's what we purchased:

I have been craving baked beans lately, so this was on my list of items to look for. These weren't expired, but they had dents. We've heard from others not to buy cans with dents, but we have and have never had a bad experience. The 18-packs of taco shells were also not expired, but the boxes were crumpled a bit. Since we use these for taco bowl and crumple them up anyway, this did not matter to us. The three bottles of salad dressing were expired. We decided we felt comfortable trying them out anyway, and this will give us a bit more variety in our dressings (we only had one type of dressing at home). We're excited to try these out! And the last item in this picture is Hickory sausage. This was just recently expired, within the last two weeks, and Jason ate it over the course of this past week.

You didn't think the first picture had everything we bought, did ya? We bought a huge bag of chicken nuggets and a huge bag of chicken tenders. We normally do not keep this kind of food in our house at all, but I've been craving chicken nuggets lately, so we picked these up. When we got home, we divided up the chicken nuggets and chicken tenders into ziplock, plastic baggies for ready-made portions for two people. We bagged up seven bags of chicken nuggets and six bags of chicken tenders - 13 meals! We are very excited about this. We also picked up a ham. We don't eat a lot of ham, but there are times when we want ham and we don't have any in the house! We actually regret now only buying one - whenever we return, we're planning on buying six. We picked up turkey bacon for special breakfasts and a chunk of Colby Jack cheese - both of these were expired, but we felt comfortable buying them expired.

This is the last picture, I promise! We love to have soda for family movie nights, but we don't really like picking up 2-liters or packs of soda. None of these cans are expired, they're cheaper than buying at the store, and we could pick and choose what we wanted! If I wanted Sprite at a regular store, I would have to either buy a single can, bottle, or pack that is overpriced and/or is more than what I wanted. At the salvage foods store, we picked up regular Coke cans, Cherry Coke cans, Dr. Pepper cans and one Sprite can. This is enough for multiple months of family movie nights, so we're pretty excited about that.

All in all, we spent $42.08. We used leftover money from our grocery envelope to pay for these items. We are pleased, so far, with everything we purchased. In May, we're traveling to Grand Rapids, and a salvage food store is about ten minutes away. We plan to make a stop there to check out what they have. When we travel up north this summer for a vacation, we're planning to stop back at the salvage food store in Bay City to shop.

The only thing I was personally disappointed with was the price of cereal. Jason's favorite breakfast is cereal, and he goes through about a box every week to two weeks. Our buy-now price is $1.50 a box. With coupons and sales, we can usually meet this mark. Occasionally, we can even get cereal for $1.25 or $1 a box - our buy-everything-in-sight price. The cereal there was $1.89 to $2.29 - our definitely-don't-buy price. We're hoping the salvage food store near Grand Rapids will have a better price on cereal.

Share with us: Have you ever shopped at a salvage food store? We've love to hear about your experience shopping at this type of store.

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