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Tips for Shopping at Salvage Grocery StoresUpdated: Oct. 24, 2023
Buying food from a Salvage Grocery Store is a great way to save money and has the added benefit of helping to save the environment. Since Salvage Grocers purchase some food items that are at, close to, and sometimes beyond their "best by" dates, these stores can be "last stand" for food that might otherwise be thrown away, ending up in a landfill where it decomposes and creates greenhouse gases.
Read more about how food ends up at Salvage Grocery Stores.
The food we waste is responsible for roughly 8 percent of the greenhouse emissions which cause global warming. By reducing food waste, we can reduce all of the wasted resources used to produce the food and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that are released into the atmosphere in the process.
When you shop at a Salvage Grocery Store you're not only saving a lot of money — you're also helping to save the environment.
- Before shopping at a Salvage Grocery Store, be sure that you're familiar with pricing of products found at "regular" grocery stores. Every item you find at Salvage Grocery Stores isn't going to be a bargain. Bring your mobile phone along on your shopping trip and do a price check on any items that seem like they might not be such a good deal.
- Find out what day or days of the week the store receives their new inventory and get there as soon as you can after the shipment is received so you can be first in line to find the best deals.
- When setting out to do your weekly grocery shopping, shop at the Salvage Grocery Store first. The product selection at most Salvage Grocery stores is limited and you're probably not going to be able to find all of the items you need for the week. Be flexible in your meal planning and try to substitute items that you do find for those that aren't available.
- If you come across a specialty item or an item that's a great bargain be sure to stock up and buy as much as you'll be able to use before it spoils or you can store it properly. Inventory at Salvage Grocery Stores is always changing and if you find something you like or something that's an exceptional value it probably won't be there the next time you visit the store.
- Many Salvage Grocery Stores offer bigger discounts when you purchase items by the case. If an item you like isn't marked with a case price, ask the owner or manager if they'll offer a discount for a case purchase.
When shopping at a Salvage Grocery Store, please use the following guidelines (along with common sense):
- Never buy expired baby formula and baby food at a salvage grocery store. They're the only only food products on which sell-by dates are regulated by the federal government.
- "Sell by, "Use by" and "Best by" dates mean different things. Read the article on the differences.
- Frozen foods can still be safe to eat after their sell-by date as long as they've been kept frozen. Don’t buy frozen foods whose packages show that the food inside may have melted, then frozen again. For example, in cardboard-carton type packages, food stains on the package or other signs that the package has leaked are evidence that this may have happened. Frozen food that is thawed, then frozen again, gives bacteria a chance to grow.
- Never buy any can of food that looks swollen or has a bulge in it. This may mean that dangerous bacteria are growing inside.
- Don’t buy any can that’s dented along the seams that run along the top or side. The damage may have allowed bacteria to get inside.
- Don’t buy any sealed package that’s torn, has a hole in it, or is coming apart at the seams.
- Don’t buy any can or package that’s leaking. If liquid can drip out, bacteria can get in.
- Refrigerated foods that are slightly past the "use by" or "sell by "dates may still be safe to consume for weeks to months beyond the dates marked on their containers. Yogurt can be safe to eat for several months beyond the "best by" date on the carton, and cheese can be fine for a few months as well. Sour cream can be safe for up to 3 weeks beyond the "best by" date on the container. Butter can be frozen and kept for up to a year. Use common sense. Don’t eat refrigerated foods that smell bad, contain mold or show obvous signs of spoilage.
- Avoid over-the-counter drugs which have expired. They may lose their potency or undergo an adverse chemical change after expiration.
- Recalled items shouldn't end up at salvage stores, but it's good to stay check on recent food recalls just in case.
- If something just doesn't seem right about a product, ask the store manager if the labels on cans or packages have been changed. If so, the new label might not list the right ingredients or lot numbers. This is especially important if you have a food allergy or other dietary restriction or if a food has been recalled.
- If a store appears dirty or you see signs of bug or rodent activity, you probably shouldn't buy food there.