28 September, 2008

Markdown Nonsense

One of the ways I control my costs at the grocery store is by shopping the "markdown bins," where still-usable product of less-than-optimal quality is sold at a discount. For canned or processed foods, this usually means a damaged exterior box or a dented can. In the meat case, it's most often stuff on its last date of sale. And in the produce department, it's fruit and vegetables that have been bruised or become overripe waiting for purchase.

I don't have any problem with buying any of these "almost good" items because using them trims about twenty-five to thirty percent off my grocery bill and I buy them to use almost immediately anyway. The markdown produce is especially useful to me because I can get a package of excellent tomatoes for something like 39 cents a pound - and while they'll be just on the verge of overripe, that's perfect for soup, stew, or tomato sauce.

But just like everywhere else in the grocery store, I have to be careful in the markdown bins - especially with produce. Very often I'll come across what seems a great deal at first glance only to realize that I can get the same items at the local produce store fresh for a lower price per pound than the supermarket markdown.

And then, of course, there're the ridiculous "bundles" that the supermarket does when marking down fruit and veg. Sometimes it works out - I've bought packages containing nectarines, plums, apricots, and peaches all combined for 29 cents pound, and gone home and made "mixed stonefruit jam" that turned out wonderful - but sometimes the combinations make no sense at all:

An onion and a grapefruit? Wut?



Michele said...

I always buy the markdowns. I visit the produce markdown section first and what I find there is what I plan my meals around. However I would not buy the onion/grapefruit combo. I'm sure that there was no harm done to the onion...but that grapefruit is ruined. My guess is that these were the last 2 pieces of produce left at wrapping time.

Alex Rushmer said...

Jeez, Dave. Have you never heard of onion and grapefruit Spanish omelette? Actually, come to think of it, neither have I! Truly odd combo

Snackgirl said...

Stop & Shop used to label these as "Not the best but still a good buy" and as a kid, hat is how my mom introduced me to marked down produce. For the most part it is a good deal but sometimes I think things are not as cheap as they should be considering the mold I've found on some items and you have ot cut off or throw out half of it anyway. I think it's just a matter of luck see what they have but usually the mushrooms are the best deal because they have more flavor when they aren't perfectly white anymore. Also Bananas are usually always a good deal too.

Stephanie in Shanghai said...

I thought of this post the other day when I went to Carrefour and saw a can of coke attached to a bag of snickers.

Dave said...

A can of Coke and a bag of Snickers? That's not a markdown - that's THE BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS!