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Manager's specials provide instant savings

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If a supermarket doesn't sell a perishable item by a certain date, then it is required by law to throw it away. As you can imagine, store managers want to avoid this at all costs, which means savvy consumers can get some large last-minute discounts. Look for the brightly colored stickers in your store's refrigerated section.

Many stores have a schedule for when they reduce the price of dairy, meats, produce and bakery items, which means that you can predict when the price will drop. Often this parallels the schedule for when they get fresh deliveries. Try going to the store at different times of the day on different days of the week to see when they reduce their prices on perishables. Also, if you see a fully priced, perishable item that is due to expire soon, ask the manager if they will reduce the price for you.

If the special is in the form of a standard $1 off or similar sticker, buy the smallest one (by weight) so the $1 savings goes the longest way. You're better off buying 2 smaller packages and getting double the $1 savings, than buying 1 larger one since meats typically carry the same cost per pound regardless of the package size.  As soon as you see the stickers, start rummaging to find the smallest package you can!

Here's an illustration from an actual recent LOZO trip to the grocery store, to show you how much more you can save by shopping smart. Chopped meat was originally $3.99/pound, and each package had a $1.00 off coupon sticker:
  • Largest package: 2.1lbs = $8.38 originally, now just $7.38 for a 12% savings
  • Middle package: 1.4lbs = $5.59 originally, now just $4.59 for a 18% savings
  • Smallest package: 0.7lbs = $2.79 originally, now just $1.79 for a 36% savings!
In this case you could buy 3 small packages for $5.37 (3 x $1.79) to get the same meat as the large package for $7.38!

If the date is so soon that you're worried you won't be able to use it before it goes bad, freeze it to buy yourself some time. And, as always, make sure to watch that the cashier notes the price adjustment (usually this means peeling off the sticker) which often has to be entered manually. If you notice later that they forgot, go to customer service to get your refund.

A LOZO expert posted this tip.

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User Comments

posted by geegee1981 (Contributor | 140 Points) on 03-05-2010 01:03 AM
Get the smaller packs
What I try to do is find the smallest size packages with the sticker on it. Usually it's $1 or $2 off so you are better off if you get $1 off $2.85 than $1 off $3.85. I got a pack of organic sausages the other day which are usually $4 for only $1.49 this way
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posted by will_v (Contributor | 1010 Points) on 03-26-2010 03:32 PM
Consider your needs
This is all very true (and you can often freeze meats for a little longer as well), but I always plan ahead to when I will use the meat. Nothing worse than getting a good deal and watching the money go into the garbage because it spoils before we use it.
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posted by gojayhawks (Contributor | 130 Points) on 08-20-2010 03:37 PM
Sometimes the larger packages at my store have $2 coupons and the smaller ones have $1 ones. To find the better deal I just pretend like the larger package is only half as big. If that makes it smaller than the small packages, then I buy it, else I go with the small ones.
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