Graduate Stipend + Waste-Consciousness = Manager’s Specials

20150420_100001-1Many have asked how Corey and I manage to eat (very well, I might add) on only $100 a week for two people, in LOS ANGELES, CA. Aside from intentionally shopping produce that is in season and on sale, I also am a HUGE advocate of “Manager’s Special” shopping. For those of you who may not be aware of the special magic of the Manager’s Special section, let me explain. Usually grocery stores reserve sections of their meat, dairy, and sometimes bread sections for daily “manager’s specials.” I have also seen entire bins and shelves set up in the back of the store with packaged and shelved items on special as well. What this usually means is that these items have reached their shelf life, or will in a few days. What it can also mean is that even if items have not reached their shelf life, they need to be moved through to make room for other items. Another scenario is seasonal items/holiday items. Like this week, I picked up two boxes of Matzah for $2.50 (Regularly $8.38 for the two). The Matzah is good for the rest of the year, but because the holiday is over, stores are trying to clear it out.

A lot of people are turned off by these sections because they think items are not fresh or that products have gone bad. Rest assured, stores cannot sell products that are not safe for consumption, and most of the time, companies and grocers will date products earlier than they actually expire. For example, the different between a “Sell By” date, and a “Use or Freeze By” date. More often than not, when I purchase meat specifically, I usually have 1-3 days before the “sell by” or “use by” date is even reached. And when I do purchased meat with a sell by date which is that same day, I will bring it home and freeze it right away or cook it that evening. Shopping like this also forces me to be creative, think outside of our usual meals, and try new recipes and new cuts of meat.

This weekend, Corey and I saved a total of $25.48 on our grocery bill by purchasing manager’s special items.  Put another way: we saved over 40% of our total bill!!!!!!

We went shopping on 4/18/15. Check out some of the things we bought:

1. 80% Lean Ground Beef Patties (4) for the price of $3.00 (original price: $6.00)

Use/Freeze by: 4/21/15

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2. Peppered Turkey Lunch Meat (2 packages!) for the price of $1.90 each (original price: $7.58 each)

Sell by:  4/19/15

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3. Chicken Breast (fajita sliced) for the price of $1.84 (original price: $3.68)

Use/Freeze by: 4/19/15 (FROZE)

4. Chicken Breasts for the price of $1.77 (original price $3.55)

Use/Freeze by: 4/19/15 (FROZE)

What does the manager’s special section have to do with waste-consciousness?

When food items are NOT purchased from the manager’s specials sections they get thrown in the dumpsters behind the stores. Plain and simple. Wasted food. Unrecycled packaging. You get the picture. Some stores will even bypass the manager’s special process if people are not taking advantage of sales. Along the same lines, stores will try to sell everything at manager’s special  pricing (rather than throwing it out) if they have a consumer base that is regularly purchasing these items.

Give it a try! Have some fun with it! Save some money!

Corey and I have eaten all kinds of things (mostly meat, though) from manager’s specials and we have not gotten sick, we are healthy, have not died, etc…so there’s that too…

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