As I’ve posted about buying markdowns at the grocery store recently, a lot of people have asked me questions on buying markdowns and how to know if a clearance item is still good and worth buying.
Before I buy something that’s marked down at the store, here are 5 questions I ask myself:
1. What is the Sell By date?
Look at the Sell By Date. Is this item good for a few more days? Will we be able to use it up by the Sell By Date?
If you can’t use it up by the Sell By Date, is it something you can freeze? You can freeze so many different things — like most fruit and veggies, bread, milk, meat, cheese, cottage cheese, butter, and so much more. Here’s a great list of .
2. Does it still look fresh?
Check to make sure that it still looks fresh. Are there dents or holes in the can or package? Do you see any mold or spots going bad?
If it’s fruit or veggies, if the price is really great, you might be okay with buying those bananas with black spots on them or those sweet potatoes growing eyes because you’re going to freeze the bananas to use in smoothies or just cut off the eyes.
For other things, like bread or cheese, you definitely don’t want to buy it if there’s mold on it! One of my told me that she bought some garlic bread that was in a foil package marked down to a great price only to discover that it was moldy inside. Yuck!
3. Is this something my family will eat?
This might seem like a no-brainer question to ask, but I think sometimes it’s easy to get so caught up in something being a “great deal” that we forget that it might not be something our family would even eat!
So be sure to stop and ask if at least a few people in your family will eat the item before you just get all excited about a cheap, cheap price on something no one in your family will touch with a ten-foot pole!
4. How much will they eat before the Sell By date?
If your family will eat it, how much will they eat before the item goes bad? Be realistic here! For instance, when I found the eggs marked down to $1.49 per dozen recently, I wanted to buy all 20 dozen that were marked down. But I knew that was being unrealistic because the Sell By date was in less than a week.
Instead, I thought through what we could make over the next week, what we could make and freeze, and what was realistic. I ended up buying 7 dozen and we had no trouble going through that many.
Tip: One thing to keep in mind is that Sell By dates are just that — when a store needs to sell an item by. They aren’t necessarily Eat By dates. 🙂 Items will still often be good to eat a few days or even weeks after the Sell By date.
5. Do I have room in my budget?
This might seem like the first question you should ask, but I really think putting it at the end is best. Why? Because sometimes, we allow ourselves to think something is a good deal just because it’s a great price and we can afford it. 😉
Do yourself a favor and make sure you convince yourself that something is worth buying, still good, your family will eat it, and you know how much your family will eat first. Then, if you haven’t already talked yourself out of the purchase, you can determine if there’s room in the budget for it.
Note: You may have some room in the budget, but not enough room to buy multiples. Don’t stress over the fact that you don’t have enough room in your budget to buy as many as you wish you could, just be excited that you were able to buy some!
It’s better to leave some great deals on the shelf and walk away knowing you stuck to your budget, then to bust your budget in the name of “getting a great deal!”
More Grocery-Saving Resources:
Subscribe for free email updates from December212012® and get my Guide to Freezer Cooking for free!