This was after I had found these little beauties the night before when I made a quick stop at Randall’s on my way home for a fizzy water and some baby carrots (who can say why we crave what we do?).And if you thought my “clearance touch” only extends to dairy products (although that is where most of my magic happens)…Foccacia and Golden Flax Roll-Ups in the bakery section for 99 cents each? Yep. I’ll take both.
One of you commented a gajillion posts back that “Dang girl. You should do shopping-for-clearance-and-inexpensive-items bootcamp.” Since I can’t comment directly on YOUR comments (sad face, forever)…I stored that away and have been thinking about it for awhile.
I don’t know that there really is a secret to it all…but here are a few things I’ve learned and determined as far as the “Secrets of a Clearance Queen.”
Learn to accept the wiggle room in expiration and sell-by dates.
Even professors of food science have said (and I just saw this yet again in the latest issue of Shape) that cottage cheese, yogurt, and eggs are most likely still good for 10 days after the dates on the packaging.
“Sell-by” and “best-buy” do NOT mean that if you eat them after that date you will die. You probably have at LEAST another week after that….things just lose their “freshness.” For example, the Roll-Up wraps above were at their “sell-by” date, but I could have eaten them all week…however, just like with Flat-Outs, I have always liked to freeze them and use them as needed (they are especially good to use for making crackers or pizzas….even if they’ve been frozen).
Eat foods that HAVE expiration dates.
Foods go on clearance because they are about to be “past their prime.” Highly processed foods have so many preservatives that they will most likely never go bad (at least not before you or I can buy them…).
The best way to try out something a little out of your normal price range is to buy it when it’s on clearance and then you will be forced to sample it right away.I discovered I kind of dig kefir. This only becomes a problem when you realize now you want to buy it and it’s really expensive. [Hence, you keep your fingers crossed for another sale.]
Visit the g-store often. [And yes, I do really like to refer to it as the g-store in both my mind AND conversation.]
The more often you are there, the more likely you’ll catch something on sale. Often times there are special “Manager’s Specials” that happen and aren’t advertised because they realize after the weekly fliers are printed that they have an overstock. Or they receive word that they are no longer going to carry a certain product in the store. That’s how I discovered the beautiful flavor that is Maranatha Honey Almond Butter. [No worries, it is still stocked at Whole Foods.]
Buy seasonal items in the off-season. Not only is this an inexpensive way to indulge in your favorite candy (it still tastes the same no matter what color it’s wrapped in), it is also how I was able to score some seasonal goodies, like holiday blend coffee or my favorite Clif Bars, “for cheap.”
I ended up getting this box of Cinnamon Puffins for 99 cents…
…just because Barbara’s has switched the packaging and so the store had to get rid of the now “outdated” boxes.[Nevermind the fact that, no matter how hard I try, I just never quite understand why people seem to love these so much. It was a 99 cent mistake I could afford to make once again.*]
*And well, I clearly still ate them. No taste does not mean “OK to waste.“
Despite the role that the three grocery Fates play, you should still always check the weekly fliers (they are most always online) for non-chance clearance scores…in Austin, if you shop on Wednesdays, when the stores switch over to the next week of deals, you can get the discounts from BOTH weeks. I have been known to strategically time my shopping trips and/or rush to the store late-night on Wednesdays just to take advantage of this or last week’s sale items. (I’m actually considering heading out to Sprouts right now….)
Don’t be afraid to poke around a little.
Sometimes stores miss that the expiration date is upon is. If it is even one day before, they’ll often give you the discount anyway. When you pick up anything from the dairy case, check the date first, and you might just wind up coming away with 99 cent Voskos [even without your coupons Maria ].Me: (with my now-perfected, “aw shucks, aren’t I adorable” grin) These yogurts have an expiration date of the 9th. And I’m pretty sure it’s the 9th, isn’t it? Gosh, I just never even know what day it is sometimes!
Checkout Guy (who practically feels like a member of my family since he’s always there when I am): You’re right, it is the 9th.Me: You think I can get the discount?
CG: Let me call the manager, but I’m sure he’ll give it to you.
That tofu ended up as the base for the Gingerbread Soy “Pudding” I showed you in pictures yesterday. I wish I could say I invented the whole concept, but it is something I was inspired to create from Katie‘s Chocolate-Covered blog. I was doubtful at first, but it is delicious.
For one (large….but not really large enough in my opinion) serving, you need 1/2 block of silken or medium-firm tofu, and a couple of tablespoons of milk of your choice.I go for soy-on-soy…….but in all honesty, once I made it and forgot to add milk and it was still really good, just a little less cream-tastic.
Then, just add sweetener (I used stevia) and vanilla (or maple, even better) extract. Blend.Put it in the fridge to thicken up for a bit…and YUM! [I like mine with extra sugar. ]It doesn’t taste at all like yogurt, as Katie thought it might, but making it with just sugar and vanilla extract and putting it really close to the freezer in your fridge does result in a flavor akin to the soy frozen yogurt they used to serve in our dining hall in college. And that is a VERY good thing.