Thursday, October 23, 2014

Salvage Grocery Shopping...take 2

Yesterday we went to our favorite salvage grocery store since we were in town (It's 1.5 hrs away, but only 10 minutes from my family). We stocked up on a lot to make winter grocery bills more manageable, especially since we aren't sure how often we'll be able to make the trip once the roads are nasty.
 As usual, we found some fantastic deals, some things that we would never buy and others that were more costly than the regular grocery store. You have to know your prices; keeping a cost book can be extremely helpful when shopping at salvage groceries. Sometimes you'll find a hundred of a good deal and can get enough to last months. Sometimes you only find one. It's always an adventure!

One thing with salvage's all packaged foods. There aren't produce bins, there's no local-bakery-outlet, there's no bulk meat counter. This is all packaged. There are certainly some GM ingredients in some of the items. And yes, I know that in a perfect world, I would eat no packaged foods and make everything from scratch. I would buy everything direct from the farmer and would only eat perfectly balanced meals. But this is the real world. We both work full time and have projects we work on from home. We try to spend quality time together and with family and friends. Sometimes packaged foods are eaten. Sometimes we cave to cravings. Sometimes we eat convenience foods. However, we eat as much from foraging and the garden as possible and dehydrate a few hundred pounds each year. We cook as much from scratch as we can. We make our own convenience foods in the form of cooking a giant batch of chili and freezing meal-sized portions, or cooking 5 lbs of ground beef and freezing in 1/2 lb portions for quick and easy tacos. We also are on a lower income (as are many readers) and just don't have the money to buy organic/free range/ecologically produced/chemical free/package free everything direct from the farmer. We produce as much healthy and ethical food as possible and buy as much of the same from local farmers, but we're not in a place where we can do it 100%. Shopping at salvage groceries allows a little cushion to buy bacon from our favorite farmer for $2 more a pound instead of getting the cheapest store brand on sale with no thought to how it was produced or by whom. It allows a bit extra to buy tomatoes at the market when ours don't produce well. At the end of the day, all we are ever trying to do is live the highest quality life possible given our circumstances. There is no need to feel like a failure if you cannot do everything exactly as you'd like to. Just do your best and look for creative options to give you flexibility, like shopping at salvage groceries.

This salvage grocer is our favorite for one main reason: They get the outlets from natural food stores as well as regular grocery stores. That means that sometimes we score organics for less than grocery store brand on sale. The usual shoppers tend to go for the familiar brands, meaning that the "weird hippie" brand foods are often priced lower.

So...on to the scores! I'm including the price we'd pay at the regular store with smart shopping using sales and sometimes coupons. I'm also including commentary on why we purchased certain items or whether they are a "luxury" we wouldn't have otherwise.

Honey Bunches of Oats 14.5 oz box (1).....$1.79 (We aim to never spend more than $2/box for cereal, which is an occasional sale price at the regular grocery store, but not common anymore. Trucker eats oatmeal most mornings, but does still eat some cereal)
Honey Bunches of Oats Greek Yogurt 12.5 oz box (2).....$1.49 each
Honey Kix 12 oz (2).....$1.49 each
Special K 12 oz (1).....$1.49
Cinnamon Toasters 10 oz (8).....$.33 each (whenever we find cereal priced below $.50/box we buy extra and distribute to other families)

Pace Garlic and Lime Salsa Verde 16 (2).....$.49 each (Cheapest we ever see salsa around here is $1/jar)
Roasted Green Chili Peppers 16 oz (2).....$.99 each (I adore pickled peppers, but only get them on the rare occasions when they are $1/jar or less)
Los Palmos green enchilada sauce 10 oz (1).....$.49 each (usually over $1/can at regular stores)
Herdez salsa verde 7 oz (2).....$.39 each
Rotel tomatoes and chiles 10 oz (2).....$.59 each (usually $1+/can; we use this occasionally in chili. This year we will have to buy more tomato products than usual because we were only able to put up about 20 lbs of dehydrated tomatoes this year. It was a bad tomato year here)

Bumblebee Clam Chowder 15 oz (1).....$.69 (this is a convenience food for days when I'm working all day and Trucker needs a quick meal when working on a project)
Marie Callender's Vegetable Soup 15 oz (1).....$.69

Mueller's Ridged Jumbo elbows pasta 16 oz (3).....$.69 each ($1/lb is the cheapest we ever find here)
Mueller's Ridged Ziti pasta 16 oz (1).....$.69
Barilla Multigrain spaghetti 14.5 oz (3).....$.79 each
Skinner spaghetti 16 oz (1).....$.59
Mahatma extra long grain enriched rice 3 lb (1).....$1.49
Hunt's meat pasta sauce 24 oz (1).....$.99 (like I said, we'll run out of garden tomatoes really early this year)
Barilla Pasta sauce 24 oz (1).....$.99

Peppadew Mustard 9.5 oz (2).....$.59 each (this is my favorite mustard ever)
Grey Poupon Dijon mustard 8 oz (1).....$.79
Spectrum Organic Mayo 16 oz (1).....$.49 (cheaper than store brand conventional on sale)
Heinz Hot and Spicy Ketchup 14 oz (2).....$.69 each (this is about the same price as regular on sale, but maybe will taste better, we'll see)
Del Monte canned carrots or mixed vegetables 8.25 oz cans (2)......$.39 each (we dehydrate a lot of produce, but we do tend to run low by spring)

Tazo Chocolate Chai Latte concentrate 1 qt (6).....$.79 each (I love chai, and yes I could make my own concentrate, but I haven't found the time lately...this works and keeps me from ever splurging on a chai when we go out)
Tazo Chocolate Chai Latte concentrate 1 qt (1).....$.39 (This was the only one priced this low, but I looked for more and would have put the others back if I'd found any cheaper)
Oregon Chai concentrate 1 qt (1).....$.39
Twinings Orange and Cinnamon Spice tea 20 bags (1).....$1.49 (At 7.5 cents per tea bag that is used twice, tea is one of our most frugal drinks. We especially enjoy turning on the tea kettle every evening in autumn and winter)
Bigelow Orange and Spice tea 20 bags (2).....$1.49 each
Bigelow Plantation Mint tea 20 bags (1).....$1.49
French Market Coffee+Chicory Blend 12 oz (1)....$2.49 (this is a favorite indulgence and lowers our caffeine consumption. I forage a lot of dandelion coffee to cut with our regular coffee, but it is very labor intensive and I could never produce enough for an entire year)
LavAzza Italian Coffee 8.8 oz (2).....$2.49 (this is a little higher than we usually pay for Maxwell House coffee when it goes on a fantastic sale every 4 months. We like good coffee, but cannot justify paying full price for good stuff considering how much we consume)
Life is Good coffee 11 oz (2).....$2.49 (We were visiting my grandpa and didn't want to drink all of his coffee. We talked about stopping at a gas station for nasty coffee at $1.25/mug when we used our travel mugs, but then we'd want to stop again for more before heading back home later that night. We decided to bring in one of the packages of coffee and brewed a pot while we were there. He loved it so we left the rest of the bag for him to enjoy for the next week or so. It still cost us half the cost of buying it at the gas station, it was tastier and we got to give my grandpa an indulgence he would rarely get)
Koolaid packets (11).....$.10 each (This is a rare thing....mainly as a mixer for vodka when we're feeling trashy...or if friends with kids come over....but then there's no vodka. Also, every now and then in summer I start craving a slurpee type drink, but I'm scared to death of the mold in the machine and the high fructose corn syrup and the cost. So I make a super concentrated koolaid with a bit of regular sugar and blend with ice. Costs me around $.15 for 2 servings)

Tone's Cinnamon Sticks, approximately 82 sticks per container (2).....$2.49 (I have never purchased whole cinnamon sticks because they are cost prohibitive. I'm beyond thrilled. Trucker had to talk me out of buying 20 containers....because I totally would have)

Hidden Valley Ranch dressing 12 oz (6).....$.20 (Yes, I could and sometimes do make my own salad dressing. However, I really stick to basic non-cream-based dressings, and sometimes I just want something quick and easy. Plus at this cost, I could not make it cheaper until I start making my own vinegar)
Naturally Delicious Peppercorn Parmesan dressing 16 oz (1).....$.20
Ken's Poppyseed dressing 16 oz (1).....$.20 (My parent's favorite dressing, so I like to have it when they come over)
Kraft Zesty Italian dressing 16 oz (3).....$.20 (This stuff makes an awesome marinade for chicken before grilling-my mum's trick)
Kraft Thousand Island dressing 16 oz (2).....$.20
Kraft Catalina dressing 16 oz (1).....$.20
Kraft Zesty Lime dressing 8 oz (1).....$.10

Sour Patch kids (1).....$.49 (Generally, I try to provide Trucker with lots of yummy and healthy snacks like dried apples and other fruit. At the end of the day, he's a grown man and if he wants a bit of nasty-sweet candy, I'm not going to tell him he can't. If I make it forbidden fruit, he's going to fiend it more)
Bag full of energy bars.....$3.99 (this included 30 bars, so it was 13.3 cents each. These are used mainly for hiking, but also on road trips. We keep a few in each vehicle in case of emergency or if we forget to bring lunch, we have a little something without resorting to eating out. We got 15 Go Organic! double chocolate bars, 1 Promax double fudge brownie bar, 2 Power Protein bars, and 12 Clif Shot Blocks for running)

Smart Sense Dishwasher detergent 75 oz (1).....$2.99 (we usually hand wash dishes, but I use the dishwasher when I have marathon cooking days. Frankly, I hate washing dishes and would not do big cooking days if at the end when I was already exhausted I had to wash dishes for 45 minutes. We still have a box at home, but since I rarely find it on sale, I started shopping when I opened the last box)
Arm & Hammer laundry detergent 60 loads (3).....$2.99 each (this is half the price we usually pay on sale with double coupon. I do plan to eventually start making my own, but with so much going on lately, have not had a chance to give it a go)
Grout sealer (1).....$.99 (One of the projects I am going to do this winter while I'm trapped indoors is redo all of the grout in the bathroom-showers and floor. I stockpiled materials for different projects all summer while thrifting and yard saling so that I don't have to spend the money or go out in bad weather to the store to buy supplies)
Cologne (2).....$1.99 (Trucker likes this stuff better than the dollar store brand)
Temptations cat treats 7 oz (1).....$.99 (every now and then Ray cat gets a treat...however, it is rare and she is still lean and athletic)

So, total we spent $86.30 on all of this. We shop here every 3-4 months, so this comes out to $20-25 a month and significantly lowers the costs of general shopping in between.


  1. Great article.... I love all your stuff. Thanks for including the disclaimers about junk food packaged food etc. We all have our closet habits and end of the rope consessions and it's so important to encourage each other. Yes, in a perfect world... but! Thanks so much for all your efforts <3

  2. I head to the back of my local more-expensive regional grocer, and they usually have non-gmo brands of various items that don't move, and more items that didn't sell, and I enjoy!


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