I’m always looking for a good deal. Sometimes, getting a bargain becomes more important than actually buying what I needed in the first place (kind of like a “garage sale” effect). This can be at once irritating and satisfying. And in the realm of grocery shopping, finding a good deal can turn a soul-deadening trip to the store into an immensely satisfying adventure!
Forget clipping coupons and comparing the cost per ounce (although that definitely helps): I usually make a beeline to the “clearance room” whenever I visit the grocery store (in my case, the Ralph’s on 9th and Flower, downtown). Where else can you find St. Patty’s Day novelty treats in the middle of June, or gluten-free experiments from a major snack food company, or even Passover supplies for pennies on the dollar? If I plan on frequent grocery trips (especially in the morning), I can score some sweet deals from the clearance room.
What causes a product to meet its fate in the clearance room? It could be seasonal, gimmicky, or just plain unappetizing. But my favorite clearance room victims are the nouveau organic products (shelf life ain’t what it used to be for these preservative-free foods) – with their expiration dates rapidly approaching, the managers have no choice but mark it down and hope for the best. And I can pretend to have made a healthy food choice! It’s a win-win!
Recently, I scored three days of french toast for $.99. “The hell you say, Stu!” No, for reals. I had a Ralph’s “digital coupon” for a free carton of eggs (just another one of their unexpected free offer emails. Thanks “Ralph”, whoever you are!), so I grabbed my eggs and traipsed into the clearance room, on the hunt for some cheap bread. A stocker was unloading some soon-to-be-stale bread at just the right time, and I “got the hook up”, as the kids say, by spotting a loaf of “Pioneer Sourdough” bread on the shelf – marked $.99! I already had the vanilla extract in my cupboard, so I extracted my bread from the clearance room and made off like a French bandit, twirling my mustache as I skated home. Breakfast never tasted better.
Side note: The “Pioneer Story” on the back of the bag says that in 1907, Jean Baptiste Garacochea brought a piece of sourdough starter from a small village in the Pyrenees Mountains (that’s in France, y’all) all the way to Venice… California? The most telling bit of information on the package says that, “Pioneer produces its sourdough utilizing the same process in the 1990’s as in 1908.” Except for the fact that it is 2014.
Well, that takes care of breakfast for the next three days (and then some), but what about dinner? I need to find a good deal for dinner, or I might have to get real creative with my french toast. Well, what do you know, I checked the “clearance section” of the freezer aisle (where you can find items marked down by 75%) and there were about 20 boxes of “Private Selection” Italian Sausage and Mushroom Marble Hearth Baked Pizzas (ummm, OK) for $1.99. And at check out, my receipt printed out with a $2.00 off coupon for my next order! This food trip was practically free.
Side note: The back of the pizza box says, “The Private Selection journey rewards your sense of good taste. Each Private Selection offering is sure to feed your passion for gourmet foods.” Also, “Due to the unique ingredients, toppings may have shifted during handling.” They’re laying it on kind of thick. There is even a suggestion for pairing this pizza: “Pair – Serve with a fresh and crisp garden salad and finish with a dessert of Private Selection gelato for an authentic Italian taste.” Good call. However, I just paired my pizza with some ranch dressing – as per usual – and I enjoyed an authentic Stu taste.