What to buy at scratch & dent stores {and actually save money}

Published on January 20, 2014 By Lauren

Scratch and dent* stores are great places to find deeply discounted grocery items.  But not everything there is a great price like you may assume.  There are many items at these stores that are actually more expensive, but you can also find many items with HUGE savings.  My favorite discount store to shop for food items is Big Lots; if you have one of those nearby, I would definitely check it out.  It is not a traditional scratch and dent store, but they do offer deeply discounted food items similar to scratch and dent stores.

*Scratch and dent stores buy damaged, dented or discontinued products that grocery stores won’t sell.   They usually buy items in pallets from stores that are tying to liquidate inventory and/or get rid of damaged goods.  Some of the items are past their expiration dates, but the scratch and dent stores try to keep expired products to a minimum.

On my last trip to Big Lots, I did some quick math and surprised myself – when compared to the prices at my local grocery store, I saved over 50% and didn’t even have to use coupons!  I ended up spending $9 and change for all of the items below.

After by trip to Big Lots, I went to my local grocery store and found three of these items more than 50% more than what I just paid.  Here is the run down of what I got:

Mom’s Best Cereals – $1.50 per box

Lance sandwich crackers 20 pk $3.50 (The 8 pk at my grocery store was $3.99)

Annie’s organic cheddar bunnies crackers 11 oz $2.00 (the 7 oz box at my grocery store was $3.99)

Lundberg risotto $1.15 {this was $2.99 at my grocery store)

Basil – $1.00 {these stores are a fantastic place to buy spices!}

Here are some of my tops tips on how to shop at scratch and dent stores:

1.) Know your prices.

Do your research before shopping at these stores.  Many items that you would think are deeply discounted can actually be more expensive than you think.  This past week when shopping at Big Lots I saw a box of Chex cereal for $2.50 which normally is a great deal, but because I looked at my grocery store ad that week I knew they were on sale there for $2.00 and I had a coupon for them.  If I hadn’t done any research before hand I would have spent an extra dollar.

2.) Look at expiration dates.

Some items at scratch and dent stores are sold past their expiration dates, but they try to keep them to a minimum.  Do your research on items that are okay to eat past their expiration dates, like soup and crackers.  Do not buy items such as baby food, formula, or any foods in metal cans.  I would also stay away from expired boxed pasta or foods with a lot of starch, because those items can easily be infested by bugs.

3.) Know what items you will save money on and those you won’t.

My favorite items to look for at scratch and dent stores are the ones that we usually don’t see many great sales for at the grocery store.  These can include organic items, gluten free foods, and international foods.  My local Big Lots has Bob’s Red Mills Organic and Gluten free packages for around 30% off the grocery store price.  These items rarely go on sale, so shopping for them at a discount store if the way to go.  I also can find packaged snack foods for my kids at a deeply discounted price too, which are items that often are priced high in the grocery store.  One thing that is not always the best deal is cereal, which can be priced just under grocery store prices.  If you use coupons, you can typically get that same cereal for less in the grocery store.

There are many great deals to be found but you need to be an educated consumer, so do your research ahead of time and you should be able to save money.

What are your favorite things to buy at scratch and dent stores?