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8 Sep 2012

SOON TO EXPIRE FOOD

I am writing this on holiday. I know, I need a life, right. I was thinking about this subject lately and thought I can just sneak a post before leaving my bed. I want to know if you frown at the soon to expire food items like I do I used to. Whilst I don't think I would ever buy any food item that has gone past its sell by date, I surprised myself on Thursday, when I went to a marked down food table right at the entrance of Checkers supermarket. I was there to get dinner for five. Most food items at the table had their sell by date marked for the same day. I reckoned, since it was the same day dinner, I can just snatch just enough items for the day. I had salads that were marked down by more than 50%. I paid 25% for some items like beetroot salad and carrot cake for my dessert. Off course I paid 100% for my lamb stew. I managed to pay R150 instead of a possible R300 for our dinner, the next day breakfast and a few longer lasting stuff like “soon to expire” raw potatoes (70% off) and lemon. I never thought I could save so much on food.
soon to expire food

I can do this because I do my grocery shopping weekly instead of monthly. I believe weekly or even more frequent grocery shopping saves me more money compared to less frequent shopping. I spent more on groceries when I did one month shopping plus a few bags weekly. Bulk buying itself gets us discounts. However, you tend to use the last food items when they are less fresh or even have to throw them away. People also tend to waste food that's bought in bulk. That happens in my house. The fuller the pantry is, the bigger the pots. It must e a psychological effect. People don't eat left-over food because there is a lot more food anyway. Even laundry detergent and especially handy andy gets wasted when bought in bulks, for some strange reasons. I realise that I can snatch some of these items when they are left with 2 or 3 days to expire and just have my next 3 day meals planned around them. That can be about 30-50% savings in my grocery bill. The trick is in buying small quantities that can be easily used up.

With food prices rising at an alarming rate, I don’t see a reason why we still frown at these “close to expiration” bargain foods. Like I mentioned in the previous post on petrol prices going up, we are definitely due for another food price increase. This could put a strain on the grocery budgets of South Africans at all income levels. It looks like forgoing freshness will be a new trend. Most South Africans will live on soon-to-expire or just-expired food items. As for me, I will keep my eye on the food sale table. I can do this almost daily, since I walk for 10 minutes to my nearest supermarket. If I were to drive, that would be a completely futile exercise. It could be even more costly to drive often than buying the freshest food.

Do you buy the just-expired or soon to expire food? I would love to know.
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