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Salvage Grocery Stores: An Alternative to Food Auctions

Jen is always researching how to live better, including living better for less.

You can find great deals at salvage grocery stores, such as overstocked items at low prices.

You can find great deals at salvage grocery stores, such as overstocked items at low prices.

What's a Salvage Grocery Store?

Salvage grocery stores can be a great alternative to bidding at food auctions if an auction cannot be found in your area. Also known as surplus grocery stores, they can save you as much as 30–50% on your food bill.

Similar to items found at food auctions, their inventory consists of the following:

  • overstocked items
  • slightly damaged, bent, dented, ripped, or torn packages or cans
  • mislabeled or old labeled items
  • items not selling well in regular chain stores and returned to warehouse
  • near or at their sell-by or best-used-by dates

Also similar to items sold at food auctions is the guarantee by the USDA that such items pose no safety hazard or poisoning threat. Excluded from this list are baby food and formula. The sell-by dates refer to a product's freshness, not its safety.

Some Stores to Search for in Your State

Here is a list of salvage grocery stores compiled thus far. Please note the separate link to Frugal Village as it has many more stores listed according to each state.

The following list consists of salvage chain-store groceries first, followed by other stores found after a thorough search:

  • Any major retailer's clearance aisle or rack
  • Family Dollar
  • Grocery Outlet
  • Sav-a-lot
  • The Corner Cupboard
  • 99 Cents Store
  • 99 Cents Only
  • The Dollar Store
  • Dollar General
  • Dents Grocery Store
  • Dollar Tree
  • Aldi's

It is easy to forget that the major grocery store chains would rather sell their own bent and dent (b&d) items. So don't forget to check and see if they have an entire aisle dedicated to selling b&d's or maybe they just have some racks set aside for that purpose.

It is suggested that you try to purchase all you can from salvage or surplus stores, then buy what you can't get from them at your local grocer. Also don't forget to add coupons when you use the traditional grocer, just to add to your savings.

Carrying and Storage

While you are out saving money, don't forget you'll need a place to store all your good deals. Buying in bulk can be problematic once you need to bring everything home. Don't forget to travel with a cooler, just in case you need to keep your cool items cool.

You might need to bring your own boxes or bags with you to make loading and unloading easier. Last but not least, make sure you have a place to put everything once you get it all home. We use an extra freezer in our basement and an extra cabinet with four shelves.


Aldi Foods has been around for a good while and has modernized and opened in many new locations. The upgrades make it comparable to grocery store chains.

Aldi even has more name-brand items, something unheard of in the past.

Frugal Village Forum Page

  • Frugal Village
    Links to a thread that gives a list of grocery outlets for each state in alphabetical order. You can sign up to be a member of the forum and receive all of its valuable information, if you would like.


Valene from Missouri on January 27, 2013:

ALDI rocks! When I studied abroad in Spain, I went into this little store called LIDL with my American friend and we looked at each other wide-eyed and said "It's just like ALDI!!" We told our German friends about it and they said ALDI is a German company that prides itself on thrift and low overhead and that this LIDL place is their competitor.

Tamara Wilhite from Fort Worth, Texas on September 09, 2012:

Excellent resource! I recently visited Aldi's and found that they are cheaper than Walmart.

Darline Kilpatrick (author) from Delaware on April 19, 2012:

Thanks mark, I hope our readers in Alabama find your C&B Bent and Dent store. Especially since you are careful NOT to sell outdated items.

Nowadays 30-70 percent savings is great!

mark on April 17, 2012:

new store in alabama- C&B BENT AND DENT 501a hway 69s hanceville al m-f 8-6 sat 9-5 fresh milks eggs meats breads all cans bags boxes cleaned cked seals,all exc out of dates discarded every item cked close before going on shelf health and agr dept approved refund or replace any item found bad, 30-70% savings i65 exit 299 bama thanks

shlomo on November 14, 2011:

ya get what you pay for!

george on October 20, 2011:

very good article also some stores use dented or damaged can stores

jeremytorres on May 24, 2011:

This is informative article, I am glad to found this thing.

Salvage Food on November 21, 2010:

Connie you are correct stating the selection at salvage food stores is limited. A budget minded shopper will regularly visit discount groceries stores after making rounds at the local big box. While a salvage food store cannot provide all ingredients for the sure pays to pick bargains!

Ravenquille on November 16, 2010:

Prices at Salvage-type Grocery Stores; and many of them I have been to have begun to mix Bulk Foods, and regular fresh stock Grocery items into their product lineup. 30-50% savings is extremely low; in general what I have seen would be more in the area of anywhere from 100-800%!

Your savings depend on where you go, and what you buy, of course; always do a careful search for bargains before you buy. Think out of the box on products you have never used before, new potential recipes. The best prices are usually with the Salvage-type products. These products are not necessarily of the 'scratch and dent', or 'out-dated' variety; you will often find very good bargains on products that simply are not sold in your state ( out-of-state Bulk or Salvage ).

Darline Kilpatrick (author) from Delaware on September 12, 2010:

Thanks for your comment and I hope to bring more attention to your site, as I am sure many are interested in what you provide.

Salvage Food on September 12, 2010:

As the economy slumps salvage food stores are opening up all over. The savings found at these stores prompts people to shop at them on a regular basis....

Darline Kilpatrick (author) from Delaware on June 13, 2010:

Mary if nothing else is available some Dollar Stores have good deals, just be sure to check the labels and dates. Glad you enjoyed the article.

Mary Roark from Boise area, Idaho on June 13, 2010:

Good information for saving money on groceries. I need to look more deeply into what we have available in our town. To my knowledge, we have none of these chains here. But maybe there are other, not so well known, options.

Thank you for sharing your resources!

Darline Kilpatrick (author) from Delaware on April 03, 2010:

Yes Amish stores are great indeed MFB, glad you are able to put them to good use as you save some cash.

Matthew Frederick Blowers III from United States on April 02, 2010:

When money gets tighter then the holes in my belt I visit

the Amish salvage stores near me for fabulous buys, Far better than the commercially run stores. $40.00 later i have plenty to eat and it's all quite delicious.

Great hub~~~MFB III

Darline Kilpatrick (author) from Delaware on March 11, 2010:

discount groceries, thanks for stopping by. Online buying can be great too, especially if free shipping is included.

discount groceries on March 10, 2010:

You have a great article and thanks for the information. I buy my groceries online and you article really helps. keep it up.

Darline Kilpatrick (author) from Delaware on February 23, 2010:

Thanks fishtiger. Aldi has really come a long way. They have increased their quality while keeping their prices low.

fishtiger58 from Momence, Illinois on February 23, 2010:

Great article, and I do get some things at Aldi. Their milks and frozen turkeys are usually the cheapest around.

Darline Kilpatrick (author) from Delaware on February 20, 2010:

Hi MrSpock, any way to save a little money in these times comes in handy. Glad you found this hub.

MrSpock on February 19, 2010:

I never heard of this topic before, very interesting!

Darline Kilpatrick (author) from Delaware on December 30, 2009:

Glad to hear you do have some money saving discount stores there in So. Cal. I'll do my best to keep 'em coming. Thanks again for checking the hubs out.

Alfreta Sailor from Southern California on December 30, 2009:

Okay we have 99 cents only here in So. Cal, but I never thought of them as Salvage grocery stores. I love this one too, you are just a treasure trove of knowledge. Keep 'em coming.

Darline Kilpatrick (author) from Delaware on December 14, 2009:

Thanks Ben! Don't know if it has been awhile since you tried Aldi's, but if so, I'd give them another look. The quality has really improved. I was shocked to find out the food I enjoyed the most came from Aldi's, where my husband found great deals.

Ben Zoltak from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA on December 14, 2009:

Hey Jen thanks for this I'll check out Sav A Lot. Funny, I shopped at Aldi's when I was a kid visiting in Amsterdam and it was good food, but when I tried it here at home I didn't like the food quality, I will try Sav A Lot though I always wondered what those were.

Great frugal article!


Darline Kilpatrick (author) from Delaware on November 11, 2009:

Hi Johnny! I hope your grocery store business will pick up as you implement your new strategy. Thanks for reading.

Johnny on November 10, 2009:

Great article and thanks for the idea!!! I just bought a little grocery store back in may and the summer was good to me but now reality is sinking in....buiness has been slow lately and i have been trying to figure out a way to bring in more business....once again thank you so much and i will keep reading your page


Darline Kilpatrick (author) from Delaware on August 04, 2009:

It sure is Dolores, I hope you have a few in your neck of the woods.


Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on August 04, 2009:

Jen, I've never heard of these stores! What a great way to save money!

Darline Kilpatrick (author) from Delaware on June 24, 2009:

Your welcome prasetio30. Thank you for leaving a comment.

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on June 23, 2009:

Nice , great topic. Thanks for share

Darline Kilpatrick (author) from Delaware on May 23, 2009:

LOL, no Honorebel you haven't been living in a closet. From my research, food auctions are only recently becoming more predominant because of massive unemployment. That is why auctioneers are now featuring them, they are good money makers at a time when people aren't interested in other auction items. I hope you find one is available in your area. Thanks so much for leaving a comment.

Honorebel from Southern California on May 22, 2009:

Man I feel like I have been living in a closet I have never heard of food auction or salvage grocery stores LOL. Great article and im gonna have to try to find one of those 2 if not both. Thanks

Darline Kilpatrick (author) from Delaware on May 18, 2009:

Hey Connie, I knew I was forgetting a store. You must have known it as well, eh? LOL  Thanks so much for the reminder, as you can see I've added Aldi's info. We have a store right by us, that my husband goes to all the time. Don't know why I couldn't remember to include it originally.  Oh well, thanks to you it is now included.

You know some of those canned goods have a proposed shelf life of FIVE years! Come on, I find that hard to believe. I don't want to eat anything I've had since 2004, not even my beloved chocolate. HaHa

Thanks so much for your comment.

Connie Smith on May 18, 2009:

Very informative article, Jen. I've never been to a food auction, but I have been to a salvage grocery store. I must admit, I am a bit squeamish about dent cans, but an expired can doesn't bother me. That's because they haven't been dating cans all that many years so I don't even look . I actually saw an advertisement wanting canned and boxed food for a food drive that said they would accept no expired cans. When I was on a budget and grocery shopping for my family (grown now), I used to shop Sav-A-Lot. I was always very happy with the quality of most of their foods and the canned stuff is not dented. It is all private label. Same with Aldi. Very good food for the price. The only problem with both is that they don't sell every item that a shopper might need and you have to box or bag your own groceries. The savings are worth it. `