May 11, 2011

How to shop Grocery Outlet (gourmet cheese, organics, and more!)

I think Grocery Outlet is a little known secret of bargain goodness. Most people I know, after shopping Grocery Outlet a few times, are hooked. The savings can be great WITHOUT coupons. In fact, they don’t even accept manufacturer coupons, so it can be a great place to go when  you don’t have time to clip coupons, but you still want some decent deals. This post will hopefully help you navigate the aisles of Grocery Outlet . . .

How does Grocery Outlet work? Basically they buy their inventory straight from the manufacturer. For example when a manufacturer has surplus inventory or the packaging has changed, they’ll call Grocery Outlet and sell it to them at a reduced price.

“Here’s a true life example: a major cereal manufacturer partnered with the producers of Shrek and created promotional packaging for the movie’s release. After a great first run, Shrek went to DVD, however the manufacturer still had a lot of Shrek cereal boxes. So they filled them up with brand new product and sold it to us at a fraction of the original cost. Then we sold it to you at less than half of what you would have paid for the same product when the movie was in theaters. Same fantastic and fresh product; half the price.” – Grocery Outlet Website

They don’t accept manufacturer coupons – As I briefly mentioned above, they don’t take manufacturer coupons. Before you start scoffing at this, keep in mind that the manufacturers already took a huge cut when selling Grocery Outlet these products. I suggest you see it as a guilt-free break for using coupons. They DO take store-issued coupons, when they are available.

The inventory is not consistent – It’s an outlet store. Shop often because the inventory can change as often as twice a week, or even more, and you can get a lot of stuff for stock up price! If you have multiple Grocery Outlet stores in your area, shop all of them – you might find one carries different products than the other. For example, here in the Olympia area the Olympia Grocery Outlet carries more natural and organic products than the Lacey location.

Grocery Outlet can be a good go-to place – When you are looking for a decent deal and you can live if they don’t have something in stock – the Grocery Outlet can be a great regular stop on your shopping trip.

Here are some suggested BEST BUYS for Grocery Outlet –

Bread – Sara Lee bread and all the Sara Lee bread products are always a $1. I’ve seen almost every variety of Sara Lee bread there for a $1.

Yogurt – You know those deals all the couponers scramble for when Yoplait goes on sale for $0.30 cents a cup? Grocery Outlet usually always has the single cups for 3 for a $1. And the yogurt is typically well stocked with some variety. I’ve seen many versions of Yoplait, Tillamook, Dannon, Dannon kids (such as a four packs of crush cups for $0.99), Breyers (single cups four for a $1), etc.

Produce – Dole bananas are sold in 3 pound bags for only $1.99.  You can generally find cilantro for almost always $0.50 a bunch, bell peppers typically a $1 or less, big bags of apples for $2.99-$3.99. I’ll find great deals on grapes, kiwis, pears, onions, etc. Recently I found fresh strawberries for a $1.

Cheeses – Throwing a dinner party? Want a nice cheese for an appetizer plate or some bleu cheese for a salad? Grocery has crazy prices on gourmet cheeses – the kinds of deals you would get after coupon and sale at the big box stores. For example, the Alouette brand gourmet cheeses and spreads are usually around $0.99 cents. You can sometimes find Kraft bagged shredded cheeses for $0.99.

Olives – Canned olives range from $0.79 – $0.99 a can  – the sale price at most big box stores. I really hate paying more than $1  a can for olives, so when I see them for $0.79 – it’s a stock-up price.

Vitamins – With drug store promotions and coupons you can get vitamins for dirt cheap or FREE. But, you are generally limited to specific vitamin types, such as fish oil or vitamin E. If you need a specific vitamin go to Grocery Outlet’s vitamin section where you can find a large variety for really good prices.

Freezer items – You can find some incredible deals on frozen meals, ice creams/desserts and frozen vegetables.

Organics and natural products – Believe it or not you can find some AMAZING prices on major brands such as Amy’s and Annies. You can also sometimes find organic produce.

Hopefully this gives you some inspiration to check out your local Grocery Outlet store. You can find your nearest Grocery Outlet store here. You can follow Grocery Outlet on Facebook and Twitter where they sometimes post specials. Grocery Outlet also has a great Web site.

What do you like to buy at Grocery Outlet? As always, if you find a deal at your local Grocery Outlet, I’d love to hear about it!


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  1. I remember driving all the way to Tacoma, once a month. Loded up all the kids. Made a day of it. The kids called it the crushed can store. Because the best deals where slightly messed up. But they loved it because they got cookies, and treats, they normally could have. Good memories. Now there are 3 in town. A bit more expensive. Still drop in to see what cool things they have found. I know now that my husband is gone, feeding these guys is alot harder. But $500. Sure would make it easier to do Christmas.

  2. Love Grocery Outlet last month they had a sale on Greek Yogurt it was 3 for.13 YUP 13 CENTS!!! So of course i just had to clear the shelf

  3. Theresa says:

    I just found this post. The Grocery outlet is a great place to shop around Christmas and other holidays as well. They frequently have amazing gift ideas for a fraction of the cost elsewhere. I found these perfect red Starbucks mugs with the Starbucks logo, Starbucks cookies, biscotti, hot chocolate, chocolate bar …seems like a few other items as well but I can’t remember for sure. They were 2.00 at one store and 2.99 at another. These were already packaged in cellophane and ready to go. I also save money by shopping there earlier in the day to find the deals they have on items that are nearing the pull date. A 2.5 lb. bag of Millstone coffee beans for 5.47, large box of Keebler crackers for .78 & yes, the yogurt prices are amazing. I scour every isle to see whats clearing out. The Grocery Outlet is a real stock up store for me so I have to plan a little extra for this trip because I know that I’m not going to pass up .29 jello, .49 pumpkin cheese spread… I have frozen my cheese spread in the past and it is still great for use.

  4. crazy saver says:

    I have been to and shopped at several Grocery Outlet stores in the State of Washington and each store sells items for different prices. Examples I have seen:

    cereal I purchased at one location was 27 cents a box (peanut butter Cheerios) and at another location they sold it for 2.49 a box.

    Oreo cookies (Orange cream limited edition) One location sold a package for 79 cents. Another location sold them for 1.99 for a package.

    So depending on the location you are shopping at depends on the prices for exact same items. Keep this in mind when shopping and wanting to save the most money. I usually go to several locatons before deciding where to buy items.

    My best shopping experience was when I paid $40.45 and saved $225.90!!!!

  5. Thanks! There’s one near me and I haven’t fully explored it. I just went and spent $40 but apparently I saved $30, hahaha. Cool! Your tips helped. They had a really good selection of healthy foods (especially cereals) that would usually cost a lot more! Now I get to try some of the fancy things I’ve been wondering about since I started eating healthy!

  6. HI! I’m a reporter for Good Day Sacramento in California and would love to link this article to our website as I’m a couponer and doing a segment about great deals available at Grocery Outlet! Please let me know if there’s a problem?

    • Hi Melissa – No problem! That would be great. I’m an official member of the Grocery Outlet Frugal Force, a group of bloggers who share about the great deals and values you can find at Grocery Outlet. Let me know if you need any more information!

  7. Do they accept EBT food?

  8. tabetha says:

    Grocery Outlet has been a staple in my family since I was little. We still call it Rainbow Canned Foods (old name) however, always know your prices because they can be more expensive on some things. One thing is to always check expiration dates, often things are past or very close to pull dates but lots of stuff freezes well. I don’t buy their bread anymore because it molds sooo fast! But it’s a great place for most stuff!

  9. I *heart* my grocery outlet in Renton. I’ll echo what everyone else has said: grab it when you see it because it will be gone when you go back. I got some Ben & Jerry’s Marzipan ice cream there (the only place I ever saw it) that was AWESOME! We went back two days later for some more and it was all gone.

    The Renton one is an old bowling alley they converted. The checkout lanes are lined with the old bowling lane boards.

  10. Courtney says:

    I did my first Grocery Outlet shopping trip today and was amazed at the great deals I found. Thanks Heather for pointing this out.

    Like another reader mentioned, I judged the book by it’s cover (and the types of cars in the parking lot) without giving it a real chance. Once inside I was still skeptical until I came to the produce, cheese and let’s not forget the WINE section! I bought a few bottles of my favorite wine for $2.99 each which retails for $12.00 at the larger grocery stores.

    Although I am sure the store will be hit or miss on some items, I think it is totally worth going and checking out. Since mine is just down the street from my office I don’t have any excuses :0)

  11. I buy protein bars at grocery outlet. Regular price on most protein bars are $1+ at any other store. They are always 50 cents a piece at grocery outlet. Sometimes there are protein bars for 3/$1 if they are older or smaller size bars.

  12. not just for groceries! I find great organic/natural beauty products there as well. Just got some aveeno face lotion for less than half of walmarts price. you do have to check those expiration dates though.

  13. After expenses for a recent long distance move, my budget for groceries (for 2 1/2 weeks for 2 adults) was only $100. After a trip to Grocery Outlet (Ontario, OR) I came home with plenty of food, including four kinds of meat & fish, ten different fresh veggies and fruit, three cheeses, 2 bread mixes, brown & basmati rice, pasta, coffee, bread and english muffins. Also included were 2 cereals, 2 crackers, frozen berries, canned tomatoes, butter, oil and sweet potato fries – all organic!
    So, yes! I love Grocery Outlet! Supplementing my buys with legumes (for soups, snacks, hummus, falafel and sprouts for salads, wraps, stir fry & chow mein), some homemade breads and what I have left from last summers canning means that we’ll be eating well.

  14. Stefanie says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with you! There is a relatively new St. Johns Grocery Outlet in Portland, OR and its pretty great; its not consistent of course, but they have some seriously amazing prices on cheese, faux meats (we’re mostly vegetarian in our household), yogurt, and the like. They often have gourmet cheeses and spreads that I would never be able to afford elsewhere – many of which I never heard of before. Its a very fun store to try things from, without having to worry too much about not liking something new because of the great prices.

  15. Rosanne says:

    We shop @ Grocery Outlet all the time, it’s actually the first place we go! The deals are awesome and my suggestion is if you see it and know you’ll use it, grab as much as you can. I buy my little guy’s yogurt there and absentmindedly bought only one package of 6 cups last week. When I got home and realized what I’d done I thought, ‘It’s OK, they had TONS!’ Well…I went back just a few days later and they’re out 🙁

    We get cereal, bread, lasagna and other frozen meals, garlic bread, Hamburger Helper, salad dressings, ground chicken, (we use it instead of ground beef) packaged deli meats and cheeses, salad mix, vegetables, (fresh, frozen & canned) fruit, crackers & munchies there on a regular basis, among other things, and get our holiday pies (Mrs. Smith & Claim Jumper) ice cream, soda, juice, candy, cookies, etc. there. I bought a cute box of Dove chocolates for Mother’s Day for my Mom, for $1.99! I’ve bought an area rug, and other household items there as well. Like I said, an awesome store : )

  16. Amber H says:

    Thanks for the information. I’ve been to Grocery Outlet a few times & found some good deals, but don’t usually find anything that great. I will have to take a look at the Yogurt & what-not now. I’ve always just kind-of browsed & usually left quickly because many of the prices are higher than Winco/Walmart. Now I’m going to go look for those specific products!

  17. Yes, I agree with poster Elisabeth above, do not overlook the wine section. Grocery Outlet is the only place that I buy wine anymore, I get $30 bottles for $10 and $12 bottles for $3!! My local outlet even has wine tastings every couple of weeks so you can try the new stuff that comes in before you buy it 🙂

  18. Lindsey says:

    I shop there. The only thing I don’t like to buy is the produce. It seems to go bad a lot faster than if I buy it a Fred Meyer.

  19. Thanks for posting this. A Grocery Outlet recently opened up near me, but I haven’t ever gone to it because I wasn’t sure it was worth the trip. I guess I should go check it out. =)

  20. Thanks for the info! I have never been to Grocery Outlet, and in fact had a pre-conceived negative idea of what they offer. Guess I’ll be stopping by my nearest shop soon! 😉

  21. Ashley C says:

    I’ve been a long time Grocery outlet shopper, they are fantastic, my mom and I compair what our stores has and pick up things for each other all the time. Recently I got blueberried, they were marketed 4.99(not great but I needed them and it was a 16 oz container) when I got to the counter they rang up at 1.99, I pointed it out and the guy shruged his shoulders and said they’ll fix it after I leave since I was so nice to point it our, he also let me go grab 3 more contianers. Grocery outlet has the nices employees I’ve ever delt with.

  22. I love the bargains at the Grocery Outlet in Bellingham, WA. I’ve been able to stock up on gluten free pasta for half what I pay in a regular grocery store. And I recently found some delicious gluten free cookies for about 1/5 what I usually pay. I blogged about the gluten free cookies here:

    Thanks for sharing all of your money saving tips!


  23. LOVE the Grocery Outlet, especially for natural and organic deals! As of last week, they had 2 pound bags of frozen organic veggies for $3 and one pound wild-caught frozen salmon fillets for $3.99 (at the West Olympia store). I’ve also purchased little boxes of Plum Organics baby/toddler snacks for $.50 and natural/organic pizzas for $3.

    Twice a year they have a wine sale where they stock up on cheap wine and sell it for 10% off. I got a lot of decent wine (Hoodsport, Pacific Rim) for $2.50 a bottle last month.

  24. Don’t forget the great wine deals! 🙂

  25. Just keep in mind what you are looking for and what your price for that product is – my grocery outlet in Kenmore sometimes has high prices if you are used to sale / coupon deals.. but the yogurt I agree with – but there – watch expiration dates. 🙂

    I agree its a great tool in your tool box though!

  26. Paula Perez says:

    I shop at the Lynnwood Grocery Outlet and they usually have a good selection of organic products plus gluten-free and dairy-free products! Brown rice noodles, corn noodles, Spectrum soy-free shortening, Soy Delicious icecream pints for $1.99. Selection varies, but they have a mind to supply the food-allergic customer like me!

  27. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I just moved from Seattle to Olympia and have been shopping at my neighborhood Safeway and QFC stores (College and Yelm). Each trip ends up being $100 when I thought it would about $60. YUCK! I haven’t had time to do the couponing thing since I’m still commuting to my job in Seattle. I told my fiance, it’s time to check out Grocery Outlet. Your article is even more incentive for me to go! Thank you so much!

  28. I love Grocery Outlet!

    • Grocery Outlet is the reason I can feed my family and pay my bills, I can get groceries for prices that really save money and feeds my family.


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  3. […] have on hand. You definitely want the avocado, though. Btw, Heather over at Queen Bee, just did a post on Grocery Outlet. Somehow I’ve never been there, but apparently it’s the place to go for bargain prices […]

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