Making Good Use of Markdowns

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I used to wrinkle my nose at food items with big “Manager’s Special” stickers. When I was a kid, I remember seeing those carts full of dented cans. Just seemed like “trash.” But, that is so not true.


A “manager’s special” is not stale or bad food. Not if you shop at a reputable store. It is actually a store’s way of making good use of resources. If it hits the “sell by” date before it is sold, the store takes a loss on it. If they mark down the price a few days prior, they get something and the customer gets a great deal. It’s a win-win. If you’ve got coupons for those items, the deal can be even sweeter.

I recently found sausages and gourmet cheeses marked super low at my local Ralphs. Many of these items would be ones that I wouldn’t pay full price for, but would be happy to pick them up “on markdown.”  And since I love my freezer, I brought most of these items home to store for a later date. The best of both worlds…. great price + convenience when I want it.

What’s your thought on Markdowns?

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  1. I love markdowns! Truth be told, my “new” stompin’ grounds here in CT do not seem to offer much in the way of manager’s specials and such. Doesn’t keep me from looking. But I definitely rocked those deals when I had a Kroger… and my old Meijer had the best meat markdowns ever.

  2. I get almost giddy when I see the green “Manager’s Special” stickers on stuff at my local grocery store. The biggest issue I’ve had is that my store doesn’t allow me to use coupons on the marked down items (very unlike Target and other stores). I’ve gone around and around with them about this (very nicely of course!), but they won’t budge. I’m not sure why they would care if the money comes from my pocket or from a coupon, but there you have it. I have noticed that when it rings up it doesn’t ring up as the item, just a misc. grocery item. Perhaps that’s the issue – they wouldn’t be able to prove to the coupon people that the actual item was purchased. Anyway!! I still LOVE marked-down grocery items!! 😀

    1. Sometimes I think the grocers are just being stinkers. Honestly. Or they don’t fully understand how their own coupon redemption works.

  3. Yesterday, I was just picking up a couple things at the store and walked the aisles seeing for any fun surprises. I found a big 6 roll (same as 18 rolls) Scott Paper Towel on sale for 50 percent. It was only $7.50. Normally I find that for a 6 pack of double or barely double rolls. Boy, I wish I had had a coupon, too.

  4. My favorite markdowns are all the single bananas that they package up into a bundle and then sell for half price. I guess no one wants to buy the singles? I’ll gladly pay half price for the same bananas–they’re usually still green too.

    I don’t see as many meat markdowns–rarely if ever. And our markdown bins for canned/boxed items are usually trash, often opened packages, etc. I’m still hesitant to buy a dented can. It could be a simple dent but it could be botulism and I’m afraid enough of the risk.

    1. I don’t know this for positive and I’m not sure who we should ask. But, my understanding was that it is the bulging cans that are botulism, not the dented ones. Anybody know?

  5. I always scan all the meat for the markdown stickers. It goes home and straight in the freezer, so why not pay a little less?

  6. I LOVE manager’s special stickers. Our local grocery store (Community Markets – Fulmer) let’s me have their old produce for my chickens which I pick up a couple time a week. On Fridays I always head to the meat section and see what manager’s specials I can find. This week they had Beef roasts. 2 lb roast for $3!! One time I found 10 1lb packages of ground chuck all for $.50 each. I grabbed them all! Very thankful for my big freezer so I can make good on these deals!

  7. My dad grew up military and his dad would always get the marked down cans at the Commissary, but then, they would even sell ones without labels, so my poor grandma would just have a surprise every time they opened a can as she had no idea whether it was canned potatoes, peaches or green beans. I love markdowns, but I love having the labels on even more. =)

    1. That is hilarious! I remember those days. My gramma would buy those, too.

  8. Heck yeah! For items like meat and cheese, as long as you freeze them, they’ll be just fine. And I usually freeze the meat I buy as soon as I get home anyway, so why not pay less for the marked down items?

    I’ve noticed that some of the items on my store’s clearance display (they have a large wall of clearance shelves off to the side when you first enter the store – most people walk right by them!) seem to there simply because the manufacturer has changed its packaging or the item has been discontinued so the store just wants it off the main shelves. A few items are there because the packaging has been damaged, but often, I don’t see anything wrong with the item whatsoever. I’m able to pick up some really high-end products at a deep discount!

  9. We don’t get much for mark downs here where I shop – the only things that get marked down are the nonperishables and HBA, and that’s infrequently at best. I’ve inquired about produce, meat, and dairy markdowns only to find out that they never mark them down (store policy). When I asked what they did with the items, the butcher just frowned and said, “We have to throw them out.”

  10. We very VERY rarely have manager’s specials or markdowns in my three-grocery-store-town, but recently I hit the jackpot with some Minute Maid juice cartons marked down to $1.50 w/ $2 off peelies on them! It was a good 10 days before the sell-by date, so needless to say, I got quite a few & ended up w/ enough overage to pay for some of my other groceries. ☺ Our marked-down meat is always brown around the edges…I wonder who actually buys the stuff.

    1. @Sara, Actually the brown around the edges meat, I usually pass up, but there are some good deals in our grocery meat sections, sometimes…

      1. I don’t buy the brown ones, either. But, the butcher has said it was fine, that it had to do with the preservative spray they put on it to keep the color. Ask your butcher. A good butcher is like gold.

  11. I regularly shop the manager’s specials at my Kroger for dairy, produce, and meat. I’ve gotten milk (5 days before the sell-by date) for .99 a gallon, and there’s almost always some kind of yogurt on mark-down (the biggest containers of store-brand yogurt were marked .89 last time i was there, for instance). In the hot summers of Texas, I find that freezing the yogurt in serving-size containers works great – I pull out a couple in the morning at breakfast and put them in the fridge, and by the afternoon when we need a cool treat, it’s still partially frozen and slushy enough to be ice cold. Since I’m freezing them, i don’t mind if they are close to the sell-by when I buy them.

  12. We have markdowns here, but they never seem to match any of my coupons well enough to create a deal as good as or better than what I can get waiting for a sale to match my coupon to. Occassionally, though, I do find a great markdown on produce or meat (even with coupons)! Love those!

  13. Of all the stores in my town, it’s Ralph’s(Kroger) that has the widest variety and best deals. There must have been some house cleaning going on in early December at my Ralph’s because I found numerous manager’s specials on produce, fresh herbs, meat, dairy, chocolate, bread…. It was great to stock up before Christmas.

  14. I love markdowns! One of the stores I shop at ahs fantastic markdowns. At first, I was hesitant, not because I was worried about the quality of the food, but because it’s a store that many parents from my kids schools shop at. But after a while, i didn’t care! I regularly get good deals on meat and prepackaged deli type items at this store, but never any deals on produce or dairy. However, another store that I shop at less frequently has good produce and dairy clearance, but not so much deals on meat. Both take coupons on the discount items.

  15. I’m like you – I used to walk right by markdowns thinking that they were ‘old’ or I might get sick from them. I do still use caution (had a bad case of meat once & returned the stuff for a full credit – no we did not eat it – it just smelled not the best) but have found some wonderful deals this way. I definitely check the bread markdowns and produce stuff. With meat (because of my previous experience), I give more thought to it.

  16. I shop at Kroger and sometimes I get super giddy when I see the markdowns. I’ve learned the best time of day to go for the best markdowns and often stockup–freezing most things. I can always find things like bagged salad, going ripe bananas, milk, yogurt, Eggland’s Best Eggs and amazing meat deals–all marked down Manager’s Specials. It’s even better when the markdown coordinates with a coupon! Just yesterday I found marked down yogurt (paired with a coupon it was $0.09 for a four pack), marked down milk (paired with a coupon it was FREE!), marked down sour cream (paired with a coupon it was FREE), marked down strawberries (paired with coupon they were FREE) and marked down hamburger buns for $0.25. I was thrilled to walk out with a huge cart of stuff for only $13. Yay for Manager’s Specials.

  17. Just today we found some hummus marked down to .99 because its “sell by” date is today. That takes care of some of our dinner prep, and hummus is something I can feed to my 10 month old! Everyone wins!

  18. This is the only warning I will give. Stay out of my Kroger!!! I have enough people to fight over the managers specials already. Just kidding 🙂 I cleaned house on flat iron steaks a while back. Why eat hamburger when you can have steak for the same price?

  19. Markdowns on meat here at my local store are amazing. I have been known to get a full pack of baby back ribs for 75% off. It was around $5. I picked up 6 huge packages. Got them home and froze them. My local butcher back home told me that even when they are rock bottom prices, you can still freeze them for a year and they will be just fine when you pull them out. I found a 6lb boston pork butt the other day for $3.54. That offered us 3 meals along with the .99 cent 5lb bag of potatoes that were on sale. I made french fries, mashed and you name it. Markdowns are the best.

  20. We shop the discounted meats all the time. When we get home we repackage into the size needed for our family and freeze it immediately. I have recently retired and my daughter is a single mother and I have been doing her shopping. She gives me the money and I go to the stores in the morning. Kroger seems to have the best deals on meat and Meijer the best deals on produce. Sometimes we shop at Walmart and they have good deals also. My husband and I go together and see what we can find. Our goal is to fill her freezer by the end of February.