Who wouldn’t be game for saving some cash on their weekly grocery haul? Especially when it’s as easy as coming across in-store sales. There’s just one problem: these budget-friendly markdowns can often be close to their expiration dates, which may end up making you sick. (Unless they’re the 13 Foods That Are Still Safe to Eat After the Expiration Date.) And, let’s be honest, no ding on your well-being is worth the cents you could save.
While buying certain foods on sale at the grocery store is totally ok, nutrition and grocery shopping expert Maria Marlowe tells us that sometimes it can be a major health risk.
Marlowe is the author of The Real Food Grocery Guide, a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute, and a holistic health and nutrition coach. She says that some foods—like frozen foods—are usually fine to purchase on sale, but you may want to think twice about others “as [they’re] likely expiring very soon, or even that day.”
Why Grocery Stores Mark Foods on Sale
On the other hand, Leah McGrath, RD and Corporate Dietitian for Ingles Markets said that people often misunderstand why grocery stores mark foods on sale. “Given that many consumers don’t understand the difference between ‘sell by’ and ‘best by’ I think that when grocery stores put items on sale consumers may mistakenly think these items are ‘bad’ because they have expired. In fact, that is typically not the case. Supermarkets may have different guidelines for how they handle items,” McGrath explained.
According to McGrath, some reasons supermarkets might put items on sale include promotions to promote new items, to help reduce inventory, discontinued items, and seasonal items soon after a holiday. “When perishable items are close to their expiration/sell by/best by date, supermarkets want to move items more quickly and reduce food waste. Many supermarkets, like Ingles Markets, even have avenues to repurpose items before they reach their ‘expiration’ date (i.e. sell by/best by dates) or if they have been discontinued. These may include using for in-store food service or providing to a food bank or food pantry,” McGrath explains.
Regardless of a supermarket’s intention, you should always be cautious when the following 15 foods are on sale at your grocery store. And for more supermarket tips, don’t miss these 15 Ways Grocery Stores Make You Spend More.