Beating the Supermarkets – End of Date Clearance Lines

This is where you can really make a dent in your shopping bill so long as you’re prepared to take advantage with a freezer. Many products will have a little symbol and the magic words ‘Suitable for Home Freezing’. When you see this you know you can safely buy something with a short date life, freeze it and use it at a later date when you want it.

Supermarket ClearanceAll the foodstuffs you buy will have a date on them. Usually the format is ‘display until’ and a date followed by ‘use by’ and a date.

Once it passes the ‘use by’ date the shop cannot sell it to you, even if it is perfectly good and safe because if there was something wrong and you caught food poisoning, they would be in awful trouble.

As things get near this date they are reduced to clear and if they’ve not sold further reduced. Once the day is past, it is game over and the food is dumped.

If you shop a lot, you will get to know when they do this checking and reductions. Different stores tend to have different times. Sadly for the bargain hunter, more and more people are catching on to these short life offers, which means you have competition for them and it can be quite a scrum.

Once we came across a supermarket closing for a redevelopment and half filled a large chest freezer with enough butter to last us a year at a quarter of its normal price. We’ve enjoyed a chateaubriand reduced from £25.00 to £5.00 and finest organic chicken reduced to a pound fed us with one for the cats to share as well.

It’s fantastic what you can find if you keep your eyes open and you’re in the right place at the right time.

One thing to watch out for is reduced items where they are on a buy one get one free or two for £5.00 type of offer. Some stores will apply the discount at the till and others won’t. With some shops we’ve had both apply so perhaps they forgot to flick a switch.

We managed one year to go through the checkout after Christmas with two trolleys full of bargains like Stilton cheeses, smoked salmon and so on. The poor bewildered operator called the manager over who said they owed us £3.56 and would we mind buying something else as they couldn’t refund!

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How it works is that something costing £1.50 on ‘buy one get one free’ is operated by the computer as, add £1.50, add £1.50 and then take off £1.50 as it is a multi-buy. Since they had been reduced to 50p it happily charged us two 50p purchases and then deducted £1.50. Yes, they can pay you to take luxury food away.

Unfortunately, most of them have caught onto this now and if you buy something with a cover price of say £3.00 reduced to £2.00 but it’s on an offer of ‘buy two for £5.00’ your real saving is not £1.00 but just 50p. It takes a little thinking about but it pays to be attentive.


Just keep three things in your mind with bargains:

  1. Is it something you actually want? No point in buying things you won’t eat just because it is reduced.
  2. Can I store it until I’m ready to use it – usually this means will it freeze and have I got the space in the freezer
  3. What is the real saving? Often they clear things with just a small reduction, you want the really deep cut last chance reductions.

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