My Story: Yippee! Another "Crunched" Box Treat!

contributed by Susan B.

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The Frugal Grocery Shopping Game

Sometimes the boxes on one side of a carton get slightly smashed during shipping. The stores know shoppers won't buy "damaged" goods, so they usually dump these crunched cartons into a clearance cart or shelf, and price them way, way down just to get rid of them. At the store I usually shop, they price them at about 1/3 the normal price.

No one would want these goods if some of the contents were gone, or there was any chance of the contents being contaminated, but an awful lot of products are packed twice. First, they are packed in some airtight plastic or foil packets, and then they are packed in a cardboard box so they will stack nicely on shelves. So I peak inside these damaged boxes, and almost always find that the inner packaging is fine and the food itself is in perfect condition.

Normally, I avoid brand name goods, but at two-thirds off, the brand name is suddenly much cheaper than the store brand. My children love getting "The Good Stuff" for a change, and really, who cares about the box you are going to just rip open and throw away anyway?

Sometimes I am the one who gets the "treat," in the form of time saved. Usually I make dishes like scalloped potatoes or rice mixes from scratch to save money, but when Betty Crocker Scalloped Potatoes are 80 cents a box, I grab them and rejoice that they will save my sanity some night when dinner hour is rushing upon me.

Finally, when the store decides to stop carrying a particular flavor or an entire manufacturer's line of goods, they do the same. They dump all the remaining boxes/cans/jars in a cart and price them at 2/3 off. These are completely undamaged in any way. They are the exact same goods you were paying full price for last week. Grab the opportunity and stock up! You'll be saving money for weeks or months to come.

How much can you save? Well, I've just come home from doing this week's shopping. My "damaged box" treats this week include two 20-ounce boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios at $1 each, one 18-ounce box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch at $1, three 10-packet boxes of Swiss Miss Cocoa mix at 50 cents each, two 20-ounce boxes of Bisquick at $1.25 each, and four six-serving sized boxes of Betty Crocker Au Gratin potatoes at 75 cents apiece.

After a bit of work with a calculator, I figure that I spent just $10 for goods that normally sell for $32.97. That's the equivalent of finding a 70% off sale! Okay, okay. I wouldn't ever have paid full price for those items, but they still cost significantly less than the generic equivalents I would have bought, so this is a way to "splurge" on the name brands and still be saving money. It's a win-win situation!

So, next time you're in your grocery store, look for carts tucked away in the back corners of the store, or maybe at the back end of some aisles. I bet your family and your wallet will enjoy these "Crunched Box Treats" as much as mine do.

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money please send it by

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