“Reduced for Quick Sale”

20120409-110251.jpgThis can be a scary phrase when you see it in the grocery store aisles. You will almost never see it on canned goods or dry goods, but occasionally on meat, deli, and dairy items. Basically, this means that the item in question is coming very close to its “Sell By” date, and the store wants it out of its inventory before the item has to be thrown out. At my store, this can mean up to and over a 50% price cut. Which means I always look for the stickers my store uses to indicate these deals.

Is it the best quality, freshest ingredients that we all strive for? No. Is it really good for a penny pinching budget? Heck, yea! Can it be dangerous to bring this food home for your family? Yes.

The important thing to remember is that this food must be used or frozen IMMEDIATELY, which makes this tricky. So when you see the little “Reduced for Quick Sale” sticker on a package of Ranch Dip in the dairy case, ask yourself whether your family will (or should) eat an entire pint of that in one night, because it doesn’t freeze very well. If you need to bring something to a party that night, though, it might be a wise purchase!

The dairy case is iffy for me when it comes to “RFQS”. Individual yogurts are fine, because I will use them as a dessert that night or breakfast in the morning. Milk is fine, again, if you can use it all by the end of the next day. Since we only go through a quart a week, I don’t pick it up unless I have baking planned.

Meat, on the other hand is one of my favorite “RFQS” sections, because I can stock my fridge full and not worry about using it right away. For instance, Monday morning, I was totally in luck and picked up three packs of boneless skinless chicken breasts for 97 cents a pound (each pack was between 2 and 3 pounds), and two 20oz. packs of ground turkey for $2 each (more than half off). Way too much to eat in one night, right? Well, here is what I did as soon as I got home:

  1. Dropped the ground turkey packs in the freezer as purchased. I could just as easily have made turkey breakfast sausage, but I wanted to keep it modular. I will probably use one pack in some chili.
  2. Used one pack of chicken breasts to make 2 dinner’s worth of curried chicken breasts (I packed them with just the garam masala and the mango chutney, as I’m not sure how well the yogurt would freeze). Bagged, labeled, and froze.
  3. Used a second pack of chicken breasts to make 2 dinner’s worth of Garlic Dijon Chicken. Bagged, labeled, and froze.
  4. Chopped the last pack of chicken into bite sized pieces, seasoned well with homemade taco seasoning, and sauteed the chunks until thoroughly cooked. I let the chunks cool and then bagged them up and put them in the freezer.

In addition to the normal labeling I do for all frozen food, I also indicate whether the meat was bought as “RFQS”. That way I know not to let the pack thaw and sit in the fridge for more than 2 days.

I won’t pick up all meat on “RFQS”, however. This week, I had a chance to pick up whole chickens for 50 cents a pound, big ones, too. But I didn’t. If I had not already had plans for dinner tonight that couldn’t be rearranged (my husband was making pizza, while I went to a meeting), then I might have and roasted it that night. I can’t freeze whole chickens that are “RFQS”, though, because they take so long to thaw that I would not be comfortable serving it.

See what I mean about tricky? But it can be worthwhile for your budget as long as you think before you buy. Know what you can thaw quickly, what can go straight from the freezer to a crockpot, and what your menu for the week is and how flexible that menu is, and you will be able to confidently take advantage of these money savers.

What have you bought “Reduced for Quick Sale”?


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