Saving money at Grocery Outlet (my review)

I hadn’t been to Grocery Outlet in well over 10 years B.C. (“before couponing”). So when I had the opportunity to do a review, I had a limited idea of what I might expect to find. Today, I am sharing my discoveries with you!

I visited the 56th St Tacoma Grocery Outlet and toured the store with the owner, Howard. I could sense that this was a very friendly, fun place to shop. I also sensed that the employees truly loved working there. It showed in how they interacted with each other and the customers in the store, and the way they cared for the store. It was clean, organized, and well-laid out!

How Grocery Outlet Works

In case you’re unaware, Grocery Outlet sells food and household good items on deep discount. There may be various reasons why Grocery Outlet gets these items, for instance:

  • They may be near expiration dates and other stores can’t sell them fast enough.
  • The manufacturer may have changed the design or packaging of the product.
  • The item may simply not sell as well at other stores.

So should you be aware of expiration dates when shopping Grocery Outlet? Yes, absolutely! But I was also impressed by Howard’s attention to detail in making sure that all items sold in his store were in safe ranges of expiration dates. There are safety guidelines, and they are carefully followed at his store. You can feel good about what you buy there.

Take, for instance:

This bagged Folger’s Coffee was “best by” the date I was purchasing it on. However, I also knew that I could easily go through it in a week’s time and keep it in my freezer or fridge for freshness. In this case, the discount was worth it to me. (Please do note I just bought one, not ten.)

Here’s another item I picked up nearing expiration dates:

My son loves these lunchables and buying two at $0.50 and an expiration date of 8/30 made sense. I knew he’d eat them up in time!

Using Coupons & Shopping Sales at Grocery Outlet

Since the manufacturers are giving Grocery Outlet deep discounts on their products already, you cannot redeem manufacturers’ coupons there. However, I do recommend you get on the email and/or mailing list for Grocery Outlet. I was lucky enough to find this one for my shopping trip (thanks, Mom & Dad!):

The other thing to note is that each Grocery Outlet store is independently owned and operated. This means each store has the ability to offer their own discounts, coupons, and other promotions. The coupon I used? It was ONLY good for the 56th Street Tacoma location.

Organic: YES!

So here’s a happy discovery about Grocery Outlet: they carry organic items!

Check out a few of my finds:

 Seattle Organics Hand Wash for $3.99 (regularly $8.99!).

Organic Olive Oil for $5.99 (reg. $17.99)! Incidentally, the expiration date on this particular item was through 2014!

Amy’s Frozen meals for $2.99 (these are usually $4-5).

Foodies: WELCOME!

Another surprise? Grocery Outlet carries all sorts of specialty items including cheeses, sausages, and wines. The caveat? You never know exactly what they’ll have at any given time. So if you see something you like? Snag it!

Boursin pepper cheese spread for just $0.99 (reg. $4.99).

Huge box of smoked salmon for $7.99 (as much as $19.99 elsewhere).

Oh…and the wine. I seriously could not believe my eyes on the discounts!

I found many varieties priced $5 or less that you would likely pay $10 – $20 at other grocery stores! By the way, if you need help on making some wine selections, check out this video at the Grocery Outlet blog by Chris – he’s a manager at the 56th store and had me in stitches during my visit! (Did I mention that this store is a fun place to shop?)

Do they have Produce, Milk, and Eggs?

Just because their dry and canned goods may be close to expiration dates, you should know that Grocery Outlet receives shipments of fresh produce and dairy mutiple times per week. They offer these items as a convenience to their shoppers so you won’t have to go elsewhere to complete your shopping. All of their produce is sold by unit, so you’ll know exactly what you’re going to pay at checkout.

They definitely had some deals in produce. I found heads of lettuce for $0.99, green peppers for $0.33, and whole cantaloupes for $0.99.

My Trip & Final Thoughts

Grocery Outlet graciously furnished me with a $75 gift card to do my trip. This is roughly the amount I spend on my family’s groceries in a week, so I was curious to see if I could do that, without coupons, and get everything I need to make meals for the week. Here’s what I did:

After my gift card and the $5/$20 coupon (see, I got to use at least ONE coupon,right?) I spent a smidge over $70! I was honestly surprised I still had a few bucks on my gift card at the end of it! My trip included:

  • A lot of fresh produce, including organic
  • Lean ground beef and sausage
  • Organic and specialty items
  • Household items
  • Snacks & school lunch items
  • And yes, even a bottle of wine added and I’m still under budget!

While it was rather unnerving shopping naked (and by that, I mean without my coupon binders), I got over it real fast when I saw on my receipt that I’d saved $83 – that’s 54%!

I think Grocery Outlet would be a perfect place to shop to fill in grocery needs for the week, find treats for less, or pick up items for school lunches. It’s also an excellent place to just go poke around and see what bargains you can find!

Here’s one more reason to feel good about shopping Grocery Outlet: EVERYTHING is 100% guaranteed (this goes for all locations). From the produce, to the cheese – even the wine! – if you try ANYTHING you don’t love, for any reason – you can return it for a full refund. Love that!

Special Offer for Locals!

As I left the store, owner Howard told me to send some of my pals his way.

If you’re local, head to the Grocery Outlet store in Tacoma on 56th street, and ask for Howard. Tell him Angela from The Coupon Project sent you and he’ll give you a coupon good for $3 off your purchase of $3 or more!! Hey…at Grocery Outlet, that’s like 6 boxes of Pop Tarts, 2 cartons of raspberries, or an assortment of canned goods for free!

Just make sure you ask for Howard and mention The Coupon Project…got it?

OK so now that you saw my trip, I bet you’re wondering what next? Tomorrow, I’ll be kicking off a giveaway and two lucky readers will win $25 Grocery Outlet gift cards! So come back for your chance to win!

In the meantime, you can learn more at Grocery Outlet’s site or connect with Grocery Outlet on Facebook or Grocery Outlet on Twitter.

Disclosure: While I did not receive compensation to write this post, I was furnished a $75 gift card to shop from Grocery Outlet. Photos were taken with permission from Grocery Outlet (thanks, guys!). As always, opinions expressed are purely mine.


Comments

  1. Melissa says

    Thanks for the review! A Grocery Outlet just opened near me off of Lake City Way in North Seattle and I have been curious to check it out but didn’t know what to expect. Now I do! Appreciate it!

    • arussell says

      You definitely should! Each store is going to vary with their stock, but the principle of how they get that stock is going to be the same. Happy shopping!

    • arussell says

      I found that to be the case too! It’s a great place to “splurge” on trying new things without breaking the bank.

  2. says

    This is my goto store on busy weeks when I don’t have time to run around. So excited that a new store is opening in Silverdale!

  3. Rachel Nisco says

    Love Grocery Outlet! I shop the Federal Way store and they are always extra friendly and helpful. I go there to stock up on bagels (Sara Lee are always $.99), snacks and whatever else catches my eye. There’s always something good! Last week I bought 8 boxes of Special K “Chocolate Lovers” cereal at $.99 a box! They’ve had 10 lb bags of Granny Smith apples for $5.99 lately, too. It’s also a good place to get cheap yogurts if you’re not picky about flavors. You never know what great deals you will find. I even bought a skate board there once!

  4. Monica says

    Grocery Outlet is also has some great finds on hair products and make-up! It can be hit and miss but I’ve gotten some great deals on products I love there!

    • arussell says

      This is true! They had a row of name-brand cosmetics when I was there. Like Revlon mascara for around $2-3.

  5. Lori says

    I love Grocery Outlet! I was just there on Friday and stocked up on green bell peppers (3/$1), Quaker Oat Squares cereal (4/$1 gotta love that each box has a $1/1 coupon on the back for future use on the big boxes!), and Nexxus haircare ($3.99). It’s always like a treasure hunt to see what cool, thrifty things we can find!

  6. Colleen says

    For those of us on the Gluten Free diet, Grocery Outlet can be a huge money saver. I have found GF pasta, cookies, cereals and other specialty foods for a fraction of what you would pay at Whole Foods or PCC. You never know what they will have, but when I see a GF treasure, I snap it up. There are often deals to be found in the cold case, too. Yogurt, lunchmeats and cheese, etc. Love, love, love Grocery Outlet!

  7. Erin says

    Thanks so much for this review! I’ve been tossing around the idea of checking out the closest Grocery Outlet (I’m in Redmond) and have felt a bit turned off by the idea because I couldn’t use coupons! I’d snag those $1.97 coffee’s! Great post.

    • arussell says

      Totally! Some of the items I purchased – such as the coffee, were better prices than I would normally would pay with sales & coupons. Again, sometimes it’s a matter of dates, but if you pay attention, the deals are worth it!

  8. melody says

    I went shopping at grocery outlet to buy stuff for a food drive and found boxes of gerber baby rice cereal for 0.25cents a box! Couldn’t believe it.

  9. Erica says

    My dad fell in love with Grocery Outlet years ago. He’s a wine collector, so you can imagine the heaven he has found there, lol. If he finds a good wine at Grocery Outlet, he’ll buy it by the case because its so darn affordable! He also always seems to find the specialty cheeses and olive oil. I haven’t had to buy olive oil in about 3 years, cuz whenever I run out, dad brings me over another bottle of the kind he buys from Grocery Outlet (and it ain’t the cheap stuff either!) I love the fact that you can get high quality products that you’d never find coupons for at discount prices!

  10. holly says

    really? i’m surprised there are so many good reviews of GO. a year ago i used to go to the one on Aurora ave or the one that moved in where the old value village was on 15th, i think. i mostly just bought water there… their selection is so skimpy. they had campbell’s soup, but not any kinds i like. chef boyardee, but not any kinds i like. i had a $5 off $25 coupon and (before I resorted to ONLY buying water from them), it was a stretch to find SOMETHING i like to get beyond $20. maybe i’ll have to go check them out again sometime soon…

    • Erica says

      It definitely varies by location, like Angela suggested! I’ve been in about 6 different ones and some have great selection, others do not. The Tacoma one Angela went to is one of the best in the area and the one my dad frequents, always walking out with lots of treasures! The Federal Way one has been a little more hit or miss for me, but they still have really good selection comparatively to some others.

  11. Jennifer says

    I shop at 56th Street too and the deals are great. I have a Picky Eater so it’s nice to try new flavors without spending the big bucks and wasting money.

  12. Jana says

    I may have to check it out when I’m up that way sometime. Do you know if they are cash only like the cash and carry or if they accept other forms of payment?

  13. Sarah says

    Thanks for this review I have always wondered about this store. I have had co-workers tell its a great place to find cheap frozen meals for lunches but I didn’t realize things were so afforable there! I guess I will have to go take my lunch hour and shop, hopefully the Bonney Lake store has lots of great stuff too!

  14. says

    Hi there, maybe I missed it, but here are the locations: Most of our stores are in Northern California, Washington State and Oregon. We have a few stores in Idaho, Nevada and Arizona. —wishing they were closer to me tho :-( their prices are new to this day and age, but seriously…that’s very near what shopping USED to be…boy, do I miss those days! LOL!

  15. Ginean says

    Two stores that help keep my family within our food/household budget… Grocery Outlet and Winco!! I have scored on a wonderful Queen size sheet set for $19.99 normally $40 or more! I love buying bath soap there, always something new to try. The one here in North Portland carries Tom’s Toothpaste, under $3 bucks every time! One great thing, there is a local residential ministry I like to support and recently GO had Minute Maid low-acid Orange Juice 2/$1, the date was just a few days beyond expiration. I bought six, kept one and donated the others. There are a lot of folks living in two residential ministry houses, so I knew it would not last long but be a great help. Did the same w/ biscuits, 8 cans for $1. Great way to help and stay within my budget! I caught a special on a 5lb bag of shredded cheese. Expiration date was the day I bought it… put it in the freezer, works Great!! Last one… I once got Hebrew National Hot Dogs (the Large pack, I think it was 24 or more) for $1. I bought two packs, placed them in the freezer and was delighted to bring hot dogs to the next neighborhood BBQ! Hebrews were a hit.. $1 was a winner! All w/out having to use coupons. Not bad!

    • arussell says

      One thing I did not mention here, but you reminded me of: the Grocery Outlet I visited has some strong ties to local food banks! They do donate to them regularly! I loved that.

      Hebrew National is a preferred brand in this house! I would’ve totally snagged those had I seen them!

  16. says

    Wow! I’m sold-I’ll totally be checking it out!

    Much as I love my coupons, I’ve been doing less and less this summer for a whole variety of reasons. Love having other options!

  17. katherine says

    the 56th st store is the one we usually go to. its so clean, i just find that the stock at that store stays the same. while as the store on 6th ave tends to change more which i like.
    we also find a lot of food that just happens to be vegan which is awesome.

  18. Meladee says

    Thanks, Angela. They are not very far away and I’ve never shopped there. Will definitely check it out. You so deserve to be rewarded for all your work! Thanks again.

  19. kimi says

    Inspiring post! I have been driving by the Hillsboro, OR Grocery Outlet for a little over a year now, you have given me a reason to peek in and see what they have. :0) I hope ours is as awesome as the one you have up there.

  20. JohnH says

    I used to love our Grocery Outlet until the night of December 21 last year when I went to go there at night to get our groceries for the week. the store was robbed at shotgun point and I was one of the customers in line at the very register that the first guy targeted. And then they didn’t even let me check out afterwards in another line, even though others got to check out after the cops came. I HAD to go back the next day in the morning (because I’m poor and we had NO food) and I almost had a panic attack and all they game me was $4 off my order.

    You are lucky to have a Grocery Outlet that isn’t located in the ghettos of Oakland, California. I don’t go there anymore.

  21. Sharon says

    I have shopped the Grocery Outlet ever since I’ve lived in Yakima, WA (26 years). They have saved my grocery budget countless times!

  22. Debbie Mikota says

    Grocery Outlet in Chehalis is my main stop for groceries. They are clean, organized, friendly, and easy to work with. Great selection of what they can bring in – and they taught my son and his wife all they know. My kids operate a store in Hanford, CA. Different environment, but they still bring in the best deals they can and focus on what the people in their area buy the most – They listen to their customers. Try the store – You may not find every thing you need, but you will find many great deals. I work my menu around what they have. Check out the fresh meat – especially when it gets close to the pull date. I picked up whole chickens – normally .99/lb at $2 off and then I put them in my freezer until I am ready to cook them. That made the final cost about .60/lb and they were Foster Farms.

  23. Bob Lambert says

    Great blog, Angela. I am a wine importer (Italy, Spain, France) and have been supplying wines to G.O. for the last two years. I have to say they are an extremely well run organization, and have treated me perfectly. Not only am I a supplier, but a regular customer as well at our local G.O. in Fresno, CA. Both my wife and I shop regularly there. Mike and Michelle are the new owners, and have done a fantastic job. I have visited 50 -60 of the locations, doing wine tastings and merchandising. Some of my favorites are Berkeley (the mothership), Grass Valley, CA, Sandy, OR, Gresham, OR, Hollywood (Portland) OR – probably my favorite!, East Salem, OR, Grant’s Pass, OR, Enumclaw, WA, and Bonney Lake, WA.

    • arussell says

      WOW! I appreciate you taking the time to share your experiences! I am so excited to have found a great, affordable store for wine! Would love to make it to one of the wine tastings at some point.

  24. Stephanie Gouldman says

    I love Grocery Outlet! We find so many good deals there! I love the 99 cent bags of tater tot rounds. I also have found that the lunch meat is way cheaper then Safeway or Winco lots of the time.

  25. Jean says

    Our Grocery Outlet here in Rancho Cordova, CA is the best! I bake with my granddaughter’s and this place is great for cake mixes we use to bake our cookies. Prices are great and love finding new bargains!

  26. Jen says

    Shopping a GO is like a scavenger hunt. It is totally fun. I get seriously giddy when I score a great deal. Like 50 cent crumbled feta (usually 4.99-5.99). It was a few days from exp., but I just popped it in the freezer, and defrosted only what we would have consumed in a day. I kicked myself for not picking up more!

  27. YOLANDA says

    Wonderful article. My family and I frequent the Federal Way store several times a week. The store owner (Howard) is also the same owner of the Tacoma location in the article. Thanks Angela!

  28. Abby S says

    Thank you for an excellent review. My family and I have been shopping regularly at Grocery Outlet since 1970 when my Pop shopped for the family at the Redwood City CA store. 4 of my sibs and my 2 children have adopted the passion since. We have probably saved $100,000++ throughout the years by taking advantage of shopping GO first. I have never had a bad experience, and I can only recall 1 bad product over that time. I can’t say enough good things about these stores – but I do encourage everyone to go! I am currently a Wenatchee GO fan!

  29. Tiff says

    We have a grocery outlet here, and I think it’s been open for about two years. I haven’t stopped in, which is silly since we used to shop there all the time when I was a kid. After reading your blog post about the stuff you’ve found, I’m excited and curious to take a look (the coffee deal was great – I would put it in the freezer too).

    What would I spend the gift card on? I’m not sure how to answer that since I haven’t been there. But I was intrigued by the Burt’s Bees and Alba products, and by the coffee price. I think it would probably be spent on a variety of items (yes I plan to check prices- be sure and do that at winco too! :) ). We have back to school night in a few minutes or I think I would be in the car right now, headed out to the Grocery Outlet.

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