How to Save Money on Groceries with Manager Markdowns

How to Save Money on Groceries with Manager Markdowns - tips for what to buy and what to skip

I go grocery shopping with my list and coupons, but I add one more step to my trip to ensure maximum grocery savings: I look through the manager markdowns. Every.Single.Time. Even those times when I just need milk and eggs.

How to Save Money on Groceries with Manager Markdowns:

You never know what you will find in manager markdowns, so I reserve 10 percent of my grocery budget for taking advantage of  items that have been reduced for quick sale.

Reduced for Quick Sale items are not only edible, but could improve your diet by allowing you to buy organic items that are normally too expensive for your budget. The items pictured above have a “sell by date” of October 10 which is 2 days from now. The produce manager and meat manager in my store are aggressively pricing items to ensure that these items are sold before their “sell by date”. When you buy manager markdowns you do have to revise your menu to include them or freeze the items immediately and use them later. I will be making creamed spinach and serving it on toast with cheese for lunch today. And the pork went in the freezer for later use.

A sale on something you don’t need or won’t use is never a good deal! Don’t just look at the price; ask yourself whether your family will eat or use the item that has been marked down. Be honest. You may want your family to eat organic spinach, but if you know they won’t, then don’t buy the spinach and look for deals on produce they will eat.

To save money on quick sale items, you need to know where to look. Stores usually have markdowns in 3 different locations. In the produce section, in the meat section, and in a grocery cart or shelf near the back of the store. A few stores leave their  markdowns in their original location rather than grouping them together, but most will create a markdown area. On your next grocery shopping trip, make a point of looking for the “reduced for quick sale”, “manager markdown” or “discontinued item” sections of your store. If necessary ask the department managers where to find the markdowns. They would much rather sell the items than have to discard them.

Make a habit of checking for manager markdowns. Once you find where your store places their quick sale items, you need to make a habit of visiting those locations in your store! Add “manager markdowns” to your shopping list 3 times. Write it after your produce items, after your packaged items, and after your meat items. You don’t group your grocery lists by categories? Then put MANAGER MARKDOWNS in big letters across the top of your list, so you don’t forget to look for the unadvertised sales.

More Ways to Save on Groceries

Do you buy “reduced for quick sale” items? If so, what is your best find?



  1. says

    Some stores here are much better than others about having manager markdowns. Even stores with the same name can vary, because they may be franchised differently. That said, I will buy items that are reduced for quick sale when I’m able to find them.

    Lamb is one meat that I feel is unaffordable at regular price, but if I can find it marked down (often to half-price!) I will buy it now and then for a special treat for Shane and me.

    • says

      Good point! There are several stores near my house that have good markdowns, but the same franchise on the other side of town doesn’t (at least when I have visited them).

  2. Beth Anne says

    Manager markdowns are a big part of my grocery shopping strategy and you’ve offered some good tips here.

    In the two stores here in town that I most frequently shop for manager’s specials, they start the business day by marking down all of the meat whose expiry date is the following day by 30%. Folks know about these markdowns so, in order to get them, you have to be at the store first thing in the morning. In general, I think this is true of managers’ specials in general: The earlier in the day you shop, the more likely you are to find the best selection.

    • says

      Good point! It is important to know when mark downs occur to take best advantage of them. The store closest to my house marks meat down at 5:00 right before the meat manager goes home for the evening. But the best deals are Monday morning (after he comes into work after having the weekend off).

  3. says

    I ALWAYS visit the markdown section, even if I’m only stopping by for a single item and such. I haven’t paid full price for organic whole chicken in a long time. And I would add, check with the fish monger to ask about trimmings from wild salmon. I have found some stores no longer do their own trimming, but some still do and you can buy the trimmings at a fraction of the reg price, which work great for soups and stocks. :) Great post, Alea!

  4. says

    I shop the markdowns as well… however I have noticed that some cuts of meat are still pretty expensive even a marked down price so I give myself a limit (I will not buy meat over $$ per pound – except for special occasions!)
    Also finding when your store typically marks things down is also a great tactic. I found in college that the local grocery store had the best finds Friday mornings (I went about 8 AM). I’m not sure if that was just because everything was marked down that morning or because very few people shop then! Many stores have a time that is best to shop for markdowns – finding that time can be great ;).

    • says

      You are right, you should always calculate the price per pound and not get distracted by the 50% off sticker or $2.00 off sticker. My meat purchase above came to $0.65 a pound. :)

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