For years I would drive by my local grocery outlet store. Instead of ever stopping to check it out, I would head straight for the drugstores and supermarkets where I knew I could save big. It wasn’t until one fortunate day that I actually stopped—thanks to the marquee outside advertising dinosaur chicken nuggets, a favorite in my household. As I stepped into the market, cherry, ruby and rose dominated the color spectrum within my view. Red. Red, discounted tags everywhere. I was in discount grocery paradise! Later I discovered that grocery outlet stores are similar to clothing outlet stores: when chain food locations overstock or companies overestimate product sale predictions, grocery outlets buy the extras and sell them at discounted prices. Below are the specifics to get acquainted with before hitting the aisles!

Expiration Dates: Many times, stores that fail to sell all their stock before the best-by dates draw near tend to pass the extras on. Items at grocery outlets tend to (but not always) have close expiration dates. Always check the date stamps and make sure you can use the product before its recommended time. Read more about the true expiration dates of food here.

Unique Tastes: A bonus of having uncommon product interests is that many times, the average shopper passes these items up, allowing the excess to be discounted. Grocery outlets often have out-of-the-ordinary products, like unique flavored food (banana pudding ice cream or strawberry soy milk anyone?). This can be a great opportunity to branch out and try something new without busting your budget.

Fresh Produce: Farm-fresh fruits and veggies are making their way into local venues, including grocery outlets. This means low stock-up prices on everything from fresh melons to berries, apples and more. As a bonus, these are frequently locally sourced so you can feel proud of supporting your local economy.

Break from the Binder: Most grocery outlets do not accept manufacturer coupons, and some coupons even exclude redemption at grocery outlets. But look on the bright side — no worries about clipping and sorting! Compare prices to close-by chain stores’ after-coupon prices to ensure you are getting the best deal.

Circulated Ads: Grocery outlets occasionally send out ads promoting their newly stocked items. Take heed, though — the products are usually sold on a first come, first served basis, with no rain checks allowed. For the best chance at great deals, shop the ad week early. Keep an eye out for store coupons featured in the ad, in Entertainment Books, or via social media. These are often for a dollar amount off your total purchase, such as $5 off every $35 spent.

No full grocery outlets nearby? Try looking for bread outlet stores for savings on bread, pastries, bagels, cakes and sometimes dairy!

Get Gorgeous Deals at Grocery Outlets