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Coupons are in short supply these days, making it tricky to find grocery staples at stock-up prices.
Wholesale foodservice companies have seen their business dramatically decrease as the coronavirus pandemic has closed the vast majority of restaurants — and those that have stayed open with delivery or pickup are buying less from these warehouses.
One of the country’s biggest restaurant suppliers, Restaurant Depot, is now open to the public for the first time — temporarily — as they seek new customers.
If you’re near one of the 150+ locations nationwide, you’re going to want to pay attention. There are serious savings to be had here. Though there’s no evidence of this on the Restaurant Depot website, you can go into the store to get a free day pass with your ID — or order through Instacart. (Calling ahead is always a good idea.)
To get the prices specific to your nearest location, check your store’s weekly flyer, but here are some noteworthy prices we found.
If you can store a lot of meat, you’ll want to stock up.
Restaurant Depot’s meat offerings are their best bargains, and in many cases, the prices are even cheaper than our suggested 3-month and 6-month stock-up prices.
Of course, when we say stock up, we mean get as much as you could use or can afford (no panic buying!), so the fact that Restaurant Depot sells in bulk shouldn’t make many couponers flinch. If you’ve got the room, stock up on these steals:
Boneless skinless chicken breast: $1.45/lb (40 lb average per case)
Cheaper than KCL’s 6-month stock-up price of $1.69/lb
Fresh ground beef 80/20: $2.09/lb (80 lb average per case)
Compare to KCL’s 3-month stock-up price of $1.89/lb
Boneless tavern ham: $1.65/lb (20 lb average per case)
Compare to Albertsons price of $3.79/lb
Sliced bacon: $1.85/lb (15 lb average per case)
Compare to KCL’s 6-month stock-up price of $2.00/lb
Turkey hot dogs: $3.25 for 2.5 lbs ($1.30/lb)
Compare to Kroger’s price of $4.99 for 14 oz ($5.70/lb)
Got room for lots of cheese and dairy? It’s heavily discounted.
You’ve been paying something like $3.49/lb for shredded mozzarella cheese at places like Albertsons, but if you buy four 5-lb bags from Restaurant Depot, the price is just $2.09/lb. Mozzarella isn’t on the stock-up price list, but this is a price worth taking advantage of, if you could use that much cheese.
Coupons are harder to find these days, and it’s rare to find Daisy sour cream prices at our stock-up prices of 6.3 cents/oz for 3 months and 3.1 cents/oz for 6 months, but Restaurant Depot comes pretty close with four 5-lb tubs for $22.40 (7 cents/oz). If you don’t need Daisy brand specifically, 32 lb of an off-brand costs only $26.75 (5.2 cents/oz).
And don’t forget, you can freeze sour cream.
Avocados are like 75% cheaper than the average price.
A case of Hass avocados (60 ct) costs $29.77 each — an average of about 50 cents each. Last July, the average price was $2.10 each, and in 2018 it was $1.17. We’ve seen Walmart prices as low as $0.58 per Hass, and right now they’re $0.96 each — so 50 cents is about as good a price as you can find on these large avocados.
Yellow onions last 4-6 weeks, or 1-2 months if you keep them in the fridge. If you think you can get through 50 lbs of onions (or give them away) within that time, you won’t beat $0.18/lb. That’s almost ⅓ the price of Walmart’s price per lb.
Is your favorite vegetable french fries? Restaurant Depot has 30 lbs of steak cut french fries (six 5-lb bags) for $18.99, which amounts to just under 4 cents/oz. That’s equal to our 6-month stock-up price, and more than a cent per oz cheaper than the 3-month stock-up price.
Condiments and cooking oils easily hit stock-up prices.
Never want to buy mayo again? They’re selling a case of Chef’s Quality Mayonnaise (which is four 1-gallon containers) for $23.49. That amounts to about 4.59 cents/oz, which is lower than our 6-month mayo stock-up price of 5 cents/oz.
The average American eats 71 lbs of ketchup every year, so you should have no trouble getting through six 114-oz jugs of Heinz ketchup (only about 43 lbs), which cost $29.99 at Restaurant Depot. At just 4.4 cents/oz, that’s between the 3-month stock-up price of 5 cents/oz and the 6-month stock-up price of 3.75 cents/oz.
The 6-month stock-up price for vegetable cooking oil is 4 cents/oz, and Restaurant Depot’s 35 lb vat costs just $16.95, a whole cent cheaper per oz.
You can have Restaurant Depot supplies delivered via Instacart.
While all of the Restaurant Depot stores remain open during coronavirus, most items may be purchased online for delivery through Instacart (not yet available in California). Check with your local store; some warehouses offer “click & pickup” service.
For restaurant tools and equipment, check out Webstaurant instead.
But the prices aren’t even close to as good as the food deals. If you’re looking to buy industrial-grade mixers, rice cookers, chest freezers, coffee urns, and chef utensils, check out online restaurant supply store Webstaurant. Their prices are much lower than Restaurant Depot as well as standard retail.
- A 24″x30″ stainless steel work table costs $72.49 each (compared to $109.99 at Restaurant Depot)
- A 20 qt stand mixer costs $889.99 (compared to $956.99 at Restaurant Depot)
- 17-inch oven mitts cost $1.79 for a pair (compared to $4.49 at Restaurant Depot)
- A 100-cup coffee urn costs $69.99 (compared to $99.99 at Restaurant Depot)
There are other national and regional online restaurant supply centers, but don’t bother.
We checked out the following national/regional restaurant warehousers, but didn’t find food prices that impressed us:
- Baldor Food (NYC/Boston/DC areas)
- Shamrock FoodService Warehouse (AZ, CO, NM, TX)
- Smart FoodService (CA, ID, MT, NV, UT, WA)
- Webstaurant (online delivery nationwide)
Search for foodservice warehouses in your area; many of them are independently owned, so they’d obviously be left out of this list. Keep the stock-up list handy, give them a call, and see if it’s worth a shopping trip (or online order).