If you’re like me and made resolutions in January to trim your grocery and household supplies budget, then you’re in luck. I’ve been on a mission to find ways to trim my budget and still get great products, and I’m excited to share my findings with you. Years ago I fell into the coupon craze, but I no longer have the time or energy to devote to scouring the internet for coupons, clipping them (or organizing them online), or making lists with where to shop, etc. Add to that the fact that SO MANY stores have changed their coupon policies to be stricter and it isn’t worth the effort for me at all. I occasionally use coupon apps like Ibotta, Shopkick, and Saving Star, but those require that you purchase certain brands and products to receive money back and oftentimes I don’t want or need those products.
I needed ways to save without extra effort, so I looked around town and was happy to see we have several stores that have majorly discounted goods. Score for my wallet! There is no extra effort on my part, so I consider that a huge win.
Now, let me get this part out of the way. Discount stores can offer huge savings because of how they purchase their supplies. When manufactures want to change the packaging, wording, or ingredients in a certain product, they have to get rid of the former product. When big box grocery stores overestimate how much of a certain product they’ll need and don’t sell it quickly enough, they need to get rid of it fast. When a pallet of goods is damaged in shipping — this can be dents in the crates, waters spots, etc. — it’s cheaper for the manufacturer to claim a loss with their insurance than to deliver the product.
Enter discount grocery stores.
They purchase these perfectly fine goods for an ENORMOUS discount and then sell them to us for a profit that still ends up greatly discounted compared to regular grocery stores. Most products you will find are still well within expiration dates, but occasionally, I have found some products that are expired and I always follow a rule for my own family: If a canned or sealed in a package good is within three months of the manufacturer’s expiration date, then it’s safe. Manufacturers build extra time into their dates, and since there is SO MUCH information on the internet about how arbitrary expiration dates are, that I feel completely safe. Do your own research and make an informed decision for yourself.
Without further ado, here are some GEMS in our very own Knoxville:
Naturally a Deal Market
3529 West Emory Road
Facebook: @Naturally a Deal Market for product updates
This newly opened store specializes in name brand organic, natural, gluten free, and non-gmo products. They receive new products on a weekly basis, so stop in often to get some amazing deals. If you have (or anyone in your family has) a gluten allergy, peanut allergy, or you want to eat as cleanly as possible, you will love this store. I was in awe at all the great prices on gluten free pantry items since those fetch high prices in big box stores.
I have also found some awesome deals on snack foods for class parties, picnics, and the other 11 billion school functions that go with the end of the year. I can hit up this store and find snacks that each kid in class will be able to eat.
The owner, Jonathan, is in the process of adding refrigerated and freezer space, so stay tuned for more updates. My first visit I purchased $38.49 worth of products and got GF pasta, GF crackers and cookies, organic canned goods, organic/nut free granola bars, Evian water bottles, protein shakes, organic flour, organic Boom Chicka Pop for class parties, nut free/GF cookies for class parties, and many other great deals.
This is a staple in my grocery shopping and I highly recommend adding this store to your list!
United Grocery Outlet
Several locations across Knoxville: Halls, Chapman Hwy, Lenoir City, Alcoa, Clinton
This is what most people think of when they think of discount grocery stores. A full store with a variety of products, similar to big box stores. They have a weekly sales circular (viewable online) and a weekly special where you’ll save even more money. I’ve found name brand (in date) products for 1/4 price of traditional stores and I always come out with a full cart of groceries for under $60. If you are on a very strict budget and don’t mind buying generic or unfamiliar name brands, you will definitely want to visit this store. Many of the unfamiliar brands are actually the same exact ones you would buy in a Kroger or Publix store, but the labels have been changed. They offer refrigerated and frozen products too. Each Tuesday, the local Knoxville stores have an “Angus Tuesday” special on steaks. They also offer a selection of fruits and vegetables, but let me warn you: in traditional grocery stores, any fruit or vegetable that doesn’t meet a “vanity” standard is not accepted (tossed.). If the produce isn’t perfect looking they don’t want it. Does that mean the “ugly” or misshapen produce is bad? Heck no. If you grew up on a farm it’s incredibly frustrating to see shelves of perfect looking produce when you know that is not normal. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with fruit that doesn’t look perfect, and that’s typically what I’ve found at UGO. If you can get over that hangup you’ll save lots of money on fresh produce.
The Village Mercantile
4503 Walker Blvd
Facebook: The Village Mercantile
This is a smaller discount grocery store that offers heavily discounted items and even some specialty gluten free products. On Saturdays, they have a produce stand and a local honey stand. In addition to foodstuffs, they also sell hand made soy candles, incense, and fair trade items from villages. This is a great store to fill up your pantry with healthy and inexpensive foods. I love shopping here and finding items I normally wouldn’t buy from big box stores due to price. The atmosphere is comfortable and welcoming, so check out this gem!