Sometimes I close my eyes and day dream that I’m sitting with my future partner on a yacht as we count our massive piles of cash and smoke cigars while we laugh about how broke we once were. Then again I’m also super fit, healthy, and buff in this alternative future so let’s say I’m chewing a stick of celery instead of smoking a cigar.
There’s many things I’d look back on from my youth that would be shocking to my wealthy future self in this dream world, I’m sure, and one of those things undoubtedly would be that one time I deliberately bought a grocery cart full of expired food to save money. Which brings me to Dirty Don’s Bargain Center.
Located in Raytown, Missouri, Dirty Don’s is a store that locals will either swear by as a thrifty godsend or avoid like the plague for various reasons. The business is a wholesale discount warehouse that sells overstocked and expired items at, shall we say, dirt cheap prices.
Walking into the warehouse a few years ago, I didn’t quite know what to expect. What I discovered was a dimly lit, lightly temperature -controlled facility with an odd mismatch of items littered about various shelves and pallets. The people were friendly enough but the vibe was not unlike a Sam’s Club several months into a zombie apocalypse.
The prices were definitely low, and there were many items that were less than $1 like name-brand cereals and soups. I was in an earthy vegan phase and decided I would seize this an opportunity to pick up organic food brands that were normally quite pricey. For my personal protection I decided to give myself a “two-months expired” limit.
It’s worth noting that not everything was expired, some items were merely overstocked and the product selection included a room with non-food items like furniture and bedsheets. On the flip side, there were refrigerated containers with expired turkeys covered only by a re-purposed baking sheet instead of a door. This made for a convenient time to use my “no thanks I’m a vegan” excuse.
Once I got home with sacks full of groceries I had paid less than $20 for, I decided to bust out my extra-fancy organic toaster pastries that I had been dying to try. I bit into what I thought was a brown sugar toaster pastry, being that the icing was brown. I chewed it in my mouth, and it crumbled into a sandy mess. In fact, it also tasted slightly like sand.
That was when I remembered that I had purchased blueberry pastries, and that the icing was supposed to be white. I spit the rest out and threw the other pastries away, realizing that maybe those non-organic artificial ingredients I was so concerned about might be helpful multiple months after the expiration date.
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