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do you buy "ends" (rejects)?

One supermarket routinely has packages of bacon ends... usually not the prettiest & NEVER even remotely lined up like regular packages... but seriously reduced in price. Occasionally will buy a package, chunk up, cook and end up with a LOT of REAL bacon bits and enough bacon grease to last me a LONG time.

Today, bought a package of cheese ends... thinking mac & cheese. Half the price of even store brand American cheese. Looks to be mostly AC but some Swiss and provolone in there, too. Much prefer this to that mystery yellow powder in the box of mac & cheese.

REALLY miss supermarket that always had discounted produce. NEVER anything squashed or gross... just maybe not "perfect" anymore?!? Bought a 5 lb bag of "organic" apples... a few had some very MINOR bumps/bruises. Made a messa apple sauce for very little $$. One time bought a BIG bag of baby artichokes. Not picture perfect, but ya toss about anything that's on the ouside anyway. Once bought a big bag of RIPE bananas... not soft/mushy... just totally yellow with the beginning of brown spots... which you WANT!?! Had read/seen/heard something about freezing them IN the peels. When they thaw... totally soft, squeeze out of peel like toothpaste and perfect for banana bread.

Do you buy things that others might just turn their noses up at?

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  1. I buy turkey and roast beef ends to feed my dogs when we are on the road and can't cook for them.
    I specifically look for brown bananas for baking

    1. The bakery @ Stop & Shop started putting out day old bakery items about a year ago. It's one of the busy freestanding racks in the store. Bread, cupcakes, whole cakes, pastries all marked $1.50 to$3.00 each. Fresh all. A great bargain for many.

      Bananas definately and root veggies for soup, stock, etc.

      But my favorite ends buy is flowers. If you like fresh flowers to brighten your home or desk ask the floral Mgr. when they deeply discount their supply. Great deals.

      1. Yep. I buy my perishables at a local store that prides itself on quality. The "discount" rack is full of fruits and veggies that need to be eaten NOW! Yum. Last week i bought about 4kg of really ripe bananas. They are in my freezer, waiting for banana bread and smoothies. My family is also a fan of salmon burgers. So I buy the trimmings from when they fillet the whole fish. Perfect, since I'm going to mince it anyway. I'll have to look for cheese ends; never thought of it!

        1. I can't resist meats with $2-3 dollar off stickers to cause immediate sale prior to expiration.
          Last week was $3 off $5.79 1lb pack of ground turkey. I cook it same day anyway, so its not going to go past expiration, but i still feel guilty doing it.

          2 Replies
          1. re: sbs401

            Why? I regularly shop the discount meat section and freeze what I don't use immediately. Now if I'm going to cook a rare steak or tuna steak, I don't do discounted meat.

            But for chili meat or ribs, aw heck yeah!!

            1. re: Crockett67

              Me too. I hit up the store extra early and happily stock up on roasts, steaks, pork chops, chicken parts, etc at 35% off. I freeze them and they taste delicious when I use them.

          2. The bacon ends are a great deal. I've never seen cheese or salmon ends. I get "reduced" (1/2 price) meat and fish all the time, and use it fast or freeze it. I can get some nice stuff that way. Two weeks ago I got 1-1/2 pounds (after removing it from the shells) of crab for $5.00. It wasn't old, but was smaller legs and the white sections (that have so much meat). I also get the flowers and veggies, if they look good. Got a ton of cheap basil recently and now have pesto in the freezer. I don't get the bakery stuff cuz it seems like it'd be stale by the time I finish it, but maybe I should try.

            1 Reply
            1. re: juster

              Bacon ends are definitely a great deal, as are prosciutto ends. Perfect when you want flavor but don't necessarily need bits of meat in a dish. Salmon ends are not as great... they are usually sliced haphazardly and sometimes contain pinbones, but they'll do fine if you chop them up and make your own salmon cream cheese or lox and eggs.

            2. I buy the cheese ends allll the time! I purchase them with the intent of making mac and cheese, but frequently just end up snacking and leaving myself with an (expensive) package of American cheese (which I hate).

              2 Replies
              1. re: kubasd

                Where are these located in the store and how are they packaged?

                1. re: juster

                  I've found them in the deli cheese case, like where the "better" cheeses are.

              2. I do buy bacon ends especially if they're thick and apple-smoked, maple-cured, or peppered. Smoked salmon trim is great for making schmear, and pasta dishes. Such a deal!

                2 Replies
                1. re: letsindulge

                  also great for topping a bagel when you're just "cooking" for yourself and don't need to impress with perfect lox!
                  often the pieces are quite a bit thicker and so more tasty (at least in my opinion)

                  1. re: piwakawaka

                    Definitely! Those lox ends are also terrific as part of a rather indulgent creamy pasta sauce along with a few dollops of salmon roe/caviar. Something I've made occasionally as part of New Year's Eve suppers.

                2. Supermarket thats no longer there would discount meat/chicken... from $1-2 off to 50% off... 2-3 days BEFORE sell-by date. Not even like it was remotely "iffy"?!?

                  1. Yeah, I routinely check out the 'musgo' sections of grocery stores. Never know what you might find!

                    1. Yes, I always go to the discounted produce. I often buy the meat, when it is reduced. Many supermarkets reduce the price when the date of expiration is coming up. I often get good deals on chicken and as long as you freeze and thaw and use immediately it is a very good buy. I bring reduced chicken home in the winter, I boil it and make soup and use the meat for sandwiches.
                      Pies, cakes, muffins are often reduced and can be freezed.
                      I often buy bananas in the discount section.
                      The problem is not with the produce, it is with the consumers who will not use products if nearing the expiration date. As well society is so focused on perfectionism and consumers turn their noses up at anything not good enough. I see it sometimes on this website, the necessity to use the absolute best of everything, is not really necessary. A tough cut of meat can be rendered tender, it is all in the technique. We need to learn about our cuts of meat in order to get the best cut at the best price. Food is so expensive today, it is wonderful to try and save money, that's what our parents did and so many of us have such good food memories and am sure we weren't eating filet mignon every night.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Ruthie789

                        I completely agree with you Ruthie. I tend to buy the best I can afford, and after reading The River Cottage Meat Book, I became very conscientious about using all, or almost everything that I buy. I save food stuff that a lot of people throw out (chicken bones/skin, pork bones/fat, shellfish shells, etc. but only if that stuff was separated during preparation, not coming off someone's plate...I read that post) and on the day I buy produce I bring it home, trim it up, and use those trimmings with the bones/skins/shells and make stocks. If I had a compost bin on my apartment patio I'd use that too.

                        I typically only buy bacon ends, they're almost half the price and the taste the same as the sliced bacon, so why not? Sometimes I get a couple piece of solid fat (no biggie, render it down for bacon lard, although I'm not sure what to do with that yet) but right next to that is a thick hunk of bacon that could be a tiny ham steak, and almost no fat.

                        1. re: HeBrew

                          I started to reassess my buying habits due to the soaring cost of foods.

                          1. re: HeBrew

                            Rendered bacon fat is my cooking fat of choice for just about everything I make. When I use it to make popcorn, I don't even bother to put butter on it - the subtle bacon flavor is just so sublime. It's great for cooking eggs, sauteing meats, stirfries, roasting vegetables, etc.

                        2. My favorite section of Fresh & Easy stores are the discount cooler and the discount shelf. Before they closed the F&E in my little city (grrrr), I could often pick up the makings for a nice quick dinner for myself at a very reasonable price and score good meats marked way down to pop in my freezer for later. When the employee rolled a full cart toward the discount cooler, shoppers would gather around and (not so) patiently wait for him or her to re-price it. With my budget, I would eat much lower quality food if I did not diligently shop the deeply discounted fresh food sections.

                          1. Bruised or slightly over-ripe apples, pears, guava and peaches make great apple (etc) sauce. Bananas for baking. Old mushrooms can be sliced and slowly cooked down for mushroom sauce/gravy, or used in a vegetable stock. Actually, a variety of discount veggies can make a great stock.

                            I regularly buy the bones and bit of meat of fish, chicken or pork, for making stock. Some giblets go well, too, for the chicken stock.

                            Slightly wrinkled red and yellow peppers are great for doing roasted red peppers.

                            Another great deal is the 1/2 off rotisserie chicken right before closing, again, for making chicken soup.

                            1. For years, my grandpa has been buying salami and cheese "ends" and using them to make his famous "coldcut bread". He take the ends, chops them up and sprinkles over rolled out pizza dough with a few spices and some olive oil. Every time it tastes a little different, but it's always delicious.

                              1. I love the marked- down foods at my supermarkets. On a tight budget, they allow me to buy a few things I might not be able to afford. While they are close to their "sell by" dates, I have never thought that I was getting anything inferior, just something to use right away or freeze.

                                I think that people who cook know how to use these ends to their advantage, and people who don't cook might not care. The trend toward precious and pricey and perfect produce is ridiculous. It rarely TASTES better!

                                1. This is quirky and you must be careful, but my supermarket often has boneless country style rtibs on sale. Often the fattier, "lousier" packages are left to be further marked down even more. I buy them, throw themn immediately into the freezer for a max of 2 mos. When I have about 3-5 lbs, I take them out. Following the recipe for home cured bacon, I cure the ribs for 5 days then slow cook or smoke. Re-freeze stuff that is leaner than bacon, tastier, and because it was the "poor" boneless rib, has enough fat to make it sizzle. Only problem is you can't go make extra=crispy, you may end up with pork jerky instead. Because of the ever present threat of contamination, the orginal packages are frozen at 0 degrees farenheit, and kept in a 38 degree section of a refrigerator that is not used for "normal" stuff. They never leave the fridge for more than 2 mins to be "massaged" in the cure.

                                  Bacon here is selling upwards of $3.95/lb. I get the nice thick sllices I want, leaner, at about $2.50 a lb and a little bit of sweat.

                                  1. Trader Joe's sells bacon ends for much less than the price of proper bacon. I bought a package for the bacon fat, not the bacon. When it was rendered, I tasted the bacon, and it was OK but not for the plate. If I'd thought of it, I could have broken up the bits for corn bread or something, but I didn't.

                                    1. I used to buy lox trimmings at the deli. They tended to be a touch saltier, and they were certainly no pretty, but I really did not care how well they lined up when I put them in my bagel or cut them into eggs.

                                      1. I'm a sucker for the half priced dark meat chicken. I bring it home, roast it, and have my breakfast for the week. I mean a dollar and a half for 5 drumsticks - that's like thirty cents a day for breakfast - or the option of a quick chicken salad lunch for like two bucks.

                                        BTW - Any other 'hounds who've been around here for a while think how unlikely these types of threads would have been even five years ago? Times have changed . . . .

                                        1. "Ends" of cheese & salami are great for dicing up & making an "antipasto salad". Just cube & toss with diced roasted red pepper, pitted halved olives, crushed red pepper flakes, dried oregano, & your favorite Italian dressing or vinegarette. Makes for a wonderful light lunch or sandwich side, & keeps in the fridge for a decent amount of time.

                                          1. I always scan the clearance sections at my local grocery stores. They're hit or miss, one store routinely has great discounts on organic and gourmet packaged foods, another has amazing meat deals. The meat goes directly into my freezer when I get home, unless I plan to use it that night. I got burned exactly once on some buffalo steaks that I just couldn't pass up. I suspected when I opened the package that they were past their prime, but I cooked them anyway. The smell of them cooking confirmed it and resulting buffalo fajitas hit the trash can. The store gave me back the non-discounted price of the meat for my trouble though. After that I always look meat over carefully before I buy it, I will even give it a sniff to the dismay of my teen-aged daughter. If I have even a hint of a doubt I leave it, no matter how good the deal. It frustrates me so much when stores wait to put the discount stickers on meat until it is actually spoiling. What a waste!

                                            I wish that I could find discount produce. The stores near me don't even set out the bags of discounted bananas any more. I have a large pet tortoise, so I've seriously thought about bargaining with the produce manager for bruised fruit or crushed lettuces. Snuffy does not care one bit.

                                            The only thing I've consistently had bad luck with is deli case clearance items. They often taste vaguely of cleaning solution or deodorizer. Perfumed, but not in a good way. As a result I stay away from that deli department all together.

                                            Being a cheapskate from way back, I have been dismayed to find that the clearance racks are looking a lot sparser than they used to. Also, the cheap cuts of meat have become trendy and the price has skyrocketed.

                                            Farmer's markets are a great place to cut costs. Next year I am determined to buy into a CSA and to further expand my garden. Here's hoping that this drought won't be making a repeat performance.

                                            1. I've complained on other threads about living/shopping in a college town, but one of the perks is snapping up great deals on almost out of date meat that the undergrads are afraid of, or don't know how to handle. I always cruise the meat display looking for the yellow stickers, and generally keep my freezer well stocked with discount meat.

                                              My primary grocery store also has a shelf for reduced price produce, but I don't find as many useful (for me) items there. I don't think the store sells meat/cheese ends from the deli department, but I will have to ask tomorrow. They do sell individual slices of cake, and mark them down late a night - nothing like stopping to pick up a $1.99 slice of cake one my way home after a late night out.

                                              1. The remainder bins at my greengrocer of choice are always a steal: everything is packaged in clear plastic bags tied off at the top, and each bag is 98 cents. That less-than-a-back might get you:

                                                4-5 perfectly ripe Hass avocados
                                                1-1.25 pounds white mushrooms
                                                8-12 limes (enough for a big pitcher of delicious limeade)
                                                2 lbs baby bok choy
                                                1.5 pounds roma tomatoes, ideal for sauce
                                                1 ripe papaya

                                                And any number of other goodies, all of them perfectly fine although you probably want to use them within a couple days.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                  I'm seriously jealous... that's a great (possible) haul!!

                                                2. A few years back the local grocery store decided to make a couple of extra bucks by packing and selling broken crab leg pieces. I was told that the price was so low because they were the pieces that had fallen off the cluster so they didn't look "pretty", and people wouldn't buy them and the store typically just threw them out.

                                                  But it was king crab and they were selling these bags for around $3 a pound. After buying every bag they had (usually between 2 and 4) for about $15 three weeks in a row, they decided it would be a good thing to raise the price to $10.99/pound, the normal crab leg price was I believe $15.99/pound. Still cheaper but I thought that was a lousy thing for the store to do and I stopped buying them.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: HeBrew

                                                    Every single chance I get. I also love the 'discount' groceries you find next to the highway in rural areas...we have always called them 'Amish stores' which I fear may be terribly politically incorrect, but you do tend to find them in areas where there are Amish communities...I am ALL about the cheap. We've had great stuff, okay stuff, and the very occasional throw-this-out-right-now stuff...but on the whole, you can save a LOT of money by looking for the slightly-less-than-pretty merchandise. Go for it.

                                                    1. re: tonifi

                                                      Well, the place is officially called "PA Dutch Farmers Market" (http://padutchfarmmarket.com/) and is located in metro Annapolis MD. I've heard people ask where they're from and the answer is always the same, Lancaster, PA. Which might explain their hours:
                                                      Thursday: 9:00am - 6:00pm
                                                      Friday: 9:00am - 6:00pm
                                                      Saturday: 8:30am - 3:00pm
                                                      They can go home every night. I've never had a throw-this-out-right-now item, it's all available for viewing and you can inspect it. And their produce stays fresh a long time. You know how you get a 6oz. bag of spinach in the grocery store and it turns 3 days after opening it? This place you can get twice as much spinach for half the price and it will keep in the fridge for over a week.

                                                  2. Here in SEA, at the Kroger markets (QFC & Fred Meyer stores), they have a discount 'going of sell-by date" bin for meats, occasionally for seafood, and a shelf for baked goods.

                                                    I regularly troll the meat section, and get great discounts, as many of you do, for the freezer, stock or to use right up if a roast or steak. I am pretty leary of seafood that has even been packaged for a couple days, so only thing I usually get there is lox ends and pieces, which as many of you do, make schmeer or just top my personal morning bagel with. Perfect pieces are for when guests come. The Deli at QFC has a small nearing perishable basket, but mostly I find poorly cared for pre-chunked cheese that when unwrapped, will likely have amonia issues or bloomy rind that actually tastes of MOLD from the looks of it.

                                                    There are several high end groceries that have an 'ends basket' in the deli, where you find the prosciutto end chunks for cooking with, slivers of cheeses, which are great for a tiny 'cheese course' for 1 or 2, and for trying new varieties.

                                                    Here I don't find 'very ripe or kind bruised' produce to purchase - which would be great! Soup, breads, etc. can certainly use much of this type of non-perfect items. I mean, back in the day - veggies and fruit were not perfect, just fresh, organic and heirloom variety. An ugly apple can be the tastiest apple of all!

                                                    We have a different system around here it seems. There is a low-quality grocery store chain that has lots of too-ripe produce in that dept. as regular offerings, (wilty lettuce, limes with little brown spots, sad looking potatoes, etc.) and I wouldn't buy ANYTHING from their meat dept. - it is probably the lowest possible slaughterhouse stuff, and this market mostly serves our very diverse ethnic population. I go there for the exotic stuff I can get for cheap - 5 lemongrass stalks for $1, green onion bunch for 25 cents, etc. and inexpensive asian staples like 12 brands of fish sauce to choose from...

                                                    I like the idea that I am being careful with my grocery dollar, and I know the value of it. As well as how to put discounted items to good use for flavorful meals. I don't have to be a food snob in every shopping experience, just a well informed creative cook who knows to select my meals as often as I can from value at the market, rather than picking out recipes, and mindlessly buying all the ingredients they call for to make something regardless of the cost as many people do these days, wasting money.

                                                    Of course, there are times I want a specific dish for a dinner party, but like for this Saturday's upcoming meal for my father's birthday, no decisions on what to make will be made until tomorrow's farmer's market visit, and to 2 grocery stores to see what's good on offer on sale!

                                                    Humbly, my two cents:)

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. you folks who have access to such things are lucky. im pretty sure all the near expiration, ends, and over the edge produce here gets sold to the pig farmers. Thats what all the restaurants do with their leftover food. Don't even have a day old bakery any more.

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                        How very sad. I heard that Eric Ripert has founded an organization to donate excess and unused food in restaurants to food banks. What value do we place on food in North America? We are blessed to have food.

                                                        1. re: Ruthie789

                                                          Leftover food from restaurants going to pig farmers is better than leftover food going into the landfill or even to the compost bin. Those pigs are going to get fed no matter what. It's better to re-purpose the food than to use new resources to feed them.

                                                          1. re: Ruthie789

                                                            most of the food banks i know are only interested in canned and packaged foods, which would greatly limit what restaurants could donate, not to mention that the package size they use even for those foods is not optimal for a food bank, unless they are also running a 'soup kitchen'. While I wish there were more 'seconds' available, i agree with seamunky that any reuse is better than the landfill. If selling it to the pig farmers helps keep down their costs then I can't complain too much, but it would be nice to have a few more options.

                                                            1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                              Here in SEA, we have an extensive 'pea patch' program where people can get a row of their own to hoe. Each pea patch donates fresh food to our food bank network, to the tune of 2 tons of produce a year! GREAT program:) Proud we have that here....

                                                              1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                My local (regional) food bank distributes a lot of food to shelters and soup kitchens, and will except fresh meat, bread, and produce on the verge of expiration. They are only able to do this because they received a generous donation of several walk-in freezers. Everything that can be frozen is frozen, then distributed as needed to shelters and kitchens. Everything else goes to shelters and soup kitchens right away. They also received produce seconds directly from farms, and have volunteers sort and package for distribution.

                                                                They have arrangements with local pig farms to pick up any food that doesn't survive long enough for people to consume, including packaged goods that are damaged in a way that makes them unfit for human consumption.

                                                                This food bank does not accept food from restaurants, but the local network of shelters and soup kitchens will. They have volunteers drive around with cargo vans and pick up prepared food from restaurants and grocery stores. I once saw volunteers loading tray after tray of cupcakes at the grocery store. The bakery manager had overestimated the number of cupcakes needed for the holiday weekend. I have also seen them pick up a gross of boiled eggs leftover at an Easter egg hunt/egg decorating event.

                                                              2. re: Ruthie789

                                                                One of the episodes of Avec Eric included footage of Les Bernardin's donations to the long-established "second harvest" program in NYC. Ripert rode along with the truck that picks up the restaurant contributions and delivers them to soup kitchens and food pantries. He also did a demo at one of the distribution points, teaching a simple stir-fry to the recipients. Perhaps that is what you are referring to. Most larger towns and cities have these programs.

                                                            2. At Whole Foods here in Minnesota, I alway buy their freshly cutoff Parmesan rinds. They're great for snacking and don't cost a lot.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: shoo bee doo

                                                                A little while ago, a grocery store near me had Parmesan rinds for, I think, $26.99/kg (!!!!!). Needless to say, they stayed right in the store.

                                                              2. When I was a youngling, we bought bacon ends for making pinto beans, bacon gravy, wilted lettuce salad, etc. pretty much anything you would make using cut up bacon.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: PotatoHouse

                                                                  Yes i do by ends....the people at the deli counter at my local supermarket, know me...I come in on Mondays, because if you are over 50 you also get 5% off on the bill...i am over 50,...must admit...so they save all sorts of ends, smoked turkey, salami, roast beef, balogna, american, swiss, provalone, harvati, proshiuto ham, liverwurst....any kind of end...I do have a choice...and therfore use it in salads, sauces, sandwhiches, appetizers, etc,...listen at $2.59 or $2.99 a pound...why not? i have to say I do not purchase more than a pound or so a week...but nice to have freinds...

                                                                  1. re: PHREDDY

                                                                    That's great service. It pays to be a regular :)

                                                                    1. re: CanadaGirl

                                                                      CG....corned beef becomes hash, ham goes toward white or
                                                                      red beans, turkey and there is always plenty of that gets ground with tofu and some veggies for either turkey loaf or burgers. I just it is a great way to repurpose food.

                                                                2. Yes, I buy ends whenever I see them and know I'll use them.
                                                                  Grocery Outlet is my favorite for usually expensive cuts of meats that they sell in ends packages.
                                                                  Canadian Bacon
                                                                  Bacon ends
                                                                  Prosciutto ends and pieces
                                                                  Pancetta ends