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Anyone shopped Big Lots for grocery items?

Several months ago we put a local Big Lots into our shopping mix to wean ourselves from a large chain grocer. Big Lots became our paper products supplier; ALDI, our produce and frozen foods source; and Trader Joe's, a stop for fresh meats, cheeses, beer/wine/coffee, and bread.

Earlier this week we found ourselves with bananas extra ripe, so my DW suggested looking in Big Lots for Baking Soda, Baking Powder, and walnuts to convert the bananas into desert bread. But that's not all we bought there this trip.

We also came away with Louisiana Supreme Steak Sauce, Madison Square Dijon Mustard, two different bags of Chex Mix, a 30 oz bag of Schultz Pretzels, and a 16 oz can of GK Party Peanuts, and two different Gluten Free Bob's Red Mill products. I was surprized at how inexpensive the grocery bill totaled.

So my question is: do any other 'hounds find themselves in the grocery aisle at Big Lots?

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  1. Love shopping at Big Lots. Got 4 six-packs of blood orange Sanpellegrino for $2.75 each. Also picked up some basmati rice and some H.K. Anderson pretzel stix.

    6 Replies
    1. re: wadejay26

      Wow...excellent price! We just paid $5.99 a couple of months ago for a six-pack of the San Pelligrino blood orange soda at Fresh Market. I hope our local Big Lots is still carrying it for that price!

      1. re: littleflower

        Littleflower, Costco occasionally has a coupon for it. Can't remember the price off the top of my head

        1. re: ohmyyum

          Thanks ohmyyum...we do have a Costco membership and actually have bought the San Pelligrino sodas from there. The only problem is that you have to buy 2 cases (6 pk. to a case) of the Aranciata (which we love, and is actually our favorite flavor - we even like it a little better than the Blood Orange one) but it also includes 2 cases of the Limonata which is just too tart for my taste.

        1. re: suzigirl

          suzigirl just saw it at WalMart, which usually has great prices on food/drinks...$4.98. Almost double the price of Big Lots - hope ours has it in stock.

          1. re: littleflower

            I already grabbed four. Wiped them out. They are super hard to find here.

      2. We do go to Big Lots - it's not on our regular routine but they're nearby so when I have an occasion to go there, I always take a gander through their food aisles. They've had the Italian canned tomatoes (San something) at a great deal and I snatched them up. Their prices are usually great.

        Luckily, I live in a big urban area and have many options to decrease our food budget - Costco, discount bread stores, TJs, we now have a Whole Foods, but I haven't gone in yet. A local chain, Sprouts, is my go to for most produce.

        1. They are a great source for international products too. I get a huge bottle of Tapatio hot sauce there for under $2. The small bottle (when available) at my local grocer is... $4.29

          2 Replies
          1. re: kimeats

            Big Lots is the only store in San Francisco where I've found Texas Pete hot sauce. Not every time, but sometimes. (Not that TP is international, but I've only ever seen it in the south.)

            1. re: Frosty Melon

              Texas Pete is pretty common in Indiana.

          2. I love Big Lots. I buy Bob's Red Mill beans & flours. Misc canned tomatoes, canned beans, pasta, coconut milk, chips & all kinds of interesting finds. Most of their canned tomatoes & beans are around .50 to .80 a can, quite a steal. If you like Aldi they have a frozen cheesecake for $9.99 that has four different flavors. It is very good quality.

            1. Are you suggesting ALDI is not a large chain grocer? It's one of the largest supermarket chains in the world (9,800 stores).

              5 Replies
              1. re: drongo

                The chain we are leaving is Kroger. There are five Kroger stores in a three mile radius of our house. ALDI has two outlets within 10 miles. And both ALDI stores are about a quarter the foot print of the Kroger competitors.

                I perceive ALDI as a specialty grocer. But that may just be me.

                1. re: RedTop

                  Walmart and Kroger are the only US grocer outlets that are bigger than ALDI worldwide. The ALDI group is the 8th largest retailer of any kind in the world -- ahead of (for example) Target, Walgreens, CVS, Safeway, Supervalu, Publix. The owners of ALDI (Albrecht family, which owns Aldi Süd and Aldi Nord) are the richest people in Germany.

                  I do agree that they have a niche role in the US market.

                    1. re: seamunky

                      Yes, Aldi Süd owns what's called ALDI in USA, and Aldi Nord owns TJs.

                      I'm not opposed to these stores, but I was taken aback when the OP wrote that the goal was to "wean ourselves from a large chain grocer" -- when Aldi is among the largest of the large.

                      1. re: drongo

                        I think the OP just left out the word 'specific' from their post 'wean ourselves..., etc."

              2. Went there all the time for Rudy's hot and spicy pork rinds. .75 a bag. Got to the point where I just had to quit. I'd kill a bag a night. It was like heroin withdrawal(from what I've read ;-)).
                Can't go in anymore. Have to resist my dealer.
                Rehab is a bitch.

                1. I lived in Roseville, CA from 2004 to 2005, and during that time I would buy a lot of things at Big Lots, and found that some things like wine and canned goods represented some great values.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Tripeler

                    Your Big Lots sells wine? Lucky you.

                    1. re: suzigirl

                      Well, I moved away in 2005 so have no idea if they sell wine any more.

                        1. re: happybaker

                          Used to sell it in San Diego, too, but haven't seen it in years.

                          Need to watch out, though, on any frozen items--I found discontinued items in the freezer case, stocked up, only to find (a) way past the "best by" date (yes, I know, that's often arbitrary), but worse, (b) had evidently thawed & re-froze--full of funky ice crystals and weirdly re-frozen bits of food/sauce.

                          1. re: pine time

                            And, by my reconning, more expensive on the whole, than a mega grocer.

                  2. I've shopped at Big Lots for years. I find interesting mustards there, some Jazzman rice that I loved and wish they had more, canned beans, nuts. Bought all they had of a boxed tomato sauce once for $1 each, ultra thin pizza crusts for the same price. Juices, cake mixes and coffee or tea. And kitty litter. They have the pine stuff real cheap.

                    1. I just went yesterday and got some great items. I like to have little tea cookies stocked in the pantry so I stocked up on bauducco cookies, crackers and toasts and biscoff cookies.

                      I also like healthier chips so I bought some chips made of vegetables and beans that I tried before and liked. I also stocked up on a few Herdez salsas and imported interesting sauces for quick dinners.

                      1. I love to shop at Big Lots. I get my Badia there and my Louisiana hot sauce and many many other things they carry. I get unusual teas and juices. Boxed pastas and pantry staples are very cheap here. I get my Campbell's chicken noodle there for when my tummy is acting up. Must have the soup at all times.

                        1. Big Lots is a great source for imported cookies and interesting sodas( Green River for $2.50 a 4-pack). It's kind of like a treasure hunt; you never know what might turn up!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Pwmfan

                            Any other Big Lots imported cookie/soda recommendations (both brand and flavors)? I have seen various international brands there but admittedly am hesitant to try any out because not sure which ones taste good and which do not!

                            1. re: littleflower

                              They often have Hero jams (jams, not cookies, sorry) that are EXCELLENT. Very tasty, no corn syrup, great price.

                          2. You can't count on it for your weekly trip, but it's a place I can go when I'm bored and in a shopping mood. I can spend 45 minutes, $10, and come out happy as a clam. It's great for when you know something you love has been discontinued - it will likely show up at Big Lots within a month or two (SIL's favorite shampoo, lipstick that our receptionist can't live without, husband's favorite Chex Mix). There are usually fun jams and jellies, candy, and canned goods (you have to know/trust the brand). They also stock a lot of items that have changed their packaging and the companies want the old stuff off the shelves. Also a great place for canning supplies - when they have them in stock they're a lot cheaper than anywhere else. Good also for dog/cat foot and treats.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: NonnieMuss

                              Thanks for the heads up on canning supplies, even Walmart isn't all that cheap. We have a Big Lots opening any day now, I know my neighbors are excited; can't wait to see what all the fuss is about.

                            2. I get snack foods there for Hubby's lunch, they offer a selection that often exceeds what I can get at my local grocery stores, at least in the sense that they have products unavailable at other stores. I've gotten some lovely Lychee flavored Tea there, and the condiment selection is fun, particularly the ethnic and non-US ones.

                              And I confess, I sometimes buy the Larry the Cable Guy branded stuff there too. Scoff if you will, but its pretty good when you're having a low-money for groceries, low time to cook kind of week. The "Stroganoff" Dinner Mix may just be pasta and flavoring powder, but its $1.00 and it tastes decent once you add the ground beef or usually in our house Turkey, and perhaps add some sauteed mushrooms, or green peas and a bit of sour cream. Plus he gives the proceeds of his food products to a charitable fund he created. And as an added bonus its simple to make so if the main cook in the house is under the weather somebody without a lot of cooking skills can make it easily enough.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Ariadanz

                                No one should scoff at that at all...as much as I enjoy cooking from scratch, lately I have not been afforded that luxury and have found myself "semi-homemaking" it a lot. Suggestions like that dinner mix are just what I need, better yet it is cost effective to buy and use!!! Thank you for recommending it.

                                1. re: littleflower

                                  I usually make it by browning the ground beef (or Turkey, usually turkey) in a little olive oil, or if I've got it bacon fat. I also saute a diced onion at that time so it gets a bit golden around the edges too. If Hubby wasn't eating it I'd totally saute up some mushrooms first, and then remove them from the pan so they don't overcook and proceed with the meat/onions.

                                  When the meat has browned I like to dump in the seasoning powder which has some flour in it and saute it for just a few seconds and stir it into the meat with some black pepper (freshly ground) and I find that helps remove any clumps vs putting it in with the pasta and water and milk like they suggest. At that point I follow the directions and dump the water and milk and pasta in and cook like it suggests. If I'm adding green peas I like to microwave them briefly to cook them or at least thaw them and then add them at the end so they don't overcook. About 1 cup of peas is usually enough. A dollop or two of sour cream to taste when its done pretty much seals the deal. You get 2 decent servings for hungry people, you could probably feed 4 if there was a non-teenager kid involved and perhaps some bread and a bagged salad.

                                  I've also been known to throw in leftover mixed vegetables, or at least peas and carrots, or even diced jicama (it needed used) and the crunch it added was nice.

                                  Having elaborated with all that, the times Hubby made it when I was sick and all he did was add the diced onion and the sour cream it was still quite edible. Larry also sells a few mixes for things like corn bread and beer bread which might go nicely with the mix.

                              2. Sardines, kippered herring, pickles, Nutella, Bob's Red Mill, S. Pellegrino. Love my neighborhood Big Lots.

                                1. They are not in our regular rotation as there are none on our regular travel routes but if we do go by one I make a point of stopping in to check it out. I have gotten amazing deals on can/bottles of Polar seltzer, Bob's Red mill oatmeal, flax seed and pancake mix, Jane's Crazy Mixed Up salts and peppers, stretch-tite plastic wrap and various teas.

                                  1. I go about once a month, it's the only place in the west where I can find Wise Dipsy Doodle corn chips which I really like. I bought a small compact pocket watch there 10 or so years ago on close out for $4, still going strong.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                                      Ooh I vaguely remember those Wise Doodle corn chips! When I was a kid Food Lion used to sell those (not anymore) - thanks for the trip down memory lane, and I may just buy a bag for old times sake. :-)

                                    2. One of my favorite scores at Big Lots was a couple of packages of Jello 1-2-3, years after it was discontinued in the US. All the writing was in Arabic.

                                      1. BL is on my shopping list this week for Nielsen-Massey vanilla paste and extract (usually around $4- 4.50) and piquillo peppers ($3.) Of course, I always leave with more than that.....

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: weezieduzzit

                                          Where are you that you can get vanilla paste or extract? Just like wine, I don't get it here in my store. Lucky you.

                                          1. re: suzigirl

                                            Southern California (we have wine, too.)

                                            1. re: weezieduzzit

                                              Where in SoCal? I'm in San Diego, and I'd love to score some vanilla paste. Haven't seen it here.

                                        2. Absolutely. I find lots of great deals on nuts, extracts, and condiments.

                                          1. It never occurred to me to look in the food aisle at big lots! I am going to have to check it out next time I'm over that way. thanks for the tip. :)

                                            1. Hmm. On the basis of this thread I went to the Big Lots near me today after work, hopeful of finding a few unique things and perhaps bargain treasures I could use in my kitchen pantry. I came away pretty disappointed.

                                              For the most part - at least at my local Big Lots in South Jersey - the grocery section was dominated by highly processed sweets, sauce mixes, sauces, sugary stuff (I'll pass on Angry Birds candy) and canned soups that we never regularly (or even irregularly) consume or use in this house. I did walk away with a package of PopTarts for the sweetie (who likes them for a fast in-the-car breakfast), a few boxes of crackers for our next house party, and a jar of fig jam. I scoured the shelves and really could not find anything else I wanted to buy, nor any reason I'd put Big Lots on my regular shopping circuit. Maybe right before a party when I need some cheap soda and snack bites, but that's about it.

                                              Maybe it's a regional thing. If there'd been any San Pellegrino sodas I would have cleaned the shelves of 'em!

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: sockii

                                                According to their website, Big Lots buys closeouts, so the selection would vary depending on what they got that shipment - just like at Marshalls or TJ Maxx. Every once in a while I find some great Danish Jelly at one of those closeout stores... but not every time.

                                                1. re: sockii

                                                  it's definitely random...if there is something you like, buy all of it because it won't be there in a couple of weeks. Likewise, there are stretches where there is nothing appealing.
                                                  They get some interesting stuff in for the Holiday season (condiments) that are good for "gifting", too.
                                                  I can't say it is a regular stop for shopping simply because you can't necessarily assume that they will have what you need on a given day.

                                                  1. re: BeeZee

                                                    I think the randomness is part of the appeal, especially for food products. You just never know what you will find, which makes for fun shopping.

                                                    1. re: Tripeler

                                                      Exactly. Its like a food Easter egg hunt for grownups.

                                                    2. re: BeeZee

                                                      Somewhat off topic but at the holidays they carry a great assortment of reasonably priced gift containers for "wrapping" those food presents (I hate to wrap)!

                                                      1. re: BeeZee

                                                        although not on my regular shopping route, i stop by big lots on occasion to browse. once they had several cans of slice green olives (not pimento), i returned a week later to purchase and they were gone. so if you see it and like it, buy it.

                                                      2. re: sockii

                                                        Try a different location. I have 2 near me and they are very different. One definitely gets better food than the other. The other has better housewares.

                                                      3. I love horrible discontinued items, such as Survivor Trivia Pringles. Still on the lookout for those Cool Ranch Cheerios...

                                                        1. I think, and its only my single impression, that Big Lots does stock continuous product. Not across its entire inventory, but on some product.

                                                          Scotties facial tissue is always available at the store we shop.

                                                          Pedigree wet and dry dog food always available. Huge savings here.

                                                          Hot sauces: Texas Pete, Tapatio, Louisiana Supreme, always available.

                                                          Chex Mix, always availablle. Campbell soups, limited selection, always available.

                                                          Snacks galore. We're happy with the shopping experience here.

                                                          1. There's a Big Lots a few miles from me, next door to a supermarket I shop at frequently, so I stop in from time to time because they usually have cans of coconut milk for $1.00 and I'll buy a few at a time. Earlier this week, I stopped in and got rice crackers, wasabi peas and dry roasted edamame for $1.00 each bag; great for snacking.

                                                            They have tons of snacks & cereals, a lot of which are not seen in big box supermarkets, brands & varieties which I haven't seen since my childhood. I like that they have different items all the time.

                                                            1. The Big Lots in my city closed, but I used to fing fancy chocolates and nice teas to give out a office holiday gifts. Very reasonable

                                                              1. I stopped in at Big Lots today, and as I said to the checkout lady all enthusiastically "this is (was) my first time." I didn't pick up any food, but I did look. My Big Lots sells wine I noticed, but I can get the same bottles for less at Wegmans, so I didn't buy any. It looked like mine had a pretty nifty selection of salad dressings, and I noticed some Hilshire Farms gift boxes. I don't know, not much else to say on the food front. I was just excited I went. Oh, the check out lady was very nice, too. It seems that they have an awesome rewards program. I think she told me once a month I would get an email announcing on a set day that I can shop for everything in the store at 20% off. My apologies if this has already been mentioned, but I thought that was pretty cool. My most food associated item I walked away with was a cookie scoop!

                                                                1. There was a small section with unusual, imported type foods. I stocked up on doodads for the holidays: a big jar of black currant jam for $3, a lb of shelf stable gnocchi for $2.20, Jardin salsa, all flavors for $2.50, a 19 oz jar of ajvar/pinjur for $3, a couple of jars of bruschetta (they had a cheaper one but you could tell this smaller one was nice and thick) for $2.50, little jars (anchovy size) of tiny asparagus spears, perfect for antipasta, $1.30. Also, they had Nutella, but also an Italian brand named Nutkao made with cane sugar, for $2.50 a jar. That's it, so far.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: RedTop

                                                                      Oh yeah I didn't really need anything, but the holidays are coming up. Or so I told myself.