The Clearance Sales Section - The Treasure Trove of Opportunities
The clearance sales section, or as I like to call it, “the treasure trove of opportunities to explore and discover”. While you may also know it as the “Reduce to Clear”, “Reprice to Clear”, or “Discount” section, the description of this place remains the same…it’s that little corner of the supermarket where you can get all sorts of products at a reduced price!
Imagine this, you walk around the supermarket on a regular day with the sole purpose of getting your groceries. Then, while browsing through the varied selection of food products on the shelf, something catches your eye and you just can’t stop staring at it no matter how much you resist the temptation to look in that direction (I’m going to use a premium bar of chocolate for this story, but you can use any other food examples for your own personal fantasy of the situation). When curiosity finally hits you, you walk over to where that alluring aura came from, pick it up, have a quick look at the price tag…and BANG!! You drop to the ground in disappointment and sadness because you can’t have it, since you just can’t afford it. Sigh. You place it back reluctantly and walk away, looking back at the missed opportunity for a new discovery which could have been made.
Walking further on and continuing your grocery shopping with a heavy heart, you find a little section, perhaps at the very edge of the supermarket, marked as “The Clearance Sales Section” (or any other name). It’s filled with all sorts of miscellaneous products from canned food to bottled drinks, cereals, jams and sauces. It somehow seemed out of place. While the rest of the supermarket consisted of organized shelves filled with products (often the same type of product at a particular section or row), this little section was an unorganized pile of random products which were put together and labelled as “The Clearance Sales Section”.
So you walk over and take a look around at what this section had to offer. You noticed that the items had reduced prices but with short “best before” dates. Then you saw it, right there on the top right corner of the section, the treasure that you were seeking (your equivalent of my premium chocolate example). It’s as if the fluorescent lights above were shining at it to magnify its glory even more. Picking it up and turning it over, you see that the price is now 50% lower! Yesss!!! So what if the “best before” date is 2 months away, you’re going to eat it right away, anyway. With a happy smile and an uplifted spirit, you head to the cashier counter with your little found treasure, anticipating a wonderful discovery soon to be made.
Well, to me at least, that’s what happens at the clearance sales section.
However, as wonderful as it may sound, you need to be smart about what products you choose to take, as some are just too good to be true. I mean, even pirates can have traps set up to prevent others from getting their hands on the treasure, right?
Here are a few tips you can use if you decide to tackle this treasure trove:
1. How does it look?
How a food packaging looks is a very important matter, as it can indicate how it was stored and how it was handled by workers (whether roughly or gently). For canned food, look for dents. If they are huge and obvious, forget about it, but small dents are still alright. Also, rotate the can and take note of the seals (the top and bottom of the can). Are there any leaks or signs of rusting? As for cardboard packaged goods, although the cardboard may be torn or otherwise seem defective, look within the cardboard and see whether there are holes in the inner plastic packaging. If not, you’re good to go.
If you ask me, these are more like guides for us to judge whether or not a food is still “edible”. Don’t take them for granted though, as they are one of the important things to take note of when choosing a product from the clearance sales section. For example, sauces such as vinaigrette and mustard can be eaten long after their stated expiry date, as they contain lots of acids and salt which would drive any food poisoning germs away (I’ve eaten 2-year-old mustard sauce and still live to tell the tale, haha). However, you should probably stay away from discounted fresh food such as vegetables and meat which not only look rotten, but have a weird smell coming out of it. As a rule of thumb, dry foods with a short expiration date should be alright. As for wet foods, a few other considerations need to be taken into account before putting it into your basket.
While those mentioned above concern the safety of food for consumption, others may just be a matter of quality. Since potato chips would oxidise and absorb water when exposed to air, don’t expect that bag of chips which expires in 1 month to taste the same as one with another year to spare.
3. Don’t be picky
As the name states, a clearance sales section is meant to be a place where food products are put if they’ve been on the shelves too long without being bought. This probably means that nobody wants or buys them, and they are therefore sold at a lower price to those willing to accept them. Sad but true. So, if you want to make full use of this section, don’t be so picky about what you can use in your kitchen. In fact, this may even be a place which allows you to expand your imagination and create a dish through improvisation. Use your intelligent mind, and think of what you can make with what is available in this section. That’s how you truly succeed in the quest of food exploration and discovery!
Ps. As Andrew Zimmern says, “If it looks good, eat it!” That means, if something you find at the clearance sales section looks gross, unappetizing, and downright wrong in any way, just walk away. Simple.