The following post is a detailed explanation of how you could make good use of the We’re Fresh Obsessed concept to get free food. Thank you Mike for this awesome article.
There are a lot of other grocery stores that offer a “fresh or free” policy as well:
However, to keep things simple, I will only concentrate on A&P grocery stores in Canada. By all means, see if other grocery stores have similar policies for yourself!
There are extra rules to the policy that aren’t advertised. For example, you can NOT take any expired food from the in-store bakery. Also, you can NOT take anything that has any sort of Clearance or $1 off stickers on them. Everything else is pretty much up for grabs though. If you aren’t sure, don’t take it.
To get an item that says “best before: July 12th” for free, it must be July 13th or after. Even though the “best before” implies that it is actually expired on the 12th. Don’t argue with A&P employees. The customer is never right, apparently.
You can only get 1 of each item. You can’t score 2 bags of Lays BBQ chips. However, you CAN score a bag of Lays BBQ and a bag of Lays Salt & Vinegar. Or the same flavour in different bag sizes.
These policies aren’t put into place for the customer’s sake, they are used to make the customer do the job of their employees. Keep the merchandise moving. Because you can only have 1 of each item, if a customer finds 1 item out-of-date, usually there are 20 of the same item also out of date. Now that they are aware, hey can check for and return the 20 other items.
FINDING A&P LOCATIONS.
Obviously, you are going to want to find A&P’s near your house. Preferably 24 hour ones, but that isn’t necessary. As far as I know you can locate stores here.
If you click on the “info” button beside each store, you can also see its operating hours.
Most other grocery store websites also have a “Store Locator” type section.
WHEN TO GO
Now that you’ve found a few A&P’s near you, you have to know what time to go to maximize you free food intake. Obviously, you can go at any time if you want some food.
If the A&P is open 24 hours, going in slightly before midnight is your best bet. The food only has a few more minutes before it is out-of-date. By the time you go to cash out, just make sure it is past midnight.
If the A&P isn’t open 24 hours, then the earlier the better. The less time they have for the employees to find the out-of-date items the better. Regardless, any A&P at any time can possibly yield an amazing score.
Items are usually dated in groups. For example, certain brands of chips will all be dated for the same day of the week, regardless of what day of the week the product was actually produced on. This is most likely to help store employees remove the items from the shelves, by only having to check once a week instead of daily. Knowing the day of the week that items go out-of-date will definitely help a score. If all bags of chips go out on Wednesdays, then going on a Monday won’t increase your amount of scored chips any.
Check the items dates, and look for patterns. Usually the dates will always be 7 days apart. A lot of chips (Lays, etc) are out-of-date (ready to be scored) on Wednesdays. A few brands are Tuesdays. Pillsbury products also have a date pattern.
ITEMS TO CHECK / ITEMS NOT TO CHECK
Juices (in the cooler, not on the shelves)
Milk (not bags)
Cheese Wiz (usually Black Diamond)
Yogurt (12 packs & large containers)
Little Debbie Snacks (Joe Louis, Ah Caramel, etc.)
Chips / Nachos
Pastas and Sauces (Just the refrigerated fancy ones).
Some Fancy Chocolate Bars (with dates)
Don’t waste your time on:
Milk in Bags
Individual little yogurts
Anything being displayed in the cardboard box it was shipped in.
– These haven’t even been taken out and put on shelves yet!
Most things that are on sale.
– they are on sale to get them out of the store.
Almost any Meat Product.
– they change the dates anyways to make sure they don’t go out-of-date.
HOW TO CHECK FOR OUT-OF-DATE ITEMS
For the most part, the out-of-date items are usually right in the front. The grocery store is hoping someone will still buy it without looking at the date, then they can still make a profit off of their out-of-date items. Sometimes lazy employees do not put the newest items to the back, so there may be out-of-date items far in the back as well. This is almost always the case with Pillsbury products, do to the weird dispenser thing. It is usually a good idea to take a “random sample” from somewhere near the back as well, especially if it’s something you really want! 🙂
Don’t forget to look up and down! As silly as it sounds, when shopping, people have a tendency to only see things at eye-level (studies have proven this). Things at the top or bottom have probably been there the longest. Plus, it probably also applies to the employees looking for out-of-date items. Out-of-date items will most likely be found on the top or the bottom shelf.
Once you’ve been to the store a few times, you can get a good pattern to follow to check everything. You can visit things that are a priority first, like the pizzas. The less time you arenâ€™t in the A&P, the better. Also, when you score an item, remember where you found it. When you cash-out, you will most likely be told to find fresh versions of your items.
You don’t want to get bugged for not buying ANYTHING, because it will look like you went to the store just for the purpose of scoring. So, if you have to do some grocery shopping, save it until you go to score. If there’s nothing you have to buy, just pick up something cheap, maybe a pack of Generic Mr. Noodles for $0.25. Enough to let them know that you are a real customer who just happens to have a good eye, not a teenager with the munchies and no money.
Bring your score to the Service Counter, which is usually near the entrance (it’s where they sell lottery tickets and cigarettes). If nobody shows up, bring it all to a cashier. Show them what you’d like to purchase, nd then point to your score and tell them that the items are out-of-date. After that, you can stand back and watch the confusion…
You will most likely be told to “find fresh ones”, so you can go do that while the cashier tries to figure out how to handle the situation. Make sure you get the freshest replacement items available, since you want to keep the items going out-of-date soon on the shelves, so you can score them later. If all the items are out-of-date, the policy says that you can replace it with a similar item. However, some Managers might not know that, and try to not let you have anything (or they may try to give you a rain-cheque). Take what they give you, and don’t argue.
The whole check-out process is quite amusing. Cashiers must void each product and apply stickers to things. Cashiers usually aren’t trained in the process, and usually make up their own little way of doing it. Once everything has been voided, you can pay for any items you may have legitimately purchased, and then you are on your way!!
– If you visit the same A&P regularly, you might want to make mental-notes on things that are going out-of-date soon. If you see a Cheese cake that is going out next Wednesday, try to remember it!
– Go with a friend or two! You can split up to find items, so you only have to be in the store for a few minutes. At the same time, avoid going in a huge pack.
– Avoid conflict with Managers. They are very bone-headed individuals, who are often quite defensive after seeing you score $30 worth of free food. After all, it may take them all day to earn enough money to afford that food, and you are just reminding them of how bad of a job they are doing at being “fresh obsessed”.
– Double check your dates before you cash-out! A bitter cashier would love nothing more than to make you pay for some pitas after you thought you’d be getting them for free.
– Don’t talk about you score while you are scoring. Think of yourself as doing A&P a service.
– Try to mix up the days, times and locations that you visit an A&P. After a few visits, Managers will definitely be keeping an eye out for you.
– Don’t do anything stupid!! Sure, you can easily bring in your old bread-clips and clip them onto any loaf you want. Sure you can hide a Cheese Cake under a few other products, and get it next week. The problem is, if you’ve scored several times before, there are definitely Managers watching you. If you do something “illegal”, they will definitely find out on the video tape. After all, they are probably just waiting for an excuse to kick you out of the store, and fraud is a pretty good reason.