Bent and Dent Bargains

by Lori Sciame | February 15th, 2011 | Shopping Secrets

It’s a challenge to find new ways to save money on my family’s grocery bill. I already clip coupons and compare sale ads. Last year, however, I heard of a different way to save – buying salvaged food.

I’ll admit, when I first heard about the concept I was skeptical. Did I really want to purchase salvaged food? The bargain hunter living inside me won out, however, so I gave the new bent and dent grocery store in my neighborhood a try.

What I found surprised me. The food offered was not compromised in any way. Cans and boxes were only slightly damaged. I was also pleased to find out that the store offered non-damaged overstock items as well. It dawned on me then and there that this type of shopping could save my family a lot of money.

And it has! For over a year now I’ve been a loyal consumer of salvaged food. On average, I spend $15.00 per week in the store. These same items would cost at least $30.00 in the “regular” grocery store. This translated into a savings of approximately $780.00 last year.

I was also surprised to find salvage shopping to be a lot of fun. There’s a rush that goes along with finding family favorite, such as a certain brand of granola bar, at 50% off the usual price. And because the store’s stock constantly changes, it’s a treasure hunt each time I visit.

Below I’ve listed some drawbacks and benefits of salvage shopping, as well as a link to salvage grocery stores across the nation.


1. No frills.
If you like fancy stores, bent and dents are not for you. There are no colorful displays or inviting delis; in fact, these stores many times resemble warehouses.
2. Stock is not consistent.
One week you may be able to find a favorite product, but don’t expect it to be available the next time you visit. (For me this is a positive as well…it’s always a treasure hunt!)
3. Products can be expired.
After a talk with my local health inspector, I found out that expired food will not make you sick, but the taste may be “off.” I know a lot of people who don’t mind buying expired items; however, I will not. I check every label for the “best by” date.
4. Fresh fruits and vegetables are not usually available.
5. Dented cans and boxes must be carefully inspected.
I make sure that every can I purchase has only slight dents and that the dent is not on a seam. Also, it is imperative that you do not purchase any bulging or leaking cans. I also avoid any box that has been taped shut.


1. Small stores.
I like the small size of the store, and that I know all the employees. It is nice to have a neighborhood grocery store again.
2. Cheap prices.
To date, the best deal I have found was a large box of Crest Whitestrips for only $7.00. In addition, the store has weekly specials. This week I bought huge cans of crushed tomatoes for only .60 cents each and cat food for $1.00 a box.
3. Gourmet items.
There are usually gourmet items available at these stores, including olive oils and spices. This week I found large cans of artichoke hearts for only $1.00.
4. Local meats, chips, and/or baked goods.
The salvage store I frequent carries meats from a local butcher and chips from a local snack food company. Other stores often times carry Amish baked goods.

Bent and dent grocery stores offer a way to help save money on food bills. You probably won’t do all of your food shopping there, but the bargains you can find make frequent visits worthwhile. If you’d like to give salvage food shopping a try, click on the this link. It lists stores across the nation and was updated in January 2011.

  1. Rob Cyr says:

    Salvage food, even though the name sounds scary, is a great way to stretch your monthly food budget. You are absolutely correct in your four listed benefits.

    The small salvage food grocers get all the name brands found in the large supermarkets…why pay retail? Great article!

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