You’ve heard the hype. “Save incredible amounts of money at the commissary!” But do you know all the ways to make the most of your commissary benefits?
Listen, I’ve been there with you. When I started out, I wasn’t too sure about just what the commissary could do for me and my family.
Until I took my Mom on a shopping trip. Don’t worry, I paid. I asked her to guess the total for our trip. She was about $100 over. Her eyes got bigger and bigger as our cart was emptied, items scanned and the total was shown.
How To Make the Most of Your Commissary Benefits in 2019
Now, I’m a commissary convert – at least when it comes to certain things. I learned how to make the most of my commissary benefits. Now I’m sharing my best tips with you!
Check the Discount Shelves
Did you know that there is a discount shelf? Sometimes it’s a whole mini section! I swing through there once per visit. Usually, there are four parts to the discount section: frozen meat, cold/refrigerated items, bakery goods, and everything else found on shelves.
I find all sorts of goodies at a reduced cost, from gourmet bread to snacks for my kids to kitchen basics like trash bags.
Mostly, you’ll find goods that have been dinged up or have damaged packaging. The coffee pods inside are still 100% perfect, but the box makes them unsellable at the standard price.
Discounted items are generally not expired, but they might be close. So check the dates on everything that’s edible and plan accordingly.
Order Custom Meat Cuts Cheaper
We just did this over the holidays! For New Years Eve, we wanted to make prime rib, a cut thats not normally stocked in the meat section.
Sure, we could have gone out in town but the cost would have been a lot more. Actually, buying meat at the commissary generally is mostly cheaper than out in town with comparable quality. Don’t believe me? Do your own cost comparison!
Instead of going with a different cut or paying more, we simply asked the butcher. Yup, your commissary has a butcher or at the very least an employee who mans the meat section. We just told him the cut we needed, the approximate weight we wanted and an ideal pick-up date. Then we just showed up, got the meat and paid.
Plan Before You Shop & Save
Meal planning is such a time saver! It’s also great for reducing food waste and sticking to an eating plan, like whole foods or skipping gluten.
It’s easy to create your ideal meal plan in advance. You might even be able to save a little money in the bargain section, too!
First, use commissary sales fliers to find items that are at reduced prices. Then, see if there are any other discounts if you use your commissary rewards card. Use those as your anchor items and build your menu around that! If you’re feeling extra thrifty, you could even try to match on-sale commissary items with active coupons.
And if you’re located OCONUS, you can use coupons up to six months past their expiration date! Saving money for the win!
Shop for Staples
When I hit the commissary, I’m looking for those staple items. I fill my cart with things that I need routinely and that typically cost more in regular grocery stores.
At the commissary, I like to shop for toilet paper and paper towels, dairy products, and meat. My kids’ snacks are also much less expensive than local grocery stores, too.
Combine your major purchases with coupons for extra savings!
Look for Unique Items
Another great perk of the commissary is a super diverse international section. In many traditional supermarkets, you might find items from Asia or typical American-style Mexican cuisine. Of course, you’ll get a whole aisle for Italian food.
At the commissary, you can find everything from real Japanese ramen to authentic spotted dick (yeah, I know but it’s a real British food) to straight-from-Germany mustards. Every corner of the globe is covered in the commissary. That’s because our armed forces are located in every clime and place!
Plus, you can often find unique produce items that aren’t always available in the local stores. I’ve seen Okinawan sweet potatoes in SoCal!
Familiar & Friendly
I love to use my commissary benefits on the regular! So much so that some of the baggers know my kids on sight. It’s so nice to see friendly, familiar faces when we shop.
Plus, especially overseas, it’s nice to have access to my normal brands and foods that I can’t find on the economy. The extra savings doesn’t hurt either!