BTR (before the recession), if you asked people to name their favorite outlet, you heard Coach, Nike or Room & Board. Food outlets just weren't in the mix. But handbags and hide-a-beds have been set aside for honey oat bread for a buck and a hamburger, bacon, chicken and pork-loin package for $12. Where can you get these delicious deals and more? Try one of these 13 outlets and save 10 to 50 percent on items not normally available for big discounts.
7350 Commerce Lane, Fridley, 763-586-6241
The artisan loaves used to be 50 cents, but even at the current price of $1, they're still one of the better deals in the Twin Cities. More than 50 flavors are rotated, with six to eight varieties offered each weekday, including cranberry walnut, honey oat, country Italian and Tuscan white. Cookies and rolls are sold at similar discounts. Open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.
FRANKLIN STREET BAKERY
1020 E. Franklin Av.,
Buy one loaf of bread for 99 cents (from the overstock and new creations shelves, regularly $3 to $6) and get one free through August. About 15 varieties of bread, buns or deli loaves are offered, though selection dwindles later in the day. The BOGO is offered daily, but there are additional specials each day, including butter croissants for 99 cents Tuesdays and $5 off specialty cakes in stock Saturdays.
NEW FRENCH BAKERY
2609 26th Av. S., Minneapolis, 612-728-0193
Discounts daily near closing time. Nearly everything in the store, including artisan breads and buns, are two for $5 from 5-6 p.m. weekdays, 4-5 p.m. Saturdays and 1-3 p.m. Sundays. Baguettes are $1, and take-and-bake items are $2.
BAKED-GOODS GRAB BAG
For regional and national brands, check the phone book for the following bread outlets:
Country Hearth at Pan-O-Gold in Plymouth; Sara Lee/Tastee in Blaine, Eagan, New Brighton, Richfield and White Bear Lake; Wonder and Hostess in Burnsville, Maplewood, Minneapolis, Moundsview, New Hope and St. Paul, and Cub Foods and Jerry's Foods at Hopkins Thrift Bakery in Hopkins.
FRUITS AND NUTS Bergin Fruit and Nut Co.
2000 Energy Park Dr., St. Paul, 651-642-1234, www.berginfruit.com
The best deals are clearance items marked with an extra 50 percent discount, usually at or near the freshness date. Overstock items are discounted 15 to 50 percent. When prices on whole cashews and almonds from Bergin were compared with store brands at Aldi and Cub, Bergin's outlet prices were slightly higher. During the holidays, Bergin is a good place to save by creating your own holiday baskets with an assortment of nuts and candies. Those on a low-glycemic diet should try the snack mix with dried apricots, apples and nuts. Open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.
170 E. 10th St., St. Paul, 651-227-0634, www.eisenbergfruit.com
Reasonable prices on fruit often at peak ripeness, sometimes post-peak. Sample savings: organic bananas 33 cents a pound; hydroponic tomatoes $1.49 a pound; organic green beans 99 cents a pound; bing cherries $1.29 a pound; peaches, plums and nectarines 99 cents a pound. Check daily specials by phone or site. The family market has its charm, but if you're expecting immaculate produce, take a pass.
HARRY AND DAVID
Albertville Premium Outlets, 763-497-8490
Preferred Outlets at Medford, 1-507-455-0374
Save 20 to 30 percent if you buy three or more of many items. The best deals occur just before or after the holidays when they discount the famous Towers of Treats and Royal Riviera pears. Save more by buying the slightly blemished Maverick pears. They're cheaper than Royal Rivieras but just as sweet and juicy. The Mall of America store is not an outlet but occasionally has good deals too.
GENERAL SUPERMARKETS SO LOW
3111 Emerson Av. N., Mpls., 612-302-8855
A neighborhood grocery that sells foods that the manufacturer or distributor wants to unload due to being discontinued, a packaging change, overstock or at or near freshness date. Includes most departments except a bakery and deli. The meat counter is a popular draw.
MIKE'S DISCOUNT FOODS
Anoka, 763-422-8615; Fridley, 763-572-2254, and Hilltop, 763-502-8999
Similar to So Low but smaller. Inexpensive produce at peak freshness is the main attraction. No meat counter, although it sells some fresh and frozen meat.
FARE FOR ALL
With this cooperative food program, anyone can save 40 to 50 percent over prices at most supermarkets on prepackaged food packs. The food packs, which contain fresh, frozen and other items, include meat only ($12), vegetarian ($10), family pack ($20), light pack ($12) and seasonal specials. Choose one of the 17 metro sites for pickups on designated days. No purchase limitations. Cash, credit cards and food stamps accepted. Offered through Emergency Foodshelf Network.
ANGEL FOOD MINISTRIES
www.angelfoodministries.com or 1-877-366-3646
Similar to Fare for All, the program offers nearly a dozen food assortments. The basic box for $30 includes $65 worth of groceries. Nine additional boxes are available for people purchasing the basic box, including senior and allergen-free menus. The national program is affiliated with seven Twin Cities churches. All are listed online. Pickups once a month.
BRAND NAME DEALS
1000 E. Moore Lake Rd., Fridley, 763-572-9800, www.brandnamedeals.com
A fair selection of food in packages, boxes, cans or bags, including snacks, soups, pasta and coffee. Much of it is at or near the expiration date and discounted 40 to 50 percent.
Brooklyn Center, 763-503-9833, Coon Rapids, St. Louis Park
It's rare to hear Twin Cities shoppers raving about Big Lots, but the grocery section is extensive and many items are competitively priced. Most items are current, but a few are at the freshness date. Coupons not accepted.