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Consumer Watch: Case lot countdown - how to make the most out of commissary's September sale

Sep. 1, 2011 - 11:10AM   |   Last Updated: Sep. 1, 2011 - 11:10AM  |  
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This September's commissary case lot sales are offering more flexible "mix and match" deals to help you squeeze the most out of your money.

You'll be able to mix and match some similar items when building a case so you don't have to buy a whole case of the same item. For example, you'll be able to mix and match different flavors of juice packs for your kids' lunches, or different flavors of sports drinks, or different soups, within cases of those items.

Not all items will be mix and match — eligible products will be grouped together and clearly marked so you'll know what you can mix.

Dates of case lot sales vary, http://www.commissaries.com/case_lot_sale.cfm">so check online for your local store's dates. You can also check with your local commissary. If there is a discrepancy on the website about a store's sale date, check with your store. You don't want to miss this sale.

As always, savings at case lot sales vary, with discounts approaching 50 percent. Keep an eye out for extra in-store coupons that offer even more savings.

While there will be about 360 items in the overall case lot sale selection, individual stores' selection will vary — stores customize the selections based on their customer demographics. At some commissaries, there will be extra deals on chilled and frozen foods and fresh produce.

According to the American Logistics Association, a trade group that represents manufacturers and distributors who do business with the commissaries, some of the items to be offered include:

• Vegetables, including cases of green beans, asparagus, kidney beans, mushrooms and organic diced tomatoes.

• Breakfast items, including cereals ranging from Cheerios to Trix; pancake mixes and syrup; muffin mixes; frozen waffles; frozen pork or turkey sausages.

• Frozen dinners, pies and pizzas.

• Pasta, sauces and kids' prepared pasta meals; rice; potato mixes; canned and packaged soups.

• Snacks such as popcorn, cookies, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, dried fruit and trail mix.

• Paper and plastic products such as toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags and storage bags.

• Shampoos, body washes and lotions.

What to buy

Think about what you use year-round, and what you need. For example, it might be a good time to stock up on sports drinks and healthy snacks. Or, with school starting, it's a good time to stock up on those snacks and packaged drinks for lunches.

Some tips for getting the most out of your case lot sale:

• Who wouldn't benefit from stocking up on toilet paper? Just make sure to consider space issues — first, whether you have enough room in your vehicle to get your purchases home, and then, whether you have the space at home to store the items.

• Look at some commissary receipts and civilian store receipts to see what you've paid for items in the past, so that you have an idea of how good of a deal you're getting. It may help you in general to keep a little "price book" of items you buy on a regular basis. Wherever you are, if you see a deal, you can spring for it — or not. Sometimes at a civilian store, a big sale still may not be as good a deal as your regular commissary price.

• Compare unit prices — for example, how much you're paying per ounce of laundry detergent, or per diaper. A bigger package doesn't always mean more savings.

• Do a thorough review of your pantry before shopping. While shopping, ask yourself: Do I need that item, and will I use it? No matter how much money you save, if you don't use what you've bought, you've wasted money.

• Don't overspend. You may not end up saving money if you buy on credit and pay interest charges on the purchase.

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