When I was in college, I worked at a local pastry shop part time in the evenings. 30 minutes before closing, we were told to mark all the items left over at 50% off and sell as much as we could. The reason was simple – anything that wasn’t sold was thrown away so it was better to sell it at 50% off than not at all. Knowing this, there was a regular clientele that arrived when the markdown took place and had wonderful pastries to take home that would have cost them double the amount an hour earlier.
(the sticker that loves my wallet – it indicates that the price is 50% off at the register)
I was reminded of this because we have been cutting back our budget quite a bit with my decision to try and make this a full time job. While you’re told to make your own meals in the US to save money, that isn’t always the case in Japan. Prepared obento (boxed lunch) can be much less expensive than buying the individual ingredients as my earlier post on the prices of fruits and vegetables indicates. Therefore we find that we purchase boxed lunches on a regular basis because they are less expensive than making the meals ourselves. We often double the savings by eating a couple of hours later than usual and taking advantage of the same process that my old pastry shop used.
Many perishable items will be marked 50% off a couple of hours before the grocery store closes which includes the boxed lunches. The only problem is selection. Your choices are left to whatever is left over which means you may not get exactly what you want. If you’re flexible with your meals, however, it’s a great way to save money out here. We also tend to opt for this strategy on rainy nights – we find that when it rains, there is always a wide selection to choose from (presumably because people don’t like to go out in the rain).
Finding establishments that offer this type of service can be great for your budget. You get the same quality food for half the price and don’t give up anything except for having to wait an extra hour or two. If it is a small family run place, be friendly and get to know the owners or register people. They may even put aside extras for you if you become a regular customer (we did).