Want to get groceries for free? HEB has a spectacular policy called “Fresh or Free”. This is not a joke or hype or any kind of sales pitch. This grocery store actually provides an opportunity for anyone to get groceries for free. If you do not know of the HEB grocery chain, it’s probably because the chain is only located in Texas. My wife and I shop there almost exclusively, especially because of the Fresh or Free program. Here is a basic rundown of how to take advantage of this great policy:
1. Hunt for items that have expired.
This is the first and foremost rule. So when you arrive at the store, carefully look through the stock of particular items you are interested in, and hunt for the expired one(s). Try to utilize some stealth, as the staff is trained to seek out “fresh or free-ers” like us. The staff cannot stop you from looking, but they may start going through the stock along side of you and weed out expired items.
2. Once you have found an expired item, put it in your basket, along with an identical, fresh item.
3. You are only allowed to fresh or free one item per SKU, per person.
This doesn’t mean you can’t walk away with hundreds of dollars or more in groceries for free, it just means if you find 10 expired Tombstone Pepperoni Pizzas, you can only take one fresh one, per person. But if you find one Tombstone Pepperoni Pizza, and one Red Baron Pepperoni Pizza that have expired, then you get one of each for free.
4. Go to the cash register and place your items in pairs (one expired, one fresh) on the conveyor belt.
5. Tell the cashier “I have some expired items here.”
We have had times where the staff is not friendly, and sometimes downright mean about us getting groceries for free. Don’t let this dissuade you, they are obligated by the policy to give you the groceries for free. We’ve heard every excuse in the book, and you will too, if you participate in the program. If they get too mean, just have a manager come over and take care of it.
My personal opinion of why they offer groceries for free:
* I believe that the program makes an incredible amount of sense from a business perspective. HEB is basically hiring the general public to wade through their current stock, and eliminate expired items. Now I know this is a job that should be handled by the night stockers, but think about the average night stocker, why would they care about checking dates? That would be far more time and effort to complete the stocking for the night. And with the small wage that HEB is paying their stockers, it makes sense to offer groceries for free under this program.
* Also, this program allows HEB upper management to identify weakness in their lower management, especially night stocking crew management. So in effect, we are helping them to root out bad management, and provide the best quality food. It is a win-win situation for the company, and for us as customers (or should I say, previous customers, 😉 ).
In closing, the HEB fresh or free program is a fantastically easy way to obtain quality, free groceries. The only groceries that are exempt from the policy are ones that have no expiration. Other than that, it is open season. So take advantage of it, and leave me a few comments on your experiences if you get the chance.