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Banking on box sales

What's a commissary sale and how can you shop them to save?

It is always a good idea to bring along extra help to a commissary box sale. Photo credit: Military Times

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You've heard of them, you might have even seen signs and dates, but do you really know what all there is to a commissary box sale? Before the next one is held on your post, take a quick refresher to learn what they have to offer, and just how much it could benefit your grocery shopping experience.

A box sale - also known as a case lot sale, are large customer appreciation events held on post each year, usually in a commissary parking lot. During the event, spouses and military members have the option of buying items in bulk, and at an incredibly reduced fee. Think of it as bulk purchasing, like you would do at a Sam's Club or Whole Foods Market. And because you're buying more product, your ability to save goes up tenfold.

How it Works

Your base will schedule box sales every so often - usually they are held a few times per year. During this sale, bulk items will be lined up in a designated area, usually in a parking lot. Paper items, sodas, bulk packages of boxed foods, diapers and more, will all be offered for sale. Usually, what's up for grabs depends on vendors, and what each location was able to track down.

You can load up and pay, just like you would at any commissary trip. Only you'll end up with far more items, and you can earn a better discount for doing so. Think about each time you buy in bulk - the bigger jar of peanut butter offers a cheaper price per ounce, and so on. The same is true for the box sale, only with bigger boxes to choose from.

Making the Most of a Box Sale

In order to save as much as possible, it's a good idea to bring some muscle with you. Plan to shop with a friend (or a few of them), while each of you mans a cart. With bigger items means less leftover space in your cart, so you're likely to fill up a single load far faster than on a normal grocery trip.

You should also think about transporting your items home, and ensuring that they can fit into your vehicle. Even lightweight items - like a flat of toilet paper - will take up ample space.

If needed, make it an all-day event where you take a few trips - one for you, and one for your friend's items. (You can even check out at the same time, and leave one standing post with the goods.) So long as you have a short drive, it will still be worth the savings.

Focus on paper products, boxed goods, diapers, condiments and more. Items with a longer shelf life are usually sold, meaning you can take advantage before each one expires.

Anything Else?

Be prepared to stand in line, perhaps for hours at a time. Shoppers have reported putting up with long waits in order to save as much as possible. However, not all sales are packed; others come with short lines and have allowed folks to check out quickly.

Because there's no way to tell for sure, set aside enough time, just in case you end up with a serious checkout time.

The next time you're gearing up for a commissary box sale, remember to plan ahead in order to take advantage of as many savings as possible. With a little extra planning - and home storage space - you can save your household a bundle.

For upcoming dates, visit: commissaries.com/stores/html/store.cfm?dodaac=N&page=case_lot_dates.

Or to learn how much you'll save, head to this calculator: https://www.commissaries.com/log_in/html/savings_aisle_select.cfm.

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