Every cheapo appreciates a good discount, and Tokyo Cheapo’s love 50% discount supermarket Bento discounts.
Most supermarkets in Tokyo have a ‘deli’ section offering a variety of take out temptations. Ranging from ‘Hamburg’ to sushi, tempura and beyond, these are a great cheapo lunch or dinner option. And picking up one at a discounted price is even better.
When I first arrived in Tokyo I was disappointed at the apparent lack of discounts and reductions in supermarkets. There would be some items on sale or special offer, but most the ‘sell by date’ discounts were pitiful reductions like 10 or 20%. However over time I soon realised that you just have to turn up late in the day and the discounts double up.
In my experience the bento boxes are freshly prepared in two batches – one for lunchtime which peaks between 12pm – 1pm and then one for dinner time 6pm – 8pm. So if you turn up at 2:30 – 3pm, you’ll find all the lunch items (that are still left) nice and cheap. Turn up at 9pm and pretty much anything left is usually going to be 50% off.
Top tip: pick up your dinner at 3pm and put it in the fridge till dinner time, eat it, come back to the supermarket at 9pm and buy your lunch for the next day.
For bonus points I recommend a poncy supermarket like Seibu. The bento on sale here are usually a little more pricey, but invariably the quality is always good, so eat like a king (or perhaps just a regular non-cheapo) and splash out on a 50% off poncy bento. I was at Seibu Shibuya last night at 20:45, 15 minutes before closing, stacks of stuff left all 50% off.
And for the more culinarily disciplined cheapo, note that the raw meat section is usually subject to the same heavy discounts after 9pm, so a good time to pick up some prime 黒毛和牛 (black hair wagyu beef) or lamb chops, bung it in the freezer and slap it on the BBQ at the weekend to impress your fellow cheapo friends (be sure to remove the discount stickers to avoid your cheapness being revealed).
p.s. Half price is usually written as 半額 (hangaku) or 50% 引き – see in the pictures above.