MoneySavingMom.com
FREEBIE LIBRARY!
Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to the MSM Freebie Library, including my top printables & eBooks.

Guest Post: Is It a Better Bargain to Buy in Bulk?

Photobucket

photo from stock.xchange

Guest Post by Beth from In Good Cents

Each month many of us head to a nearby wholesale or warehouse, like Costco or Sam’s Club, where we can stock up on everything from chicken breasts to toilet paper. Warehouses claim by cutting out the middleman and offering you the products in bulk, you are getting an amazing discount, so sales and coupons are needed or even accepted. Because we can get so much so easily, we often don’t ask ourselves if we’re truly getting the best deal available.

As a frugal blogger, I get asked a lot if I recommend buying in bulk to save money. Personally, I knew what I did and preferred, but when it came to my professional word, I wanted to do some research to give my readers the truth, instead of an opinion. So to do so, I headed to my nearby warehouse to compare and see if buying in bulk truly was a bargain.

Here were just a few of the results from my investigation:

I found I could buy a 6-pack of Puffs Plus Lotion family size boxes of facial tissue for $9.88. With 132 tissues per box, that equaled to be about $0.0125 per tissue. At Meijer that same week, smaller 60-count boxes of Puffs Plus Lotion were on sale for 10/$10. Using a $0.25 coupon per box, which doubled to $0.50, they were suddenly $0.0083 per tissue.

By buying at Meijer instead of in bulk, I could save 33% on each tissue. Though this may seem like pennies, tissue is always something we need in our family and those pennies add up over the years. However, facial tissue wasn’t the only item I found was actually cheaper at the grocery store using sales and stacking them with coupons. Here are some other random price comparisons below:

Pampers Cruisers

 
Warehouse Size 4 Value Pack (140 ct)
=$37.62 (or $0.27/ diaper)
vs.
Target Size 4 Big Pack (100 ct)
Use $1.50/1 coupon
=$18.49 (or $0.18/ diaper)
Save 33% at Target

Tide
Warehouse wth Bleach Laundry Powder 95 Loads
= $20.32 (or $0.21/ Load)
vs.
Meijer with Bleach Laundry Powder 63 Loads
Use $0.35/1 coupon (doubles to $0.70)
=$10.28 (or $0.16/ Load)
Save 24% at Meijer

Milk-Bone
Warehouse Dog Snacks Large 14-lb.
=$8.87 (or $0.63/lb)
vs.
Kroger Dog Snacks Large 10-lb.
Use B1G1 coupon
=$3.50 (or $0.35/lb)
Save 44% at Kroger

While comparing warehouse prices to the price I could get at the grocery store by stacking a coupon with a sale, I found that every single random item I price-checked was less expensive at the grocery store.  But that wasn’t the most shocking news. To my surprise, I found that most items were less expensive during grocery store sales before coupons were even figured into the mix.

Even Tyson Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, which my husband would live on if I wasn’t around to cook for him, were cheaper at Marsh and these are a product that rarely has a coupon available.

Tyson Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
Warehouse 96 oz. Bag Frozen
=$12.97 (or $0.14/oz.)
vs.
Marsh 40-oz. Bag Frozen
No Coupon Available
=$4.99 ($0.12/oz.)
Save 14% at Marsh

Though I expected to find many items were a better bargain using sales and coupons, I was shocked to find that prices overall were more expensive in bulk. So while I know that there are advantages to buying in bulk and matching sales with coupons does take a little more work and effort, the savings are every bit worth it for our family.

Beth Montgomery is very happily married and the mother of two beautiful little girls, with a little boy on the way who will soon be joining their family in July. She works as a part-time at her church, authors the frugal blog, IN Good ‘Cents’, she teaches seminars to help others learn how to dramatically cut their budget on everyday items.

Note from Crystal: I personally have only found a few items (such as yeast, honey, and cheese) which were consistently less expensive at a warehouse club. For the most part, my experience has been that I usually can substantially beat warehouse club prices. However, we also have a small family (so we consume less which means buying in bulk is not always as practical) and we live where grocery stores run fairly good sales.

I'd love to hear from the rest of you on this subject since we are all in different situations. Do you find shopping at warehouse clubs is worth it for your family or not?

Subscribe for free email updates from Money Saving Mom® and get my Guide to Freezer Cooking for free!

FOR MORE COUPONS, search our comprehensive Coupon Database for manufacturer coupons, printable coupons, eCoupons, and more!

89 Comments

  • cheryl says:

    I think buying bulk has it’s advantages for some things. You need to be a savvy shopper when you go there. We go usually twice a month buy fish.. Last week we bought 4 trouts for $12.. that is $3 a piece. I don’t think you can find a fish for $3 at my local store. When chicken is not on sale I buy whole chickens – 2/$7.. $3.50 each.. at my H.T. a whole chicken is $5 + .. other things we buy are aluminum foil.. the cheap stuff does not work for us and getting 20 inches free is ok, but it only last so long, Limes.. at my store Limes are 3/$1 at Costco they are $5 for a big bag of 20+ limes. a 10 lb bag of red onions ( once a month) for $6.99.. usually they are $.99 lb here, Bananas are cheaper we buy 2 bunches for $1.44 each. Feta cheese.. $11 for a large square.. at a supermarket it is $4 for 1/6 of this size, Mozzarella cheese the fresh balls are around $4.. twice the size for the rubbery stuff they sell at the supermarkets,
    If the peppers are good we buy these too .. at our store a red pepper is $1.99 each.. here at Costco I get a bag of red/yellow/orange for $6..
    and soap powder.. I only use Gain because we are allergic to Tide and the other brands I have tried.. all, wisk and dynamo are horrible , they do not clean clothes as good as Gain or Tide .
    So my point is I think it depends on what you are looking for at a warehouse club.. Some things are much cheaper than other things, it depends on what you are looking for. I always go in with a list, and allow myself $20 extra to spend( for something special.. I am hoping to find Chocolate covered strawberries tonight), I shop around and do buy other things that are cheaper when there are sales, but there are things that are much cheaper at a warehouse you just have to know what you are getting.

  • A.D. says:

    I agree that many of the items are more expensive at the warehouse clubs. I do, however, think there are more items than yeast, honey, and cheese that are a bargain.

    We consistently fill our gas tanks there, saving about 10 cents a gallon. Once in a while a regular gas station will match or almost match the warehouse price, but it isn’t often. Since we need gas frequently, we know we can always count on Costco, and not have to drive around looking for a low price.

    I buy romaine lettuce in a 6-pack at Costco. This lasts our family of six one week, and costs less than $4. Where else can you ALWAYS buy romaine for less than $1 a head?

    “Preen” weed preventer in giant boxes. It’s never on sale anywhere that I have seen.

    Whole chicken is never more than 89 cents/lb at Costco. I can rarely find it this low in the grocery stores. When I do find it for less, I will stock up, but since my freezer space is limited I can’t purchase enough to last until the next grocery store sale. So Costco fulfills that need too.

    Photo prints are the best price, as are enlargements. 5×7’s for less than $1, 8×10’s for $1. Nobody local beats that for every day pricing. Maybe some have found mail order with comp. prices, but I find those websites a bear to maneuver through. Of course, I like to get the free 8×10 at Walgreens when offered, but that is so infrequent. And doesn’t always work (Like this week.)

  • Kara says:

    Have you heard about the Nordstom makeup deal???? It’s a GREAT deal! All of their ELF makeup is on sale for a $1 and you can get $7.95 back if you spend $15!!! You have to pay for shipping but the 7.95 cover more than that!just go to http://www.eyeslipsface.com and you’ll click on the makeup and see the deal! This is a great one to post!!!!

  • Elizabeth says:

    I think you make an excellent point that just because stuff is at a warehouse, it is not necessarily cheaper than anywhere else. However, I think saying that most things are cheaper at the grocery store is true only if your time is worth nothing– and you have unlimited access to coupons. That one box of 60 count tissues is going to be gone within a month– and are you going to have another coupon in a month to get another one (if they are still on sale?) Or are you going to have to buy at full price the next time?

    That is not to say that there aren’t things that are cheaper at the grocery store– of course there are. And some things at the warehouses are really not a deal. But in your example you’ve gone to 4 different stores, using gas and time.

    I think we also have to consider the environmental impacts of not only driving from store to store, but also of purchasing in smaller quantities. That having been said, this was a good reminder that we should look carefully at the real price of what we are buying.

  • Jaden says:

    Ever since I started using coupons more often, all I have really been buying at BJ’s are staples, like Milk (which is over a dollar cheaper at BJ’s than my grocery store!), boneless skinless chicken breasts (which usually don’t go on sale at the groc. store here), bananas, potatos, onions, etc. I buy the things I know we’ll use up and can be sure will be cheaper there…. but I have been skipping out on the things I used to think were such a better deal there- like cereal and snacks- because with your help and the help of a couple of other bloggers, I can find these things MUCH cheaper with my coupons! Thanks so much for all you do, you’ve saved me bundles!

  • Lisa says:

    I buy all of my spices from Sam’s Club. They are about half the price if not cheaper than the grocery store.
    I know that some things are a bit more expensive but honestly I buy the big packs just out of convenience.

  • charlene says:

    I do shop at Warehouse clubs- sometimes it is worth it to pay more for convenience. I usually buy cheese (a lot cheaper than stores), torillas, bananas and 25 lb of flour are 6.99. I might beat that price using coupons but not by much and I have to worry about running out.

    My best tips are not to use a cart (so there is no temptation to overbuy) and our membership is free- if yours isn’t than that needs to be factored into the savings 🙂

  • Sherri says:

    Produce seems to be a good deal since I dont find mark downs generally on this. We buy lettuce, bananas, and apples weekly at Sams. Sometimes, a little goes to waste, but it is still substancially cheaper in my area than Kroger or Wal Mart and seems to be better quality too.

  • Julie T. says:

    Although the prices on milk, butter, organic meats and produce are consistently better at my local Costco than anywhere else, based on groceries alone my membership probably wouldn’t be worth it. The reason I keep it is because there are three glasses/contact lens wearers in my family, and the savings I see from their optical department alone more than pays for my membership.

  • Alison says:

    The kleenex example seems a bit flawed. Yes, for that one box you save more, but unless you have 13 coupons (you would need to buy 13 of the smaller boxes to equal how much you could get in the 6-pack) , you are better off buying the 6-pack.

  • Michele says:

    That was hardly enough research to say that grocery stores are consistently better in price. There are thousands of products that Costco and other warehouse clubs sell, and she did a price comparison of only a handful. I agree that many items are more expensive than the grocery store, especially when factoring coupons, but there are plenty of items that beat supermarkets, hands down.

    Baking items are consistently chepaer – 25 pound bags of flour are $7 each. Yeast is $4 for a huge container. Bags of string cheese (48 of them) are $8. I cannot beat that at the market. Soy milk – 3 half-gallon containers for $7. Gasoline that is 10 cents cheaper than their competitors. Birthday cakes are half the price of the supermarkets. Butter is under $2 per pound. Eggs are $3.69 for 3 dozen. Twenty pound bags of baking potatoes are $8! Ticonderoga pencils which are on our school supply list year after year are cheaper than anywhere else. Rotisserie chickens are $4.99 – cheaper than any grocery store in my neighborhood. I have more items on my list. I did a price comparison, too. And it is definitely worth it to me to belong to the warehouse club.

  • Blakely says:

    We gave up our warehouse membership several years ago and haven’t missed it at all. I get much better deals at the grocery stores and drug stores than I could ever imagine. Not only are the prices higher but the cost of them membership needs to be added into the price also.

  • Jen says:

    I shop at BJs warehouse club and they take coupons! If I buy a pack of 6 kleenex, I can use 6 separate coupons! That makes a big difference and I don’t know of any other warehouse store that takes coupons.

    I also think that the quality of meat and product at the warehouse store is FAR superior.

  • Paige Johnson says:

    We shop at Cash & Carry, so there isn’t a membership fee (my sister gave us one of her Costco cards, but there’s so little that we buy there that we never go). Anyhow, Cash & Carry is one of our regular stops for staples. We get the huge bags (50#) of oats there, which is by far better than what you can get at the grocery store (sorry, don’t know the price off hand). Also Milk is always cheapest there: 2 gallons for less than $4, which is better than the other store sales.
    Most of what we get CAN be found for slightly cheaper at the grocery store sales, if there’s a sale on those items. so C&C is our store for whatever isn’t on sale: bananas, apples, oranges, carrots, other produce, chicken, Nancy’s yogurt, Adam’s Peanut Butter, tofu, ground beef, and cheese. They have sales, too, so that helps. Their prices are pretty constant & they always have the same items, so we know what we can get for a good deal each time.

  • Kristen says:

    I also feel that shopping the sales with coupons makes each product cheaper than buying in bulk. I’ve found similar savings as to what you have posted over the last nearly year that I have been shopping with coupons. My whole shopping philosophy has changed in a year. I would never have been caught shopping at Tom Thumb unless it was an emergency because their prices were always too high, but now I find I am going there a lot. My grocery spending used to be more than $120 a week, and I tried to buy in bulk but now I rarely spend more than $30 a week. And I actually buy more food than I did before too.

  • Erin says:

    For things like medicines (Mucinex, and generics of painkillers and decongestant) we haven’t found a price that can beat Sam’s Club. With the allergies in our family we probably save the membership fee just on sinus meds!

    We also buy our tires at Sam’s. That’s actually the reason we joined in the first place, and we saved our membership for that year on the first day.

  • Lisa says:

    I find for some things it is a lot cheaper at Costo. I get monthly coupons from them and ONLY buy the things that I will use in bulk and that are cheaper. Things such as Clorine tablets for the pool, my favorite granola cereal (which I can NEVER find coupons for!), etc.

    I find that there are other savings that I get by being a member of Costco, such as travel deals, car insurance, etc.

    I need to be careful shopping at my Costco, they offer free samples on lots of items, which is great, but I tend to get sucked into that and then end up buying that item and we never finish it! I am getting better about that. LOL

  • Sylvia says:

    I like buying bread, milk & formula (when my daughter was still on it). Even when a store had a sale on formula, compunded w/coupons (which I never had enough), it was rarely cheaper than Costco (Enfamil was $32 & change on a 38 oz can). Since she used a can a wk (at least), I often saved at Costco. Milk is also cheaper than any of the other stores by a dollar or more. We buy 2 gallons a wk. Just those savings alone in 1 yr, pays for my basic membership. I have the executive, which I figured I save enough to at least break even, if not make a few extra $.

  • Karen M says:

    The biggest reason that (besides shopping at a regular grocery store using sales and coupons) I shop at Sam’s as well is that I can get milk for almost $1 cheaper a gallon. When you figure that our family of six goes through 3-4 gallons of milk a week, that’s a savings of $150-$200 a year on milk. I also buy honey, chili powder, cumin, yeast, cheese, and butter at Sam’s, all of which are cheaper than the grocery store sales even with coupons.

  • I agree that not enough examples were given in this post to allow for the conclusion that buying in bulk is never cheaper buying from than local grocery store.
    I have done a lot of comparison shopping between Costco & my local grocery stores. True, items you can find on a good sale & match with a good coupon at a grocery store will be cheaper than buying in bulk at Costco.
    However, for those items that don’t go on sale often and rarely, if ever, have coupon match-ups, Costco can be a great alternative.
    The key is to find those items, make a list, and stick with it. I regularly purchase photos, bananas, cheese, butter, 100% maple syrup, honey, cinnamon, yeast, vanilla extract, and other items at Costco for cheaper than I have ever found it at my local grocery store. And as an added bonus, you can take the family “out” for a meal or snack afterward for very little $$.

  • karen says:

    This is a typical “know your numbers” situation. Not only is it warehouse vs. grocery store…it’s grocery store vs. grocery store. I know what a “good deal” is on most of my family’s staple grocery items, and so it depends on what sales might be available and on Costco’s/Sam’s fluctuating prices.

    Consistently, I buy…milk, eggs, cheese, bread, salad, bell peppers, mushrooms and juice boxes at my warehouse store. Then there are items that I buy there when I’m suddenly out and there’s no sale anywhere else. I live in an area where there’s two local “grocery stores” (and I use that term loosely) and then Super Walmart and Super Target. I don’t get the benefit of large chain grocery stores and their loss leaders + sales + coupons.

  • Heather says:

    I’m not an expert couponer, but I am pretty good at pricing things and this is what I have found:

    Things that I usually get at Sam’s:
    whipping cream (way cheaper)
    butter
    honey
    yeast
    salt
    baking powder
    garbage bags
    Ziploc bags
    90% ground beef (not much cheaper, but I hate running out)
    cornstarch
    some produce, like pineapples
    chicken
    olive oil
    basmati rice
    canned tomatoes
    Puff’s Plus with lotion
    over-the-counter meds
    clothing: kids’ stuff on clearance, mens’ slacks, dress socks

    Warehouses are good for:
    *things you don’t usually get coupons for
    *when you need it and don’t have a coupon or can’t wait for a sale
    *getting better quality stuff (like spaghetti sauce)
    *getting things when you are attached to a certain brand
    *gifts sometimes
    *helping you build up a full pantry, so that you can then wait for coupons/sales at the reg. store.
    *special occasions or holiday dinners (high-quality spiral ham at Christmas)
    *helping you eat better by making certain things like olive oil more affordable. Since I get it in a 3-liter bottle that lasts a year or so, I don’t feel guilty about using it.

  • Vika says:

    I agree with the commentors who noted the value of time, as well the fact that Costco. I like to decrease my shopping trips as much as possible and by carefully planning a monthly Costco trip and sharing a membership with my mom, I save a lot of time and a lot of money. We don’t live near Sam’s Club so I don’t know what sort of products they carry.

    Costco also has significantly better prices on organic items than I have found elsewhere. I’ll usually spend $100 on things like frozen fruit and veggies, whole chickens, ground beef, cheese, peanut butter, all items which are organic. While I can occasionally find organic meats or dairy marked down for slightly less than Costco’s prices, the hassle of visiting the grocery stores weekly is not worth it for me. A trip to Trader Joe’s and our coop midmonth, and I’m done with all my shopping!

  • redheadharper says:

    I would have enjoyed this post more if the comparasions had been direct product to product instead of name brand product to a store product.

  • Vika says:

    “as well as the fact that Costco…” does have significant lower prices on many items, just not those listed. Their quality is also excellent.

    Sorry, forgot to finish my thought.:)

  • Jessica says:

    I did a similar cost-comparison at stores in my area–it wasn’t a warehouse, but is is bigger store and generally people think it is cheaper than the “higher-end” store that I shop at. My friends were all VERY surprised that I spend less at my grocery store (doubled coupons are the way to save!). Also, the other store doesn’t have an ad, so you can’t plan your shopping or stockpiling based on sales.

    You can read my analysis here:
    http://momforhim.blogspot.com/2009/03/fact-finding-mission.html

  • Erica says:

    I luckily don’t have to pay for a membership to my local SAMS because my husband is an employee and gets free membership for household. However, just like the coupons rotate as do sales it all just depends. Warehouse stores offer gas and competive prices as do grocery stores with coupons but time, gas, and what you are searching for must all be taken into consideration.

  • Carrie says:

    Funny, my Costco membership was up for renewal last month and I’m not renewing it. I’ve only been couponing since March and I have already found that I absolutely do not need my Costco membership anymore. I don’t need to pay them $50/year for the privilege of purchasing household items and gas from them when I am saving so much and paying less other places. I will say that I am fortunate that I live minutes from no less than 5 different grocery stores. They’re constantly competing with one another, so I get great deals at the grocery store.

  • wendi says:

    We find organic items much cheaper at Costco. Soy milk, granola, and some produce are also cheaper. We take advantage of the coupons they send out too & stock up. They just had BOGO for big boxes of Powerbars that came out to be less than 50 cents a bar – much cheaper than any other stores – my husband goes through a lot of them, so this a big savings for us. For our family the membership pays off, but we also eat a lot of organic.

  • Lucky says:

    There aren’t enough coupons in the world to keep me stocked up on yeast, flour, vanilla, etc — things I actually do use in bulk. I only buy snack things and cereal if I can find them for less than $.50 at the grocery store with coupons. Bjs doesn’t come close to matching that price.

  • Samantha says:

    I have to go with the majority – it just depends!

    Personally we have a small family with limited storage. So just stocking up on grocery sales pretty much fills my freezer and pantry. I do like shop at Sam’s about once a month for food and stock up on “deals” I find.

    I do believe that Sam’s Club (or Costco in my area) can be worth it. Meat – especially if it is marked down can be worth it (I recently cut up a roast I found marked down and got 3 meals out of it for $ 5) The 4.97 rottisserie chickens are HUGE and we can get 3 meals out of one. When I find organic produce at Sam’s it is almost always cheaper. Recently I got two large bottles of name brand infant Motrin for $ 5.12!

    I buy a lot of our clothes and gifts at Sam’s as well. Often they have Little Me and Carter’s clothing for a better than sale price.

    I would reccomend taking a little notebook and doing some math (or enlist your older children for an educational “game”). I nearly threw up when I figured out how much I had been wasting on toilet paper by buying at Sam’s!

  • Kristina R says:

    Some of the items that we find are cheaper at Costco are
    vanilla extract
    flour
    sugar
    spices
    milk
    cottage cheese
    Whole coffee beans
    Romaine Lettuce
    Peppers (red/orange/yellow)
    several types of berries

    On many items the differential between Costco and our regular grocery stores (with coupons) is minimal but since I don’t go both places in a week, we will just get the item whichever location we are visiting.

    And the discounts on gasoline, tires and glasses along with the return policy for electronic makes our membership worth it.

  • Honey says:

    We have a Sam’s membership and sometimes I wonder why…
    We tend to just use it for big ticket items a couple times a year. For instance, we bought our dining room table and chairs there 1 year ago. And we bought a nice wool rug there for a fraction of the price it would have been anywhere else. And we’ve gotten good deals before on clothing and books/toys for the kids. I’ve shopped their holiday clearance, too.
    But for food and household items, I don’t find it to be a deal at all! And if there are deals on various produce etc. it’s usually avaiable at Walmart for the same price. But there hot pizza isn’t bad!:) Thanks for the nuts and bolts comparisons!

  • Harmony says:

    I agree with the earlier poster: BJs takes manufacturer’s coupons! So the coupon analogy just falls flat to me. Also, in our area, the price on milk and eggs can’t be beat except at Aldi (and Aldi is waaay further from our house, so it sort of negates the savings).

    There are a ton of products that aren’t great deals at BJs, but I calculated once that the savings on gas, milk and eggs alone was worth our membership fee.

    I think warehouse clubs really are hit or miss depending on the size of your family, your buying habits, and your individual market. For us, they work.

  • Marie says:

    I think the math on the chicken example is flawed. I thought that 16/oz = 1 pound.
    Chicken Breasts
    Warehouse 96 oz. Bag Frozen
    =$12.97 (or $0.14/lb.)
    vs.
    Marsh 40-oz. Bag Frozen
    No Coupon Available
    =$4.99 ($0.12/lb.)

    The warehouse example would be 6 pounds so .14*6 does not equal 12.97. nor does 2.5 lbs=4.99 @ .12/pound

    Perhaps it is meant per OUNCE, not pound?

  • stephanie says:

    I can see both sides of the argument. One observation I have is that warehouse stores and grocery stores vary from state to state. Our Costco, for example, runs coupon deals for the month where I can get things like Claritin for a much better deal. What it comes down to is being smart about your purchases. Know the things you buy and keep track of average prices. For the most part, Costco’s prices don’t change so if I know how much things cost at Costco per ounce, or per unit then I can watch for better deals at the grocery store. Unfortunately, there are times when I’m plum out of something so I have to go buy it at Costco without waiting for it to go on sale cheaper somewhere else. But it’s okay, because I know it’s still cheaper at Costco at that time, so I’m still getting the best deal.

  • julie says:

    We didn’t renew our BJs membership after I started couponing in earnest. We realized that the only things we got at the warehouse were diapers and cat litter. We no longer need diapers, and we found reasonably priced cat litter at a pet supply store.
    I know time and gas factor into your savings. In a usual week, I make one grocery store trip and possibly one drug store trip. Sometimes I do things like buy 13 boxes of tissues, using a coupon for each. For our household’s needs, the warehouse just wasn’t worth the membership fee or the time to get there.

  • Alaina says:

    I’m generally a fan of Costco. We can buy large cans of formula for less than $10 a can (a huge savings) and we use a lot of organic produce and products and we definitely do better on those items (yogurt, produce, chicken stock, peanut butter etc.). Oh and many baking products are cheaper. I think it probably depends on what you want to buy – they are definitely not cheaper on everything so we don’t shop there exclusively but our membership has been worth it! They do also send out warehouse coupons which are usually quite good.

  • julie says:

    Forgot to add. . .
    We go through three gallons a week, so I’d consider a warehouse club for that alone. But I’m in Pennsylvania where the state sets a minimum price for milk. No discounts at the warehouse.

  • Kate says:

    I go to BJ’s and can stack manufacturer’s coupons on top of the store coupons. Because of this, I have NEVER found diapers cheaper anywhere else. Except for the one time I used diaper.com and was able to get $10 off because it was my first time. I’m always checking sales and BJ’s is always cheapest. I also go there for milk. It’s a whole dollar cheaper than my grocery store.

  • This is definitely a tough issue – and one that we could argue back and forth on forever.

    I would come down on a “middle” position by saying that IT DEPENDS ON THE PRODUCT.

    i.e. – for many toiletries, I can do better playing the drugstore game. however, for certain bulk food items it is well worth it;)

  • Lee says:

    I have been wondering how to cut the cost of my yeast. I have a Sams membership and have not used it in months! it is up for renewal in June and i am not planning on renewing it. I only found 2 items I could consistently get better deals on there, black olives and lemonade, sometimes baking needs like vanilla. I am planning on making one last trip this month to stock up and will grab yeast. I don’t buy a lot of plastic bags or paper products and I don’t eat a lot of pre packaged stuff. I also live with in 10 minutes of 4 different grocery chains and several smaller stores. I have a nice stockpile of things I get almost free. But I agree you must know your price. I found most items were not that great of a savings.

  • Mommaof10 says:

    We are a family of 11 with 9 of us being 10 years old on up, so we are feeding many adult sized portions.

    I am sure that if you have an abundant supply of coupons and time then you can go to this store and that buying cheaper than *some* of the items at a warehouse store. I *used* to do that when our family was smaller and there wasn’t so much cooking and laundry and logistics with a smaller family.

    I no longer have the time or $ for gas to run from store to store to save a few pennies here and there. When I get to town (35-60 miles away) I have to be selective about using my time. And the amounts that I must buy most certainly cannot be covered by the number of coupons I can scrounge up.

    I have always learned where I could buy what for the cheapest and then buy those items at those stores. Each locale is different too. Where we live, Costco is hands-down the cheapest way to feed my family, barring raising our own food, which we are working on.

    I am very selective about what I buy at Costco. We do not buy mixes, or name brand canned goods/soups/chili’s etc. We do not buy specialty items. We buy family household staples not prefabbed meals.

    Things I cringe at buying if I can’t get to Costco (55 miles away):
    *Tortilla chips, same price as Costco but 1/2 the amount and not as good a product.
    *Vanilla, same price as Costco but 1/4 the amount
    *Yeast, buying at the market is a joke!
    *Cheese – much, much cheaper at Costco
    *Ground Sirloin – cheaper at Costco than ground beef at market
    *Butter – always cheaper at Costco
    *Organic sugar – cheaper than anywhere else I’ve looked
    *Bulk toilet paper – Costco is the best buy around
    Vinegar,Hydrogen Peroxide & baking soda – our natural cleansers are always cheaper at Costco.
    Lettuce & Organic Spinach – 1/2 the price of the market
    Frozen fruits and veggies – great quality same or better prices.
    Frozen OJ – MUCH cheaper at Costco
    Powdered Gatorade – cheaper at Costco
    Bulk Spices, Olive Oil, Garlic, Peanut Butter, etc.

    I do shop specials at the few markets we have to pick from. I do buy a few items at Sams Club. I do have a few things that are cheaper at HEB. HEB brand tissues and paper towelsare cheaper than Costco and just as good of quality. But what is cheaper at the market is by far a smaller amount than vice-versa.

    I could spend all sorts of time rounding up the number of coupons it would take to feed my family, and save a little money, but I don’t have time for that. The hunting down of coupons, then organizing them, then fitting them with the right sale at the right store at the right time just is cannot be the focus of my life.

    So, I figure out where the best place to buy each item is and then shop for those items at those stores when I am there. And when I find an exceptional sale or deal on something, I hop on it and thank the Lord for it. But shopping sales and deals cannot be what drives my time.

    I buy oats, wheat, rice, cocoa and other “bulk” items when on sale at Sun Harvest or through the local co-op.

    Mommaof10
    http://PlymouthRockRanch.com
    Recording the Faithfulness and Provision of God for Future Generations

  • Kristyn Allen says:

    I live in California. I have a “rock bottom price list” with 2 columns- one is the price I find at a grocery store, one is the warehouse price. If I’m running low on something and it’s not on sale, I know to check my sheet and maybe pick it up at Costco. I find that milk, eggs, butter, bread are 95% of the time cheaper at Costco since those items seem to rarely be on sale at grocery stores near us. Hopefully I can get my stockpile a little better so I always buy at rock-bottom prices

  • Coby says:

    I go to sam’s for items that I cannot get coupons for at the store. Luckily I don’t have to pay for my membership since my dad has a business account he just added me on. Even with sales at the store I can still get cheese for way less per ouce at sams (11 cents verses 18 cents) and we are HUGE cheese eaters. Also for baking supplies, like extracts, yeast, salt, baking soda etc Sams is much cheaper. Their chicken breasts are always 1.99/lb which is what the stores run sales at where I live. Butter, gas and other reduced price meats are other items i like from there. I can get in at 7:30 for business hours and there are always discounted meats in the am.

  • Marcie says:

    I am getting ready to renew our membership to Costco and begin an analysis of my spending there for the year. I find I can not beat the price on most produce, butter, almond butter, and peanut butter. Plus, their quality is usually better then my grocery store’s. I am anxious to see if it is worth it given that I am really couponing and have cut our bills in half – we are a family of 7- that is a feat given we still have two in pull-ups and one in diapers!

  • Erika says:

    I have found that Costco saves me money on a few things. Such as spices, MUCH cheaper than at the stores even with coupons (although the selection is measly…ahh Alaska is great sometimes). MEAT is a big one. Boy is it ever cheaper to buy at Costco, or comparable to the stores and no I haven’t seen coupons for meat up here and I’ve been here 8 years. I buy bulk things of beef to cut up on my own and save about 1 to 2 bucks a pound (and it’ll last us a while). Formula is way cheaper at Costco (especially if you buy their generic, but I always buy Enfamil with the kids since they were sesitive to different types of formula and Enfamil was the only one they’d stomach without issues). I find bulk things of flour and sugar cheaper than even sales can give me (for the most part) and if you buy a bag you’re set on flour for quite a while. Office supplies (pens and printer cartridges especially) are cheaper, although you have to shell out a pretty penny to get the bulk packages.

    Overall, I’ve found a LOT that is cheaper with coupons at the stores, but bulk places DEFINITELY have a place. Especially in Alaska.

  • TJ says:

    I try very hard to keep my husband out of Costco (the only warehouse club in our area). Everything is their brand or brandname and typically much more expensive than the store brands I usually buy.

    So many of the foods there, we don’t need the large quantity, and storage is an issue in our home. We are a small family now, but I imagine after the twins are born, we may actually be able to use some of those big packages.

    The one item that we have consistently found better than grocery prices on is Peanut Butter! There is rarely good coupons out there, and sales aren’t much better. I can buy 2 large jars of peanut butter for less than the tub (which at times goes rancid) at the grocery.

  • While buying bulk at a wherehouse store may not save much money compared to sales and coupons at the grocery store, I’ve found I save a TON of money by shopping the bulk aisle at the store. For items like nuts, sugar, flour, etc, it may be much cheaper to buy out of the bulk bins than in the packaged aisle. Take a look at the per ounce cost next time you shop (don’t forget your calculator!) to see if this would work for you. . .

    See my blogpost “bulking up” for examples of this. . .

  • MacKenzie says:

    We don’t buy a lot of packaged food and we use a lot of coupons so when our Sam’s membership expired, we didn’t renew. I know a few things are cheaper there, but not enough to make up the cost of the membership.

    We originally got it because we figured out we would save enough just on contacts for a year to pay for it. This time we bought contacts right before it expired. Maybe next year when we need contacts again, we will sign up again.

    Overall, I think it depends on what you buy, what other options you have and whether you use coupons, as well as how much food you need to buy (the # coupons talked about before).

  • We gave up our BJs membership a few years ago. While buying in bulk could be convenient, for us and the way I purchase by shopping the sales and using coupons, it was never cheaper.

    Since our local grocery store offers discounts on gas with purchase (heck, I’ve paid as little as 5¢ a gallon for 30 gallons), even the gas was no longer a bargain for us.

    I never found anything that was a bargain for us at Sam’s Club. We do not have a Costco in our area.

  • I have found that COMPARATIVE PRICE SHOPPING is the only way to find out if buying in bulk is best for our family.

    For us:
    – COSTCO has much better prices and products than SAM’S CLUB. (My parents have tried Costco, Sam’s and BJs–all 3 miles from their home–and prefer Costco also for those reasons.)

    – Some items at Costco can’t be beat by sales and coupons at other stores. The company sends out a coupon book and if you buy things at the time with a Costco coupon, it makes for BIG savings.

    – We save on everyday items like:
    Gallon Skim Milk – $2.19
    Boneless chicken – $1.99/lb
    Lean Ground Beef – $2.49/lb
    Fruit and Veges – almost always less than $1/lb
    There are no other grocery stores nearby that offer high-quality items at those prices.

    I wrote about the subject of buying in bulk on my site, too:
    http://www.once-upon-a-coupon.com/store-tips/is-buying-in-bulk-right-for-you/

  • jessica says:

    We share a membership with a family member. We are also a small family- me, my DH, DD (2yo), and 2 cats. I have found that cheese, lunchmeat, butter, margarine, seafood, and spices are a good deal at Sam’s Club. We also have purchased tires, eyeglasses and denim jeans for my DH there.

  • Kia says:

    great, great topic!

    first, if you’re not a member of a warehouse, this post helps you see that you don’t have to go that route to make the most of your money. thank you for that!

    we were loyal costco patrons and LOVED it till we moved from MD to IL. the three reasons we cancelled our membership were:

    1- everything out here just seemed more expensive (though that could just be a regional thing!)
    2- costco seemed to have much more in “convenience” foods opposed to foods like flour, sugar, rice, etc. i buy more of the ladder.
    3- the time difference really was negligible for us (and i’ve got 4 kids all 4 and under) regarding going to costco v. shopping the sales. for us, we ALWAYS had to go to another store anyway (costco didn’t carry everything we needed on a weekly basis).

    since weaning ourselves off costco and finally canceling our membership in jan 2009, we’ve come to see:

    1- we can get top quality products at non-warehouse stores for cheaper quite easily. aldi is so cool! and the other day i got organic yeast packs from meijer for 12 cents each on clearance. and they don’t even expire till 2010! God always provides!
    2- not going to costco saves us from those “splurge” purchases that we really can’t afford anyway
    3- the paper/disposable products i would buy from costco are things i can get for free or really cheap without even having a Sunday paper (we don’t get the paper!).

  • Vanessa says:

    I keep a very detailed price book to compare the prices on items at Costco vs. the price at Aldi. I use that list to determine when something is a good deal in bulk or not. We buy things like flour, yeast, spices, olive oil, etc at Costco because we use TONS of them (I am very sensitive to MSG, so we make almost everything completely from scratch and take to friend quite often!).

    I purchase things like meat at the grocery store because they hit rock bottom prices there! Like my chicken for $.88 last week!

  • Andie says:

    I have the similar feelings about Sam’s/warehouse clubs that I do about Aldi’s. You need to make a list of the most common things that you buy. Then take a look at the grocery store(s) nearby and write down the prices of the items, and then go to Aldi’s and write down the prices of the items and compare.

    Do the same with Sam’s, but you also need to consider a) whether you will be buying big ticket items at Sam’s b) whether you will be buying lots of items that wouldn’t be available at a grocery store and c) the membership cost.

    I have found that most things I can buy cheapest at Aldi’s, but there are certain items that I want to buy the name brand, and so I will buy it at the grocery store, but preferably only if I also have a coupon. And I will only renew our membership to Sam’s that year if my b) and/or c) options are true.

    Andie

  • Danielle says:

    For me it is a time saver. I use it to keep me out of stores for longer. And I have not been able to find produce of the same quality and longevity of freshness at any of my local grocery stores. Costco produce tastes better and lasts longer. I can’t tell you how many avocados I have bought from the grocery store and found them to be bad before they were ever ripe enough to eat. Not making that mistake again.

    I have not been very successful with couponing though. I don’t have enough self-discipline and my family is too picky. I am working on building it up. Until then I take a strict list to Costco and to a small grocery store called Fresh and Easy. It reduces temptation for me. I will go to other grocery stores for good meat sales but that’s it.

  • Kristine says:

    I agree that at B.J.’s Warehouse you can stack coupons and that turns out to be a good deal most of the time.
    Tomorrow I am headed there for trash bags,bananas and milk. Our trash-bags have lasted us almost a year. Bananas are very well priced there. We usually get a three pound bag for very cheap. I always make it a point to pick up milk when I am there. We also like to go there to stock up for my husband before a deployment. The bulk of items such as crystal light and Kool-aid singles really help out during deployment. The bonus to all of this is that they mail you coupons, and you can pick them up at the warehouse door.

  • Linda says:

    I for the most part totally agree. Sale prices combined with coupons are cheaper than bulk prices!

  • Rachlea says:

    I think that you can get a good deal either way. I have found good deals on bulk and on the smaller purchase items as well. It just depends on the deal.

    i say that any good deals is just a Good deal no matter how you look at it.

  • Tosh says:

    I love Costco and couldn’t live without it! I shop there weekly to buy staple products. I can’t eat anything but Costco individually frozen chicken. There are numerous things are are defiantly cheaper than other stores even with coupons. My favorite thing is when Costco sends their coupons, then it’s a super deal! Personally I’d rather have a Costco than any other store if I had to choose one.

  • Shannon says:

    we do a costco run once every 3 weeks for Coffee, eggs, cheese, milk, frozen berries, frozen organic veggies and organic frozen juice. I also buy bananas, lettuce etc for the week while i am there. Just the money we save on Coffee alone pays for our membership. A huge 3lb bag of freshly roasted coffee beans is 7.99. They roast them in our warehouse and the coffee is SO yummy. We make smoothies everyday and you cant beat their price on frozen berries.

    I am going to add yeast and honey to my list this time.

  • Melodie says:

    Austin Peanut Butter crackers, milk (which rarely goes on sale or has matching coupons at our grocery stores), cheese, yeast, salt, and babyfood: the only things I find cheaper at BJ’s Warehouse Club. Keep in mind though that BJ’s is the only warehouse that also takes coupons, that my store allows Manufacturer coupons to be stacked with store coupons, and that they take as many coupons as match the number of UPC-ed items in a package. Otherwise, even some of the BJ’s bulk items wouldn’t be worth it. Larger items, like kitchen utensils, bedding, clothing, etc. can also be found for reasonable prices. If you need those things when they are not likely to go on sale till the next cycle, having a warehouse membership is very nice.

  • trixie says:

    Wow, what a lot of great responses! I’ve enjoyed reading through them all.

    I remember when Warehouse stores first came to our area. They were very plain and didn’t offer a lot of the amenities and products they have today. At that time– at least in our area, the warehouse stores beat all other stores on price, hands down. Slowly, over time, the price gap between regular/discount grocery stores and the warehouses has narrowed a lot.

    For the items I purchase for our size family (2) I’ve found that more often than not the grocery store is cheaper. I tend to shop at 1 grocery store using the “stockpiling” method; many times coupons reduce the price even further. I stock pile enough of everything we use, so that paying full price is a rare occassion. (You can read about my most recent stockpiling trip and what all I did with the stuff here):

    http://farmhomelife.blogspot.com/2009/05/save-time-money-by-pre-prepping-meat.html

    Because we are a family of 2, it is much easier for us to stockpile — if we were a family of 5 or 6, or more, it would probably be a bigger time saver to shop at a warehouse store.

    Take Care,

    Trixie

  • Tina says:

    One thing is that not all areas have double coupons (boy I sure wish we did though!). None of our grocery stores double. I think while some items are more expensive at Costco I think there are great bargains to be had. I just got a huge bunch of bananas for $1.32. We actually love to get fruit there as we go thru tons. Spices, yeast, some breads are all great deals.

  • Emily says:

    I love my Sams membership. I used to go more for things like canned tomatoes and ground beef, but really, my membership is covered by the money I save on books. I am a voracious reader and I am not a fan of libraries. Not that they are bad, but I can’t get my mind wrapped around the way they are organized. The marketing of stores works better for me. Anyhow, the warehouse clubs have amazing prices on new release books. I also have found their bread to be cheaper on an everyday, and even compared to grocery store sales, basis. Everything else that I used to buy at Sam’s, now I can find at the stores cheaper if there is a sale. But I definitely think there is a place for both in our marketplace!

  • Denise says:

    I’ll admit up front, I am a “Costco Junkie” when it comes to certain items. I purchase my daughter’s diapers there (though now they are close to $40 per package!) wipes, chicken breasts, ground turkey, honey, coffee creamer, milk (thus far Costco has it for $2.69 by me, which is CHEAP!), dog bones, frozen fruit (for smoothies), fresh fruit (we eat a lot of that here), tissues, and toothbrush head replacements.

    Recently, I would put a “rounded figure” next to the item on my list, so I’d be better prepared at the check-out. It’s been helping me stay within budget (I still need to get better.)
    I began doing this, because one time out shopping with my husband and kids, I was blown away at our total… over $250.00! WOWZERS! I went back over and over and over to see what we bought, and in the end it was all necessity no “wants”. My daughter was formula fed and I stocked up and purchased 3 big cans of Enfamil for $33- that right there was $100.00.

    I do one big Costco run every month or month and a half. I get a much better deal on meat, milk, and baby essentials than anywhere else.

  • Denise says:

    Ok, so I also forgot to add that I purchase my sponges, dishwasher tablets in bulk as well. Those last me a LONG time!

  • Janice says:

    For the most part, I agree with the author. I think that most of the items at warehouse clubs can be found cheaper using sales and coupons or by simply purchasing a store’s own generic version of the product. However, I have a price list for the stores in my area (Wal-Mart, Kroger, & Aldi) and I have compared it to my nearest Sam’s Club. There are several items that I have found to be a better deal at Sam’s Club because I rarely see sales or coupons for these items. I will routinely purchase: real bacon bits, 90% lean ground beef, sliced colby jack cheese, real maple syrup, fish oil tablets, walnuts, olive oil, printer cartridges, whole fryer chickens, vinegar, yeast, baking soda, and various spices from Sam’s Club. Our savings in meat alone justifies the $40 per year membership fee. Now, on the other hand, there are numerous items that I would never purchase from Sam’s because it wouldn’t be a cost savings for me. Some of those items would include: cereal, granola bars, cleaning products, diapers, health and beauty products, and paper products.

  • Danielle says:

    I have not had a chance to read all the comments, so I apologize if this was all ready stated, but BJ’s does accept coupons and they cunt each item in a package individually when it comes to coupons. For example: We recently picked up a 4-pack of kid’s Suave shampoo/conditioner and used 2 $1.25/2 coupons on. They also had a store coupon for $1.75 which I was able to stack. I ended up getting all 4 bottles for about $1. To my knowledge, BJ’s is the only warehouse club that does accept coupons. As others have said, it all depends on what you need and what they carry.

  • angie says:

    My husband would live off Tyson chicken if I didn’t cook for him too!!
    I like to tag along with friends or family who have the membership once or twice a year to check out prices and decide if I need anything. Usually I can’t bear to pay the bulk price- especially if I have a coupon for that item (that I can’t use):)
    Thanks for confirming what I already thought.

  • Maria says:

    I’ve found that the produce at my local Sam’s is way better than at most grocery stores, especially the ones with the lowest prices (like Aldi). I’m not really saving money if I buy a pint of strawberries but half of them are rotten. Between strawberries, blueberries, avocados, red peppers, pineapples and carpet cleaner, my membership pays for itself in just a few months.

  • Kellie says:

    I agree with the comments that suggested the few items used in this post are not enough to argue buying in bulk is not cheaper. Certainly some items are much cheaper with a sale and coupon at a grocery store. The items I purchase at Sam’s either do not have coupons available, or if they do, Sam’s still beats the sale/coupon price. I also agree with earlier comments that I do not have access to 10 coupons for the same item, so buying 10 boxes of Puffs with coupons is not possible for me. I have a list of items that I know I get for less at Sam’s, and make monthly or bi-monthly trips to purchase. If we lived right around the corner, I would buy all my gas and milk there!

  • Misty says:

    Fruit and veggies – I usually shop the grocery sales, but oranges, apples, bananas, mini carrots, lettuce, avacado, and cucumbers are consistently cheaper at Sam’s Club. (though the berries, grapes, and peaches aren’t – go figure)
    A grocery sale may occasionally beat Sam’s fruit and veggies, but the warehouse always has it for that price – so the best bet is to do your research and know that less than $1/pound is good for apples, less than $.50 is good for bananas, etc.

  • Laura says:

    I truly consider myself extremely lucky, We live on a military base, where we have our commissary, which we always get everything much much cheaper than any other locol grocery store. We also have our own gas station, at a much cheaper price. I love the commissary. If you live on a base, don’t be scared to shop there, I was at first, but they sell exactly the same things that they do at any grocery store, brands are the same, everything. They are big on coupons, they even have an entire table with lots of coupon books. (Laura -Camp Pendleton, California)

  • Angelia says:

    I just wanted to add that Costco is my absolute favorite store. Since moving from Idaho to Florida I no longer have access to Costco – and Sam’s Club is just not the same:( I really miss the Kirkland brand – tuna, dog food, cat food, diapers, wipes, toilet paper, detergent, raisin bran, olive oil, trail mix – I could go on and on. Costco has excellent quality produce as well as baking and dairy staples, great gas prices and coupons and rebate offers, hard to beat book prices, nice “gift” selections, and a clean and relatively quiet shopping environment (no music). Also – with the executive membership we always got our membership back plus more (2% of all purchases back I believe). I do have 3 hungry boys to feed in addition to my husband so that is a consideration as well. Oh – and we miss the “food court” cheap lunch out too:) I guess I just kind of felt Costco was very dependable and their return policy is just about unbeatable.

    We do not pay for a newspaper and I do not shop store to store – I only alternate between our commissary and the warehouse store weekly. I think it all boils down to what is available in your area, how much food your family actually eats as well as the quality you are looking for (and can afford of course), and the amount of time you have to spend – I get very sidetracked and bogged down in the whole coupon thing. I do much better overall limiting myself to one store a week and concentrating on the basics and our “tried and true” favorites from those places. However – if a great deal or coupon presents itself I definitely don’t turn it down if it fits in with my normal shopping pattern. Sorry for the ramble!

    Side note here – I also thoroughly enjoy going through a checkout line with no magazines staring back at me and my little/young men.

  • Kathryn Bircher says:

    We are religious bulk buyers at Sam’s club. Since I work full time, and we haven’t any great grocery stores in our area that run awesome deals like the ones I hear about here, and we don’t have access to cheap coupons (newspaper etc) Sam’s saves us tons of money. It is also much closer to our house, and we save the membership fee (at least) in gas every year. I also save a lot of planing time and driving time just assuming I’ll go to just these places. We also cook from scratch a lot so coupons don’t always help us out. I think if we had access to better coupons, and I didn’t work so much it would be better not to do this, but I like that I know I will either go to Sam’s or Super Walmart and get great deals for the most part. Aldi just opened up close to us, so we are experimenting there too, but trying to to go 3 stores is difficult!

  • Laurie says:

    I would agree with most posts buying in bulk, but we are a small family of 3 and have 5 different grocery stores within miles of eacthother. I shop the specials weekly and find that I do well with this. I do like Sam’s club for veggies, fruits,yogurt,milk and clothes are much cheaper. I like others do not have time to clip coupons and most local sales are what I would pay for most items suit us.

  • Moneyhood says:

    I have a Costco membership primarily for the gas savings – we have a SUV and we typically save around 20 cents/gallon. At BJs we get a big pack of Silk Soy Milk and we buy diapers there. BJs usually has a coupon for our fav diapers and the savings are outstanding! I agree with some of the other posts – produce savings at Costco are great as well.

  • Christy says:

    I would have preferred to see store brand-store brand analysis instead of Name Brand-Store Brand. Sure the Target brand diapers will be cheaper than the Pampers. Sam’s Club and Costco both have their own store-brand diapers. I would have preferred a comparison between the Kirkland’s/Member’s Mark brands instead of the Pampers.

    There are a few things that I would prefer to buy at warehouse clubs. Dog Beds are usually about 1/2 the price of other Big Box Pet Stores. I got two German Shepherd size beds for $25 a piece. They are the nice, sturdy kind with egg crate foam inside. WELL worth our membership fee. They have held up for over a year now!

    Also, when we moved, we found a shower head for our house at a lower price than our Local Chain Home Improvement Store. They usually have good prices on mattresses, some furniture, and even outdoor supplies. We got our Patio/Deck furniture last year from a Sam’s. It was much less expensive than other retailers, yet it was better quality than many other sets we’d seen.

    My point is, look outside the food aisle. Check out the HBA aisle (for the stuff you can’t get from Wags and CVS), and take advantage of pharmacy/optical deals. I’ve found good deals on clothes for me and my daughter (especially sports team merchandise). Tires may seem like a big draw, but I haven’t found a deal for my tires yet.

    You just have to learn to compare prices.

    Thanks for bringing up this topic.

  • Patti says:

    This is something that, unfortunately, a person needs to “do their own homework” and investigate prices for themselves in their area and based on what items they buy. I think it is impossible (and a little misleading) to make a blanket statement such as “prices overall were more expensive in bulk” because in my case the exact opposite is true. I cannot even begin to add up how much money I personally have saved by shopping at Costco vs. grocery stores in my area. I have done my research and I know how much items cost at Costco. I have been gathering a huge coupon collection and have used some, but for the most part, where I live, I have found that it is still cheaper at Costco even if I had used a coupon at a grocery store. I do, however, use coupons for items I can’t get at Costco- or for the occasion that the coupon will actually make an item cheaper at a grocery store in that instance. But, that does not happen very often. A smart shopper just has to be careful, bring a calculator, and do their homework beforehand. 🙂

  • Julie says:

    I realize that this was comparing name brands, but I often buy the Costco brand (Kirkland), which I have found to be a much better quality than other store brands in diapers, wipes, trash bags, detergent, dog food, etc. It is definitely cheaper than the name brands, even with a coupon. Plus, I like not having to constantly run around looking for sales on diapers and wipes, then only buying one pack since I only have one coupon.
    I maybe shop at Costco once a month (mainly b/c we don’t have a deep freeze, so I can’t buy a lot of meat and perishables in bulk), but I do feel they have some great deals on many items and it is worth the membership. Plus, even though we recycle, I like buying the larger package over several smaller ones because it is less packaging waste.

  • Carrie says:

    I tend to agree, I think that you can get better deals using coupons and sales at non-bulk stores. However, I still go to Cosco for a few items that I can’t get coupons for like almonds. They also have some good frozen stuff you can’t get anywhere else.

    But I am amused by how many people think they are getting a big savings by shopping at these types of places. If it is easier, fine, but most people would be surprised that they aren’t saving as much as they think.

  • Thanks for this post. I’ve been finding the same things. Even without coupons if I stick to my “grocery store rules” I can often beat the bulk prices. It was nice to hear a second on this.

  • We are a family of 8. We got rid of our Costco membership several years ago, when we found out that Cash & Carry opened their doors to non-restaurant patrons. C & C does not require a paid membership (or any membership), has the same deals (or better) as Costco, between that, our normal bulk bins at our regular grocery store, Grocery Outlet & Trader Joes, we could get all the deals, specialty items, etc for the same price, or less, w/o the membership fee, crowds & time. The thing that held us back was the gas discount, but our regular store put out a credit card with a $0.15/gallon discount .

    That said, the best deals at warehouse type places are on perishables & seasonal items. Cheeses, milk, meats, etc, were the best priced items there. I know that the Pacific Foods chicken broth was on my list (watch C & C & Fred Meyer for good prices), as were nuts like walnuts & pecans (barring a great sale on bulk nuts, Trader Joes has the best prices on these, dried fruit, too), olive oil (Trader Joes & C & C) & a few other things.

    See if you have a Cash & Carry ( http://www.smartfoodservice.com/locations.aspx ) (they are called Smart & Final – http://www.smartandfinal.com/locations.aspx – in some places) in your area. You will be able to find the same (better) deals on kosher hot dogs, beans, rice, kosher salt, yeast, baking soda, baking powder, etc. We buy tortillas, flours in bulk (for a tiny fraction of the price, even than the larger bags at the grocery store), onions for $0.10 a pound (in a 50 lb sack, we get one twice a year when they go on a deep sale), lemons & limes, bananas at the lowest price around, syrups for coffees & sodas & much more.

    We pick up canned goods, organics, cheeses, sour cream, ice creams, vitamins & medicines like pain relievers & antihistamines, toiletries (expensive, organic ones for the price of store brands), cleaning supplies like Magic Erasers for $0.50 each, wine (between $2-6 a bottle for nice wines) & other things at the Grocery Outlet ( http://www.groceryoutlets.com/storefinder.aspx ). If you have one in your area, use it!

    I do check unit prices, even on bulk items. Go for the lowest unit price. If your grocery store has bulk bins, check the prices there. We get our steel cut oats for breakfast there, our rolled oats for making granola and cookies there, some flours that we don’t use often enough to buy in 25-50 lb sacks, spices & other things that are priced at magnitudes lower than the packaged items. I buy sea salt with no additives for $0.29 a pound in bulk & put it in a glass container & into our shakers at home.

    Trader Joes ( http://www.traderjoes.com/locations.asp ) is actually quite cost effective if you buy ingredients rather than snacks & meals. Their chocolate chips are amazing & less expensive than the waxy store brands. I buy sheep’s milk feta in brine for less than the cheap brands of cow milk feta in the grocery store. Take a day to walk the aisles & note prices, I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Even those chewy granola bars are a better deal there, though I don’t buy them as we can make them for less. The packaged foods are not as good a deal, but still a better deal than packaged food at the grocery store. They will take coupons for the brands they carry (I get Organic Valley heavy cream there w/coupons, as they have the lowest price already). Their packaged foods are also made with real ingredients & few, if any, preservatives & other junk. So, not only is it lower in cost, but it is better for you. Wine, beer & hard ciders are also a great deal here.

    Whew! That was a long comment. To answer the question directly, if you shop judiciously, warehouse stores can be a great value. If you can find a warehouse type store in your area that does not have a membership fee, it is an even better deal. We even have an organic food outlet in our area, so search for that, too.

    Remember to sign up for the newsletters, both by mail & e-mail (there are different deals – a local store where we shop sends postcards for freebies & BOGOs every 2 weeks in the mail, not in their e-mails) & check for coupons accepted.

  • Debbie says:

    I believe generally you can get a better deal shopping with coupons at your local grocery store. I don’t have a membership to a warehouse type store, but I have gone with my sister in law. I found that after looking at the prices on many items I could do better shopping with coupons instead. I did however find that the price on tortilla chips and salsa was great and the size of the package would mean it would last longer than it normally does at my house.

    There is also the time consideration. Finding, organizing, and plannning trips to the grocery store to get the best deals using coupons can be very time consuming and not everyone has time to devote to it or wants to.

  • Michelle says:

    This article had been fresh in my mind as my husband and I are contemplating a Costco membership, so when a friend asked if I wanted to tag along to check out the prices there yesterday I was excited to go. While I completely agree that couponing along with store sales make a ton more sense on a great deal of items there, I have to say that I was very impressed with the prices and quality of the vegetables (big boxes of spring lettuce and spinach for $3.99 in particular!), cheese, and the family sized pickle jars and hummus (my family goes through them like crazy!) to name a few at Costco. After my visit there, and seeing the decent gas discount I decided it would be a great idea to join for those items alone. I will continue using coupons for the majority of my other pantry needs though! Just my opinion! Thanks:-)

Money Saving Mom® Comment Policy

We love comments from readers, so chime in with your thoughts below! We do our best to keep this blog upbeat and encouraging, so please keep your comments cordial and kind. Read more information on our comment policy.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *