Managing your grocery budget #13- Club stores

We all enjoy shopping at Club store:  Sams, Costco, etc.  The shopping experience is really pretty good, and they have samples, which some days are enough to count as lunch.  But it is really a good place to spend your grocery money.

I think every family has a different answer.  I will share what I have decided.

When we lived in Idaho, the nearest club store was over 2 hours away, so we let our membership go.  Now in TN we have several stores all within reasonable driving distance.  Actually Costco and Sams were just down the street from each other.  I decided to compare prices on about 100 items that we would purchase at a club store.  I actually took my notebook into the store and copied down the prices at both stores, then came home and compared.  I was quite surprised to find that the prices were almost identical, so we joined Sams because the membership fee was less.

But are the prices at the Club store better than at the grocery store or discount store?  It is best to compare unit prices ( ounces, pounds, each, etc).  Depending on what your store has and what the prices are will determine where the lowest price is.

Then what about convenience?  Is time short? Is it easier to make one stop?  Are you more disciplined with your grocery money if you shop less? All of these are good reasons to shop at a club store.  You can get a bunch of groceries in one shopping trip.

Another issue is the ability to use the large quantities in a reasonable time.  This is especially important for perishable items like produce and dairy.  And what about waste?  My parents have an ongoing dilemma, produce costs less at their local Sams, but sometimes spoils before they can use it all.  My dad:  it costs less than the grocery store so it is ok to throw some out.  My mom:  does not like wasting food by throwing it out even if it costs more to purchase it at the grocery.  They have a Sam’s club closer than a grocery store, so they visit fairly often and purchase much of their grocery and household items there.

We do not actually buy a lot of food at Sams, but I do have several items that I regularly buy there

  • Dog food
  • yeast
  • toilet paper
  • vanilla
  • flour
  • honey
  • spices

 

And we have found that there are several items that we purchase because of the quality and availability:

  •  quality meat- beef tenderloin, pork tenderloin
  • speciality cheeses
  • seasonal items- sparkling cider
  • paper goods- high quality
  • clothes- socks,
  • gifts

Non food items/ services

  • eye exams, glasses
  • Rx
  • tires/ batteries
  • electonics- computer printer
  • appliances- microwave
  • mattresses

Tim also purchases items for work because he needs the food service quantities.  These vary from unit to unit, but it saves him a lot of time.

Basically, shopping at a club store can save you money or not.  Just make an informed decision.

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About dwolters

mama to 4 wonderful kids. live on a farm and raise sheep
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