What do you buy from Costco/Sam's that is cheaper than the grocery store? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 29 Old 07-14-2010, 11:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I hope I'm posting this in the right section. I am desperately trying to figure out how to make $200 a week stretch for a family of 6 for ALL of our grocery/household/personal needs.

We've had both Sam's and Costco memberships in the past but currently have neither. I would like to clip coupons and do sale ads (which I do to a certain extent) but I have limited time to do so.

What do you buy from the big warehouse stores that you feel are cheaper/more frugal than the regular stores? Thanks

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#2 of 29 Old 07-14-2010, 11:34 PM
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I don't have a card anymore but I did have one for costco from the family I used to work for. I bought a 3lb loaf of bread for about $6 with very healthy ingrdients, a 2lb block of cheddar cheese is $5.50, toilet paper is cheap, olive oil a very good deal, cans of soup, organic tomato paste, 50lbs of white rice for $15 (they have organic but it is more, can't remember how much), almond butter- a huge thing for $5.80, big things of organic spinach and lettuces (I mean BIG) for about $3, really good fresh green beans, these delicious healthy bars of whole grains, dried fruit, flax seeds and nuts, BIG thing for about $7............................................
lots of good deals, but as far as making $200 go for a month...? The prices are all good, but it adds up quickly because you are buying in bulk. Maybe if you are really creative in the kitchen, and don't mind using a lot of the same ingredients over and over.

Wish you all the best mama! Hope you figure out something that works well for you
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#3 of 29 Old 07-14-2010, 11:38 PM
 
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Flour, sugar, oil, cheap fabric softener that I water down again, shredded cheese, some produce (lettuce, oranges, apples, spinach, strawberries, grapes), sometimes pork tenderloin, large bags of chips, nuts, dates, frozen veggies, frozen fruit.

I find TP and paper towels, diapers, wipes, a lot of meat - all are much more expensive at Costco.
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#4 of 29 Old 07-15-2010, 12:31 AM
 
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Cottage cheese, milk, cream, cream cheese, sour cream, cheese, eggs, chips, salsa, spaghetti sauce, tuna, certain produce, large bags of rice, spices.

Certain things are cheaper in regular grocery stores, farmers market or ethnic groceries, though, so I shop at several places as needed.
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#5 of 29 Old 07-15-2010, 12:54 AM
 
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One thing with Costco, you can bring a buddy on your trip and they can use your card too.

My mom and I go to Costco together. I do the upgraded membership, which yes, is more expensive, it's like $100 in my area, rather than the $50 regular membership. I do this because they give 2% of all that is spent on the card back. I haven't paid for the membership in 2 years because when my mom and I both go, the total of both of our trips is applied and I get enough back to cover the membership. The other thing we do is split/share things, like produce. Often, there's too much for either of us to use up before the item goes bad, but it's still a great deal, like tomatos for $1.29 a lb, but they are sold in like 8 tomato packages. I just can't use 8 toms for my family before they go bad.

For me, chicken I can usually get for $0.89 a lb at Costco, it's usually well over $1 a lb at the store, on sale. Most of the time, meat I can usually break even on-find the same price at Costco as at Walmart, but I also usually find that it's better quality at Costco. My Costco also only sells organic frozen veggies, they don't even sell regular ones. And those usually average $1 a lb or so, and are sold in bulk packages of like 5lbs. Usually with sales and coupons I can get regular frozen veggies at the regular grocery for much less (even free) but for organics, that's a great deal. Milk and eggs are also usually a great deal. I don't buy bottled water, but my mom always gets bottled water there, she finds it's a great deal.

Coupons and sales-check around for coupon blogs that apply to your area, you can probably find one that does lots of the matching up for you. That will save you time. And in the end, LOTS of money. You mentioned wanting to average $200 a week for a family of six....this week, I spent $30, for the week, for my family of 4, plus one coming in September. This includes EVERYTHING-food, produce, pet food/supplies for five animals, tp, toiletries, diapers (for 2 because I am in the process of stocking them up for the new one coming as well), cleaning supplies, etc etc. The reason I spent so little is because a)I didn't NEED much. We were out of tp (which we shouldn't have been, but I miscounted) and out of dishwasher detergent, but that and produce was all we needed. Everything else has been stockpiled at great prices. I have a small supply of most things that lasts me between good sales. And b) stacking coupons-using store coupons, like CVS extra bucks, in combination with regular coupons in the paper. I bought 3 things of contact solution this week....for free. I used extra care bucks at cvs and they had a special that gives you the same amount of ecb's back. I also bought that dishwasher detergent that I needed for free. Used a $2 Meijer coupon and a $0.50 off coupon from the newspaper, which Meijer doubled to $1. So I had $3 worth of coupons, and bought a $3 container of detergent, paid nothing for it. Most of the $30 I spent was actually on produce.
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#6 of 29 Old 07-15-2010, 03:24 AM
 
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I don't have a costco card, but last time I went with my dad, the things I saved big time on were: yeast (a 2 or 3 pound bag for a couple dollars, the same price as 3 packets of yeast at the store. we're still baking bread with it a year later.), onions, baking soda and vinegar. I didn't have a lot of money, but those things went pretty far.

That said, if your shopping costco, you have to have the cash/money up front. It's great because it saves you money in the long run, but in a really lean period, it sure doesn't save you money in the short run, or at least, you will be way way over on that week's budget. If you have several weeks food budget's worth of money at a time, it might work out, but otherwise, you'd likely end up spending the whole week's budget buying staples which will last a while, but not get everything you need for that week.

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#7 of 29 Old 07-15-2010, 09:46 AM
 
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we've had sam's club in the past but cancelled it b/c it wasn't being used. But we just got a new membership b/c that was the cheapest place for dh to get tires for his suv, installed, so we could have paid more some place else and not gotten the membership or gotten the membership and came out about even. Dh really only eat basmati rice and that is the main thing we buy there. It is 15.xx$ for 20lbs and it is about 5$ for 2 lb at the grocery stores. Birthday cakes are super cheap, i ordered one for ds yesterday, it is just 16.xx for a half sheet and you can get any characters etc, at walmart it is about 20$ for 1/4 sheet and at the grocery stores it is 25-30$ for a 1/4 sheet. bulk spices, vanilla, flour, and milk seem pretty well priced as well as some produce.

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#8 of 29 Old 07-15-2010, 11:55 AM
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This is what I just bought at Costco:

10 lb. bag of organic carrots: $5.49
3.1 lb. box of Honey Nut Cheerios: $6.77
3 lbs. of bananas: $1.32
1.5 gallons of organic milk: $8.85
2 lb. 10 oz. jar of organic strawberry jam: $6.55
3 lb. roasted chicken: $4.99
13 lb. box of oranges: $10.99
5 lb. bag of clementines: $6.99

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#9 of 29 Old 07-15-2010, 11:58 AM
 
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Prescriptions
Contacts/Contact supplies for DH
Gas (but only when we're there anyways)
PB
Honey
Jam (didn't berry pick this year to can our own - too hot too pregnant)
Coffee
Coffeemate (DH will only use this brand)
Olive Oil
Vanilla
Soda and Snapple (for my parents when they are in town)
Coleman Hot dogs and bacon (seasonal though)
Brown Rice
Ecos
Oxyclean


I just bought a mattress pad, $169, but it was $40 a week for a chiro - which I no longer need.

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#10 of 29 Old 07-15-2010, 03:33 PM
 
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I regularly get:
bread (2 loaves of whole wheat) $3.99
eggs (18 pk) $2.89
freash local salsa $5
organic tortilla chips $5
vitamins (gummy kids) $8
bagels (2 huge packs) $6
batteries $8
fruit
meat ($11 for 3 lbs of organic beef)

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#11 of 29 Old 07-15-2010, 04:17 PM
 
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olive oil, nuts(almonds, walnuts), artichoke hearts(way cheap), parm cheese, butter(if not on sale elsewhere), organic milk

Eye exams are cheap at Costco too. So are glasses, Dh got 2 pairs of glasses cheaper than one there.

Me Wife to T (14 years)Mama to Princess(4) and Monster Boy(my 1 year old ):
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#12 of 29 Old 07-15-2010, 04:21 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebirdiemama View Post
I don't have a card anymore but I did have one for costco from the family I used to work for. I bought a 3lb loaf of bread for about $6 with very healthy ingrdients, a 2lb block of cheddar cheese is $5.50, toilet paper is cheap, olive oil a very good deal, cans of soup, organic tomato paste, 50lbs of white rice for $15 (they have organic but it is more, can't remember how much), almond butter- a huge thing for $5.80, big things of organic spinach and lettuces (I mean BIG) for about $3, really good fresh green beans, these delicious healthy bars of whole grains, dried fruit, flax seeds and nuts, BIG thing for about $7............................................
lots of good deals, but as far as making $200 go for a month...? The prices are all good, but it adds up quickly because you are buying in bulk. Maybe if you are really creative in the kitchen, and don't mind using a lot of the same ingredients over and over.

Wish you all the best mama! Hope you figure out something that works well for you
Well, there goes my post. Pretty much everything I was going to say. However, these are monthly, not weekly expenses so if you can swing that, go for it.

Oh, and frozen fish--not the world's fanciest, freshest, or least contaminated, but on your budget, it could make a huge difference in your diet. My sis likes Costco's Mahi Mahi. She gets the huge bags.

Also, if you do Christmas, peruse the book aisle EVERY TIME and buy the good books. They make fabulous Christmas presents for all ages and they are CHEAP and NICE. For me, I re-made the membership in books alone.

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#13 of 29 Old 07-15-2010, 05:13 PM
 
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I buy most of the groceries cheaper here and then supplement with Publix and our CSA. I spend about $600-650 for 4 right now. I make 2 Costco trips a month and spend around $200-250 each trip. I rotate what I buy on those trips for the most part. But eggs, milk, bread and produce are bought each time.


Gas
Rice
Spices
Nuts
Produce such as baby spinach, organic apples, bananas, 6 pk of Romaine ($3.xx), grape tomatoes
Meat(cheaper and higher quality) can buy organic ground meat, Coleman, etc
5 lbs turkey burgers $10.xx
5 lbs ground lean turkey $13-14 depending on pkg
Charmin (only brand we buy)
Kirkland brand dishwasher detergent
detergent
1.5 gals organic milk
coffee
Perdue 10 lbs frozen chicken breasts (no hormones, etc) $16.xx (I think)
PB
Organic 100% fruit spread
Organic Tortilla Strips
Cheese blocks
Daisy Sour Cream
Egglands Eggs
Books
Kirkland organic oatmeal single packs

Edited to add:
Frozen Organic Broccoli 5lbs (in 5 1- lb packs)$5.xx
Frozen Organic Whole Green Beans (in 5 1- lb packs) $5.xx

We love these for steaming, adding to casseroles, roasting, etc. And with them being in single lb packs, they stay fresh and don't get freezer burned from that huge package being open.

Dawn
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#14 of 29 Old 07-16-2010, 12:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magelet View Post
I don't have a costco card, but last time I went with my dad, the things I saved big time on were: yeast (a 2 or 3 pound bag for a couple dollars, the same price as 3 packets of yeast at the store. we're still baking bread with it a year later.), onions, baking soda and vinegar. I didn't have a lot of money, but those things went pretty far.

That said, if your shopping costco, you have to have the cash/money up front. It's great because it saves you money in the long run, but in a really lean period, it sure doesn't save you money in the short run, or at least, you will be way way over on that week's budget. If you have several weeks food budget's worth of money at a time, it might work out, but otherwise, you'd likely end up spending the whole week's budget buying staples which will last a while, but not get everything you need for that week.


unless you get the Costco American Express card.

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#15 of 29 Old 07-16-2010, 01:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you everyone for sharing Now I'm hungry DH says we can't do it this week but I'm hoping maybe next week. HSL~ You are amazing for getting such great bargains! I used to be good at clipping all my Sunday coupons, then using Grocery Game to get everything lined up for the week. Now, I find that I have such limited time to do that, that it may be better to just go to Costco and get it rather than trying to plan on coupons that I may not get to cut, then I wind up spending more on eating out, etc (which I'm trying to get away from).

It's a constant battle here. I wound up taking the kids out this afternoon for ice cream cones. It was $5 which is no biggie but that's $5 less I have for my shopping....and it was on a whim. I like whims and hate to plan little things like that ....so.......I don't know how to reconcile the two.

One thing I know I need is a list of recipes that I can choose from. I tend to shop for basic things, never have a list, and then wind up frustrated that I don't have olive oil and basil to make pesto, yk?

Anyway....thanks for listening and I love reading what everyone buys because it gives me ideas for when I do go shopping there

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#16 of 29 Old 07-16-2010, 01:48 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mykdsmomy View Post
It's a constant battle here. I wound up taking the kids out this afternoon for ice cream cones. It was $5 which is no biggie but that's $5 less I have for my shopping....and it was on a whim. I like whims and hate to plan little things like that ....so.......I don't know how to reconcile the two.
Right now Costco has a coupon deal for Haagan Daas Vanilla Almond Ice cream bars...its like a 15 pack for $8.99.
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#17 of 29 Old 07-16-2010, 06:48 AM
 
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We use Costco and get the same deals--really, the b/s chicken breasts and huge bags of shredded cheese are the main reason I go. The maple syrup is cheap too. I recently bought 3 s/s sports bottles w/ sleeves for $15 and have replaced all our plastic storage w/ glass that was $5 less than I saw in other stores.

But anyway, wanted to add that for me, Costco ends up being more about convenience than cost. I buy huge boxes of Huggies for .21 a dipe. I could get them for .18-.19 somewhere else, but I'd have to buy 5 packages or so vs. 1. Same w/ tp--it may be more expensive, but only slightly, and I like not having to buy it for 3 mo.

IME, if you really want to save money, send your DH, lol. I can't walk out of there w/o buying off my list. Sure they're good deals, but it adds up.
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#18 of 29 Old 07-16-2010, 09:42 AM
 
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i second the advice to split perishables with someone. my mother and i do that also.
and it is nice to get a big package of meat and make a big pot of stew in the winter (or sauce or whatever) and freeze half for the second dinner. i can often stretch a package of stew meat into 3 meals and the second week i don't have to cook as much.
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#19 of 29 Old 07-16-2010, 10:12 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrstim View Post
Flour, sugar, oil, cheap fabric softener that I water down again, shredded cheese, some produce (lettuce, oranges, apples, spinach, strawberries, grapes), sometimes pork tenderloin, large bags of chips, nuts, dates, frozen veggies, frozen fruit.

I find TP and paper towels, diapers, wipes, a lot of meat - all are much more expensive at Costco.
I agree with this.
I have never shopped at Sam's but at Coscto I've gotten great deals on vanilla extract, seasonings and spices, juice, coffee, milk, butter, eggs, soup, canned tuna and salmon, cheese, produce of all kinds. I too have found Costco to be a little pricey on things like toilet paper, paper towels, and wipes.
I think, no matter where you shop, the key for you is to know what's on sale where and what the regular price is at your stores. I shop with all the store ads in my bag and I somehow remember the prices at Costco. This way I know I'm getting the best price and I can determine if the savings are worth traveling to another store.

OH! We also save a ton on gas by filling up at Costco. Although, we're fortunate enough to have two Costco locations and they're both on dh's way to and from work so he just pops in like any other corner gas station.

GL!
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#20 of 29 Old 07-16-2010, 11:46 AM
 
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At Costco we typically get:

Tillamook Cheese (about 1/2 the price of at the grocery)
Chicken Nuggets
Mac & Cheese (this can be cheaper at the grocery with a coupon and a sale, but that doesn't come around very often)
Tortilla Chips
Pretzels
Chicken
Deli Meat
Frozen Fruit
Yogurt
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Minced Garlic
Yeast
Baking Soda
Vinegar
sometimes pull-ups and Wipes, occasionally TP

I'm sure there is lots more that I'm forgetting. I think they usually have pretty good prices on HBA, and supplements. It helps to know what you usually pay for things, sometimes Costco is a great deal, sometimes it's not. Also be sure you can use the quantity that you're buying, it's not saving money if you throw out half a bag of tortilla chips because they went stale before you could get them eaten.

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#21 of 29 Old 07-16-2010, 12:39 PM
 
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If you really want to find out the lowest prices for the items you buy regularly, then it is absolutely worth it to make a one-time price book of say, 20 basic staples, and compare prices at various places where you live. For me, this gave me a inherent sense of how much any given item should cost and therefore allowed me to figure out when something was a great deal or not. It also allows me to figure out when to purchase things, based on their price. So now, for example, I know not to buy butter unless it's less than or equal to $2/lb. or b/s chicken breasts for $1.99/lb. or less.

Until I took the time to make a price list, I bought a lot more items at Costco than I do now. For example, after comparing prices, I now know that in my area, b/s chicken breasts, ground beef, spaghetti sauce and pasta, peanut butter, jam, and milk (we don't buy organic) can all be found cheaper at a local grocery store. Produce is cheaper (and I'm not forced to buy overly large quantities) at the Farmer's market.

FYI: most grocery stores offer specials on basic staples in a 6-wk. cycle, so if you buy during a sale and stock up enough to last you through until the next sale, you can often save more than buying at Costco.

With all that said, I still have and use my Costco membership. They do still have great prices on certain staple items, like yeast, bulk flour, sugar, baking soda and vinegar (which I use for cleaning), oils, speciality cheeses, etc. And if you like brand-name products, organics, and convenience foods, they have a plentiful and inexpensive selection.

Since I started really whittling down our grocery budget, though, I have cut WAY down or completely eliminated brand names, organics, and convenience foods, so therefore Costco isn't as helpful to our regular grocery shopping as it once was. But eliminating those kinds of products has significantly decreased our spending, fwiw. Little things like buying oats in bulk instead of instant oatmeal packets and making up our own "instant" oatmeal in sandwich baggies have saved us $$$.

Finally, there are still some items at Costco that I buy for the convenience of bulk shopping, even though they aren't the lowest price anywhere. As with another poster, though, sometimes time and convenience outweigh savings, especially if the price difference isn't all that great. I buy TP there for this reason.

I also love Costco's book/DVD section and a lot of their clothes. But here is where only shopping there every couple of months works well for our family, because those are financial pitfalls for me and two categories I always tend to overspend in. Only going in there infrequently keeps my spending in check.

Finally, I have several gfs who shop at Costco 2-3x a week and use it for almost everything. Cost comparisons aside, it would drive me batty to stand in line behind people with huge carts just to get 3-4 items. There is no express lane at any of our Costcos (and there really should be!) The parking lot tends to be very crowded, too. And both of the Costcos nearest my house are around 5 miles away, compared to my local grocery store (< 1 mile) or Farmer's market (< .5 mile.) For these reasons, I really wouldn't enjoy using Costco for my primary grocery store.

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#22 of 29 Old 07-16-2010, 02:05 PM
 
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Costco's price for a big bag of organic frozen blueberries can't be beat. That is the only thing we want from there, so I go with a friend.
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#23 of 29 Old 07-17-2010, 05:08 PM
 
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We get Tillamook cheese ($6 bucks for 2 lbs)
Dog food
Olive oil
Frozen organic mixed veggies (some of their organic veggies are grown in china, so make sure you double check it USA grown in important to you) ($6 bucks for 5 lb bag)


Our savings on those things alone pays for our membership. Sometimes we get peanut butter, tuna fish, dishwasher soap and other assorted things, but those four listed above are the main reason we have the membership. Make sure you make a pact with yourself and whomever you are with that you WILL stick to your list because there are lots of fun impulse purchase opportunities there.

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#24 of 29 Old 07-17-2010, 05:29 PM
 
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For me, Costco tends to have the highest quality meat for the price- yes, I can get cheaper steak at Smith's on Manager's Special, but sometimes it's great and other times, eh, not so much. At Costco, I get very nice cuts of meat every.single.time. Even if it's not a huge savings every trip, I know that I'm getting quality for my money, which is just as vaulable as getting more food for the same price. Same goes for produce- I pay more per pound for peaches, etc. but each and every peach is perfect and while Sunflower Market's price may be lower, there will be a few peaches that are crummy and get thrown away. Not a savings, really, if we can't eat and enjoy every single bite of fruit.

Our family also eats at Sam's Club sometimes- I can feed my 3 big kids and myself (esp. if DH is working) for WAY less than fast food places. Pizza slices, hotdogs, frozen yogurt and triple berry topping, etc.

Big things (Sonicare toothbrush, Hoover rug shampoo machine, etc) are also generally cheaper than local "regular" stores.

Our Costco has been carrying Hanna Andersson jammies for babies for only $13!! And their Kirkland brand of organic kids jammies are FANTASTIC and very well priced ($15-ish, I think). We buy lots of Carters baby clothes there, as well for great prices- lower than most other stores' sale prices. Oh- and I buy our whole family's socks there and oftentimes clothing for DH and myself, too. Good brands, good prices, and I don't have to go somewhere else- it's great when I'm shopping w/4 kids to be able to buy myself a couple of tops AND get groceries at the same place.

We also pay for the Executive membership and with the 2% cash back, it pays for itself every year. Plus, we get to shop an hour earlier than people w/the regular membership, so it's not as crowded (although, there are front door workers who let the gold star members in at 10 sometimes, even though they're not supposed to)

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#25 of 29 Old 07-17-2010, 06:19 PM
 
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Ditto to Kayleezoo. I pretty much only buy meats at Costco, I've never gotten anything bad. The fruit and veggie selection is top notch and often local (at least at my store). I like that I can get organic meats for just a little more than regular meat at other stores. Their clothing is great quality, DH had gotten nearly all his clothing there, lots of Ralph Lauren cargo type shorts for $15, nice T-shirts for $10. I've also picked up Roxy bathing suits for my DD there, plus the Carters baby clothes are cheap, like $5 for an outfit.

It's VERY easy to overspend there...you see so many deals, plus there are markdowns around the store if you look (prices ending in .97) so it makes it more tempting! They sell 3 packs of Holy Guacamole, and while I normally make my own, it's nice to freeze and have on hand and if you catch it a few days before it's expiration, it goes cheap, like $3 for 3 packs. (normally $12?)

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#26 of 29 Old 07-17-2010, 08:49 PM
 
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Our Sam's Club has good prices on cleaning supplies and paper products.
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#27 of 29 Old 07-18-2010, 12:40 AM
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Originally Posted by KayleeZoo View Post
We also pay for the Executive membership and with the 2% cash back, it pays for itself every year. Plus, we get to shop an hour earlier than people w/the regular membership, so it's not as crowded
I have the Exec. membership and didn't even realize I could do that! Is that at every Costco, do you know?

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#28 of 29 Old 07-18-2010, 01:40 AM
 
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I have the Exec. membership and didn't even realize I could do that! Is that at every Costco, do you know?
Our area did away with the early hour years ago.

We were just at Costco tonight. We purchased far more than usual tonight because DH is going to a conference most of next week and DD & I are going camping with friends. Plus, DD is getting out of school mid-week (year-round school schedule), so we're changing the types of snacks.

chicken wings (for cat; we feed a raw diet)
stew meat (partially for cat; partially for us)
wild salmon (First time we've seen it FRESH; the cat will only get nibbles, she only likes catfish raw. Tomorrow night's dinner and we'll freeze the remaining dinner amount for next week.)
cheese
frozen organic veggies (first time)
frozen organic yogurt bars
local specialty nuts
Green Machine
dual-flush toilet (We've been needing a new toilet for a long time and this just happens to be exactly what I've been looking for and the price was right and the timing was good since DH was with me.)

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#29 of 29 Old 07-18-2010, 06:35 PM
 
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I know my prices so it's easy to figure out what is cheaper at Costco and what isn't. Like pp's have said, tp and such usually is NOT cheaper at Costco (not in my area, anyway), and I can get chicken and meat cheaper at my local market. What I save on is:

Rice
Olive oil
Jimmy Dean turkey sausage (it isn't organic but it isn't total junk, either, lol)
Bacon
Individual soy milk boxes (for ds2 lunches for school)
dog food
produce: potaotes, carrots, organic salad, apples etc. but make sure you will eat it or you have someone to split it with

sometimes they have great deals on clothes. I went last week and they had name brand kids shirts for 8.00 and mens for 12.00.

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