Thursday, July 22, 2010

What do you buy at warehouse stores?

I'm going to come right out and say it--I don't like to scour grocery ads and clip coupons. I know it's a good way to save money; I just don't like to do it, so...I don't. That means finding good everyday prices is important to me.

I'll admit, I do most of my grocery shopping at our Wal-Mart Supercenter because the prices are just so low, and because it's the nearest store to me. I occasionally make trips to stores that are more expensive because they carry particular items. And I stock up on certain things at Costco.

Costco shopping bag
(That's a huge bag. I think my husband might be able to carry me in it. But I'm not crazy enough to try.)

I have to be careful though. Some items are not cheaper at Costco. Cold cereal tends to be kind of expensive there. Some of the produce is pricey. Some items aren't available in the store brand "Kirkland" and I'm better off buying a smaller package of a store brand somewhere else. I've just got to take it item by item.

But for certain things, Costco does have good deals. Sometimes I even use the coupons they send me; because they sell in bulk, each coupon saves me enough money to make the clipping worth it!

Here are some of the items I regularly buy at Costco.
  • Energy bars. These are in the bakery section, and Zoodle loves them. I eat them regularly before running, but Zoodle (who is in a picky phase) has them almost every morning for breakfast. Check out all the good stuff in that ingredient list.
  • Chicken broth. Six quarts of organic broth for under $10.
  • Frozen mixed berries and strawberries (for smoothies, snacks, pancake topping, etc.)
  • Mickey-shaped all-natural chicken nuggets.
  • Spring mix or spinach, and huge bags of baby carrots.
  • Some fruit, depending on the price.
  • Certain snack items--tortilla chips, pretzels, "Simply Fruit" Fruit Roll-Ups (made with real fruit & fruit juice), various types of granola bars, Goldfish crackers etc.
  • Frozen boneless/skinless chicken breast.
  • Turkey bacon.
  • Frozen fish.
  • Chicken sausage--a delicious, healthier alternative to beef or pork sausage!
  • Sandwich bread. (Orowheat bread is a great deal there; each loaf is twice as big as a normal grocery store loaf. You have to buy two at a time; I freeze one.)
  • Beer and wine. (We like Black Box Cabernet; it's a tasty wine that yes, comes in a box.)
  • Huge jars of sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts.
  • Idahoan "Baby Reds" instant mashed potatoes. Yeah, I know, instant, but we like them.
  • Diapers--well, not anymore! But we appreciated the diaper discounts on Huggies and on Kirkland brand (which is comparable to Huggies Supreme) for both kids.
  • Clothes--Sometimes we find some good deals on quality clothes for the kids, for us, and for gifts.
  • Contact lenses--I save SO much money buying my contacts at Costco! I even use the on-site optometrist (who is available to members and non-members.) Her prices are great, and I really like her.
  • Gummy bear calcium for the kids. (And sometimes for me--they're MUCH tastier than the calcium pills I sometimes take!)
And of course there are "impulse buys" which at Costco can quickly drive my bill a lot higher than I expected! Not to mention the free samples that introduce me to foods I didn't know I needed. I have to be careful!

Those Costco trips can be expensive, but now that we've stocked up on so many things, I usually don't have a huge list when I go there. After shopping, we often buy some cheap food at their cafe, where Chickie loves to sit at one of the tables that has an umbrella over it.

What do you buy at warehouse clubs? Do you find that you save money in the long run, or just end up spending a lot more than you expected?


Kara said...

We adore Costco. I buy just about everything you listed, and I would add that we get our yogurt (both Chobani and Stonyfield), our milk (vanilla soy and organic 1%), our cheeses, our eggs, and our butter there. I would agree that I'm not saving money on absolutely everything - but I'm saving money on most things I buy there (the Stonyfields are $1.19 each at my local grocery store, and they are less than a dollar each at Costco - and we easily go through 12 yogurts a week between the 4 of us). I go to Costco and a produce stand every week, and rarely to the grocery store any more.

I also like that I can get a lot of organics for good prices at Costco. I do enjoy clipping coupons and looking for deals, but there simply aren't as many coupons and deals for organics.

SciFi Mama said...

We don't have a Costco around here, only Sams. But usually we buy bread, pork loin (Ronnie cuts up into pork chops), milk, Aleve, paper towels, bacon. That's our usual list.

Eternal Lizdom said...

I love Costco but we actually let our membership go after Zach potty trained. Our main reason for going was diapers, trash bags, dryer sheets, and Cascade. Once Z was out of diapers, well, the cost of membership didn't seem to make up for the savings or convenience of larger packages of those other items. We've talked about joining again- I do miss the gas prices, too. But I also know I will start spending more money if I start shopping there regularly again. So I'm torn!

SurvivorBlessing said...

I prefer Sams over Costco, and I don't have a membership to either. But I have lovely family members and friends that let me tag along.

My list is usually formula and diapers (that last me over 3 months or so!). Than my cereal that is cheaper because it is in bulk. Vegan veggie burgers that are soooo cheap there! Mott's popsicles. I always find good kids movie deals and sometimes books.

I do buy all my groceries at the local grocery store and at Whole Foods (mostly for the Vegan stuff and meat!).

Heidi said...

Since I am an avid couponer I find Costco to be overpriced on most food and toiletries, but I do buy chicken broth (probably the same stuff you do), bread (Kirkland Multi-grain, 100% whole grain 5g of fiber, no HFCS), organic peanut butter, organic strawberry spread (jelly with only 2 ingredients!!), etc. I've also bought my FoodSaver, carpet cleaner, Shark steam cleaner, TV, tons of clothes, etc.

The item I probably buy MOST is gas. My Costco is only about 1.5mi from my house and their gas is consistently $.10-$.15/gallon cheaper than any of the closer stations.

My list for today has refried beans, chips for my husband, and conditioner.

stacief said...

We LOVE costco! I will have to look for those energy bars. We usually get chx broth, frozen berries, laundry detergent, 100% juice for the boys lunches, tires and occasionally beef jerky. Gas is another good buy there! When the weather is bad outside, we take the boys there for a cheap lunch. Ours recently switched from Coke to pepsi and Im not that happy about it.

Janet said...

I agree. I used to coupon, and while I did get a thrill out of taking something home for a penny or less, it didn't happen enough to make all the clipping and sorting and alphabetizing, and flier scouring worth it.

Now I go between four stores for everything. Each one has something that's a better deal/better quality than the other places. Of course, Costco is among them. I love Costco and I love my ginormous Costco bags! I use them for shopping, hauling stuff to a youth activity, fitting the whole family's beach towels, etc.! I go to Sam's some, too, but the difference is that Sam's just doesn't have the variety that Costco does, and by variety, I mostly mean Scott toilet paper and Kashi products.

Traci said...

Oh I love thee. I buy the cereal there because it is way cheaper. I have a math geek for a hubby who has figured it all out. You get 2 for just a little over what the price of one would be at the store.

Megan Fletcher said...

We buy:
-sun-dried tomatoes
-artichoke hearts
-raspberry chipotle sauce
-chicken base (use it to make stock; no MSG and it's WAY cheap!)
-chicken nuggets
-turkey tenderloins
-pork chops (When I have their coupon)
-cheese sticks (way cheaper than grocery store, even with coupons at the grocery store)

I use coupons and have a decent system for the grocery store. My grocery store doubles and triples coupons making it totally worth my time. This week I got 5 sticks of deodorant, 3 tubes of Crest toothpaste, and an energy bar completely free (in fact, 2 sticks of deod paid me money back from the coupon). I saved another $15 on other products...all I would normally buy. I don't go crazy with the coupons, but I've figured out how to make it work for me.

you're totally right on Costco being cheaper on some things and not others. I don't buy produce there any longer b/c my local Sprouts has much better deals on almost every single item I buy. I just make it a point to only buy what's on super sale.

Sandra said...

I hardly ever buy ground beef any more because I substitute turkey, but when I DID I would buy a huge package of half pound hamburgers at Sam's Club and then freeze them individually wrapped. That way I could thaw two of them when I needed a pound of hamburger. And, because they were flat, they thawed more quickly than a "lump" of hamburger.

btw, I'm not very good at clipping coupons either. Partially because they aren't nearly the deal they used to be (no more doubles!).