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Warehouse Club Prices vs. Grocery Store Sales + Coupons | Which is Better?

Before I started doing hardcore couponing around three years ago, I was always looking for a way to save money. Between using restaurant coupons and buying generic grocery items, I would shop at Sam’s Club. I had just given birth to my daughter, so I figured it would be worth the membership to buy a box $40 box of Huggies and a big $15 box of wipes.
Those prices just about make me faint now! ;)

Anyways, my point is that everything seemed like such a great price at Sam’s Club at the time. Then coupons came into the equation, and I had not stepped foot into a warehouse club until tonight…

The closest warehouse club to me now is Costco. I paid $110 for my membership, noticed the gas prices were $0.20 cheaper than anywhere else, and was handed COUPONS by the customer service guy! I was giddy, I was cheerful, I was optimistic, and then I was…well…disappointed. I was looking forward to stocking up on produce and picking up great deals on pantry items. We bought a Vitamix a few weeks ago, and we’ve been using it 3+ times per day. I wanted to stock up on produce instead of making multiple trips to the grocery store…and sadly the only produce I left with was a 10-pound bag of apples for $9.99. That comes to $0.99/lb, which is easily a price I can get at my local Sprouts Farmers Market.

I will say that I was able to pick up K-Cups for $0.44/cup, which does beat the $0.50-$0.60/cup at my grocery store.

So my question to you is this:
Do you still shop at warehouses?
What do you buy that’s a good deal for your family?

Do you think warehouse clubs are worth it?
Maybe it’s a convenience thing more than a price cut?

Let’s discuss! I’d love your two cents. :)

 

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  1. Last year I lived in an area that the closest Walmart, let alone regular grocery store was 45 minutes away. Because of this, it was nearly impossible to grocery shop on a weekly basis and catch all of the great deals when they were there. So once a month I would sit down with the current Ad and use the Sam’s Club website to gauge what would be cheaper where and plan my trips accordingly. Oftentimes, things turned up slightly cheaper at Sam’s but not significantly.

    Currently living in a city of a quarter million people and working at a grocery store, we don’t frequent Sam’s as much, but we do once a month or so. I find our preferred deodorants and body washes are cheaper there (unless I can find clearance items or great coupons) as well as printer ink. We also purchase toothbrush heads there for Sonicare because it is the cheapest next to Amazon.

    I am glad I have the membership. I like to compare prices on things and use it when it is cheaper, my younger college student sister likes the warehouse size boxes of Ramen noodles too! They also have an auction part of their website I have scored some decent deals on.

    I’m not ready to give it up yet, but maybe I would if I worked on using coupons on a more regular basis!

  2. I believe it costs more for several reasons. First and foremost they wont take coupons, second I ALWAYS buy more than what I intended and third if you compare size/prices with that of say Wal-Mart MOST things are not cheaper. Not to mention to have to build a huge bomb shelter to store these large quantities!! Not a believer either….have tried many times as well. Will never go back.

  3. Stephanie says:

    I have found that their veggie trays and fruit trays are pretty decent but I don’t get much else there except photo reprints.

  4. I think that if you know your stuff you can get a good deal. I like you like the k-cup price. I also found a pretty good deal on wholly guacamole since it was $4 for a three pack. There meat isn’t a great price for sure! If you don’t coupon you can get better deals than the normal grocery store. I have a membership, but I’m choosy about what I get there. I also admittedly don’t do much couponing anymore.

  5. I love them for fresh items Bakery meat produce and electronics /photo. I use my membership mostly for birthday parties for Cake and snack chips

  6. I’ve recently re-discovered BJ’s and have been able to save a lot there (they accept manufacturer’s coupons on top of their coupons). I used to think a good sale at ShopRite beat all, but last week I ran in there for some cheese (their Land O’Lakes white american, which we use a lot, is ALWAYS $3.49/pound . . and when you add in the $1 off coupon that pops up a lot online . . .) and milk (Land O’Lakes always around $2.70/gal) and also found a 60 count of eggo waffles for $8.29. That breaks down to $1.38.box. Then I used a coupon on top of that. Like any other store you have to be savvy shopper.

  7. For some things for our family, yes, it’s worth it. I’ve been doing the “hardcore” couponing for about 10 mos. but there are some things I buy regularly at a warehouse club. My most common items: generic zyrtec–both children’s and adult, milk, butter and string cheese, on which I save over $200/year. Believe me, I look for better deals, but for those items I can’t beat the warehouse prices. Plus, I used my membership recently to save about $40 on a car rental. But for things like toothpaste, razor blades, shampoo, etc., I consistently save more at CVS/Walgreens with sales/coupons/rewards. The savings on gas don’t matter to me because there is a big, bad difference in how my cars run with cheap gas, so I don’t use it.

  8. I found that the best things to get at Costco are Milk, butter and some specialty items that only they carry. I save at least $1 per two gallons of milk and .50 cents to $1 a pound on butter. With the 4-6 gallons of milk per week we go through it is worth the standard $50 membership. I also have found great deals on bread and tortillas!

  9. I do go to Costco for organic milk (which is still cheaper there), Lactose free milk, imported cheese, , breads, vitamins and things that Costco sends you a coupon for. Other than that I agree that you can get a better deal at a regular grocery store with coupons

  10. Madeline says:

    We only have Sam’s where I live. I have been a member in the past, but don’t find things all that cheap. I did like it for special things around the holidays for gifts, but other than that, not too much. They don’t take coupons and I do love using coupons. Some things may be a good price, but not worth the cost of the membership fee to me.

  11. Like with any grocery store, Costco saves my family money with CERTAIN items. . . . same goes for Publix, Kroger, Bi-Lo, etc. You really have to know prices and what’s a “deal” on the items you regularly buy. For example, I’ve been mortified by Publix at times because they’ll have an awesome deal on something I need, but then another thing I need is 3x more than anywhere else. Each month, Costco sends out a coupon booklet, and if my family uses a couple of things in there, I definitely go!! This month’s booklet has a deal on Children’s Zyrtec, and I got two 8 oz. bottles for about $7.50. The usual price is over $15: http://www.amazon.com/Childrens-Cetirizine-Hydrochloride-Solution-Kirkland/dp/tech-data/B002PDWYUY!

  12. Wow, Jenny, that IS a great price on the children’s cetirizine! I get it at Sam’s Club–two 4 oz. bottles for 5.46. At my child’s dosage, that saves me over $45 a year over Walmart. If I had a Costco nearby, I would be stocking up on that deal!

  13. I have to agree with Laura. If you are lucky enough as I am to live near a BJ’s, than it is definitely worth it to belong. They not only accept their own coupons (and they put out tons) and manufacturers coupons, you can also use MULTIPLE manufacturing coupons per item so long as there are multiple bar codes. Unfortunately there is only one blog I have found that ever discusses the deals at BJ’s. I would love to see more– but if you shop and pay close attention to the types of stuff you buy yourself (and keep your own notes), the $50 membership is very worth it. With 2 toddlers I easily make my money back on milk and eggs vs. grocery store prices. Milk at BJ’s $2.79 vs grocery $3.95 – I buy 5 gallons when I shop every 2 weeks – which works out to $150.80 savings a year in milk alone.

  14. We also belong to a BJ and with their coupon policy there are many items that a very good deals if you shop carefully. We actually split the membership with our daughter so we have a membership for our house and she has one for hers making it a real bargain.

  15. Kalindi can you share the blog that matches for BJ’s? Thanks :)

  16. Sure DJ, it is http://frugaljacksonvillemom.com/. She is great with telling you when there are multiple bar codes in the package also.

  17. Lewann Rice says:

    I have a costco membership and I am proud of it. LOL
    One thing that to me makes it worth it is the Gas. We have the executive membership so we get 2% back on what we buy. So we will put our budgeted gas money on a costco cash card and then what we spend on gas gets counted towards our 2%. The gas is always (in my area) 5 cents cheaper and I live right down the street from costco. Also I buy fresh salmon there very cheap. I can’t think of the per LB price but for half of the salmon usually about 3ft long I spend between $15-$20 I cut it into fillet and freeze half of it for another time. Also I get sweet potatoes by the box there Last time I think I spent 5.99 of 10lbs of sweet potatoes. My local stores sell a potato for 99 cents. So for certain things I think they are cheaper and other things they are not. Oh I also buy K-Cups there. So much cheaper then the grocery store. They also have a coupon booklet about once a month and I use it. You can’t get overwhelmed about the quantity that they sell of a product. If you will use it before it spoils it is worth it. If you know you can’t possibly use that many of something don’t get it. Or go in with family or friends and split the price and product that also makes it cheaper.

    • Lewann,
      I did NOT know about the 2% back thing! I have an executive membership too at Costco- going to check into that next time I’m up there! :)

  18. I go to BJ’s here in the east coast. Things I ALWAYS buy at BJ’s:
    -Lactaid milk for DH
    -Produce – mushrooms, organic spinach, organic veggies, lemons, limes, garlic, etc. All these prices beat grocery sales any day.
    -Butter (here in New England, specifically RI, butter sales SUCK. never a good coupon, never a good sale.)
    -Frozen fruit, way cheaper per lb

  19. Thank God Sam’s Club exists. I go 3 times a week. I help run a dance studio and it is invaluable for a small business. I buy water, candy, snacks, pop and make a good profit selling those items. Sometimes I find a good deal for myself. A small business has few vending resources. Bulk office supplies are cheaper than the office supply stores. Sam’s is inventive at merchandising. Their stores are spotless and the staff is well trained and helpful. I love going there.

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