A few years ago, when I lived in a less populated area than I do now, I did almost 100% of my grocery shopping at Meijer (if you’ve never been there, think of a Super Walmart with expanded grocery offerings) or Kroger.
Then the first Costco went up in my city. I got my membership (in the form of a Costco Amex and starting in early 2016, a Costco Visa) and shopped there frequently. However, I bought less than than 10% of my groceries there. I probably made my membership cost back, but it was the first warehouse store I had ever shopped at, and I don’t think I really knew how to use it effectively at the time to lower my grocery expenses.
I have since moved to a more populated area and feel very fortunate to have a Trader Joe’s within a few miles of my house. Now, I do a large majority of my weekly shopping there (with a brief stop to the produce aisle at Whole Foods – who still has the best organic produce, hands down).
My largest budget line item is groceries. And as a result, I’ve started getting more strategic about what I buy and where to get the best deals. I find myself buying more and more of my groceries at Costco warehouses. I’ve started pricing out food on a per unit (usually oz.) cost and have found Costco to be significantly cheaper than Trader Joe’s (and Trader Joe’s to be significantly cheaper than Meijer or Whole Foods, btw) on a number of items. At the same time, they have dramatically increased their organic offerings, which is important to me, because I am not willing to sacrifice health or quality for price.
A few example items I’ve moved over to buying from Costco because I found the per unit prices to be a much better deal, include:
- C&F organic quinoa: 4 lbs, $8.79, $2.19/lb. (compared to $3.99/lb. at Trader Joe’s)
- S&W black beans: 8 – 15 oz. cans, $5.52, $0.69/15 oz. can (compared to $1.19/can at Trader Joe’s)
- organic frozen broccoli: 4lb. bag, $5.99, $1.49/lb. (compared to $2.49/lb. at Trader Joe’s)
- Bybee organic frozen green beans: 5 lb. bag, $6.49, $1.29/lb. (compared to $1.99/lb. at Trader Joe’s)
- Kirkland walnuts: 3 lb. bag, $12.89, $4.29/lb. (compared to $7.49/lb. at Trader Joe’s)
- Maranatha almond butter: 26 oz., $6.89, $0.26/oz. (compared to $0.31/oz. at Trader Joe’s)
- Cholula sauce: 24 oz., $7.89, $0.32 oz. (compared to $1.19/oz! at Meijer)
- Chicken of the Sea canned tuna: 12 – 7 oz. cans, $15.96, $0.19/oz (compared to $0.33/oz at Trader Joe’s)
Costco doesn’t have the variety that Trader Joe’s does, and their produce department isn’t the greatest, but when they do compete directly on product, they usually win on price. And the Costco Kirkland alcohol, Costco gas, and Kirkland dog & cat food quality and prices are a great value. As a result, a Costco membership is worth the cost to me.
Costco is a pretty big place and I’m sure there are some gems I have not found. And although I’ve never shopped at Sam’s Club (I hear that Costco has much better organic and healthier offerings), I’m sure some of you are benefiting from doing so.
So it got me thinking: wouldn’t it be great for everyone to share and create a list of the best warehouse deals they’ve found compared to non-warehouse so that we could all share in the cost savings?
The Best Warehouse Deals Guidelines:
I have to lead with some guidelines here to make this list the most useful for everyone:
- No junk food or garbage: nobody is going to benefit by you listing a sweet warehouse deal you found for a 5 lb. bag of Cheetos or 120 Mountain Dews. Lets just focus on healthy diet staples everyone can benefit from vs over-processed garbage.
- Please list out: please list where you got the deal, the product and brand, unit size (e.g. 36 eggs, or 20 oz. of peanut butter), total price, and price per unit (e.g. $0.10 per egg, or $0.15 per oz. of peanut butter). If you have any receipts, this should be easy – just get off your rump for a second, grab the receipt, and walk over to the pantry. Thousands could financially benefit from this 5 calorie expenditure. ;-)
- Comparison product price from non-warehouse: what will make this really useful is to compare the warehouse deal price to what you were paying for a similar product at a regular non-warehouse grocery store (e.g. Meijer, Kroger, Winn-Dixie, Trader Joe’s) for everyone.
- No sales/coupon prices: doesn’t help if you got a special one-time coupon or discount. Let’s focus on normal daily prices.
Remember, warehouse deals don’t always have to come in gigantic bulk sizes. And I’m also open to seeing what kind of eye-opening deals you got on other non-grocery essentials (i.e. trash bags, socks, underwear, etc.).
Also, if you’ve found warehouse deals to not be as good as regular grocery supermarkets on certain items, note those too (e.g. Trader Joe’s free-range eggs beat Costco’s)!
You can use this grocery price spreadsheet to document prices, by volume, and find the best deals – it’s one of my favorite grocery cost cutting tools.