One great way to save money on a grocery budget is by shopping at “big box stores” (aka. warehouse clubs).
And one great way to blow an entire month’s grocery budget on a single shopping trip is by shopping at “big box stores” (aka. big ‘ol blow-the-budget bulk purchase stores).
Please tell me I’m not the only one who can pick up three items and walk out the door with just two dollars left in my pocket. Please? Anyone?
Oh, I see you waving your hand! You know exactly what I’m talking about. All those great deals call out to be purchased. We have visions of extra cash dancing in our heads as we realize we might not have to step foot in a grocery store for an entire month after we load up our cart with all these bulk purchases. It almost seems too good to be true.
Because, of course, it is….unless we plan to eat nothing but homemade bread (made from the 50 pound bag of flour) and baked beans (purchased in a 160 ounce can).
Here is my take on big box stores:
- You can save money there by shopping smart.
- You should avoid them if you don’t have a good handle on your grocery budget.
I’ve found that when I’m not being careful to cost out my grocery list, I can easily double my spending by shopping at a warehouse club store. The packages are big and there are lots of things we can live without. I’ve rarely gone into our favorite club store during this time creating a better grocery budget. It is just too hard to manage my money there. But, I’m almost ready to get back into making bulk purchases on items I know are cheaper.
Here are some tips for smarter warehouse club shopping:
~ Make a list and don’t stray from it.
~ Use a calculator (or your mad math skills) to add up the actual items you put in your cart.
~ Leave grocery money in the budget for the necessary items that must be purchased at a traditional grocery store.
~ Use a calculator to figure out the unit price OR the price per serving to see if you are saving enough to make the bulk purchase worth it.
~ Stick to buying mostly items that are on your master grocery list.
~ Consider if it might be cheaper to buy a grocery store brand on sale.
~ Decide if you will use the product before it expires, spoils, or your family grows tired of it.
~ Decide if you will use too much of the product if you have an abundance (we use a lot more chips, granola bars, and frozen pizzas when purchased in bulk).
~ Be careful bulk buying a food or brand you’ve never tried.
~ Don’t be afraid to walk away from a good deal. It will still be there next time if you really want or need it.
Here are a few of the items I regularly buy at Costco:
- shredded cheese
- string cheese
- high quality hot dogs
- fruit snacks
- produce (celery, cucumbers, snap peas)
- bar soap
- There are other items I buy, but I can almost guarantee getting these at the best price.
So what do you think about warehouse club stores? Do they save you or cost you?