Before we started shopping at Costco, our grocery bill was around $130 a week for a family of four. That is my husband and I, a four year old, and a baby. We had a $520 monthly grocery bill. And that was way too much for me. We decided to give wholesale shopping at Costco a shot in hopes of saving us a little money each month.
Our first trip went ok, but it wasn’t as good as I hoped. We spent $500 on what we planned on lasting the entire month. Okay, so we saved $20…Not really that great! To our surprise, the meat we bought to last the whole month, lasted two months! And we had other items last a lot longer than we planned, like peanut butter, frozen fruit and veggies, and butter.
The next trip I had a new plan: Don’t buy everything we needed. Some things are cheaper elsewhere and we really didn’t need everything we bought last time.
The second trip we only spent $280 (I planned on only $160, but my husband put some extra stuff in the buggy!). And we got the necessities to last an entire month. I plan on spending about $15 a week (or less if I can) at a near buy grocery store to get things like milk and fresh fruit and veggies (stuff that’s hard to buy in bulk). So, if you add that up, we will spend $340 this month on food. We will save $180! And honestly, I think we can get out of Costco for less than $280, so next month my goal is to save at least $200.
You do have to pay a membership fee to shop at Costco or Sam’s Club, but ours was only $55 for an entire year. If we save $180 a month on groceries, that adds up to a total of $2,160 that we would save for a whole year! The $55 seems worth it!
Here are my best tips for you if are interested in shopping at a wholesale club:
[Things You Need]
1) A plan. Make sure you know how much you can spend and make a list of the things you want to get.
2) Bring a cooler with you. Having a cooler to put all of the meat and frozen items in is very handy. Meat won’t leak all over your car, things won’t thaw, and Costco does not provide bags!
4) You may want to make a pre-shopping trip to get an idea of the store layout and buy your membership.
5) Storage bags. You will need some sort of plastic bags or containers to divide up your groceries for storage.
[Good Items to Buy]
1) Meat. Costco’s pre-frozen meats are cheaper than the fresh meat. Sometimes the fresh meat is the same price or more than most regular grocery stores. We choose to buy the fresh meat just because it is our personal preference, but it still seems like we save money this way. You can freeze meat easily and you can save a lot of money by buying it in bulk. I’ve never had any issues with the quality of meat we get from Costco. (I have never shopped at other wholesale stores to test their quality). They also sell organic meat and they have a great return policy! If you are ever unsatisfied with anything (even food), you just need your receipt to get your money back.
2) Frozen vegetables. One Costco size bag of frozen vegetables lasts our family a whole month. They are always great quality and the prices of organic frozen vegetables are amazing! Of course, they offer lots of canned veggies too, but I’d rather have frozen.
3) Stuff you use a lot of. I make my husband his lunch every day to take to work, so we go through a lot of lunch supplies. I buy turkey, ham, and cheese in bulk to use for this. I also buy snacks like boxes of single bags of chips and granola bars for his lunches.
4) Staple items. It is a good idea to buy staple items such as salt, flour, sugar, spices, honey, etc. in bulk. You just need some way of storing them or dividing them up into usable sizes (trying to pour salt from a 3 pound box is ridiculously hard!).
1) The biggest problem with buying groceries in bulk is storage. You will need to have a place to store all of the huge things you buy. I’ve had to rearrange our pantry and cabinets a few times, but it hasn’t been a huge problem. You just have to be creative with the space you have! And, if you don’t have a deep freezer, make sure you don’t buy more than will fit in yours! But, even if you don’t have a second freezer, I would still recommend wholesale shopping. You can fit a lot into a regular freezer if you try hard enough.
2) Having a huge grocery bill. When you shop for a month, your bill is going to be a lot bigger than weekly grocery shopping! You will have to plan your finances perfectly to make a big shopping trip. Our first trip was over $500…we didn’t just have an extra half grand lying around! We planned and saved for a long time for that trip. If you shop smart though, you can get a month’s worth of stuff for far less than that (now that we’ve learned).
3) Remember: Frozen is cheaper than fresh. Fresh produce and meat are not the cheapest at Costco. If you want to save a lot of money, choose to by frozen items only!
4) Bring your own bags. Costco does not offer bags for your items. They do, however, put your stuff in big empty boxes for you! You can bring your own reusable bags if you want, but a lot of their stuff is too big to fit into bags anyway! Just don’t forget the cooler unless you live right around the block from them!
5) Diapers. If you are looking to buy diapers, you should know that Costco only sells Huggies brand and their store brand. Nothing else. So, I buy diapers from the Family Dollar. I use Luves for my daughter because they work great and they are only $1 more than the Family Dollar brand!
1) Great quality . So far, we haven’t had any issues with the quality of food we buy from Costco.
2) Great return policy. And, if you do ever have problems, they will give your money back on anything!
3) Great service. The staff has always been pleasant and helpful!
4) Samples! They always have lots of sample stands to hand out free food. This keeps my kids happy!
5) The savings. I am very satisfied with the amount of money we are saving by shopping at Costco!
6) Organic options. Costco has plenty of organic options that are priced at super great prices!
That is about it I guess. If you have any other questions, feel free to leave me a comment below!
Now that you have heard my side of the wholesale shopping experience, you can decide if it is something that you and your family could benefit from. Just remember, if you first do not succeed, don’t give up and give it another shot!