Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Why I love buying in Smaller packages vs. bulk buying

I took advantage of the free one day membership to Sam’s Club on Sunday and I was hoping to find some great deals and I feel I walked away with some decent buys, but I was a bit disappointed at what I didn’t see. Generally it was good to finally see what can be purchased in bulk, however as I walked through the isles I noticed a trend. The majority of the products you could buy were pre-packaged, preservative filled foods. For health reason I try to limit these products in our home and I really only buy them for my hubby’s lunches (he loves them). I only buy them if I have coupons and can get a really good price on them. I also did not notice any health food that you could buy in bulk. I was looking for brown rice, whole wheat flour & whole wheat pastas but there were none to be found. I had also hoped to find vinegar but they didn’t carry that either. Now don’t get me wrong I did find some fabulous deals, but I also did not have to pay $40 for a membership. Since I cook most of my meals from scratch and use mostly whole grains, fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, I just didn’t see enough products at Sam’s that would make a membership worth the $40.

When I started couponing I quickly learned that buying a product in a larger package didn’t necessarily make it cheaper. If I have two coupons that double, it would be worth it to buy two smaller packages rather than one larger package. I always try to check and see what the price per unit, cup, etc turns out to be, but most of the time it is cheaper to buy the smaller size granted you have multiple coupons for that item.

As I walked through the store I saw many things I buy but after doing the math, it was cheaper to buy them the way I have been, using coupons at the grocery store. I can see it could be advantageous for friends or family to split items, or for you to beg a friend to pick up a large container of (fill in the blank). I know Sam’s can be a great way to save your family money. There are plenty of people who make it work for them, but as for me and my house, we’ll stick with Dillons & Aldi. What do you think? How does Sam’s Club/Costco work for your family? I’d love to hear some positive things.

Here’s what I walked away with:
12 lb. Baking Soda (that will get a lot of cleaning done around here!) $5.76
1.5 gallons Hand Soap $7.22
64 fluid oz Vanilla $4.18
3.75 lb. Baking Powder $5.76
1.43 lb. Taco Seasoning $3.88
177 Chicken Bouillon Cubes $4.87
5 lb. Honey $9.58
3 liters Olive Oil $14.00
2 lb. Yeast $4.16
36 Rolls Toliet Paper $15.53
5 lb. Mixed Veggies $3.88
25 lb. Flour $7.58
36 Double Rolls Toliet Paper $15.53
I was thankful for the free membership, but it doesn't look like I'll be investing in one myself. Unfortunately this didn't work for me this week. Check out other tips and ideas this Wednesday at We are That Family.


  1. When we are in Hawaii, Costco is the way to go! They have great fresh fruits and meats. They also have tons of organic products. I have always bought rice there, including Brown Rice. I was very please with selection of products as is my mother in law who is a health food nut. I could get 3 gallons of Organic Milk for my kiddos for only 7.00. Also, my boys love dried fruit for a snack at the beach and it was a steal there!

  2. I agree with Lacey that Costco has been the answer! They do carry the processed convenience foods as well, but seem to have a much larger selection of organic or natural products. I limit my shopping at Costco to coffee, olive oil, tuna, nuts, rice, flour, milk, cheese, eggs, and some produce, but I pay for my membership many times over with my savings.

  3. I just wrote an article on this. I am very careful with what we buy- usually tortillas, hamburger buns, cheese and sometimes produce.


  4. I agree Costco has more organic/healthy stuff than Sam's. In fact Costco doesnt' even carry the regular frozen blueberries anymore - they only carry organic!

  5. The only things I tend to buy in bulk are baking supplies (sugar, flour, vanilla) vinegar, toilet paper, pasta and rice but I tend to stick to smaller packs which are on offer for a lot of other things. I always find bulk buy items ne ver seem to have offers or sale prices in NI.

  6. I hear Costco is way better at whole foods and organics. Sadly, we don't have one close by either! We do go to Sams and buy much of what you get there too....I don't buy a lot of processed items but have found that over the course of a year, in buying similar items, the savings is worth it. We also get our eyes checked there...prices are better. And hubby buys some computer stuff there which is usually cheaper. And the gas....that is worth it as well. But it's not just one thing....you have to spread it around. If we had a Costco, I'd probably go there instead.

  7. I buy diapers at Sam's and save enough to pay for the annual membership. So I've also started buying string cheese, fresh meats, and a few other things like that. They are way cheaper there than at the grocery store.

    I also buy dishwasher detergent and Woolite there, and get gas when I'm on that side of town.

    I'm very careful about what I buy at Sam's because most of the time I can buy generic cheaper at the grocery store.

  8. I returned my Sam's membership for that very reason. I didn't care much for Costco, either, because I buy ingredients, not food (I'd rather have organic oats than organic granola, KWIM?)

    After doing the math, I found that Sam's prices on sugar and white flour were usually a little more expensive. Although it is annoying to buy 6 jars of little peanut butter...

    I found that WalMart has better prices on staples than Sam's (if you don't buy organic). For example, I buy 2# bags of brown rice at WM for 3.6¢ an oz; oatmeal for 85¢/lb., etc. Which is weird, because they are owned by the same people.

  9. We do pay for a Sam's membership and just the few items we do buy pays for the membership fee! For instance, I use lithium batteries in our cameras, and for a 12 pack of batteries at Sam's, it is $19.74 and at Walmart (cheapest I've found other than Sams), it is $9.88 for 4! So, that's a savings of 82 cents per battery, or basically in comparison, it's like buying 2, getting 1 free (4 packs at Sam's).
    There's also quite a few things that we can get for cheaper, but the batteries are a huge thing for me. I honestly can't see paying 9.88 for a 4 pk anymore ;)

  10. It's best when I go in with a list. That way I am not persuaded by the yummy looking things. I buy ingredients too, as one poster said. So, I buy meat and produce. I used to buy diapers, but now I use cloth. I also buy laundry soap and dish soap and vinegar (2 gallons for the price of one).

  11. Another vote for Costco over Sam's!

    But what you really need is a food co-op like the one here in Pittsburgh. When you "buy in bulk" there, you aren't buying a gigundo package or a bunch of little packages stuck together; you are scooping from the bin into your own container! By not paying for the package, you save money and help the environment. They have the best prices in town on oatmeal, raisins (they're organic but cheaper than any supermarket raisins!), most spices, and most dry beans. I love it! And I love being able to decide what kind of container my food goes in and exactly how much to buy.

  12. I am also a big fan of Costco. I actually do the majority of my grocery shopping there. Tortillas, all our meat, some porduce, paper towels, TP, Coffee Beans, milk, cheese, rice, flour, vanilla, spices, Cans of Organic tomatoes & tomato sauce. I could go on and on. I do not usually purchase pre-packaged snack foods but I have noticed over the past two years Costco has started to carry many healthier & orgnaic options. I've cut my weekly grocery spending in half thanks to Costco (and careful meal planning)



I'd love to hear from you. Let me know what you think.