1.24.2012

Tuesday Tips: To wholesale or not...


A big thank you to those that responded to my questions in this post about whether or not you think your Costco membership is worth it. I really appreciated your feedback and found it quite helpful. I ended up going to Costco with my husband (who kept my daughter entertained and fed with samples!!) and wrote down just about everything that I thought we might buy there, along with the price of each item. After some food and playtime at Chick-Fil-A, we headed to Aldi where I did the same thing (you'd think I'd have these prices memorized since I go there at least once a week, but they fluctuate and I wanted to be certain). So, for the past week, in all my spare time (which I've actually had more of since I'm still supposed to be resting...ahem), I've been plugging all these numbers into a chart to figure out what was cheapest and where. What a project, let me tell you! I ended up with 4 pages, single spaced, with 1 line for each item. The findings were surprising, because Costco is cheaper on things that I didn't expect them to be and visa versa with Aldi.

One of the main things I have realized is that grocery prices really differ all over the country, so this list is probably not going to be helpful to someone living in a different location. We all have different stores available to us and other variables that cause our prices to fluctuate. So -- my list may not be accurate for your area, just as I discovered that some of the things you all said in your comments were not true for me here. Also, a lot of pricing has to do with what items you are "brand loyal" to -- I am brand loyal on very few items, and our family has been satisfied with the Aldi brand of most things. I realize this is a personal choice for everyone, so again, something that we have to figure out for ourselves and our individual budgets. I will put an asterisk(*) beside the items that I AM brand loyal to. :-)

Some of the big ticket items that are by far cheaper at Costco:

vitamins
ink cartridges*
dog food*

Of course, these items come in a larger quantity, thus making them MORE expensive, but the outcome is actually much cheaper. So...we just have to figure out how to fit a big chunk into the budget and enjoy the wiggle room later...or save up...

Costco sends out store coupons each month that are good for most of the month and you can buy multiple items (there is a limit) with each coupon. These are the ONLY coupons they accept. Just looking at this month's coupons, it seems that there would be significant savings on:

cereal bars
spaghetti sauce
cereal
Craisins
some cleaning supplies

I was surprised at how long the list of items that I regularly purchase that would be cheaper at Costco actually was. My budget is not such that I will be able to purchase all of these at Costco each time we run out, but hopefully I can buy a few things each shopping trip. I make most of our bread (rolls, bagels, french bread included), and I was surprised to find that some of my baking ingredients are about 1/2 the price at Costco!!

ground beef (if not on sale somewhere else)
ground turkey (here's hoping the salmonella outbreak is over...)
fresh spinach
celery
dishwashing detergent* (Finish is the only brand that gets my dishes clean.)
trash bags
raisins
juice
eggs
coffee
butter
cheese
oatmeal
yeast (less than 1/2 of what I've been paying!!!)
vanilla (1/2 of what I've been paying)
cooking spray
lemon juice
honey
bread flour
vinegar
rice
peanut butter
parmesan cheese

Some of the things that I was expecting Costco to be cheaper on and they were not were:

milk (Aldi still wins)
bread/tortillas (brand names compared with Aldi brands)
produce
paper towels and toilet paper (comparing Kirkland brand with Aldi brands)
tea bags (comparing brand names with Aldi brands)
Frozen Chicken Breasts
condiments
(comparing brand names with Aldi brands)
crackers/snacks (comparing brand names with Aldi brands)
diapers (comparing Kirkland brand with Aldi brand)

SO...that is the overview of my (rather extensive) list and discovery. I'm looking forward to shopping at Costco and hopefully splurging to try some of the fun stuff when I'm able to do so. We are also planning to purchase gas there, as they seem to be about $0.05/gal cheaper on a regular basis.

I still plan to coupon on a smaller scale, as I still think I can do better than Costco on some of the cleaning supplies and Health/Beauty products. Many items I get for free or very cheap with coupons, so that will be better than Costco pricing...assuming I can still put in the time required.

For any of you locals, if you want to see the whole list, let me know and I'll e-mail it to you (if you can make sense of my system).

linking up at Women Living Well


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6 comments:

Lauren said...

Wow! You've really done your homework! My list is quite similar to yours in what I found to be cheaper. I love that I bought a box of goldfish for the girls, and it's going to last me about 2 1/2 months! No, we don't have to buy the same things every time we go, and I think that is what is going to be the challenge for me in this new wholesale endeavor. But, it's a fun adventure and I'm looking forward to the fun savings and knowing that I still have a ton of something left in the pantry :)

Nae and Clara said...

This is a great list! Thanks for doing all that work.I'm really surprised by the milk price. Costco is always cheaper here and I"m not that far from you. Interesting...

Lucka said...

This is very good to know. Thank you so much for sharing this. And I would love to see the complete list if you don't mind sending me a copy. Thanks!

Amanda said...

Clara -- I'm second-guessing myself now...the milk at Costco is just 1 gallon, right????

Nae and Clara said...

It is just one gallon. I wonder if it makes a difference what type? We get 2% (not organic) Anyway,you got me thinking. I'm going to put together our own little price list (not as extensive as yours, though) and see how things compare. Hope you enjoy Costco! (We do gas there as well even though the lines are always so long. I often wonder if the money we save is spent waisting gas in line) :)

You can't beat couponing at CVS and such places for toiletries, though. Nae used to be really good at that and now that we are running out of our stash and having to buy the stuff at full price I"m realizing how much he saved us. Alas, he's too busy to take it on and the $ saved isn't worth dragging five kids around town. Although maybe they would just give us the stuff to get us out of their store....

sherri lynn said...

This is so helpful! We went to Costco and had a membership for one month, but then decided it wasn't worth it for us. It's just my husband and me, so we don't really need bulk of anything. Also, when things go on sale at Publix and/or I have coupons, it's much cheaper to get things there! Our Target also recently put in a bulk items section, and I've found those items to be much cheaper! I think once we have a full household of children I will have to rethink the Costco membership :)

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