But then Walmart and Target opened supercenters in my area, and I checked them out. Their house brands were about the same price, if not cheaper, than the name brands at the warehouse clubs. So I stopped shopping there, and started shopping at the supercenters.
Since I've been looking for deals and clipping coupons, I find I'm buying most of my groceries at the grocery store and not at the supercenters. And while passing by one of the clubs, I decided to stop in, check prices, and see if it would be worth it to join again.
I found a few things that were worth it, but most were definitely *not*, in my opinion.
Not worth it for me:
Cold cereal - ouch! I got sticker shock looking at their prices. They averaged $6-$7 for two boxes' worth of cereal. I am used to paying at most $1.50 for a single box, and I stock up when I find cereal for $1 per box.
Pasta - the prices weren't much less than the store brands at regular price. Perhaps the warehouse clubs' pasta are higher quality, but since I usually serve pasta under sauce or chili, I don't think I'd notice the difference. And with coupons and sales, you can often get pasta for 20¢ a box or less.
Fresh fruit and vegetables - these seemed like the same prices that I see at the grocery store. By cherry-picking the sales, you can get much better prices for produce. Plus, the packages often had way too much for my family of 5. It's not a bargain if it goes bad before you use it.
Bread - the store brand at the grocery store is cheaper, even without a sale.
Eggs - about the same as the cheapest regular-priced eggs I normally find, and more expensive than the sale price.
Cheese - I've gotten so used to the great Kraft coupons, so the prices for cheese there seemed astronomical.
Paper goods and personal care items - No way. These types of things can be gotten for free or almost free at CVS and Walgreens by using sales, coupons, and store rewards programs. I'd never spend that much money again on this category.
Might be worth it:
Milk - At $2.35 per gallon, this is 43¢ cheaper than the cheapest regular-priced milk I've found in my area, and a full 84¢ cheaper than Publix.
Yeast - This store carried 2 1-lb. packages of yeast for the same cost as the jar of Fleischmann's yeast at Walmart. If I were to buy this, I'd first research how long yeast keeps, but it seems like even if some of it ended up going bad, it would be worth it.
Flour - White flour cost a little less per pound than sale-priced flour that I've found. Unfortunately this particular store did not carry whole wheat flour.
Goodnites - Since we go through a lot of these, I thought that we might save some money buying them in larger packs. And we would...if my daughter wore the smaller size. Unfortunately, this store did not carry the larger size that my daughter uses.
Kosher chicken - This store carried frozen bone-in chicken breasts for about $3.00 per pound, much less than the kosher butcher I frequent. The cost for bone-in thighs and legs was also less. There were also frozen turkeys at $2.49 per pound, which is about the same price. Unfortunately they did not carry boneless and skinless chicken breasts, chicken nuggets, or any kind of beef.
So are warehouse clubs worth it? If your only other choice is to buy name brands at the grocery store without coupons, then yes. But otherwise, for most items, I think you are better off with other strategies. Some stores may let you purchase items and pay an extra 10% in lieu of a membership. I may do this to stock up on yeast and chicken, where even an extra 10% would be a good bargain. But I'd use other strategies to get the best prices on most every other kind of food.
What do you think - are warehouse clubs worth the membership price? Leave a comment below!
Check these sites for more great tips:
- Frugal Friday @ Life as MOM
- Frugal Friday @ Stockpiling Mom
- Tuesday's Tip Jar @ BlogMommas
- Making Dollars out of Change @ Madame Deals
- Tuesday's Tips @ Couponomic Stimulus Package
- Penny Pinching Party @ The Thrifty Home
- Works For Me Wednesday @ We Are That Family
- Thrifty Tip Tuesday @ I Am a Money Magnet
- Tightwad Tuesday @ Raising 4 Godly Men
- Thrifty Thursday @ Melissa's Bargain Blog
- Thrifty Thursday @ Coupon Teacher