I’ve recently received several requests to talk about how we do our shopping at Costco versus the regular grocery store, what we buy where, and how we save money (and don’t overspend) by doing it.
We all know Costco (or Sam’s Club) is a fabulous place to totally blow your budget. Am I right? Everything just looks so good, they have the newest foods/brands/etc., and most everything is just so darn convenient! And because it’s in bulk, it’s technically so much cheaper, right? WRONG. Sometimes, yes, but not always.
After Cody and I got married, we went back and forth about getting a Costco membership. Is it worth it for only two people? After some researching, we decided that yes, it definitely is, but only if you’re careful. We made an agreement early on to only buy what we needed, and forego the “extras” as much as possible. I recognize that what may be considered the “extras” to one person may mean an entirely different thing to another. But for us, this meant no pre-made frozen meals, no regular clothes shopping (unless it was needed), no household appliances just because they looked “cool”, no fancy meats and cheeses because they looked delicious, etc. We consider “extras” pretty much anything that’s not the basics.
Initially, Cody made a spreadsheet on Microsoft Excel, and we compared the costs between Costco and our local grocery store. (We compared each item’s price per ounce.) We don’t do this much anymore because we have our system down, but it was really interesting to discover what was cheaper at the grocery store versus Costco. Costco carries mostly name brand items, so even though you may think you’re getting a great deal because you’re buying it in bulk, it’s not always the case since you’re buying the name brand. For example, I buy the off brand cans of beans and frozen veggies at our local grocery store because Costco’s cans of beans and frozen veggies are name brand and as a result, are pricier.
Here’s some examples of what we buy at Costco versus our local grocery store…
- Toilet paper
- Paper towels
- Water softener salt
- Dog food
- Laundry detergent
- Dryer sheets
- Baby wipes
- Almond milk
- Grandma Sycamore’s Bread (Cody’s fav)
- Ground turkey
- Frozen chicken breasts
- Salmon (occasionally if it’s on sale)
- Shredded cheese
- String cheese
- Greek yogurt (sometimes – I go in phases)
- Cereal (sometimes – I go in phases)
- Peanut butter
- Barbecue sauce
- Ranch dressing
- Chocolate chips
- Baby carrots
- Frozen berries (for smoothies)
- Trail mix
Our weekly Costco bill ranges anywhere from $20 – $60 depending on what we need. We try to space things out the best we can.
Local grocery store (aka Wal-Mart or Smith’s):
- Canned foods (i.e. beans, tomato sauce, veggies, etc.)
- Frozen veggies
- Produce (i.e. spinach, bananas, berries, potatoes, etc.)
- Half & half
- Random salad dressings
- Some condiments (i.e. mustard, mayo, ketchup, etc.)
- Whole wheat bread
- Hamburger/hot dog buns
- Pasta sauce
- Other random ingredients for specific recipes
Our weekly grocery store bill is usually anywhere from $35 – $50.
As a whole, I’d say we probably spend about $60 – $80 per week on groceries if we were to combine our Costco and grocery store purchases. We will occasionally have a higher cost week if we need to buy dog food or something like that.
I want to note that as our family grows, and our child(ren) begin to eat more fruits and vegetables, we’ll most likely buy more produce from Costco. I do think Costco has quality and well priced produce, but we can’t get through most of it with just Cody and me eating it. I’d hate for it to go to waste, and we’d be throwing money down the drain, so I still buy most of our fruits and vegetables from our local grocery store.
Another thing, as much as I don’t like most Wal-Marts, I’ve learned that not all Wal-Marts are created equal. We live in a newer community, so the Wal-Mart by us is actually pretty nice and new. We’ll see how long that lasts, but until then, I’m going to take advantage of their low prices. Otherwise I hit up our nearby Smith’s … just depends on my needs and how I’m feeling. Give me a nearby Trader Joe’s, and that would certainly be my grocery store of choice alongside Costco, but unfortunately that’s not the case.
That’s our grocery shopping in a nutshell! I hope this helps those of you that are trying to figure out how to cut back on your grocery shopping bill or maybe you’re trying to decide whether a Costco/Sam’s Club membership is worth it.
Last thing, this is PROOF that you can totally eat healthy on a budget, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
Do you do any grocery shopping at Costco or Sam’s Club? If so, what do you usually buy there? Where do you do the bulk of your grocery shopping? How much do you typically spend on groceries per week?