Tuesday, June 2, 2009
The Warehouse vs Supermarket Shopping Debate
I have until recently been a cardholding member of Costco and gladly paid my annual membership fee to wander the aisles of larger than life grocery products. I will concede that typically the non-food items sold there represent a significant value versus what I would pay for similar products elsewhere. But what about the groceries?
This is by no means a true price comparison, but rather my comments here are based on my own shopping experiences. Feel free to post your thoughts on the subject (even if they don't agree with mine!). And note that I can't speak to the prices and quality at Sam's Club...although I have also shopped at Smart & Final here in Phoenix.
Here is my personal take on best/worst bets of the warehouse over my supermarkets:
* Alcoholic beverages are much cheaper at warehouse prices (also check-out BevMo or similar stores for good prices)
* Meat is typically a great deal and even if the packages are larger than what you would typically buy, you can always repackage and freeze the excess.
* If you do a lot of baking you can usually get good deals on bulk sugar and flour.
* Coffee has typically been cheaper - I could even get Starbucks whole bean coffee at a good price.
* Paper goods (TP and paper towels) and cleaning goods (laundry detergents, cleansers, etc.) are items that you always need extra of.
* Bottled water and soda are usually cheaper at the warehouse too.
(These accolades do not however mean that they are ALWAYS the best bet - sometimes the supermarkets run amazing deals that beat these out!)
* Large frozen dinners - unless you are really into leftovers, these huge boxes take up valuable freezer space and cost more than making something from scratch anyway.
* Dairy products - unless you are certain you/your family will eat all of that yogurt, think twice!
* Fresh produce - prices often are better at the local supermarket!
* Canned vegetables/fruit - great for restauranteurs, but not so great for the average family - once opened they don't save well anyway!
Other considerations - at Costco, you can use a debit card or American Express card but NOT a VISA, MasterCard or Discover...not so convenient for everyone (though personally, I'm opting on debit for everything anyway). And, as you are aware if you've been following my blog, I am a fan of coupons and those are frequently doubled, tripled or even quadrupled at supermarkets but not at Costco. It may come down to personal preference in the long run, but shop smart regardless!