Sunday, June 16, 2013

Things We Purchase at Sam's Club

A while back there was a Living Social deal where you could get a Sam's Club card for a good price, plus it came with some freebies - a $20 gift card, a rotisserie chicken, a pizza and some cookies.  We decided to give it a try and see if we'd use it much.  After I purchased ours, I learned that if three or more people purchased using my link, my Sam's Club deal would be free.  So I spent the next three days annoying informing my friends about the deal on facebook, here on my blog, on message boards, etc....and yes, we got ours for free.

So...what do we purchase at Sam's Club?

Yeast.  Yeast is a good price there.  You can get two 1 pounds bricks of yeast that are together in a shrink-wrap.  I store it in the freezer once it is open, and it keeps long after the expiration date.  That said, we live in a very dry climate, and I can't guarantee that we'd get the same results in a more humid area.  But the yeast is a good deal if you do any yeast baking.

Tomatoes.  Our store has #10 cans (that's a big can, about the size of a gallon jug of milk) of diced tomatoes for something like $1.40.  I purchased two, and as soon as I can find some time and some motivation, I'll open one, make a ridiculous amount of marinara (and maybe even some chili).  If they are good, I'll go back and buy more.  That price is just hard for me to comprehend. 

Pretzels.  Six one pound bag of mini pretzels sell for about $6.40.  Husband likes salty snacks, and this is a fairly good price for them.  I do occasionally see them for $1 per pound, usually right after I've bought a 6 lb. box at Sam's, lol. 

Can O'Cheese.  Nacho cheese, to be exact, in one of those big #10 cans.  This is definitely a treat item, and one we don't buy often.  We bring it home, open it up and re-package it into freezer jars or containers in smaller amounts.  It's kinda yummy with the pretzels listed above.

Hunk O'Cheese.  Five pound blocks of some basic cheeses (mozzarella, cheddar) are available for about $11.  It's a good price, though sometimes I can do better locally with a sale/coupon.  Those deals are thinning out, though, so I can see that we'll probably continue to buy the 5lb. blocks.  I bring them home, cut some pieces for 'chunk cheese' for slicing (think cheese and crackers) and then I use the blade on my food processor to chop the rest into pieces about the size of peas.  These work just like shredded cheese does for pizza, quesedillas, etc., and it's much faster than hand-shredding (and my dinky little food processor doesn't have a shredding blade). 

Hot Cocoa Mix.  Swiss Miss, to be exact.  I usually end up getting cocoa in packets free or very cheap around the holidays, but that didn't happen this past year.  The price for the big canister of Swiss Miss was a good price, so we bought one.  We haven't opened it yet, but I have had it before, and it is really good.

Rotisserie Chicken.  I have to say the chickens they sell for $4.88 are big.  With the cost of whole chickens in the supermarket around here, these seem to be a really good price for the number of servings we get, and it's tasty, convenient, and we have plenty left over for second and third meals. Truth be told, I think we've gotten two, counting the one we got free when we it's not something we are picking up weekly or anything like that. 

Butter.  It's a pretty good price if there are no sale/coupon deals to snap up.  I am still adjusting myself to the reality that I can't get free butter at Easter with sales and coupons.  I can't even get it for $1 a pound anymore like I used to, so a while back I bought a package of 4 1lb. packages for just under $8.  Sigh....

Soy Sauce.  If there is one thing in this house that gets brand loyalty, it's shoyu.  Kikkoman.  Only.  Ever.  And the best price is at Sam's.

Knockoff Zyrtec.  Husband takes a daily over the counter allergy medication, and we can get it at Sam's for less than we've found it anywhere else, on-line, locally, etc.  It's much more affordable at Sam's.  It's the generic for Zyrtec - cetirizine?  I think that's right.

Baking Sheets.  The aluminum cookie sheet/jelly roll pans that are 11x17 are really nice and I think they will likely last me forever.

Plastic Wrap.  I get the big roll in the cardboard box.  Not the really wide one, but the one that is 12 inches. I figure that since it is a little bigger than our dinner plates, that excess on the sides will just be waste anyway.  One of these rolls of plastic wrap lasts us literally for years.  Like...four years.

Gasoline.  If it's the best price in the area and I need gas, well, that's a no-brainer.  I filled up Friday at Sam's.  The nice man who keeps that area tidy wanted to wash my window, but I told him that was okay.

Things I Might Buy at Sam's

There are several things I plan to check on as I run low, to see if they have the better price.  Examples would be coconut oil, peanut oil and olive oil. I plan to check on those when I'm running low. Also, I have heard of people getting great deals on meat there when it's on markdown.  I don't know where to find the markdown meat, what day to look, what time to look - I need to educate myself on all that.

I also need to price things like vitamins, pain relievers, etc.  We don't go through a large quantity of any of those items, so I want to make sure I don't have to buy an enormous quantity.   

What I don't buy at Sam's and Why

All-Purpose Flour, because I much prefer unbleached - it seems to bake up much better at our altitude, and all of Sam's flours are bleached.

That Huge Bag of Chocolate Chips, Sugar and Ziploc Bags, because I can still do better with sales and coupons at Christmas and Easter. 

Nuts and Dried Fruit, because we belong to a buying group that gets better prices on these things.  Plus, we have a store called Spouts that has fantastic sales on nuts and dried fruit, and I don't have to buy a huge amount at once.  Plus, our Christmas present from my parents last year was a 50 lb. box of pecans and a sheller. 

Peanut Butter, Canned Fruits and Vegetables, because I can do better on peanut butter with coupons and sales, and we grow and can a lot of our own fruits and vegetables.  The ones we don't grow/can are better purchased in small cans, and the prices on those are better elsewhere. 

Snack Foods (except the pretzels), because having a huge honkin' bag or box of snack foods doesn't seem to make them last longer at our house, plus the prices aren't that great.  When we do buy things like chips, we get them on sale and the price is better.  We don't tend to buy things like fruit snacks, cheese and cracker packs, etc.  However, if Daughter was in some sort of group where we had to bring snacks every so often, I'd probably buy a brick of some sort of snack food and use them, because the price per pack is better than it is at other places.  We just tend to make our own at home.

Cleaning Supplies, because we don't use a ton, and I'm better off getting a smaller bottle with a coupon.  I make my own laundry soap, and Kmart keeps sending me $3 in shopper rewards, and I keep using it to get fabric softener for free.  When Walgreens has Dawn dish soap on sale for .99, we use the .50 coupon from the Sunday paper and get a better price per ounce.

Toilet Paper, because so far, I've been able to get it for less elsewhere. 

The Foods They Offer as Samples, because most of them are ready-to-eat individual servings and just aren't in our budget right now.  That said, we do enjoy the samples when we are there.  We went in one Saturday and I swear we'd had lunch by the time we walked around the store. 

Oats, Dry Beans, Instant Refried Beans, Powdered Milk and Rice because I can purchase those items for less at the local LDS cannery.

Pasta, because often, I can get it for less with sales and coupons.  About a year ago, I was actually earning a penny per 16oz. package to buy it at King Sooper.

Books and Clothing, because of the library and goodwill.

So.  Is it worth it? 

I am somewhat doubtful that we will renew our card when the time comes.  It's not that we don't like the items that we do buy...more that if you tack on the $45/$50 it costs for a membership, it factors into the cost of those items, and then they're not such a great price anymore.  Keep in mind, we are a family of three.  I garden, I do some canning and I have all these other sources in the area.  We don't go through the quantities a larger family would use, so I'm doubtful that we can recoup the membership fee.  One possibility I see is that we could stock a year's supply of many of the things we like (the medicine, the tomatoes, yeast, cocoa mix, etc.) right at the end of our membership and do a membership every other year. 

How about you?  What do you buy at Sam's?  Is it worth it to you?


Sheila said...

I do shop quite a bit at Sam's. The membership at Sam's is $40. Some of the other things I buy at Sam's include bread products (I used to buy these at a bread outlet, but I don't have that available to me here), dog food, drinks (not cheap, but cheaper than other places and it's something we buy), black olives (about $1/can versus $1.50/can at Walmart or anyplace else), and vanilla are things that come to mind that you didn't mention. Some of the things that I buy (protein powder for my husband, certain drinks that we like and include in our budget, things like that) are not cheap, but are simply cheapER :) than they are anywhere else. I try to be aware of prices, because not everything at Sam's is cheaper than you can find in other places. We are a family of 4, but 4 adult-sized eaters, so I do find it easier to go through bigger packages.

I started reading your blog via Prudent Homemaker, and have enjoyed reading. I love and admire very much how you have kept your grocery budget down, while keeping your menu so varied. We lived in Greeley for several years, so just reading and being reminded of the seasons and things there is nice to me. Although not from there, I felt 'home' in Colorado, and it was very hard to leave. I'm trying to appreciate the good things about where I am now (northern AZ), like the nicer weather (we are at about 5700 feet altitude, so not hot) and how pretty our town is, but it's been a hard haul to get my attitude together.

I think your idea of letting your membership expire and then rejoining some time later might be a good choice for your family. Gas used to be a lot cheaper there than anywhere else, like $.20/gallon less, but lately it's not been as big a discount.

Laura said...

Thanks for the tips, and your kind words, Sheila! I'm glad to know about the black olives because my family loves them. Sometimes they are on sale at other stores around here for $1 a can, but it's good to know I could stock up on them and not have to wait for that sale if we were to run low.

We have a bread outlet here that is 'okay'...but then we have this membership in some sort of discount club we bought from our cub scout nephew that has B1G1 coupons for the bread outlet, which actually makes it a good deal.

I have gotten some spices and blends there - I think I forget to mention them because it takes me a decade to use one up, hee hee. I think spices are key to variety. If you have a plain whole chicken, the spices are what make it Greek, Mexican, BBQ, etc., so I like using them for variety.

Colorado is not where I'm from either, but I do like it here. We are praying for an end to all the wildfires and a cool, damp, fire-free summer. :)

momma-lana said...

My list would pretty much the same as yours. We buy pepperoni there too for our homemade pizzas. We do live in a humid climate and the yeast keeps very well here. I have four of those baking sheets. Two of them are twenty years old and still going strong. They are my favorite baking sheets ever.

At my Sam's the meat is just marked down right in the case where it would normally be. They seem to mark meat down every morning at my store so I would need to go early to get in on that deal.

Sandra Girouard said...

I hear you on the tomatoes. We used to buy the #10 can of tomato paste. I would dilute, cook up and freeze a TON of seasoned pasta sauce for a ridiculously low amount of money!

Re the rotisserie chicken: we rarely buy one now, but when we had an all electric kitchen, I often found I could do better (money wise) with a large rotisserie chicken -- it was actually less money than buying the chicken plus the cost of roasting it.

One thing we get is vinegar. The bottles here are slightly more than a gallon. Between pickling and the fact we use vinegar for most of our cleaning, we go through plenty and appreciate the savings.

Sandra @Smart Food Storage


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