My Wholesale Club vs Grocery Store Price Points

by Tiff on February 6, 2013

Do you shop at Wholesale Clubs?

If I had a nickle for every time someone asked me that…. Usually my response is “it depends”, but bigger is not always better. Shopping at a grocery store that runs sales, doubles coupons, and has buy one get one sales, you almost always will get a cheaper deal than buying in bulk. Many wholesale clubs do not accept manufacturer coupons. I can buy individual packages and use a coupon on each item and get a better deal. However, I am a member of Costco. (I was a member of Sam’s, but switched when there was not a Sam’s near)

I do still shop the Wholesale clubs even with doing my coupons.

Items I will buy at Wholesale Clubs

Garbage Bags: I can buy a pack of 150 flex bags for only $8.98  My cheapest price on sale in town is $2.99 for a 25ct box.

Price Comparison for Garbage Bags:
Wholesale Club = 6¢ a bag
Grocery Store = 12¢ a bag

Olive Oil: I only use Extra Virgin Olive Oil ( First Cold Press) And we go through a lot of it. I use it when cooking my vegetables often.

Wholesale Club= 13¢ an ounce
Grocery Store = 19¢ an ounce .

Cheese: Another item that we use frequently in this house. Cheese does go on sale often at grocery stores, and I do buy it there in between trips to the wholesale clubs, but I stock up when I am at Costco.  * You can shred your own cheese and freeze it by lining it on a cookie sheet, freezing then dividing in plastic baggies*

Price Comparison on Block Cheese:
Wholesale Club = 15¢ an ounce
Grocery Store = 19¢ an ounce

Produce & meat: These are often cheaper and better grade than many grocery stores. Just be careful that you will use all the produce before it goes bad…it is large quantities…however with the 6 of us, we have no problem eat 3 lbs of grapes in a few days time. If you do not think you will eat it or freeze it, try splitting a large order between a friend/family member.

Batteries: The house brand batteries are usually just as good as name brands here. I can occasionally get Rayovac free with their $1 coupons at Walmart & Target, but we need so many batteries in this house with toys and electronics that I must buy more.

Sugar & Flour: Making my Southern Sweet Tea, we go through a lot of sugar. I also use a lot of flour cooking items rather than buying processed foods.

Coffee: I never drink coffee, but my husband drink several cups a day. Several. Wholesale clubs sale national and their own brands of coffee. He likes the taste of Costco brand coffee just fine, and I buy regular and decaf for him. I can get a 48oz can for only $9.99  This is much larger than the can sold in my local grocery store, and only about $1 more.

Price Comparison on Coffee:
Wholesale Club = 20¢ an ounce
Grocery Store = 22¢ an ounce

–If you use KCups, this may be a great place to purchase them. We have a Keurig, but use the refillable filter so my husband can use his own coffee and it is cheaper. But, if KCups are your thing, Costco has the Newman’s Own 80 KCups for around $38. They sell other brands as well.

Popcorn: My kids eat a bag of popcorn about every 1-2 days. We have an air popper and while it is SO much cheaper, this is an area I am willing to splurge on a bit from time to time for convenience. Pulling out my air popper and having to clean it every 2 days gets old fast. Especially when I have so many other things to do. Costco has Orville Redenbacher 40 count box for around $10. Every few months they will have a store coupon (mailed to you when you have a membership only to be used at Costco) for $4 off. That makes 40 bags for only $6.  I can buy microwave popcorn at the Dollar Tree which is a 3 count off brand.

Price Comparison on Popcorn:
Wholesale club = Name Brand 15¢ a bag (with Costco Coupon) 25¢ (without coupon)
Grocery/ Dollar Store = Off Brand $.33 a bag

Diapers & Wipes: Today I paid $32 for a box that contains 162 size 5 Huggies diapers. A regular jumbo pack in a store such as Walmart or Target only contains only 26 and costs around $10 – $11.   Even when using a $2 coupon, Costco still comes out cheaper.

Diaper Price Comparison:
Wholesale Club= 19¢ a diaper
Grocery Store= 38¢

Ziploc Bags: This is an on occasion for me. I use resealable containers for the most part, and for easy items that will go in fridge or lunch box I use a dollar brand at the military Commissary. Those are the cheapest by far. But, because I freeze many foods, I need a good durable bag I can trust when freezing. This is when I purchase Ziploc at a wholesale store. At Costco, 500 sandwich bags is about $7. (And they sometimes have a $2 coupon every few months in their store coupon booklet they mail out to members)  A 50 count Ziploc bag at Target is $2.29.  The most I see a coupon for Ziploc is usually $1/2… not that significant.

Price Comparison for Ziploc:
Costco = 014¢
Target = 04¢

Instant Oatmeal: My kids eat a lot of instant oatmeal. While this is something that goes on sale regularly at many stores including CVS, I need a lot, so I buy in bulk for ease. Even with a sale at stores, I still find it a bit cheaper at Costco.

Price Comparison for Oatmeal:
Wholesale Club = 18¢ a packet
Grocery Store = .23¢ a packet

Bread: If you have read my site long, you know I am not willing to budge on my 100% whole wheat name brand bread. Just not. My bread is about 79¢ – $1 cheaper a loaf at Costco. SOLD! I always purchase 4 loaves each trip and freeze 2 for a week, then use it before my next bimonthly Costco trip.

  • Many of these may not seem like a big discount. 2¢ and 5¢ per quantity doesn’t sound like much at first glance, but if it is something you use mass quantities of or purchase regularly, it adds up very fast. The amount I save on diapers alone counteracts my membership fee.
  • When shopping Big Box stores, I highly suggest using a cash method. It is very easy to throw items in their over-sized carts and rack up a whopping bill!
  • Many of the above items can be found at cheaper prices throughout the year at drug stores and shopping sales at grocery stores, but for a one stop shop, you can save on these items all year long at wholesale clubs.

Items I absolutely will NOT Buy at Wholesale Clubs:

Canned Vegetables
Packaged snack foods

What do you buy or not buy at Wholesale clubs?

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