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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Monday, February 01, 2010

Frugal Kitchens 101 - Warehouse Club Shopping

Frugal Kitchens 101
Many frugalistas know the benefits of shopping the warehouse club store such as Sam's Club and Costco's. However others not understanding the concept of paying a membership so they can shop in a store have voiced concerns that they should not have to pay to shop. At the same time there is a preconceived notion that the only foods you can buy at club stores are in huge packages that they would never be able to use. Today's Frugal Kitchens 101 focuses on warehouse club shopping and why it is a frugal way to shop.

We discovered warehouse club shopping at a place called Pace. At that time you had to be a business owener or a member of certain unions. We signed up. Our kids were little so we only made 2 trips to the US per year for major restocking. Even back then we saved a substantial amount of money. Pace was taken over by Sam's Club and even though the kids are now grown we still shop at Sam's in the US. Costco's is a similar warehouse store with stores in the US as well. They were also in Ontario, Canada for a few years but pulled their stores out of Canada in 2009. There has not been a year that we have not recouped the cost of our membership as well as realizing substantial savings above the membership costs. Here are a few of our tips for saving money by shopping at warehouse club stores.

  • Always check your local food sales flyers before shopping at a warehouse store. Many grocery stores have their flyers online and you can search for product pricing online for both Sam's and Costco's.
  • You need to know your prices! A case of 8 cans of brand name green beans may work out to 80¢ per can. If you are a Canadian shopping in the US you have to factor in the exchange rate as well. No Frills puts brand name green beans on for 59¢ each for the same sized can so that means pass on the 8 pk at Sam's. On the other hand a 1 kg bag of icing sugar costs about $2.49 here while a 3.18 kg at Sam's cost $4.58 US or about $1 per kg cheaper so worth buying.
  • Most of the products will be brand name and the number of brands will be limited. For example if they have green beans it will be only Del Monte and they may only offer a couple of brands of dishwasher detergent. They tend to stock only those brands they can get at the best price which is passed onto their consumers. For this reason if you see something at a good savings stock up right there and then as you may not find it there again.
  • In general - Large containers of dried seasonings, herbs and spice blends are cheaper than in the grocery stores. Things like Worcestershire Sauce, Frank's Hot Sauce and Soy Sauce come in either large jugs or large 2 pk bottles at a good savings. Institutional sized containers of pretzels, pickles and multi-pack boxes of chocolate bars are also a good deal. However, my experience has been the institutional sized ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise and Miracle Whip® are actually cheaper at the grocery stores than at Sam's. Milk, butter, cream cheese are considerably cheaper than Canadian prices but not necessarily cheaper than US grocery stores so beware with these. Hard cheeses are cheaper with a better selection of quality cheeses. Meats can be a good deal as can some bakery products but again you really need to know your prices. Cereals may be a good deal but again know your prices.
  • Non-edible kitchen items are available ranging from cleaning products to cutlery, pots & pans, small kitchen appliances and restaurant supply items. The bar towels (25 pk for $10.59) is an excellent deal if you need a low cost tea-towels. I love these especially for canning. The restaurant grade cutlerly is ideal if you need a larger place setting. It comes in a 32 pk of each but quite inexpensive which is an easy way to get a 32 place setting if you need it. In particular Sam's carries a nice selection of recipe books well worth checking out. They also sell professional grade appliances but you need to go online to check for those then have one ordered into your closest store.

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