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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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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Shopping at Sam's Club

Many frugalistas take the approach that paying any type of membership to shop anywhere is not frugal.  Now I have had this argument with many who claim that paying to shop somewhere is not frugal.  I clearly take the stance that not only is it frugal in that the membership fee can easily be recouped in one shopping trip but also membership can save you on other fringe benefits like gasoline purchases, prescriptions, eye care, insurance and even travel.  We joined Pace ages ago when our kids were quite small.  With a growing family and business we needed every break we could get.  At that time you had to be a member of a union or a business owner to join.  A few years later Pace was taken over by Sam's Club.  We kept our membership and continue to maintain it at $35 per year so we can enjoy the lower prices.  We shop at the closest Sam's Club (US) near our home in Ontario, Canada and we shop at the Sam's Club near our vacation home in Florida.

Sam's Club is a warehouse style store that does have special perks for business members.  There is nothing fancy in the layout, no bags but lots of free boxes and no high pressured sales personnel but the prices are considerably lower than in general department and grocery stores.  Contrary to many beliefs, you do not have to buy in bulk for all food items.  Sam's Club has a wonderful selection of clothing, office and gift items as well.  Here are a few of my purchases on our last trip to Sam's Club.  We did re-coup the cost of our membership that trip.

Caribou Blend K-cups
I bought a Keurig single serve coffee maker almost a year ago.  We absolutely love this coffee maker that is in daily use.  The problem with K-cups is the expense ranging between 38¢ (online) to 79¢ on sale per cup of coffee.  So we have a My K-cup filtering system with two extra filters that allow us to use our regular ground coffee at 9¢ per cup.  However, K-cups are nice for entertaining giving guests more options especially with respect to flavoured coffees.

Sam's Club carries the 80 K-cup package for $39.98 which works out to 50¢ per cup of coffee.   The main downside is the selection is limited and it does vary based on availability.  This time they had Caribou Blend 100% Arabica coffee K-cups.  This is a medium roast coffee that is 100% Rainforest Alliance Certified.    This means the farm workers were fairly compensated, their communities were supported and the environment was treated properly.

bar mops
I do a lot of canning which ultimately means during any canning session I can easily go through six or more T-towels.  At the same time many of the foods (eg. raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes) permanently stain T-towels.  Several years ago, I turned to using 100% cotton bar mops in place of T-towels.  I get them in a 24-pack at Sam's Club for $12.88 which works out to about 54¢ each.  At that price they are less than the price but higher quality of T-towels in the dollar stores and more than pay for themselves in reducing the amount of paper towels used.  I buy a package about every 18 to 24 months.

These towels are used as regular T-towels, for canning and home food preservation, cleaning up spills and much more.  They have replaced about 40% of my paper towel usage with another 50% of paper towel usage replaced by plain white 100% cotton wash cloths.  I no longer worry about staining.  If a bar mop gets too stained it goes into the cleaning pile and then eventually will make it's way to the garage.  If one goes missing, it doesn't bother me and I have no problem donating a few here and there if need be. 

tortilla chips bulk package
Nachos are a huge hit with our monthly games night, special events and even our own snacking.  I buy restaurant quality tortilla chips at Sam's Club.  A box of 2-3lb bags of tortilla chips is $7.26 which is considerably higher priced than what they used to be but still a very good deal.  It works out to about the same amount as you would get in 6 large bags at the grocery store at about $3.50 per bag ($21).  I go through two to three boxes per year but our kids take some home too.

This can be a great savings for anyone.  I usually break down one bag into three extra large zipper style bags.  Each bag is enough for a games night.  The bags could be broke down into any desired size but cost per ounce will still be a lot lower than that in the grocery stores.

bbq sauce, cheerios and pickles
Since I do a lot of home preserving, we don't buy a lot of groceries the way a normal family would do.  We discovered Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce at a ribfest.  Ribfests are definitely the place to go to find delicious, unique and award winning sauces.  The ribbers managed to get their award winning sauce into the commercial market.  A 2 pk of 40 oz bottles of Sweet Baby Ray's costs $5.98 or 7¢ per ounce, about half the price of BBQ sauces in the grocery stores.

I home can 24 L (quarts) of dill pickles as well as make 6 - 500 ml (pint) jars of freezer pickles.  When I run out, I have no choice but to buy pickles.  Basically, I need to make more pickles!  A 1 gallon jug of pickles costs me $4.28 at Sam's Club.  If I had to buy cucumbers to make pickles, I could not make them for this price.  It is a rather good deal especially if you don't make your own pickles and don't want to pay the higher prices of the smaller jars of pickles.

Last May we had a scare with my husband who ended up being hospitalized.  While we still don't know the actual cause of that problem, additional testing revealed he is considered diabetic, manageable by diet for the time being.  I am considered pre-diabetic with high cholesterol levels so we start most days with Cheerios.  Seriously, we don't buy a lot in the way of dry cereals but Cheerios has been a long time family favourite!  This cold breakfast cereal is perfect for gluten free treats, cereal bars,  lowering cholesterol and it it heart friendly.  I bought Whole Grain Honey Nut Cheerios (3 lb) for $6.68 at Sam's Club.  This is about a third of the price in the regular grocery stores.

foil trays, Ziploc bags and foil wrap
Sam's Club is the perfect place for substantial savings on food preservation products like wraps and freezer bags.  I honestly do not use a lot of the zipper style freezer bags so this box will last me a good year.  Ziploc bags (gallon size) in the grocery store cost 54.7¢ per bag but buying the large package at Sam's Club reduces that price to 8¢, well under the 30¢ per freezer vacuum bags I buy.

The aluminum trays are another real bargain.  I use a lot of these throughout the year in my bulk cooking sessions.  The Sam's Club price comes in at 22¢ each for a package of 30.  The same sized tray is $1.25 at the dollar store and $1.49 at the grocery store.  So buying at Sam's Club is a substantial savings!

I use aluminum foil for bulk cooking sessions.  That means I need heavy duty and enough to get through one or more bulk cooking sessions at a reasonable price.  Aluminum foil at Sam's Club comes in at 3.2¢ per foot or about half the price of heavy duty foil in the grocery stores. 

Simple Green all purpose concentrated cleaner
One of my biggest savers at Sam's Club is Simple Green.  This is a concentrated non-toxic, biodegradable all purpose cleaner.  A 1 gallon jug costs $8.78 but when used on the general strength will make 40 bottles, considerably less that what would be spent on the equivalent on commercially prepared cleaners.  This time I got a free spray bottle which was an added bonus.

Simple Green is a must have in our home.  We use it for a lot of cleaning and I do make various dilutions all in convenient spray bottles.  I use it undiluted for tough cleaning jobs (eg. toilets) and degreasing, cleaning floors, all hard surfaces AND my husband uses it outdoors for washing the care and siding.  This gallon of Simple Green will last us about 18 months making it a very frugal purchase.  The annual saving from buying this gallon of Simple Green will more than pay for our membership!

Club stores that charge a membership can indeed be very frugal places to shop.  The membership ensures you are getting that item at the lowest price possible.   Just as in regular grocery shopping or bulk buying it is very important you know the unit price elsewhere to be sure you are getting the best value for your dollar.  Never buy any food product you will not use regardless of the price.  Other than that, I highly recommend shopping the warehouse style stores even though they do charge a membership.

[Disclosure: I am part of the Life Made Delicious Connector program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.]


1 food lovers commented:

LindaG said...

Great post, GG. Thanks for all the information and tips!