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« Is Buying a Car through Costco a Good Deal? | Main | How to Give Your Kids $25,000 at Graduation »

May 11, 2010


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I think the title of the article is slightly misleading. Some of these items are fine to buy in bulk, like tilapia. Just maybe not at a bulk item store. I buy individually frozen tilapia in bulk from our local super market. It keeps great and tastes awesome

The things I disagree on are toilet paper, papertowel, vitamins, bread, eggs, cereal. We buy there because of time mostly.

But then again time is money and if you HAVE the time to bargin shop, drive to multiple places to get that bargin, wasting gas and were and tear on your vehicle or wait for that sale fine. I have better uses for my time and energy.

But when you want that box of cheerios and you eat a lot of them like I do then buying at costco makes sense when you can't find that sale.

How about what you would not buy at costco or any big bulk places?

We definitely buy bread in bulk...but from the outlet bakery store. This is bread that is extra from the local store deliveries and we get $2-$3 loaves for less than a $1 each. We have a chest freezer and since it is higher quality bread that is double wrapped it keeps just fine and saves us a bundle of money. We also get other bread items there like bagels, English muffins, etc.

I think buying enough brown rice to last six months still counts as buying in bulk. I just bought a 12 pound bag of brown rice at Costco this weekend, and thankfully the bags are much smaller than the bags of white rice they sell. My husband and I will use this amount up in 3-4 months.

I also still buy my eggs at Costco because they have the best price on the local, cage-free eggs.

I also disagree with the title of the MSN article. Just because they don't have the storage space to store bulk items, doesn't mean it's a bad purchase for me.

1. Depends on how many people in the house eat brown rice and how often.
2. Candy in bulk for Halloween or kids' events, but not just for the kids unless you like going to the dentist a LOT!
3. & 4. Same as FMF, we have the room for tp and p. towels. Hate running out! Just have to be careful since knowing you have plenty, you tend to use it more liberally.
5. Nuts? See #1 response.
6. Condiments...w/3 kids we def. use up the ketchup (plus, I think it lasts in the pantry unopened). Ditto for mustard. Mayonnaise for potato salad, mac. salad, and cole slaw (big in summer months).
7. Kid's Vitamins...see #6.
8. Loved BJ's store brand diapers. Fine to buy in bulk when they are young since they go thru them more quickly. Also fine to buy in bulk later if there are other fam. members who can use any the baby has outgrown; quality and price are great!
9. Would be difficult to handle a huge container of bleach, I would think. Of course, bleach is inexpensive anyway, so no big savings there.
10. Seasonings, no way to use it up unless you own a catering/rest. business.
11. Agree w/Travis, above -- prices are great and bread freezes fine if double-bagged. We use a LOT of bread during the school year.
12. Tilapia may be cheaper at Wal-Mart but trust me, the quality/freshness isn't nearly as good.
13. Eggs are fine...3 kids, remember? Only cheaper at the supermarket if you find a great sale.
14. Meat is fine as long as you will eat it. Doubt that bulk veg/fruit is a good idea, again, unless for a party or you have a lg. family.
15. Agree w/FMF. Cereal costs less at the supermarket, but I tire of having to buy another 3 boxes every 5 days. I will buy in bulk and rotate, or buy the huge generic brands at the grocery store and put in containers.

Good tips, though you really need to know your own personal consumption habits and needs. Also would be good for two families splitting the order...but that seems like it might be more work than it would be worth!

I laughed when I read this list. I buy lots of these in bulk. But...I have a somewhat (ok, very) distorted diet as I weight train and diet goes with that.

1) Eat tons of brown rice. With a rice cooker, it is so easy!
2) No candy. Maybe for Halloween...but we make it a point to give it all away.
3&4) Same as other comments, storage is not an issue.
5) No opinion, if you eat them enough. Nuts are generally good proteins and fats though.
6) Condiments are usually not all that healthy, so we don't eat a lot of them.
7) I get my vitamins and supplements from a well known online site--Think Arnold :P But I do buy my protein in bulk 15lb increments...
8) No diapers...yet
9) Don't use a lot of bleach, so this fits.
10) Agreed, they go stale and lose much of their flavor and aromatics.
11, 12, 15) Don't eat a lot of these.
13) I get 36 eggs from Costco probably 2 weeks out of 3. Hard boiled and throw the yolk. Again, protein...
14) Love the frozen fruit for smoothies, esp the blueberries. Healthy! Also the bulk organic frozen broccoli.

I'll add a couple I like too: The bulk (non-frozen) chicken breasts are awesome. They come in separate pouches that make it easy to freeze and thaw. Also love the bulk cottage cheese.

So basically, I love everything about Costco mainly due to my diet (you all probably think I'm psycho now!) and convenience. The point is that everything is relative to your situation. Very similar to personal finances! Just because it works for one person's situation doesn't mean it applies to you also.

we don't shop at any of these places (Costco). It just doesn't seem worth it to me. I am open to differing opinions and changing my mind. But. Has anyone who is a serious club shopper tell me how much they save in a year? More than $500? A $1000?

Maybe this makes sense if you and your family are on a tight budget, lucky for me we are not. I just don't see the value.

2. Candy: We do for work--youth ministry events
3. Paper towels: We do, great only have to buy once or twice a year!!
4. Toilet paper: We do, but I agree that we need to find the space to store
5. Nuts: They last longer if you freeze them; we buy almonds which we eat everyday for a snack.
6. Mayonnaise and other condiments: Just PB at home, and for work (150 teens go through a lot of condiments at lunches for six weeks!!)
10. Spices: We do, but only for ones we use a lot of (parsley, peppercorns)
11. Bread: Don't, but could...hmmmm might want to check into it
14. Frozen foods and meats: We like to stock up...but freezer space can get tight
15. Cereal: We buy in bulk all the time...but usually like to have two varieties because I agree it's tough to eat the same cereal for weeks!!!

I added lots of storage cupboards in our garage with plenty of room remaining for our cars and my workbench so we're very happy with Costco and go there once/month where we also gas up with the best gas prices in town (less 3% with the Costco/Amex card).
Items we like in bulk are milk, paper towels, toilet paper, cans of various types of beans and soups, pickles, eggs, vitamins & other nutritional supplements, Lipton tea bags, Noah's bagels, crusty garlic bread, leg of lamb, beef roast, chicken breasts, potatoes, bananas and toothpaste. I also have a "Foodsaver" vacuum pack device so that I can divide up the meat into portions just right for one meal and then vacuum pack them for the freezer. I'm also happy with Costco's own Kirkland brand.
We're very fussy about the taste of fish and like it to be fresh, never frozen, so we check the flyers from the local supermarkets every week to see what the best buys are which are usually wild red snapper from Canada, steelhead & salmon. We never buy meals that come in boxes since we believe in avoiding food preservatives as much as possible, have never owned a microwave, and being retired, preparation time is not an issue.

1. Brown rice - We don't eat enough to buy in bulk.

2. Candy - I try not to since I can't eat it if it's not in the house.

3. Paper towels - We buy in bulk and put in the pantry.

4. Toilet paper - We buy in bulk and put in the closet.

5. Nuts - We don't eat them enough to buy in bulk.

6. Mayonnaise and other condiments - I buy two or three at a time and keep the extras in the pantry.

7. Vitamins and nutritional supplements - We buy two large jars every few years.

8. Diapers - Don't buy any.

9. Bleach - One container is enough for 2-3 months.

10. Spices - We buy large containers of garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and citrus rub since they only last a couple of months anyway.

11. Bread - I buy two loaves at a time from Sam's to eat and one to freeze.

12. Tilapia - We buy frozen filets in 3-5 pound increments and use them up over a few months.

13. Eggs - We don't use enough to buy in dozen lasts a few weeks at least.

14. Frozen foods and meats - We stock up every 6 weeks.

15. Cereal - I buy the double packs of our favorites - Honey Nut Cheerios and Frosted Mini Wheats

We never buy cereal at Costco because it's cheaper elsewhere. Using coupons we can usually buy 3-5 boxes at a time for $1 or less per box!

It mostly looks like a list of stuff that would go bad before you could use it all or stuff that is bulky and you might not have room to store.

1. Brown rice - I've seen rice go bad, it's not pretty. Although we use it a lot, I buy in smaller quantities
2. Candy - Hardly ever eat it; but I do like to keep sugarless gum in the cars so I will buy a bulk package or two from Costco when I think of it.
3. Paper towels - We buy in bulk and keep it in the garage on a shelf.
4. Toilet paper - There's always room for TP. I hate running out!
5. Nuts - I buy almonds bulk as we eat it every day with our oatmeal. It keeps nicely when vaccum packed.
6. Mayonnaise and other condiments - I don't use enough to buy in bulk. I made the mistake of buying a large jar of fruit preserves a year ago. A total waste of money as it went bad before we got to use more that a tablespoon.
7. Vitamins and nutritional supplements - I prefer other brands than what Costco carries.
8. Diapers - No need.
9. Bleach - I prefer the lavender scented which isn't available in bulk.
10. Spices - All I buy in bulk is a large jar of cinnamon for oatmeal; we go through two jars a year.
11. Bread - I bake most of my bread, and buy the rest as needed.
12. Tilapia - I don't buy farmed fish from Costco, but I will buy large quantities of non-farmed fish elsewhere when it's on sale. I portion them out, use a vacuum sealer and put them up in the freezer.
13. Eggs - I like mine fresh and organic; plus we only use a few a week so bulk won't work.
14. Frozen foods and meats - I stock up on frozen vegetables when they are on sale, but not necessarily from Costco.
15. Cereal - I buy Quaker Oatmeal at Costco and keep at least 2 or 3 boxes in the pantry. The 5-minute old-fashioned oats are hardly ever available for less at the local market. We eat it every day and haven't tired of it yet because we vary the fruit it was with blueberies, apples and bananas topped with almonds and cinnamon.

Having a vacuum sealer is an important part my being able to buy bulk; it keeps food fresher up to five times longer.

Just curious, some have said you buy milk and eggs in bulk. Don't they have a limited shelf life?

We buy our meat at Costco and freeze it until we need it. It works for us. Also, I have a baking business out of my home and eggs at Costco are way more cost effective for me than at Safeway. I use them quickly too, so it isn't a big deal. It is true that you have to take a look at your needs and space though! We always shop with a list! It helps!

What do I buy in bulk at Sam's club?

I have a short-ish list that I've found is i) OK when purchased from Sam's, and 2) priced out competitively vs the other grocery store I typically shop at. I don't have time to drive all around chasing a bargain on something, so I only compare the 2 stores. Works for me!

1. gourmet coffee -- about 1/2 price. & I drink a lot of coffee! "in bulk" here just means buying a 2 lb bag at a time, which lasts me about 4 weeks.
2. name brand TP, kleenex, paper towels. I save about 10% on these. I don't like no-name brand tissues--scratchy!
3. peanut butter (name brand again). about 20% off. "in bulk" means buying only 2 large jars together--not too bad. I have kids and use a lot.
4. pasta. not much cheaper but I appreciate being able to buy it in large quantities so I don't run out.
5. printer inkjet refills. Far cheaper than at Best buy or target.
6. random stuff (for example potting soil--about 50% off, flower pots--80% off, lawn mower -- about 30% off, desk chair -- approx 30% off, camping tent -- about 50% off, etc.)
7. hand lotion -- I practically bathe in the stuff since I have dry skin. Sam's sells it at approx 50% off and in large quantities-yeah!
8. cut flowers & potted flowers to use as gifts--not cheap, but they do have a nicer selection than anywhere else! Also their chocolate gift sets at Christmas make excellent and attractive gifts and the chocolate was surprisingly very high quality.
9. bottled water--slightly cheaper than elsewhere. (don't scold me! I live in an agricultural area and the tap water not only tastes terrible but is frequently embargoed by the health dept. Better safe than sorry!)
10. Water softener salt: approx 20% off prices elsewhere.

I never buy milk or eggs at Sam's anymore because tthey always spoil since everything is sold so close to the spoil/pull date--it doesn't even last 1 week in my house!. I don't buy canned food anymore there either--it's also sold by them when very old and is often discolored and weird. Ditto with kids' snacks like individual cups of peaches and the like--it's all sold near the sell-buy date and looks and smells iffy. Also I don't buy cereal from there even though we eat a lot of cheerios etc--I've found that it's usually stale even when we just bought it--ugh!

Their produce and fresh meat often looks very nice, but I don't usually buy them unless I have family staying with us because I can't use those large quantities up before they spoil. I don't freeze it because like eating stuff that's been frozen. I don't think it's healthy to eat something that's been in my fridge freezer for months because most home freezers are not cold enough to stop bacterial growth. Also, fresh is much tastier!

My family doesn't eat processed foods, so their "bargains" on frozen prepared food are useless to me. We also don't drink soft drinks.

I find it amusing and odd that so much of their floor space is devoted to selling huge bags of candy and junk food like cheese puffs. Also soft drinks Because it's hard to imagine any reason anyone would need to buy or consume such large vats of soft drinks, candy or chips!

hmmm... what counts as buying in bulk? We have a membership to BJs, but have stopped using it as we find better deals for most items by buying them on sale. Same with when we had a Sams club membership. we decided we wont reup this year. Does it count if you stock up on it when its on sale?

1. Brown rice - I am the only one who eats this, so i only buy a small bag.
2. Candy - we don't buy candy
3. Paper towels - I always buy the big size (8 rolls?) we are trying to switch to cloth-based rags, but if you have the storage, i dont see why not.
4. Toilet paper - always buy in bulk.
5. Nuts - these keep for a long time in the freezer. When they are on sale, we load up. Maybe there is some time that they "expire" but i've never noticed any of our nuts going bad, and the squirrels seem fine after the nuts have been frozen all winter, so i dont think its going to kill me. Can anyone enlighten me on this?
6. Mayonnaise and other condiments - if it will last, and you have room, why not?
7. Vitamins and nutritional supplements - again - the article just seems to be arguing that they might not work out for you. if you know they do, why not?
8. Diapers - we use cloth, with a few disposables. I still bought the jumbo size. I guess a growth spurt could come along and make the ones i have left not usable, however the size he's in (3) has a pretty large weight range.
9. Bleach - interesting. I wonder if the bleach i have (not bulk) is any good. I almost never use it.
10. Spices - these are a much better deal to buy from a bulk food store (no packaging costs) but I wouldn't buy large amounts of them.
11. Bread - freeze it. its fine.
12. Tilapia - we buy this when its on sale - it freezes fine.
13. Eggs - "We all know it's a bad idea to load your fridge with eggs" - why is this? if you eat them, buy them. eggs last for quite a long time when refrigerated properly. (no, dont hold on to them forever, but its not that hard to go through a carton of eggs if you bake and cook)
14. Frozen foods and meats - we have a chest freezer, and we buy in bulk, repackage it when we get home so its in smaller amounts.
15. Cereal - my experience with bulk cereal is that it is a large box with two normal bags inside. Is this not the case? Anyway - the only time i buy cereal is when i have a coupon/sale deal that makes it almost free. i dont eat cereal that much, and as long as it is ok, my husband will eat it.

Spices- the article says "According to Brisch, spices lose their potency in six months to a year." You also have to consider that most spices are only harvested once a year (according to Penzeys Spices, the company I order most of our spices from). So it's not always a good idea to buy every 6 months, because you can't always tell if the spices are from a "new" shipment. I do buy things like garlic powder from Sam's (ok, get my MIL to buy them and we reimburse her).

On the same note, the original article mentioned that yeast was a poor buy. I wholeheartedly disagree. The price of yeast in the tiny packets, and even the little jar is sky high. In our area I was able to get 2lbs of instant yeast for less than $5. The expiration date was 2 years from purchase. Even if I only used one bag, and gave away the rest, it would still be cheaper than buying the smaller containers.

I disagree with most of the items on this list. I think a good rule of thumb is - do you need it, will you use it (in an appropriate time frame), and can you store it. That's it. There's no point in singling out paper towel or condiments. I buy a lot of those items in bulk and I've never had a storage problem or had something go bad. Always check the expiration date - some sales are all about the supermarket getting rid of their "almost expired" products.

As you mentioned, it's always a good idea to do the math - large size doesn't necessarily equal savings.

This article makes hardly any sense. Why not buy paper towels and toilet paper in bulk???? Any item that has a long shelf life I buy in bulk. Any item I use a lot of I buy in bulk. Toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, deodorant, toothpaste, laundry detergent, frozen veggies, meats. I always watch the store specials and coupons, but buying things in bulk has made my grocery bill smaller and I'm not constantly buying the same things every week.

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