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s/o of the grocery thread: Sam's and Costco


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If you buy mostly generic items and don't buy processed stuff, do you still find it's worth it to have a membership to Sam's or Costco? What things do you buy?

 

We have a Sam's membership and it seems like the biggest savings I see are on things that are packaged and processed, which doesn't apply to us since I don't buy pre-packaged stuff. Some fruits/veggies are cheaper...a lot are the same price or more expensive. All are in such big packages that it makes it hard to use them before they go back or we get burned out on them. Milk is always cheaper.

 

I want to get a Costco membership after income taxes come in because they lean towards more organic items and a few people have been telling me how good Kirkland generic items are. But, again, I find myself wondering if it's worth it.

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I have both. Here's what I love about Sam's: Their Clearance!!!! Some Sam's are better at this than other's when it comes to this. I will of course pick up milk and eggs, some frozen veggies, baby spinach, and flour....but I can get those for similar ( a bit more) at Costco.

 

From Costco: Their coupon's!!!! They have some clearance and they definately have a better generic and organic selection.

 

Hope that helps!

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I have memberships to both. I think Sam's meats are a bit cheaper. Costco has a lot more organic items.I agree that the fresh fruits & veggies aren't cheaper. I also don't buy processed foods.

 

I bulk shop once a month, I pick what looks good. When I get home I package it in baggies and make my meal plan from it. I'm debating this year about letting both my memberships expire. I have been getting great deals at our local grocery store....however my dh says that I can't count on the great deals to feed us all the time. I'm leaning towards buying a half a cow for the freezer, and calling it good.

 

I also buy gas at Costco, that's where we save more than the membership fee every year.

Kim

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We've wondered the same thing for a long time.

 

This year, actually with taxes too, lol, we decided to try a membership at Costco.

 

Wow.

 

We also wondered if we'd find a lot to buy as we like meat & produce and could quite happily skip almost anything that comes in a box or a can. :D

 

Their organic produce is the same price as my local grocery store on sale for non-organic. Their meat is significantly less expensive for MUCH better quality meat.

 

Those two things make it well worth it, but we are a big family so we can EAT that much fresh produce in a week or two.

 

So is it a better deal? Absolutely.

But know that you will need to eat six peppers (can't buy just one) or eat six avocados. :) Frozen produce will keep obviously and you can take large packages of meat and make them into smaller packages at home, then freeze.

 

The first trip was incredibly expensive. Stock up on toothpaste? Four tubes of paste later, we checked it off our list. Conditioner? The biggest bottle of conditioner I've ever seen. :)

 

I tried the Kirkland phosphate free eco-friendly laundry soap and like it very much. I also really liked their dishsoap. So far we've found the Kirkland brand is pretty great - infinitely better than the Sam's/Wal-Mart generic brand I can pick up at Wal-Mart if that's important to you.

 

Also, I've never been impressed with Wal-Mart's meat or produce, so if that's the quality I'd expect at Sam's just in greater quantity, it doesn't tempt me.

 

But Costco was impressive. Plus, with what we spend, we bought the Exec. membership and our percentage returned each year via check will pay for each year's membership from here on out. :)

 

ETA: I should add that in the midwest we had a Fareway. They have outstanding meat & produce at a great price, so I don't know if Costco would have had a great benefit for us there. Since moving to the PNW, we've struggled to find GOOD quality produce and meat at a good price. We can find top notch produce and top notch meat, but you'll pay top $ for it as well. And it seems like people are willing to settle for far less than good produce for a decent price. With our old grocery store we were used to having both so we were a little spoiled! So, location may very much affect how much you love your Costco. :)

Edited by BlsdMama
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I have memberships at both. I've been to Sam's twice this year. I go to Costco almost weekly.

 

For us the savings are on:

 

lunch meat (their filler/nitrate free lunch meats are MUCH cheaper than the grocery store)

ground turkey

eggs

dairy products

spinach

organic evaporated cane juice crystals (sugar)

flax seed

quinoa-Huge savings on quinoa if you eat it.

almond butter

 

And then there are the additive free/organic things that I can't find at a reasonable price elsewhere...like frozen fruit and veggies, and canned veggies.

 

When we ate bread, it was a lot cheaper to buy our brand there as well.

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I find our Costco membership pays for itself in about 2 months. We shop there usually once a month.

 

Our usual items are:

meat

cheese

hot chocolate

paper products (usually Kirkland brand)

Zyrtec (again Kirkland brand/ $15 for 365 tabs)

Craisins

Chocolate chips

seasonings/spices

coffee

yogurt

peanut butter

crackers (saltines/ritz)

 

 

I hear they have great prices on organic milk. We don't buy organic though and we don't go to Costco enough to buy milk for every day needs.

 

I also like Costco for printing pictures and cleaning supplies as well as the special deals they sometimes carry, like a decent Hoover FloorMate for $50 (I clean houses and wanted a cheaper one for those houses).

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I use Costco once a month for bulk items that keep, or that we use a lot of. I don't buy produce, meat or bread there because I can usually get good deals else where. Things I always get at Costco, when needed, are: tp, dog food, frozen oj, butter, eggs, cheese sticks, block cheese, Cheerios, rice, mayo, ketchup, syrup, vinegar and baking staples as needed like sugar, vanilla etc.

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We may only get to Costco 6 times a year, but it's worth it. Milk and cheese are the best deals, and cheese will freeze if you are using it for cooking. Our membership paid for itself one year on the purchase of a new tire. I saved over $50 on the tire. Gas prices can be a huge savings, but not always. We also get great deals on books, cds, video games (usually at Christmas for gifts), electronics, etc. Sometimes they have great deals on clothes, jackets, swimsuits, goggles, etc. Vitamins are much cheaper than at the store. Bulk bath supplies, like shaving gel, shampoo, soap, etc. Coffee, spices, fruit juice boxes, sweet potato chips, bulk tuna, chicken, nutella, organic chicken broth... We don't buy meat very often, but sometimes they have some great deals there too. And the dc can get a fruit smoothie or a frozen yogurt on the way out for $1.50- :D

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We only have a Sam's, no Costco in town. I buy things regularly for our church daycare there, but also get generic Zyrtec for $17.50 for 300, some baking stuff, spices, yeast, brown sugar, powdered sugar, some fruit when it's in season. Parmesan cheese blocks and some other cheese, whipping cream if I need it for recipes is usually cheaper there. Sometimes books, clothes, etc. The one good thing about Sam's, if you have a flat, you can take it there to be fixed for free. This alone has saved us quite a bit.

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We have belonged to Costco for almost 30 years. The membership pays for itself in gasoline and the use of their coupons. I just went Friday because this month's coupons are fantastic. I saved $3.00 on gas filling up my van. I only bought things that I had a coupon for. The only processed things in my buggy were Ramen Soup bowls (DS lives off the stuff). The savings on the ramen alone was $12.00. With the other things I bought (soap, wipes, etc.) added up to a savings of over $30. In one trip, I saved over $45. My membership costs $50. Thus, I have almost paid for my membership and it is just the first of February. (The membership has already paid for itself as I have already filled my van 4 previous times this year and DH has filled his truck twice.)

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We have belonged to Costco for almost 30 years. The membership pays for itself in gasoline and the use of their coupons. I just went Friday because this month's coupons are fantastic. I saved $3.00 on gas filling up my van. I only bought things that I had a coupon for. The only processed things in my buggy were Ramen Soup bowls (DS lives off the stuff). The savings on the ramen alone was $12.00. With the other things I bought (soap, wipes, etc.) added up to a savings of over $30. In one trip, I saved over $45. My membership costs $50. Thus, I have almost paid for my membership and it is just the first of February. (The membership has already paid for itself as I have already filled my van 4 previous times this year and DH has filled his truck twice.)

 

MaMa2005, please be careful with those Ramen soup bowls - not too healthy - they have a lot of sodium.

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I price compare off of Aldi, and Costco is still cheaper. I have membership to Sam's and Costco. I've only gone to Sam's once in the past 12 months (for an item Costco didn't have), but I go to Costco every two weeks.

 

Milk was $2.05/gallon yesterday. $2.05. I'm still in shock. Our Aldi's has it at $2.87, and Target had it at $3.65.

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I don't like Sam's, but I love Costco. At Costco we buy most of our produce (a lot of it organic), frozen vegetables (also organic), cheese, pantry staples (wheat, flour, sugar, etc.), toilet paper, baby wipes, laundry detergent (eco friendly), dishwasher detergent, office paper, books, bread, Annie's canned soups (no MSG), some personal toiletry items, and some non-HFCS snacks (Annie's bunnies, Lara Bars, Stretch Island Fruit Leather, etc.). ETA: Generic prescription drugs at Costco are ridiculously cheap. My dh has a 90-day prescription filled at Costco that costs like $9.00 (cheaper than our co-pay).

Edited by Veritaserum
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In my opinion Sam's meat is much higher quality than Wal-Mart. At least where I live.

 

I find Sam's is worth it for staples we use a lot of. We buy shredded cheese, rice, flour, olive oil, yeast, spices. I will splurge on a convenience item once in a while but I buy all the stuff necessary to cook from scratch.

 

When I used to buy more processed foods I didn't think Sam's was that great of a deal.

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We used to have a Sam's membership but it's been a while. I always felt that it was actually spending more than saving. It seemed that everything was processed, conventionally grown, and huge. My husband always felt that we spent more on less actual food.

 

We're just a family of three, though. Maybe for a larger family it would be worth it to have 50 gallons of mayo?

 

Also, I haven't been there in years so I can't say if it would still be that way.

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I don't shop at Walmart stores but I LLOOVVEE Costco.

 

I do find that the vegetables are cheaper. I can buy five lbs of tomatoes for 5.99 at costco. That's cheap in the wintertime. We use every single one too. I buy cheese snack type of things at the kids like four pack of laughing cow cheese for $8. I buy olive oil there as well as some spices and other dry goods like rice (I keep my rice in the freezer) I love the bag of mixed bell peppers for $6 (you get two yellow, two orange, and two red)

 

I do think shopping at costco has really saved us a ton of money for the quality of the ingredients we buy.

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On general principles I won't pay a store just to shop there. There is a large box-store chain here that doesn't require a membership and has prices as good or better than Costco. They also have in-store coupons and other specials that make it even more price-friendly.

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One thing that was a big savings for us at Costco:

 

prescription meds for those who have no health insurance

 

Costco has a plan for members who have no health insurance, which lowers the price even more. A generic med that cost us $35 at the nearest grocery store pharmacy was $6 at Costco. If your pet has a prescription for human meds, he or she can sign up for the no-health-insurance plan and receive the additional discount.

 

My regular Costco purchases:

 

packaged romaine lettuce heads

Tillamook sharp cheese (hormone free)

organic eggs (whenever they're in stock)

organic apples

almond butter

whatever produce is a good deal depending on the season - could be grapes, strawberries, pomegranates, blueberries, oranges, watermelon, canteloupes, artichokes

sliced deli turkey (nitrate/nitrate free)

saltines

graham crackers

Kirkland HE fragrance free laundry detergent (not exactly a regular purchase, since it lasts awhile)

kids' gummy omega-3 supplements

 

I buy a 6 lb bag of chocolate chips every fall, when the coupon shows up in the monthly book.

 

Every Feb/Mar, they put out the kids' swimsuits. $12 for a Speedo tank suit that fits well and lasts for at least 6 months of weekly swims in a chlorine pool -- that's a deal IMO.

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Our Sam's membership pays for itself in gas.

 

There are other things we buy there - never everything in one trip, but just when we're running low:

-vinegar (we use this for cleaning)

-brown sugar

-butter

-various cheeses

-meat (sometimes)

-frozen veggies

-frozen fruit

-frozen meat (chicken/fish/shrimp)

-canned mushrooms

-canned green chiles

-Ziplocks

-garbage bags

-nasal decongestant

-Mike's (not always, just when they have the packages with the spiced cider in them! :) ) and occasionally wine or Bailey's

-various spices (esp. granulated garlic and onion flakes)

 

We get most of our fresh produce through our CSAs, but I'll usually pick up at least tomatoes and bananas when we're there, because they're always a good price and we're always happy to have more of those.

 

Also, sometimes I'll pick up clothes or books or DVDs or office supplies, if they have what we need when we need it. Often the prices on these are very good, if they have what you want (which isn't always).

 

I'm sure there's other stuff I'm forgetting.

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We're members at Sam's Club and go about every other month. The closest one is 30 miles away, although I'm hearing rumors that we're going to get one in the next town over.

 

Here are things we typically buy:

 

BLSL Chicken Breasts

Lean Ground Beef

Pork Loin

Frozen Meatballs

Butter

Milk

Goldfish Crackers

Oatmeal-to-Go Bars

Dunkin Donut's coffee

Chocolate chips

walnuts

pecans

diced tomatoes

tomato sauce

AA batteries

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We don't have a Costco nearby, but have done both Sam's and BJ's. We let our Sam's membership expire because I really didn't save money there. BJ's takes coupons. They let you stack their coupons with manufacturer coupons, and they take multiple coupons. I don't buy their packaged or convenience foods.

 

We buy toiletries, paper goods, cat litter, and meat there. Meat comes in large packages, so I break it down into smaller sizes for freezing. We plan our BJ's trips, so we know the bill will be high. But when we break it down, the items that last for months end up having cheaper unit prices than if we bought them at a regular store.

 

Gas is cheaper at BJ's, but since it's not near my house I only get their gas if I'm going there for other things.

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What everyone else said ;)

 

We make a weekly trip to Costco for milk, eggs, and bread. I buy most of my staples there. Their prices on the household/personal care items I use are difficult to beat, except when I can combine doubled coupons with incredible sales... and that doesn't happen often.

 

I use two stores to create my "baseline" price chart... Costco and Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart often times has the best sale prices and best every day prices. So, if I "need it now" -- I will probably buy it there (except for meats... and most produce).

 

From there, I watch sales flyers and coupons. And, when Costco has a coupon on items we use, we buy the limit and purchase the limit each week...with few exceptions (vitamins, tp and paper towels among them...due to storage and shelf-life issues).

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I would sooo do Costco if we had one. I have been to one and like it much better than Sams.

 

However since Sams is all we have *shrug*.

 

I buy:

 

toilet paper

garbage bags

ziplock bags

spices

vanilla ($6 bucks for about 12 oz! Pure vanilla not imitation!)

canned fruit

markers

sharpies

sticky pads

printer paper (I actually buy copy paper it is about $25 for 10 reams of paper!)

Blank CD's/DVD when needed

and a couple other little things I can't remember right now.

 

So I go once every 3 months or so. But, like I said, I would prefer Costco!

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We love Costco. We used to do all of our shopping at Costco when we lived in CA. When we moved to TX we couldn't afford to go as often. Well I happened to stumble on to, what I think, is the most awesome thing ever. When I went to this one yard sale they had all Costco and Sam's items (mostly Costco). I have been going there weekly for almost a year. They somehow buy Costco damaged/returned items in bulk. Say a case of papertowels or toiletpaper gets a small rip in the package, say the end of a case of canned goods gets ripped open, saay a package gets dented... You name it, they have it. Everything except for refrigerated and fresh produce/veggies. Every week they have different items. I spend $100 a week there and get about 400-500 worth of Costco food weekly. I have never in my life had a pantry as well stocked as it is now. It is amazing. I don't know where they get it, of course they won't say, but I believe it is some kind of auction type thing. Anyways, I would think that this might happen with all of the Costcos. This blessing has helped us out so much! Just wanted to share.

 

Erin

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I go every two weeks to Costco for lunch meat, coffee, and milk. Their prices on these 3 things are great here.

 

They also have excellent quality meat and frozen seafood at great prices. They have their own Kirkland brand so you aren't always buying name brand everything. I don't particularly enjoy shopping there but its worth it.

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We have the executive membership and always get money back at the end of the year. We go every two weeks and get:

 

Tillamook cheese blocks,

Tillamook tillamoos (litle cheese squares)

String Cheese

Butter

Peanut Butter

Other cheeses when we need them like parmesan, mozzarella, Boursin

TP

Laundry Soap

OxyClean

Dish Soap

Dishwasher Soap

Frozen Fruit

Fruit if it is a good deal (got 10lbs of organic apples for $8 on Saturday)

Mushrooms

Organic lettuce mix

Small peppers

When we ate meat we would get pulled pork, frozen chicken and a roasted chicken, and pork loin

Cream Cheese (no hormones)

Sour Cream

Cream

Coffee

Snacks like Nachos, Pirate's Booty, Veggie Straws

Corn and flour tortillas

When we ate brad we would get Oroweat bread there for the same price I got it at the Bread Outlet.

 

And, it is one of our special family traditions. The kids get pizza and a drink and they look forward to Costco day.

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We've wondered the same thing for a long time.

 

This year, actually with taxes too, lol, we decided to try a membership at Costco.

 

Wow.

 

We also wondered if we'd find a lot to buy as we like meat & produce and could quite happily skip almost anything that comes in a box or a can. :D

 

Their organic produce is the same price as my local grocery store on sale for non-organic. Their meat is significantly less expensive for MUCH better quality meat.

 

Those two things make it well worth it, but we are a big family so we can EAT that much fresh produce in a week or two.

 

So is it a better deal? Absolutely.

But know that you will need to eat six peppers (can't buy just one) or eat six avocados. :) Frozen produce will keep obviously and you can take large packages of meat and make them into smaller packages at home, then freeze.

 

The first trip was incredibly expensive. Stock up on toothpaste? Four tubes of paste later, we checked it off our list. Conditioner? The biggest bottle of conditioner I've ever seen. :)

 

I tried the Kirkland phosphate free eco-friendly laundry soap and like it very much. I also really liked their dishsoap. So far we've found the Kirkland brand is pretty great - infinitely better than the Sam's/Wal-Mart generic brand I can pick up at Wal-Mart if that's important to you.

 

Also, I've never been impressed with Wal-Mart's meat or produce, so if that's the quality I'd expect at Sam's just in greater quantity, it doesn't tempt me.

 

But Costco was impressive. Plus, with what we spend, we bought the Exec. membership and our percentage returned each year via check will pay for each year's membership from here on out. :)

 

ETA: I should add that in the midwest we had a Fareway. They have outstanding meat & produce at a great price, so I don't know if Costco would have had a great benefit for us there. Since moving to the PNW, we've struggled to find GOOD quality produce and meat at a good price. We can find top notch produce and top notch meat, but you'll pay top $ for it as well. And it seems like people are willing to settle for far less than good produce for a decent price. With our old grocery store we were used to having both so we were a little spoiled! So, location may very much affect how much you love your Costco. :)

 

 

:iagree:

 

 

I love Costco's quality. Sams meats are packaged OFF SITE and are gross. Costco's meats are incredible.

 

I used to shop at Costco every six weeks and do a bulk shop-now we're closer and I shop there every week. It's a *huge* savings to us. And the Kirkland brand everything is great. Plus their organics selection (for MUCH cheaper than the grocery store) is amazing.

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For those that love Costco, do you think what you can get there would be worth it if you had to drive 45 minutes to the closest one. I am considering it for what would be a monthly trip.

 

Yes, especially if you can combine the trip with something else that is close to Costco.

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So for everyone that says the buy the lunch meat that is nitrate free where do you find it? In the meat section or the refrig. cases?

 

I just went to Costco yesterday for the first time in a very long time with a visiting parent. I found TP, Tillamook cheese, organic milk, organic pasta, and cleaning/laundry supplies to be a very good price there. Now, I think we'll get a membership of our own. I was skeptical because it is a drive for about 45 minutes but I think it would be a good once a month place to shop.

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For those that love Costco, do you think what you can get there would be worth it if you had to drive 45 minutes to the closest one. I am considering it for what would be a monthly trip.

 

It depends upon what else is around you.

 

A 45-minute trip around here is about a gallon and a half of gas... so for comparison's sake that's about $5 to drive there, if gas is $2.99/gallon.

 

We save about $2 on a gallon of milk... we get 3 a week. We've broken even on the trip. Hamburger is $1.89/pound, 5# packages. That beats most of our grocery store's sale prices. Roaster chickens are $0.89/pound vs. $1.29/pound, Skinless, boneless chicken breasts are $2.79/pound... recently they had a special with $4 off per package.

 

The meat quality is so much better than everywhere else. I can buy a HUGE cut of meat and put it into smaller packages, and not usually have to wait for a sale. It is very rare that I can get meat at sale prices that beat my every-day price at Costco. It happens...just not often.

 

If you have read the thread by Parrothead (menu, list & receipt), and your options for sales & coupons were extremely limited, I would say that YES, it would defitinely be worth a 45 minute drive ($5 in gas) to go to Costco once a month and stock up on staples, meats, frozen foods... and some fresh produce (spinach, lettuce, broccoli and carrots are good ones).

 

If you have lots of competition locally, and you are an avid couponer/sale shopper... you will have a bit less reason to go, but it would probably still be worth your while for meat, cheese, and some staples that rarely go on sale or have coupons.

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For those that love Costco, do you think what you can get there would be worth it if you had to drive 45 minutes to the closest one. I am considering it for what would be a monthly trip.

 

We drive about 30 mins and find the savings worth the drive. There is a Costco closer to us, but we had a bad experience there (I was pregnant and 4 people rammed into me with their carts because it is always so crowded) so we drive the extra 15mins to the one we frequent.

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For those that love Costco, do you think what you can get there would be worth it if you had to drive 45 minutes to the closest one. I am considering it for what would be a monthly trip.

 

45 minutes almost exactly the time it takes for us to get to any of the three closest ones and it is very worth it. When I go, it's once a month and I hit two other "bargain" stores that are very near to the Costco I shop at.

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  • 10 years later...
  • 2 weeks later...

A lot of my favorite stuff there  (both places...I've done both just not at the same time) is the processed stuff.   The milk, toilet paper, and paper towels are a little cheaper.   Meats are  cheaper but of course you have to buy a lot of it.  Fruits are usually more expensive (I usually went to a regular supermarket for those.)   Allergy meds were cheaper.   We didn't get other non food items enough to really make it worth it.

But overall, it was the processed foods that made it worth the membership. 

 

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