To Costco, to Grocery, to Walmart (Grocery Geek)

So far this month, I’ve not done a ton of grocery shopping. For which I’m kind of thankful. It can be exhausting sometimes.

I can think of four stops in the last two weeks. Is that a lot? I’m not sure. Maybe it is.

But for me, it’s downsizing since some weeks I make four stops in a day, trying to cherry pick the good deals. Gas is too expensive for that, so I’ve become a little more selective.

Costco

Right near payday the girls and I made this big stock-up trip to Costco. I did some homework after you all raved about the Executive membership. Believe me, the principal of saying NO since I’d been hassled so much really bothered me. But, after finding out that we will probably get back about $100 at the end of the year, my husband said I was letting my pride get in the way of common sense.

I had to laugh when the salesman at Costco started to hassle me about getting an American Express card after he saw he couldn’t sell me an upgrade. Will they never stop? Quite honestly, it’s making me hate Costco. Not sure if I want to go back.

Is that my pride?

Anyway, here’s what the girls and I picked up:

Organic eggs, bread, bagels, bananas, peppers, crackers, milk, cheese, cream, frozen green beans, and a few other staples. Costco is my first line of defense — when I’m not mad at them — to buying staples for cheap.

Total spent: $200

Albertsons

Another day I cruised by Albertsons to take advantage of this cereal deal. Buy 3 Kellogg’s cereal, get a free gallon of milk. You could get up to three gallons of milk in a transaction. And since I had heard about a Kellogg’s gas rebate, I bought 10 boxes. After coupons, free milk, free M&Ms (part of one of my coupons) and the gas rebate, I got the cereal, milk, and M&Ms for free. Or at least that is one way of looking at it.

But, since cereal is a comfort food around here and since hubs and the girls have been sick, thus needing comfort, the cereal has gone quickly. I had planned to hide it, but the kids — and hubs — were enjoying it so much, I just gave in. Since it was “free,” I decided to just let it be a wash. But, it’s not something I’ll be making a habit of. We go through too much milk when we have cereal in the house!

I also found lots of bread marked down for $0.99 and some meat marked down as well.

I went back a few days later when there was room in the fridge and cashed in the milk coupons and got some canned veg, flour, and cornmeal.

I tend to go to grocery stores for their loss leaders, but not much else, unless I’m trying to avoid an extra stop.

Total spent: $36, after coupons and rebates

Walmart

Walmart is my final stop to pick up the things that we “need” but aren’t on sale elsewhere. While there are lots of ways that Walmart can suck you in, if you stick to the basics, you can do really well. Mandi had some great tips earlier this week to make the most of shopping at Walmart.

Since I’m doing a lot of recipe development, I am finding that at least once a month, I need to cruise through Walmart to buy ingredients that I might want to have on hand for The Cookbook.

Total spent: $50

So, the bad news is that I’ve spent almost half my budget for the month, but the good news is that there isn’t anything I “have to buy” except dairy and fresh produce. If I play my cards right, we should be just fine.

Different Ways to Shop

Some people like diversifying their shopping trips to save money. Others like to save time by just going to one place. Others still make quality and freshness a priority and prefer specialty stores and farmer’s markets.

Whatever your preference, you can still eat well and spend less.

This month I’m collaborating with a vast array of bloggers who all shop in different ways. Some love coupons, some don’t mess with them. Check out this week’s posts to gain knowledge to reduce your shopping expenses and to eat well:

  • Aimee from Simple Bites – homemade substitutes for pantry staples
  • Alyssa from Kingdom First Mom – couponing on healthier foods
  • Carrie from Denver Bargains – foundational principles to saving money with coupons
  • Katie from Good Life Eats – homemade substitutes for pantry staples
  • Katie from Kitchen Stewardship – finding whole foods in unexpected places/saving $ by cooking differently
  • Mandi from Life Your Way – saving on generics to reassign monies to fresh produce
  • Shaina from Food for My Family – basic stockpiling and keeping a price book/bottom line price list
  • Tammy from Tammy’s Recipes – purchasing food in bulk quantities, long term storage

How do YOU like to shop?

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Comments

  1. LOL at “Costco is my first line of defense-when I’m not mad at them”!!! We love Costco—only when we manage to NOT go right after church, lol.

  2. It’s interesting that you get harassed at Costco about upgrading – I don’t shop there too often, but over the last five years, I’ve only been asked a few times. And never pressured about it after I’ve said no.

    I *have* been pressured to get the store credit card at Victoria’s Secret, and that *has* made me stop shopping there.

  3. i am a Sam’s chick, only for the reason there isn’t a Costco around here. I DO hear that Costco is better, but eh. Sam’s always sucks me in on things I don’t really ‘need’. The only reason for having the membership? Salsa. They are the ONLY place in my area who carry my favorite kind. Yes, I could make homemade but I will wait to do that until produce is in season. Other then that I shop where I can get gas rebates.

  4. Love the list of links at the end — some great suggestions in there! Thanks much!

  5. Samantha says:

    I’m cracking up at your hate Costco for harrassing you since I felt the same way for awhile and then I upgraded when we decided to get a new camera and patio furniture. I get almost $100 back every year, so it is worth it. I did get annoyed at them though!!

    I shop at Costco monthly and then a local grocery store weekly for produce, milk, and the stuff I don’t need in Costco size. As a fellow CA, too expensive to drive all over right now!! We just got a Fresh & Easy so I’m figuring out their sales since it is walking distance from my house.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      @Samantha, well, it should be fine since I’m now an “executive member,” but lay off the credit cards. Sheesh. And they wonder why our nation’s economy is in such a mess.

      Off my soap box…. if you don’t have a coupon when you got to F&E, make sure you ask for one. I’ve never had to ask because they usually offer me one. Sometimes they have higher value coupons than I do.

  6. I’m thinking the Costco associates must make a pretty hefty commission on the upgrades and/or credit cards or they wouldn’t be pushing them so hard. I applaud the eagerness but I too find it very annoying, you can just smile and say no so much.

  7. I guess we just need to remember that it is those individuals jobs to make the credit card push….however, if you do feel pressured then fill out the “tell us what you think cards”…I am told that they are sent to the main office in Seattle and that they are read and that if enough people fill those out with the same comments that something will be done

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      you are right. My husband said he was just doing his job. Yet, I am not a huge believer in Costco’s listening to concerns. I’ve had one conversation with a manager and several emails to their customer service. If anything, it just lessens the joy of the experience.

  8. I have just gotten my shopping down to a science. Costco every other weekend, and the local grocery on alternating weekends. Walmart once a month. Works well for me! Great post topic. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Libby Nelson says:

    Hi Jessica! I had the same experience at Costco and was so annoyed by them being so pushy…so I went to the customer service desk and complained. They wrote in Sharpie on the back of my card “No Exc!!” when I was a “regular” member and I was never asked again. I bet they would do the same for a credit card! Just my two cents. :)

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      I wish! I’ve asked for that a number of times, believe me. Several employees have said, “he’s just doing his job.”

  10. You may have already told us you did this, but I think you should stop by the customer service desk and tell the constant harassment is making you dread costco. Maybe they can flag your account as a do not up-sell customer. It would be bad business to lose a customer because of obnoxious selling tactics.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      @Heather B, yes, I talked with two different reps last time I was there. One was sympathetic, the other was not. She was so intent on getting people to “get their cash back,” she just couldn’t understand. The reason we downgraded the first time was because we. had. no. money. Costco’s insistence on selling people credit and “cash back” is just a microcosm of bigger problems.

  11. We used to shop at Costco almost every month (and did upgrade) – and we were probably wasting a bunch of money (it’s the same price for twice as many romaine hearts! yes, but we’re throwing away half of them!). Now that we’re moving towards more real foods, we don’t find as much there to buy — consequence: our rebate at the end of the year only pays for about half of our membership. I’d seriously consider cancelling, but their prices on allergy medications is about half of what we pay at the drugstore. It’s really what works for you and your family.

  12. I believe if your rebate is less than the cost of your Costco membership, you can ask for a refund of your membership price or something like that…. But we buy tires there (and glasses, and a few other random things in addition to some food), so it works for us.

    As for the credit card offers you get everywhere (Costco, TJMaxx, Target, Walmart, Old Navy, anywhere), I just politely ask right back if they pay the bill. The stunned cashier says “no” and we all move along with our day.

  13. No it’s not just you and your pride… it drives me CRAZY!!! I hate, hate, hate dealing with them. I’m not opposed in the least bit to tell them no and I make no apologies for it but I just want to be like, “Would you get off my back about it already?!?!” Shopping at the local Costco here is already frustrating and stressful enough that I certainly don’t need one more hassle! Their company is really struggling right now so I’m sure they are trying to compensate for that but pretty soon they’re going to drive off members who had no intention of leaving in the first place.

  14. Lol, I was just thinking when I went into Costco today that they never harass me about upgrading. Today, I bought a vitamix (YAY!) so after I was done checking out, they had to do a “price check” which seemed to entail trying to get me to sign up for the executive program. I felt like I was in trouble! Probably not the best way to go about it!

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