Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Best Deals at Big Box Stores: a Cheat Sheet

Yesterday, we asked you readers for the best deals at the major big box stores - CostCo, BJ's Wholesale Club, and Sam's Club. Your responses were comprehensive and, excuse my language, pretty farging great. (Quinoa! Who knew?)

Wiki Ken Hammond
Last night, I compiled those responses into this, a master list of Big Box Bargains – like a cheat sheet - which should help you find the best deals next time you visit a glorious warehouse. (For me, see: tonight.) It's useful! It's extensive! It's pretty!

About the process: Every product mention got one vote. (So, if three different commenters wrote "mushrooms," it got three votes.) Some things, like mattresses, elicited one clear vote and were easy to tally. Others, like cheese, were much more varied, producing several similar-but-not-exactly-alike answers. In those cases, I tallied the category as a whole, and then elaborated on individual responses within parentheses. (Um … if that makes sense, which it only kind of does. But you'll see.)


Cheese (2 votes feta, 2 votes Tillamook)
Paper products (10 votes toilet paper, 4 votes paper towels)

Spices (5 votes cinnamon, 3 votes pepper)

Olive Oil

Yeast (reader Jennifer: “Literally 100x cheaper than the envelopes”)

Nuts (2 votes almonds)

Pet food & supplies (3 votes dog food, 2 votes supplies, 1 vote cat food)
Salad greens (4 votes organic)

Canned tomatoes (1 vote organic)
Dried fruit (2 Craisin votes)
Eggs (2 votes organic)
Milk (1 vote organic)

Baby supplies (2 votes diapers, 2 votes wipes)
Bread (2 votes "fancy bread")
Electronics/big appliances (camera, elliptical, computer, etc.)
Vanilla Extract

Alcohol (wine, bourbon, etc.)
Baking soda
Cleaning products
Movie tickets
Peanut butter (1 vote organic)
Rice (1 vote Basmati)
Sabra Hummus
Yogurt (1 vote Greek-style)

Almond butter, Bagels, Beans, Cereal (1 vote Kashi), Clif bars, Coffee, Contact lens solution, Drugs (Kirkland brand Advil, Zyrtec, etc.), Frozen berries, Frozen chicken, Ground turkey, Gum, Kids' clothes, Laundry detergent, Lettuce, Maple syrup, Soy milk, Tissues, Toothbrushes/toothpaste, Tortillas, Vinegar, Potatoes, Tomatoes

Bacon (Kirkland brand), Better than Bouillon chicken base, Bisquick, Books, Breathe-right nose strips, Brita filters, Brown sugar, Canned pineapple, Canned tuna/salmon, Cars (!), Checks, Chicken breasts, Chicken broth, Chicken thighs, Coconut Milk, Cornstarch, Crackers, Cutting boards, Dairy, Dental floss, Deodorant, Dish detergent, Dr. Pepper, Dried onions, Floss, Flour, Food court items, Fresh meats, Frozen edamame, Frozen hamburger patties, Frozen salmon fillets, Frozen shrimp, Frozen strawberries, Frozen vegetables, G2, Garlic, Gelato, Gift card deals (restaurants, movie theaters, etc.), Glasses, Goldfish, Grains, Granulated garlic, Ground flaxmeal, Honey, Hot dogs, Hot sauce, Green chiles, Janitorial supplies, Jarred roasted red peppers, Larabars, Marinated shrimp, Magazines, Marinated artichoke hearts, Mattresses, Nutella, Onions, Organic, Organic apples, Organic carrots, Organic frozen fruit, Organic hamburger, Popcorn (the kind you pop on the stove), Popcorn salt, Prescriptions, Printer paper, Ramen, Rotel, Rotisserie chicken, Salmon, Salmon burgers, Salsa, Shampoo, Shaving gel, Smuckers strawberry jam, Store-brand fish oil, Store-brand naprosyn, Sugar, Strawberries, Sun-dried tomatoes, Sweet potatoes, Tires, Toiletries, Tuna, Tupperware, Udi's granola, Veggie burgers

Fun comments:
  • Commenter Aryn writes: “Beware the giant box 'o pens. My husband and I bought 200 pens when we started grad school thinking we'd use them up quickly. It's been seven years. We still have about 180 of those pens.” (Aryn! I totally did this once, too, for a friend's promotional event. Maybe we can have a pen party?)
  • Commenter Ami writes: "I tend to shop with my mom and we split items that neither of us can use in a week - we also split the cost of membership with makes it even more worthwhile."
  • Also of note: Readers loved CostCo’s return policy, especially on appliances and electronics.
And that's it! Sweet readers, do you agree/disagree/have anything to add? The comment section is wide open.


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Erichdme said...

One of the biggest lesson I have learnt from being a big Costco member is that "do not linger around too much and look at each & every item" because this way you end up with a &300 bill from picking up things you didn't want in the first place & that too in bulk. Besides that Costco is great for nuts & frozen food items. Thanks for the list of voted items!

erinmarie said...

We bought a 2 lb. chunk of mozzarella cheese from Costco, and it's AMAZING. It's so much better than shredded cheese in a bag, it freezes just fine, and it's a great price. I think we checked and we ended up paying $4ish for the (much superior) equivalent of four bags of shredded cheese.

Wild rice is also a good deal, but our store doesn't always have it. As for yeast? BEST. DEAL. EVER. It *is* literally 100% less expensive than the packets, or even the jars. Totally worth it if you do your own baking!

A said...

SO helpful! I've been wondering if it would be worth it since it's just my guy and me, and we don't have a lot of storage space in our duplex for giant packages of things, especially frozen things, which I use a lot of. But he goes through two or three of the 22-oz. bags of Mission Tortilla Strips a week and buckets of hummus, and that alone would pay for the Costco membership every year.

I remember my sister dropping a brand new camera she got at Sam's and when she took it back they just gave her a new one on the spot without any questions, even though she was only inquiring about repairs. Awesome!

Anonymous said...

I really like the shape of the square gallon jugs of Costco milk because they fit better in my small fridge. And they are cheap!

I also like the frozen fish since the portions are individually wrapped so I can just defrost enough for two, even if it might be a little more pricy

Paige said...

Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention yeast. But I gotta warn you guys, I bake bread once or twice a week, every week, and I am only about half way through the yeast I bought nine months ago. I keep it in the fridge and it is still viable, but if you have a baker friend, do share.

Sarah A.T.J. said...

Super post, thanks for the summary!! Now I don't have to sort through your last post I still have sitting open in my browser;)

MoneySavingEnthusiast said...

I love my bulk club! Glad you posted this. I much rather get regular savings and have it last. I use the coupons too for extra savings!

Dee Seiffer said...

I am buying yeast on my next Costco adventure.

Ludicrous Mama said...

I don't know about the Kirkland brand Claritin, but the Kirkland brand Zyrtec is an awesome deal - 1 year's worth for around $15! That sure beats $10/month at grocery stores!

MissBrownEyes said...

My vote goes for fruit & veggies in general. If you have another person you can't go wrong. I split with another person and buy 2-3 types of fruits and onions at Sam's. They last longer and are better quality and same price or less than most anything i can get at the local grocery store. I got to try pomegranates that were available at my local Sam's. They're NEVER available at my local grocer.