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How To Get The Most Bang For Your Buck At Costco

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Good day friends!  I hope you are all having a nice Friday! :-) First of all, I want to thank you for being here! :-) I know you come here each day to find One Good Thing by JILLEE…but I sincerely appreciate you understanding that on occasion I need a little help from my friends. :-)  Today I would like to introduce you to my friend Jordan Page from “Fun, Cheap, or Free“.   I first met Jordan when we were both guests on the same local television talk show, and I knew then that should the need arise, she would be a terrific guest post on One Good Thing By Jillee.

Many of us know and love Costco. Their prices are good, food is great, and buying bulk will save you “millions”…right?

Potentially.

BUT – did you know that there is a RIGHT way and a WRONG way to shop at Costco? It’s true! Here is some helpful information to ensure you are SAVING money at Costco, and not SPENDING yourself into oblivion!

Helpful Preliminary Info:

HERE is a SUPER easy method for making, and tracking a grocery budget. It will change your life. It also shows how much you should be spending on groceries.
See how I fit buying bulk into that budget HERE
See the easy way we track ALL our budgets HERE
Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the post to get the REAL “meat and potatoes” tips on how to save money at Costco!

Ok! Now onto Costco…

For my shopping at Costco I mainly stick to the bulk items that are typically involved with cooking, and try to take advantage of their coupons whenever possible (see more on that at the bottom of the post).
(For a helpful video of a TV segment I did on this subject and additional Costco buying tips and tricks, click HERE.)

So what SHOULD you buy from Costco? Here’s everything I could think of that I typically buy:

Note: Just for the record…No, I don’t always buy these items every time I go. Rather, I buy these when they go on sale, and/or if I’m running low on my supply. I usually always try to keep these items on-hand. And another note, no, I didn’t list EVERYTHING here…there are plenty of things that I missed, I’m sure. That being said…

The best deals at Costco:

  • Dog food – about 1/2 the price of pet stores!
  • Olive Oil
  • Diapers & wipes – $5 or $6 off per box usually when you use their coupons. I buy whatever brand is on sale that month, because Huggies actually makes the Kirkland brand (so they are literally as good!)
  • Milk
  • Laundry detergent / fabric softener/ dryer sheets – with coupons (see HERE for my preferences)
  • Cheese – I buy their huge bags of shredded Kirkland mozarella and cheddar. I divide them into small sandwich baggies and freeze them; pull out one bag at a time as needed. I also buy a huge 5lb block of cheddar, slice it up, freeze it in small baggies with small squares of wax paper between the slices, and pull them out when needed. The slices are great for sandwiches.) – see my tips HERE
  • Tortilla chips – the 3lb bags of Mission chips
  • Bags of frozen fruit and veggies – They are not only cheaper, but much better than other stores’ frozen veggies.
  • Seasonings, and pre-minced garlic – Their containers are HUGE and are much cheaper than other stores!…unless you buy them loosely in bulk.
  • Cleaning supplies – Disinfectant wipes, Comet, Swiffer refills, etc. (with coupons)
  • Prescriptions & vitamins – with coupon when possible, but in general they are nearly always MUCH cheaper at Costco! Tip: you don’t actually need a membership to buy from their pharmacy. Click HERE for info.
  • Cakes – $17 for their MASSIVE, semi-customizable cakes? Unbeatable. Oh yeah, and they are delish too!
  • Flowers and plants – A friend of mine’s folks own a large chain of flower shops. They said that Costco’s prices are so good, absolutely no one can compete with their prices. Same with their plants and trees.

Other great deals at Costco:

  • Toilet paper and paper towels – The Kirkland brand mainly. It tends to be cheaper, even if a different brand has a coupon.
  • Bananas – Unless I can price-match it cheaper that week.
  • Potatoes – They may not be the cheapest, but they are HUGE and last forever.
  • Strawberries – When in season. They are the biggest and best strawberries EVER. Tip: Rinse them in 1 part vinegar, 10 parts water. They will last way longer!
  • Baby formula – Kirkland formula is just as quality as the expensive stuff (it’s most likely made by the same manufacturer, actually)…but a fraction of the price!
  • Bread/rolls/buns
  • Bagels – Not necessarily always cheaper, but WAY better. I also like the mini bagels for brunches, parties, and mini pizzas/sandwiches for the kids.
  • Frozen chicken (*update: I used to buy bags of frozen chicken from Costco. Now I price-match chicken when it’s on sale for $1.70/lb or less. Then I put each fresh chicken breast in it’s own ziplock sandwich bag and freeze it. Ends up being much cheaper most of the time!)
  • String cheese – I freeze most of it, and pull a few out of the freezer at a time and keep it in the fridge for my kids. Packing them into lunches frozen is also a great way to keep them fresh – they are perfectly thawed out by lunchtime!
  • Romaine lettuce and bagged spinach – Many times I can price-match the lettuce for cheaper, but the huge bags of spinach are nearly always cheapest at Costco.
  • Chips – Potato and Dorito chips mainly
  • Fruit snacks / granola bars / some crackers / “snack items” – Nearly always with a coupon.
  • Tortillas – Their bake-at-home ones are basically the most delicious tortillas ever.
  • Salsa – We love their Kirkland salsa. Tip: If it starts to go bad before you can use the whole container, stick the rest in the freezer and pull it out when you’re ready to use it! Never let it go to waste.
  • Kirkland frozen lasagna – I usually shy away from frozen, store-bought meals. However, in this case since it’s around $10 for two trays (I believe), it’s a decent deal. One time I mentally factored the cost of my making lasagna, and Costco can basically do it cheaper!
  • Face lotion / deodorant / razors / shampoo / conditioner – With coupon. Extreme Coupon-ers will gasp at this because you can often get them cheaper with couponing, but I go for convenience since I only buy these 1 or 2 times per year.
  • Postage stamps – When I need a lot of them. They aren’t cheaper per stamp, but you don’t get slapped with any fees and it’s an easy way to buy lots of them at once.
  • Eggs – Cheapest place I’ve found to buy brown eggs.
  • Canned food – the BIG cans. The small cans aren’t the best deal, but the huge cans are! Open them up, divide them up into saved jars, freeze them. Spaghetti sauce, tomatoes, pineapple, whatever it is, just divide it up.
  • Juice – With coupon when possible.
  • Quinoa
  • Baking items – flour, sugar, sometimes butter and margarine, but I can usually price-match it much cheaper.
  • Jam (see HERE)
  • Photos and other printing – GREAT deals on prints many times. If you buy their picture frames you get 100 free prints included which is killer. Also, they often times have $5 or $10 off photo books in their coupon books.
  • Plants, outdoor equipment, sporting equipment – when in season. Even if it’s not the most rock-bottom price, their return policy makes it worth buying there in my opinion!
  • Socks
  • Garbage bags – The big, sturdy black ones – with coupon. Trust me, you get what you pay for with garbage bags!
  • Paper plates, utensils, cups – With coupon. You can actually run their clear cutlery through the dishwasher, see HERE.
  • Hand soap, body soap – With coupon.
  • Rotisserie chicken – Great quick, healthy, cheap dinner idea.
  • Pancake mix & pancake syrup
  • Frozen salmon – With coupon when possible.
  • Hamburgers, and foot-long hotdogs – Smaller hotdogs are nearly always cheaper at Walmart, but their Kirkland foot-long ones are to die for.
  • Lunch meat – See HERE for this killer deal I found once.
  • Vegetable oil – I buy the huge container, pour some into a smaller container that I keep by my stove, and keep the huge container in my cold storage. I simply refill it when needed.
  • Chocolate chips – With coupon
  • Dog beds, bones, and treats
  • Ziplock bags – with coupon
  • Those awesome Kirkland chocolate diet drinks (like Slim Fasts kinda). Great meal on the go!
  • Gasoline – will save you major $$ over time, and is 3% cash back on your card!
  • Electronics – We bought our nice DSLR camera from there after shopping around for months. It went on sale around Christmas time, so not only was the price good, but their return policy is awesome. BUT…shop around because not all their electronics are cheaper.

Now, keep in mind, it depends on why you are buying. Costco may be more expensive than Walmart (that’s where I am comparing my prices because those are the two places I shop), but their quality might not even compare in some people’s minds. To me, the quality of the things I buy isn’t different enough for me NOT to save the money. Does that make sense?

That being said………

What I avoid buying at Costco:

  • Ground beef – I can almost always price-match it for $1.60 or less, and get the super ultra lean stuff for less than than $2/lb. I stock up like crazy when it’s on sale at other stores and freeze it, so I always have it on-hand (I often times cook it up first, put it in 1lb quantities in freezer baggies, and freeze it so it’s ready to go for recipes). Costco’s is upwards of $2.50 or $2.99/lb. Good quality, but much more expensive. Ground beef is a cheap, fatty meat by nature, and is rarely ever eaten alone. Since it’s usually mixed into the meal, why pay a lot?! I save my money for the nice meats.
  • Other meat (roast, steak, etc.) – This is personal preference. Costco’s quality is unmatched, but based simply on price, you can get better deals when they go on sale at the grocery store. For me, I’d rather buy good food (and maybe not THE BEST food) and stretch my dollar to get MORE food. But, once again, personal preference.
  • Cereal – They have coupons occasionally, but still more expensive at Costco.
  • Small cans of canned food – It’s convenient to have them in a big box of 8 or 10 cans, but price per can is higher than Walmart, especially if you price-match a good deal.
  • Condiments – Condiments go on sale like CRAZY in grocery stores around holidays. Stock up on ketchup, mustard, and BBQ sauce at stores when they go on sale and you’ll save way more.
  • Pasta & sauce – You can typically get 1lb of pasta for $1 (often times much less) on sale. It’s usually always more than that at Costco. Sauce you can usually get for $1 per jar (or much less) at Walmart, Costco is nearly always more expensive. I buy cheap pasta sauce and use it as a base to making my own sauce. I make large quantities and freeze it. Much cheaper, and better!
  • Most produce – Once again, personal preference. Costco’s produce is awesome, huge, often organic, and high-quality…BUT it’s typically more expensive. Once again, I’d rather stretch my dollar and get MORE for my money. There are times when their produce is cheaper, but you just need to learn your prices (see below for more on that). For example, their 3lb bags of spinach is a great deal. And when in-season, their strawberries are competitively priced. They might not be the cheapest, but the size and quality make them a good deal. However, their apples, oranges, grapefruits, grapes, and other produce will cost you a lot more.

The most important tip:

LEARN. YOUR. PRICES!!!!

I can NOT stress this enough! I carry around a little “price notebook” with me and mark price per ounce, pound, or ‘price per each’ of things. Learning your prices is really the ONLY way you’ll save money at Costco. See HERE for all the info about my Price Notebook.

Remember: Just because it’s bulk and/or from Costco doesn’t mean it’s cheaper. There are many staples at Costco that are NOT cheaper, so I usually deal-shop for those at other stores. Get to know pricing so you can really only buy the things that will actually save you money.

Additional tips: 

Make it last. If you opt for the huge container of strawberries and they start to go bad, don’t toss them! Get creative! Make strawberry spinach salad for dinner. Make smoothies. Make freezer jam. Do what you can to NOT let anything go bad, because you’re just throwing money away. My tip?
FREEZE. EVERYTHING. If it’s on it’s way out, freeze it! If it ends up being funky when you thaw it out, hey…at least you tried. This goes for everything – produce, meat, bread, sauces, fruit, buns, milk (yup. freeze it.), you name it.

Buying bulk WILL save you tons of money…unless you only use half, then throw away the rest. See some of my creative uses for food HERE.
You might not need 800 toothbrushes. If it’s just you and your spouse, it would probably take you a few years to go through a Costco sized container of toothbrushes. Don’t get too excited about the convenience of Costco. If you only need 2 toothbrushes, maybe buy a $1 toothbrush and put the money you would’ve spent on Costco toothbrushes toward other things
…however…

Don’t be afraid to store things. Some people might not want a Costco-sized pallet of toilet paper because, well, that’s a lot of toilet paper to hold onto! But guess what? It’s cheaper. Deal with it ;) haha. Hide it under a bed, in a rubbermaid bin in your garage, under your stairs. Don’t be afraid to hold onto things. The savings are worth it many times!

Don’t be afraid to return things. Costco has a great return policy! They will take back just about anything. So if you buy the solar lawn lights and they don’t fit right in your yard, don’t be afraid to take them back. Now, that being said, please don’t abuse the system. Returning things unnecessarily or dishonestly (using it with full intention of returning it after using it, for example) only increases prices for the rest of us. No fun-o. Try your best to make it work. If it doesn’t, get your money back.

The non-food side of the store holds the best deals. Many of us think FOOD when we think Costco. But really, the best margins in price are on the non-food side of the store! Furniture and housewares tend to have the highest markups – anywhere, all the time. But with Costco they will never have higher than a 14% margin on ANY of their products, at ANY time. Thus, they drop the price dramatically to stay within that 14% margin. So cleaning supplies, diapers, dog food, vacuums, rugs, pot & pan sets = all great deals. However, learn your prices and don’t impulse buy on furniture and appliances, those are NOT always the best deals at Costco. To see a great video showing other great insider tips of shopping at Costco, click HERE.

USE. THE. COUPONS!! For heaven’s sake people, use the coupons! Don’t get them? Ask the membership desk. They even have them online many times.

When there’s a coupon for something you need or would buy anyway (very important) then stock up. Limit 2 on diapers but you only need 1 box? Buy 2. Then go back and buy more.

Why? The coupons rotate. So yes, the Huggies coupon will be back, but not for another 2 or 3 months. What happens when I run out of diapers in the meantime? I end up paying full-price…unless I have them on-hand.

Make a budget and shopping list and stick with it! If you don’t need it, you’re wasting money…even if it is a good deal. Be disciplined. Make a budget, make a list, and don’t be afraid to take stuff off the conveyer belt when checking out. Use some self-control, people! :) Once again, click HERE for how I work shopping at Costco into my tight budget.

Get the most out of your membership. Click HERE for more on that.

So there you go! I hope that gives you lots of tips for making sure you are SAVING the most money possible the next time you go to Costco. Happy shopping!

Jordan

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Jordan represents “The new face of frugality”.  After she and her husband fell onto some tough financial times, they learned the secrets to living WELL, on very little. She teaches that it’s not about going without, it’s about stretching every penny so you can HAVE more, DO more, BE more, and LIVE more than you ever thought possible. Thus, she has been dubbed the Fun, Cheap, or Free QUEEN!

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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  • Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular article!
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  • […] When Jill told me that she was looking for some guest posts while she was out of town, I had two bloggers come to mind – Jordan from Fun, Cheap or Free and Shandra from Deals to Meals. I personally use both their sites to help me save money every single week. We introduced you to Jordan a couple of weeks ago in the post: How To Get The Most Bang For Your Buck At Costco. […]

  • Love Costco! They save us a ton on Organics, gas, clothes and trips to the store. Quality is way better than most grocery stores and the return policy is insanely liberal! They’ll even take back produce that spoils to quickly!
    One note though, gas purchases aren’t applied to the 3% rebate, at least in California. :-( I check every year hoping that’s changed, but no dice so far.

  • Dairy doesn’t sit well with our family so we’ve gone the alternate route of drinking almond milk which can get expensive. I found that it’s much cheaper buying it at Costco. I can buy 3 cartoons of it at Costco for the price of 2 anywhere else, even when it’s on sale.

    Rice is another good price there and it saves me a trip to the Asian store just for rice. Chia seeds are another great buy there. It’s much cheaper than anywhere else I’ve found. They also carry a multi-grain flour that I love at a much cheaper price per ounce.

    Another thing I love from Costco is their frozen food section. Their waffles are good and cheaper. They carry a panko breaded chicken tenders made by Tyson that my daughter loves. She redefines picky eating and will only eat chicken tenders from Culver’s or these ones, a MUCH cheaper alternative.

    Their pharmacy is fantastic! Kirkland brand Tylenol and Advil or IB profeun is much cheaper than anywhere else, especially when they have coupons for it. And since I’ve moved, I now allergies almost all year round. Their Kirkland version of Allegra is also significantly cheaper.

    Now, something that people probably don’t think much about… buying clothes at Costco when they have a coupon for it is a lot cheaper. Carter’s layette set can go as low as $5.99. I also found women’s shorts for $11.99, Levi’s for $24.99, Raplh Lauren polos for $8.99 (seriously, where else can you find a RL polo for that cheap?!?), fancy girl dresses for $16.99, Sketchers Twinkle Toes shoes for $15.99 (they’re regularly at least $40 a pair), Addidas work out clothes for as low as $5.99. Here’s a tip I learned from an employee there: look at the price tag, if there’s a small star by it, it means it’s on its way out so the price has either been lowered already or is going to get lower if you’re willing to take a chance and wait. Our Costco is only a year old and 3 minutes away from my house. I take a weekly grocery trip during a weekday (my kids go through fruit like it’s going out of style!) and I take a peek at what’s around. I do that until I find that the items on a certain table have been reduced significantly, there’s a star on the price tag and noticed that the price has gone down. That’s when I buy them. I saw 3-in-1 winter coats for as low as $7.99 but only 2 sizes were left. The nice thing about Costco is that if it doesn’t fit the following season, you can return it for the paid price with no qualms.

    Our Costco here also has a section in the back of the store where they’ll keep all the discounted food that’s on its way out and priced as low as $0.97 for a 24 can of Diet Coke.

    So be aware of your surroundings and know where things are kept. Look in those sections every time and USE THOSE COUPONS!!!!

  • Kinda glad I came “late to the table” to this one—the comments at the beginning were making my teeth itch. IT’s a trade off on if you can afford to feed your family at all; use pricy and unproven “Organic” produce and or “regular” grocery items

    Where I live—deep in the country–we have NO grocery store for 20 miles one way. One would think that we would have access to fresh and cheap food. Not–exactly! We live in the land of cows–dairy cows. Yes there are some places where you can go to the farm and buy wonderful milk–I can hear the cows from one behind my place!!!–but the milk IS more expensive. And you still have to go fetch!

    If you want that precious “Organic” meat you CAN go to local farms–and pay a huge price for a tiny bit of protein. Most of the stuff like this produced here is trucked off to NYC and the “Green Market”—too precious for words. And at something like $20 a POUND for a pork chop—not something MOST people here could ever hope to eat. The local farmers cannot afford this certainly!

    I do have a SAMS because we are often in the town where that is located–but it is a 1 1/2 HOUR drive–ONE WAY. We only go when we have other things that need to get done there.

    Do be careful at SAMS tho—I noticed last night that the prices/per/ are NOT all the SAME. Some had per pound; some had per ounce–on the SAME category of items making it hard to compare by eye the difference between burgers say. The produce is generally meh. The meats–oddly enough until recently the meats were a good deal and did NOT have the “enhancement” of “chicken broth” etc but I noticed last night that they DID now have this “solution” added to the chicken breasts. IT used to be that SAMS–owned by WALMART–did NOT have this and WALMART meats DID have it—watch the labels!

    I also noticed–and perhaps this was an honest mistake—some very mislabeled meat cuts pretending to be a much higher priced cut. Now if this had been in MY favor—but it was not–sigh!

    Also the packed medications are NOT always the least expensive—check them very carefully. For some items they ARE very low but for others they are way HIGHER than WM or other places.

    You CANNOT use coupons at SAMS. And you CANNOT use a Walmart employee discount either.

    Their bakery items are very good. The pre-packed deli stuff can be a good deal–and sometimes not. Chips and stuff—which we don;t buy much of so not “up” on prices–seem high compared to sales at other places.

    The “best” deals for me there are bulk toilet paper–SCOTT–but of course last night they were OUT!!!! Sigh. And immodium is WAY cheaper there—for some one with IBD this is a great thing and one of the reasons I keep the membership. Also you CAN split the membership.

    Other good buys (generally) at SAMS—-butter, several selections on that; eggs; pre-cooked chickens–generally larger than WM’s too!–some larger packages of spices—love their “Restaurant pepper” just watch the shaker tops–had one fly open on the “spoon” side and lets say supper was a bit–spicy!!!–that night! Now I tape down that side. Laundry soap.

    We also found a great deal on a FOLD UP CANVAS WAGON—folds like a “Bag lawn chair” and was $50 vs $99 at Toys R Us–where it was sold out in any case. Priceless for us to tote kids around and will be sooooo much easier to place in the back of the car–and for me to pull behind my wheely handicapped scooter this summer!

    We have no COSTCO for a few hundred miles that I know of!

  • This really depends on where you live. Costco is always cheaper for me on all the items listed in the section that she has for not cheaper. Ground beef is rarely on sale for less the 4 dollars a pound..and its usually the crap.
    As someone on a tight budget with a lot of food issues quality always comes before other things. But thats me and my area.
    A resort town thats cheap on a lot of things you dont need and expensive on everything you do need!

  • I love Cost Co and shop competitively. I do have to say though, we used their baby formula for a while and found it to be way too foamy. Gave my baby gas. A friend sends me Sams formula and it doesn’t have that same problem.

  • I love buying bulk items like breakfast sausage at Costco ( hands down the best, absolutely no grease). I freeze the links on a cookie sheet, than place them into a freezer bag. This way, I can grab only what I need.

  • I save by only buying what is on sale and when I have coupons to add, I also check the stores website for their coupons. It really adds up. Also using the store credit card gives special sales but make sure you pay it off each month. WOrks for us

  • Keeping my fingers crossed~hoping to win,sure would help us out.
    I have a question what do you think of buying Plants from Costco?Do you thinks they
    are a good deal?

  • I have been buying frozen organic broccoli at Costco, but somehow just noticed the small print on the back of the bag that says “Product of China” This upsets me because #1) I don’t think it’s environmentally responsible to ship broccoli halfway around the world and #2) I questions China’s standard of “organic”. Does anyone have any information about this?

  • I enter giveaways such as this, I cut coupons from newspapers, and I try and cook meals that can be prepared and frozen if made in bulk – such as spaghetti. I think the best tool for consumers has to be their ability to look for deals constantly and taking the savings and turning into a saving trust or IRA.

    Good Luck everyone.

    Sincerely,

    Chloe Collins
    lamotoguzzi@yahoo.com

  • I have been hearing about Costco since I moves to the wear coast was a sans club member but haven’t had a chance to get into the Costco madness here, I buy everything in bulk ands if saves as ,much as everyone suggests I would be beyond thrilled to get a glimpse of the hype

  • To save money, I always, always, ALWAYS, shop the circulars and I only buy if it’s a good deal. They circulate so it really helps me keep on track.

  • I try and save money by buying what is on sale and using coupons as much as I can. I am not a member of Costco, but I just bought a new K-cup Keruig at their online store and was charged a surcharge for not being a member but the price was right even with the surcharge. It would be nice to win the membership for future products….Good luck to all…

  • I already do a lot of the things you’ve suggested. I stock up when chicken or ground beef is at a really good price and freeze it in portions to use later when the price isn’t so good. I also do that same with canned goods like pizza sauce. I do coupon and try to get the best deal on personal care items, especially since I can get them for free sometimes with coupons. I was actually talking to my Mom about getting a Costco membership together when she moves closer to me later this year so this was a well timed post for me!

  • I price match every week, use coupons, and my favorite is going early in the morning and finding the marked down meats. This is how I save and am able to feed a family of seven on a very limited food budget.

  • I try to save money on the essentials by subscribing to couponing blogs and watching for the posts related to items we regularly use. It’s only a deal if we actually use/need it!

  • Would love to be able to shop COSTCO and buy in bulk. That’s what I try and do at the grocery store. Buy meat in large packs and freeze what I don’t use. I always shop items on sale!

  • I always buy my spinach at Costco. I don’t like spinach except in smoothies, so the huge bags used to go bad before I could use it up. The trick I’ve found? Because the texture doesn’t matter for smoothies, I try to freeze lots of the spinach right away, putting it directly into sandwich-size ziploc bags. Then when I make my smoothie, I can just empty the bag directly into my smoothie, already portioned out.

    I, like Jordan Page, do pretty much all of my shopping at Walmart and Costco, using DealstoMeals.com to find all the good deals to price-match at Walmart. I love that the website tells you which deals are worth stocking up on! Sometimes it feels like a hassle to do the price-matching, but then I go to the store and realize that I’ve saved an average of 50% on most everything I buy, and the hassle is definitely worth it.

    Now, my shopping trips at Walmart consist of most – or all! – price-matched items, because I’ve made such an effort to stock up when the prices are super low, and try to make meals from the items on sale and the items already in my pantry.

  • Thanks for the tips! I’ll use them when I do my next Costco trip. One way I save money is buying things I need that are on sale at Winn Dixie. Then I get gas discounts. Last time I had $1.25 off 20 gallons of gas.

  • I save money when shopping for essentials by going to several different stores. I DO ‘know my prices’ so I know who has what for cheapest. I fail because I go shopping ALL the time, like several times per week. So I need to work on that. I used to have a Costco membership but it lapsed and I’m trying to live more minimally (while shopping every day lol) so I haven’t justified renewing. It’s been a year. I would LOVE to get back in there. They have some things I just can’t get anywhere else

  • I save money buy trying doing what I can myself, i.e. buying a big box of crackers, and then separating then into smaller bags. And lot’s of other great tips I get from you!! Thanks so much!

  • I shop every sale I see when I can. I shop at Walmart for essentials and watch for sales at Safeway for meat and produce. I love Costco! Wish I could afford a membership. thank you so much for the awesome giveaway!!

  • I follow Jillee on FB and Pinterest, and I just started following “Fun, Cheap, or Free“ on Pinterest.
    I’m with Jordan – freeze everything. I’m a big dollar store fan – mine has groceries and I will check every week when their new shipment comes in. I buy brand name bread and bagels by the cart-ful and freeze them! It’s always fun because you never know what you’re going to get!

  • I follow fun,cheap or free on FB. Check the Dollar Store for paper products, raise my own veggies (can and/or freeze what I can), Aldi’s for lots of other things!

  • I have *just* started being more serious about using coupons and got my first freebies last night! With the prices of routine things going up all the time I decided it was time to buckle down and get serious about saving money where I can.

    We have a Sams membership, but I keep hearing about how fabulous Costco is and would love to try it out! :)

    Thanks Jillee for all you do!

  • We r in Hawaii and the only place to really save is the commissary and even then they raise the prices close and on payday:/ 5 people’s and a 90 lb lab in our fam makes it hard to make ends meet! We’d love to win a Costco membership :D

  • I used to have a Costco membership when I was shopping for both my mom and myself. However, now mom has moved to assisted living, and I just couldn’t justify the cost of membership for myself. (I live alone.) I really MISS the quality available at Costco! Sure I can save money at some of the other discount stores (no names mentioned, but they are synonymous with low quality), but I really care about what I put into and on my body. I don’t want to have to jeapordize that just to save the almight $$. So, yes, I would love a membership again.

  • I’m following One Good Thing By Jillee on Facebook
    &
    I’m following Fun, Cheap or Free on Facebook
    &
    I’m following One Good Thing By Jillee on Pinterest
    &
    I’m following Fun, Cheap or Free on Pinterest

    The draw for this contest says Wednesday May 14, 2013 today is Tuesday May 14, 3013. So when is the actual draw date?

  • I am already a follower of Jillee on Pinterest & FB and now a follower on both of FCF. I have never shopped at Costco but know a number of people who do and love it.

    To save money raising five children is challenging, especially with one income. Yard sales, local thrift shops, and “hand me downs” make up a large part of my childrens wardrobe. They don’t seem to mind as I frequently wash and put the new clothes away without a word to them and they are at an age they don’t question where it came from. Don’t get me wrong, they get new stuff as well, but there is an acceptable balance.

    I still have not mastered grocery shopping and I fear I never will. Although I frequently read and know the tips; most times convenience wins. I am fortunate to live in an area with tons of farmer’s markets and local produce stands. I buy bulk whenever possible. It may not always be as cost effective but again it is convenient.

  • I do my best to double-up on coupons. I feel like I’ve hit the lotto when I find a manufacturer’s coupon and a store coupon for the same item!!! Cha-Ching!!! :) Our local grocery store also has AWESOME buy one get one free sales! I pack the freezer when they have our regular items BOGO.

  • I always shop sales, price match and just recently have started keeping a price book to make sure I get the cheapest prices, as well as purchasing in bulk. There are only the hubbie and I but we need to save as much as we can when prices are rising like crazy!

  • I save money by making one shopping trip a month to Aldi and stocking up on our essentials. We don’t have one very close to us so I don’t do my regular grocery shopping there, but I do try to get in there once a month for things like peanut butter, cheese, oil, jars of jalapenos, and other basics.

  • I save money using the electronic coupons that grocery stores are using on their own websites. I couldn’t keep up with clipping them and wind up never using them. Most grocery stores now have them attached to their loyalty cards or a phone number. Really helps

  • Hi
    I’m a different Rebecca. :) I find all these tips helpful for use @ Sams, too. It really is helpful to do the math. I have a wants list for Sams now, and most of it is nonfood. They do a pretty good job with the food prices, but I coupon a lot and can usually do better.
    Right now im planning a big run for freezer bags, white washcloth bundle, and, heres a fun idea. I decided to get a pack of those plastic food baskets and some paper liners to go in them, and use those instead of paper plates for summer picnics. Way cheaper than paper, and a lot easier on the environment, cause you just throw away the little paper liner.

    Good info here!

  • I go over the supermarket flyers every week for the best sale items. We have no super walmarts on long island, so I really can’t price match. I do use coupons, and my daughter who is 21 is turning into a coupon nut!

  • I also try and stock up on essentials when they are BOGO at publix aith coupons. I live in a small town with few options for stores. I don’t have a Costco membership right now (but have at different times) because it is about 35 minutes away it but I love their products. . Having said that, I think in the stage of life that I am in with 2 kids in year round sports and practice just about every night, stocking up is what saves me money. That is why COSTCO makes sense to me. I am then not running out to the store when I realize that I am out of something and paying higher prices. One trip every couple weeks to stock up is worth the drive.

  • The Oscar Mayer Bologna is a really good deal there, you can only usually beat that when it is buy one get one free at the regular grocery stores, and they are all beef too! I also love the Organic Strawberry Jam a really good buy. If you like hashbrowns try there dehydrated ones, good for backpacking/camping trips!
    Loved the info for what items to get at Costco and what to avoid. I miss my membership, cuz there are definately some good food and products to get there.

  • A Costco just opened in our area but I thought it was very pricy to join. We currently belong to Sam’s and have for several years. I have only been shopping once in Costco with friends in Florida and really enjoyed it but hesitant to invest that much money to join. I love to save money by buying in bulk and do a lot of portion freezing. You still have to watch the pricing to be sure you are getting a deal by checking the price breakout for each product. Would like to win the membership to compare the savings with Sam’s.
    Have a blessed day,
    Sharon

  • I shop at Costco often. I have a girl’s group in which we shop in bulk and then share. We find the bulk savings and come away with reasonable portions.

  • I registered with her. My favorite things not mentioned are the wonderful Kirkland Supima sheets and Charisma egyptian sheet sets. They both have 4 pillow cases, and come out of the dryer feeling like smooth satin on the bed. I have spent $100s on 1,000 thread count sheets and they felt like the most expensive paint drop cloths known to man after 25 washes. I also love their Kirkland 8 qt red cast iron oval pot I bought myself for Mothers Day. The price dropped to $59 for the 8 qt. I buy the Kirkland 50 yard wired ribbons when they first arrive in October, and again when the spring ribbon arrives in January. I am able to wrap fabulous looking packages for very little with adding a coupon of rolls per year. Also the Scotch e pk of scissors on sale right now for $7.50 with coupon for 3 pr is favulous. the are guaranteed for 100,000 cuts, and are a couponers best friend.

  • We have six kids so being careful with our food budget over the years has really been important. We try to steer clear of processed foods, except things like frz veggies, store bought pasta, etc. this means we make most baked goods ftom scrstch. One convenience food we do buy is bfast cereal. Every once in a while, I try to fix bfast more to reduce the amt of cereal we eat-it’s expensive! Aldi is my favorite grocery-inexpensive, good quality, and it’s small so doesn’t take long to get through. Thanks for your blog!

  • I cook most of my food from scratch—breakfast, lunch and dinner. I make my own bread, yogurt, jam for instance. Besides being much cheaper, I can control what goes into them, they taste better. and I eliminate the extra packaging.

  • My husband is in school, so saving money is essential! There are a million other things I would rather spend my money on than food…so my key to saving is mega coupons! I get the Sunday paper and print all of my coupons. I also price match at Walmart which saves me a ton! Every little bit helps!

  • We buy our fresh eggs from a local for only a couple of dollars. We also buy our meat fresh from a local butcher and then divide, package and freeze ourselves.

  • Love this post! The biggest way I save (thank to Jordan!) is price matching at Wal-Mart. It actually makes shopping really fun for me, I enjoy looking at the new ads each week and making out my list. I’m definitely not afraid to stock up either!

  • I try to save money by shopping my local Kroger’s loss leaders, getting a co-op basket of fruits and veg from Bountiful Baskets, and going to ALDI for most staples and snack foods. I also do better about saving money when I plan my two-week menus instead of the “What’s for dinner tonight?” syndrome. :\

  • I make freezer meals and buy as many of the ingredients as I can from warehouses like Costco. The prices are so much cheaper so I make lots of recipes for very little.

  • I love your ideas. Don’t have a Costco nearby, about 125 miles from one!!! I shop Sam’s and use a lot of the same routine! I try not to buy anything processed except for peanut butter! You need to know prices and I work at a grocery store, just think it through and have a calculator! I follow you, Jillee and just Pinned Jordan. I don’t do facebook!

  • My number one tip is to buy only things that we really use. As in, even though there is an awesome coupon for ground beef, we wouldn’t buy it because we don’t use ground beef. :)

  • I meal plan for the month. I sit down one Sunday and decide what dinners I will make for the entire month and write it out on my calendar. It’s so much easier to not have to come home and wonder what I’m going to cook. That being said.. I’ve been contemplating getting a Costco membership for a few months now, so it would be awesome to win a membership. Thanks for the chance!!

  • Don’t forget that buying in bulk also saves gas because it cuts down on the number of trips to the store throughout the month. It all adds up!!!!!

  • I follow both on Pinterest and Facebook :)
    I look at the circulars online at local stores and then plan my meals around what’s on sale. There’s a discount grocery store that I get a lot of my canned/snack foods from (near expiration date a lot of the time but still very much okay to eat). There’s also a small Mennonite store (I’m in PA Dutch country haha) that has local cheap produce, deli meats way cheaper than the chain stores, cheese, and things like flour and whatnot.

  • I save money when shopping for essentials by using coupons when available, buying in bulk when there is a sale, and good old fashioned shopping around. I like to see where I can get the best deal it is almost like a game for me.

  • I save money by shopping within our weekly food budget, using coupons, and getting on brand mailing lists so that I can nab freebies. Thanks for the chance to win.

  • In order to save on buying essentials,I look at store ads and pair buy one get ones with coupons. I also try to remember good prices for items and buy them when they are on sale. I follow Fun Cheap or free on Facebook and Pinterest.

  • I’m now following The Fun, Cheap, or Free Queen on Pinterest. I hope I win! Sam’s Club does have a better selection of diapers than Costco. Sam’s also sells baby food. I wish Costco would do the same.

  • In my opinion Costco is much better than Sams. Costco always seems to have better selection, quality and price along with friendly employees.
    Its also a great source for eyeglasses in a very friendly price range!

  • I know we all dislike a TON of emails in our inbox each day…….but I find that every time I sign up for coupons, discounts, notices or whatever in my inbox…there is ALWAYS something I was looking for on my grocery list that ends up being a sale coming through in my inbox. I LOVE it! I save by noting all the sales that come through. But also keep in mind that if it’s NOT on my list then I don’t need to buy it and the email is deleted or forwarded to a family member or friend who MAY need it or mentioned to me they were looking for that item. ; )

  • Meal planning is key for us! Then I fix the meals that use the most fresh produce first so that if we fall off the wagon and end up eating out later in the week, we don’t have veggies going bad in the fridge!

  • When I shop for ‘essentials’ I always look at the deals or sales first. I try to base my weekly meals on the fruits, vegetables, and other items on sale that week! On items I can bulk up on (diapers, wipes, toilet paper, etc.) I ONLY buy them when they are on sale and I store them in my garage. LOVE costco for this reason! but I don’t have my own costco card yet! :(

  • Follow you on FB~E-Mail-Pinterest.
    I had a great Mom’s day~hope you did too.
    My son-in-law made Fillet Migon,and the were so GOOD,and they were from
    Costco.
    My daughter bought windshield wippers and went to put them on,
    and someone actually went out and put the new ones on and put the old ones
    in the box.My husband returned them for her today,and the person
    behind the counter said~you wouldn’t believe what people do.
    Guess,we now know why prices rise.
    I hope to win:-)

  • The way I save money is stock up on everything when it is on sale so I can avoid paying full price for anything. When something goes on sale I try to buy a 6-12 month supply (depending on the budget). Saves lots of money to have a mini-store in your house.

    I follow both of you on facebook and pinterest.

  • As a single graduate student, there are a lot of things I can’t buy in bulk. However, I live in an apartment complex where a lot of my neighbors don’t use coupons and toss them into recycling or trash bins–and yes, I nab them for myself. Being able to have extra free/cheap groceries and toiletries makes my life a whole lot easier.

    Oh, and I’m now following Jillee and Fun, Cheap or Free on Facebook and Pinterest. :o)

  • I always check ads and price match at walmart to get the most savings! I never ever buy anything at full price when buying clothes, etc. and shop sales! I’d really love to win this membership and build our food storage!!

  • I always buy spinach, bananas, milk, and toilet paper at Costco. I also get printer ink refills there for much cheaper. Then I price match produce at Walmart.

  • Having a family of 6 is tough these days. I make use of my freezer as much as I can. Crock pot meals are my savior, and reading money saving blogs all help keep my expenses WAY down. So thanks to you ladies, I save money! :D I would love to win a Costco membership to help get my stash up and running again!

  • I try to meal plan for a month and do most of my shopping in 1 trip. I usually price match everything at Walmart and that has saved us a ton!

  • I’ve been reading Jordan’s blog for years, and price matching has saved my family a lot of money! Just moved by a Costco…would love a membership!

  • I am a mother of a 2 year old and 1 year old, I am trying to become more frugal about spending in general. I try to buy in bulk but I don’t have a membership to either Costco or Sam’s and after some research that you provided as well as the Fun Cheap or Free Queen, I believe Costoc would be a great place. I would greatly benefit from the free 1year membership that you are giving away. Here’s to crossing all my family members fingers adn toes in hopes of winning the free year!!

  • How I save money on essentials, is for one thing, making sure it is essential. I also make a list to make sure I get what I need, and stay away from buying things I could do without. I make sure to eat a meal before going as well so I am not stressed or impulsive. There have been times I’ve had to go as far as making my own laundry soap, and other times where I can buy what I prefer. Knowing prices of different stores sure helps! Thanks for the entry!!

  • If I have a favorite name brand, I like to try 1 store brand to see if I like it as well. Many times the store brand is just as good as the name brand and much cheaper.

  • One of the things I do is buy the bulk black olives and put them into quart jars – on the lids I label them 1 and 2 then I know which to use first. They last along time and are a great buy.

  • I have a really, really hard time saving money while shopping. But change has to happen, we just had baby number three and that makes five family members now.

  • I buy the bulk tortillas, shredded cheese, sourdough sandwich bread, peanut butter, large cans of spaghetti sauce (super cheap)-make it and freeze in bags, ground beef, large cans of Stagg chili -freeze in bags, chicken legs. Those are our major staples from Costco. It saves me time and money to have them on hand.

  • I saved using Costco’s car purchase program. It saved me a ton of money. I don’t currently have a Costco membership because my husband and I have been struggling financially due to some medical issues.