Successful Warehouse Shopping: Budget Grocery Tip

A membership to a warehouse doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get the best prices. In fact, some items may end up costing more in bulk than they would at a discount or superstore. Following are five tips for successful warehouse shopping.

1. Make a list. If you have an idea of what items you need to purchase, you won’t end up overspending on impulse items or products you don’t need. It might also help to do a dry run of the store, without intending to purchase anything, so you can check out the stock. Most warehouses’ stock changes frequently, but there are usually some basics you can always find there, such as meats and produce, coffee, frozen items, books, and clothes.

2. Know your prices. It might be helpful to bring a list of prices you currently pay for items you purchase on a regular basis. That way, you have something to compare the wholesaler’s price to. We recently found a package of 10 whole vanilla beans at Costco for just over $10 — less than half the price of the local grocery store, where two beans cost $14!

3. Know bulk isn’t necessarily better. Even if that 50-lb bag of flour is a phenomenal deal, where are you going to put it? When a price seems too good to pass up, consider the expiation date if it’s a perishable item. Will it expire before you have a chance to use it up? Also think about the size of the items – do you have room to properly store them?

You may also want to shop with a friend (or two). Unless you have a large family or are buying for an organization, you might want to consider going in on items with someone else. That way, you both get the deal but don’t get stuck with too much product. Or, you can mix and match.

4. Don’t go hungry. Warehouses are, by definition, large spaces and you’ll probably get hungry while you shop. Bring a snack with you, or at least a bottle of water.

5. Take advantage of sample displays. At most Costco stores, samples are on display Friday evenings and all day Saturday. These samples can range from flavored waters to appetizers to soup to fresh produce. Take advantage of the samples offered – it’s a great way to get a taste of something before you purchase it (especially in large quantities!).