Warehouse clubs aren't for everyone. Eight years ago, I had no desire to shop at a warehouse club until I got a free membership to BJs Wholesale club through an employer.
Not everyone will want to grocery shop once a month, but if you give it a shot, you may feel the time and money it saves is worth it. Of course, you could grocery shop at any local grocery store once a month, but I find it easier to get it done at a warehouse club.
I decided I could get the best deals there when I started couponing and looking for clearance and discontinued items at BJ's.
However, it wasn't until I started running this blog that I realized I had been shopping at BJ's Wholesale Club all wrong.
Of course, you may think or know someone with common complaints about warehouse clubs.
- Why pay to shop there?
- They don't even give you grocery bags.
- They check your cart painfully slow before you leave
EVEN WITH these three truths, I can personally tell you that you can shop at BJ's Wholesale Club for much less. I can't personally speak for other warehouse clubs because every time a price comparison comes up, BJs are much cheaper.
If you follow the blog here or even in our Facebook group, you will soon see that BJ's marks TONS of stuff down. This is because they are constantly moving products to keep up with what people are buying, and for us frugal, money-saving folks- it's a lifesaver.
- READ 13 Secrets You Didn't Know About BJ's Pricing
- 7 Things to Never Buy From Wholesale Clubs
- 5 of the Worst Things to Buy at BJs
Of course, you are reading a website dedicated to BJ's deals here. I post numerous deals a day just about excellent prices at BJs, and I have been a long-time shopper at Aldi and my local grocery store.
I have price-compared items for years, and I'm still here sharing daily deals at BJ's. I even price compare them here on the blog, so you know if BJ's is a better deal or not.
How to Tell if Once a Month Grocery Shopping at a Warehouse Club is Right For You
Know Your Prices
You have to know what is a good deal. If you are new to grocery shopping, you may not know that $4 for a cereal box is a rip-off. Or that buying Organic butter for $6 a pound at your local grocery store is way too expensive.
- Tip: Start by using the price comparison search tool here.
You have to start watching prices and explicitly looking at unit prices. This takes time but with technology today, following deal blogs make it much more manageable. You are already one step ahead of the game because you are on BJ's money-saving deal blog.
Think about how far a warehouse club is from you.
Again BJ's gas is the cheapest in our area, and they often run gas promotions. Like right now, in June 2017, you can save an extra $0.25 off a gallon of gas when you buy two participating P&G items.
Things like this make it worth the few extra miles when I can stock up on food and gas. Yet it is something to consider when saving how far the trip is.
If you are a family of two, you may want to look at the cost of a membership ( even though you can get a $ 40-year membership with a $25 BJs gift card deal here) and see if it will outweigh the amount of shopping you do there.
The clearance items and all the seasonal items they have at excellent prices will keep me as a member even when my daughters are grown up and moved out.
It is a personal preference, but sometimes warehouse shopping isn't just about the grocery savings. The seasonal items and electronics can make your membership worth it, no matter your family size.
You will need a space for all your cans, boxes, and other goods when you shop once a month at wholesale clubs.
For example, when buying a few different types of meats at a warehouse club, you will need to ensure you have enough freezer space. I always break up my beef into one lb. sections, wrap them up and then stick all those into a freezer bag.
Why Should You Shop Once A Month
Oh, we need milk. Better run to the store and get some.
Oh darn it, I need spinach for this dish I'm making. But, first, I have to run to the store.
Wait, didn't I get toilet paper?
Oh, you know the drill!
Shopping once a month can get you organized and save money and time. It all starts with a good list.
- You may want to check out How to Create the Perfect Grocery List in 10 minutes.
Why Shopping at BJs Monthly Can Be A Good Idea
- You will stock your pantry with the staples you use all the time.
- You will have a better idea of what you will eat—no more last-minute meal planning.
- Your food budget will stretch the entire month.
- It allows for bulk buying.
- It's a real-time saver! I have stopped shopping at three stores and am now doing all of my grocery/household shopping at BJ's, and it saves me time and my brain power 🙂
- Planning and buying in bulk always saves you money
How Do I Get Started?
This may take a bit of your time but will be worth it in the long run. First, you want to make two lists:
- One – Things you always like to keep on hand – think pasta, rice, ketchup, etc.
- Second – Items you will need for the current month.
The second one you will get from your meal planning. This can be as detailed as you like, or like me, you may have an idea of what your family wants each month, and your main meal preparation is relatively repetitive.
You can check out my meal menus here if you need some inspiration.
Don't stress over this part. Do what works for you but also keep in mind a bit of planning now is going to benefit you in the long run. And once you tweak your system, it should run like a well-oiled machine.
What Should I Buy?
The nice thing about grocery shopping at BJ's once a month is you can quickly get what you need in the amount you need. What you buy is, again, going to depend on your meal plan for the month, but there are always things it is just wise to have plenty of on hand.
So here are some items to get you started.
Don't forget that BJ's is the ONLY warehouse club that allows manufacturer coupons. Here is a list of all the coupon deals this month at BJs.
- Coffee or Tea
- Peanut butter
- Pasta Sauces
- Canned soups (especially Cream of (fill in the blank)- suitable for so many things
- Canned vegetables and fruits
- Jams & Jellies
- Canned beans (for things like quick and easy refried beans)
- Condiments, mayo, salad dressings, ketchup, mustard
- Cooking oils
Dairy – These items keep 3 – 4 weeks easily
- Baking goods – sugar, flour, yeast, etc
- Pasta – have several different kinds on hand.
- Oatmeal, cereals
- Nuts, granola
- Snacks – chips, etc. – you may have to hide these from the family to make them stretch!
- Meat (buy fresh & freeze)
- Meatballs, chicken nuggets, etc
- Pre-made meals for emergencies (lasagna etc.)
- Waffles, pancakes
- Paper towels
- Toilet Paper
- Ziploc Bags
- Baby/hand wipes
- Garbage bags
- Dish soap
- Laundry soap
- Hair care – shampoo, etc
- Feminine Products
- Soap, body wash
- Toothpaste, mouthwash
Produce – These will last when stored someplace cool & dry.
- Potatoes, regular & sweet
- Winter Squash (butternut, etc.)
You can always check the price of these items at BJs in my price book.
Pulling It All Together
Start today by writing down the things you know you go through each month.
How many eggs do you eat, what do you typically eat for breakfast, etc.? Then look at your menu for dinner. A two-week rotation of meals can be good. That way, you only eat the same thing twice a month—plan for stuff like busy sports nights.
Then break down your meals into the ingredients you need to buy. See which ones you can buy in bulk. Keep in mind buying in bulk is usually advantageous but not always! Compare unit pricing to see if it saves you.
Put It Into Action
- Go through your pantry and freezer and list what is there—no sense buying what you already have. Use up current stock first.
- Make your list.
- Clean out the fridge before you go shopping.
- Try to shop without little ones along.
- Consider shopping and buying with a friend for the things in bulk. For example, condiments are a fantastic price at BJ's, but even two big jars of mustard may expire before you use them.
- Add the fresh or perishable things you will need for your first week of meals.
BJ's is a fantastic store for putting this system in place. You can buy in bulk, fresh – whatever you need. You may also find stores like Aldi are fantastic for produce. Another great idea is to look at the coupons/ clipless coupons and marked down items at BJ's every month and plan your meals around those items.
Sign up for a FREE 90- Day Trial to BJ's here.
FREE PRINTABLE SHEETS TO HELP ORGANIZE YOUR MONTHLY SHOPPING TRIPS
- Free Printable Shopping List– Get all the items you need with a space to write what coupons you're using.
Leave a comment below by answering one of the following questions:
How Often do you grocery shop?
If you do not shop once a month are you going to give this a try?
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