Let’s do some math and determine: Does Costco Save the Most Money?
First, let’s talk about grocery budgets, using wisdom, and loving people.
Hi, I’m Laura and I used to care A LOT about saving every penny. I considered “saving money” to be a part of my job as a homemaker, so I clipped all the coupons, hit all the sales, and hoarded our stockpile. This was in part because we didn’t have much money and we needed to save all of our pennies just to make it. And it was in part because I didn’t understand my time and energy have value too.
I still love a good deal. I still love to save money when I can. I’ll even say yes to freebies, yes I will.
But after 26+ years of marriage, 23+ years of raising children, 15+ years of learning that the quality of our food matters, 7+ years of learning more about loving my neighbor, and 3+ years on a foster care and adoption journey:
I’m also wiser, I hope. I’m learning more about what really matters, about generosity, and when it’s really worth taking the time to save a buck, you know?
I also have a really big family now. This means that in some ways, I need to be extra frugal to afford all of our family’s needs. But it also means that I have a lot more to do every day, and clipping coupons and looking through store ads doesn’t come close to making my to-do list.
No, these are not all of my children. I actually have two more not pictured. ;)
And also, several of these are our beloved college kids who we claim as our own and feed frequently.
How big is my grocery budget?
Well. I don’t mind sharing that it’s somewhere around $1,200/month. We have seven people still living at home and two college-age sons who come home frequently to eat. They bring their friends. On Sundays, we feed a large army of guests. We love this!
So we go through a pretty significant amount of food every month. And I’m no longer buying the cheapest food options because:
- I don’t have time to nickel and dime everything
- I prefer better quality food that sometimes costs more
- Sometimes I buy convenience foods that cost more but help me stay sane through all the details that fill up my days as we live life as foster parents. (I’m not ashamed of the frozen pizzas I keep on hand. They keep me sane.)
What I’ve found is that it’s great to do a small amount of research to determine my best shopping options. Then I stick with a system, knowing that I’m doing the best I can and saving the most money possible during this season of life. And that’s where Costco comes in.
So, does Costco save the most money?
I only recently purchased a Costco membership. I make a trip there once each month if I can get away (the closest Costco is an hour from our house). Here’s what I’m learning:
- Their clothing is awesome and very reasonably priced! (That has nothing to do with groceries, but it was worth mentioning.)
- Their produce isn’t cheaper than what I can find at our local grocery store or Walmart. But it’s comparable in cost, and Costco offers better quality on produce. So I stock up while I’m there and shop Walmart produce on the off weeks.
- Their healthy convenience foods are cheaper than what I was paying through Amazon Subscribe and Save. I used to order items like Go-Go Squeeze Fruit on the Go, 100% Fruit Cups, Nuts Packets, Meat Sticks, Annie’s Mac and Cheese, and the like through Amazon. I still do keep some of them on my subscribe-and-save plan. But most of these items are quite a bit cheaper at Costco. So I’m transitioning many items from Amazon to Costco so I can save money!
- Their sauces and condiments are cheaper. They are also better quality than I can usually find at Walmart. So I now buy bulk ketchup, barbecue sauce, salsa, and other sauces we use at Costco.
- Their frozen fruit and frozen vegetables are of fantastic quality for a lower price.
- Their baking items are less expensive and I love buying them in bulk to save effort.
- Their high-quality lunchmeats, bacon, and hotdogs are all less expensive than I’ve found elsewhere.
- The above-mentioned frozen pizzas are super tasty and better quality than any other I’ve found. I buy a couple boxes each month and they help tremendously on extra busy days!
Beyond saving money, I’ve found that I love the Kirkland brand, and I love the varieties of food I find at Costco that I can’t find elsewhere in my town. I feel so spoiled when I bring home food from Costco!
I love buying in bulk, not just because it saves money, but because it saves me time. If I can buy a big box, a big bag, an entire case – that makes for less frequent purchasing needs and fewer grocery shopping trips. Sign me up!
I have found that since I only go to Costco once each month, I often need a second cart. This only works if I have a helper with me, and because of that, I do sometimes skip items at Costco that take up a lot of cart space and choose to have Amazon deliver them to my porch instead.
I’m still getting my rhythm now that I’m shopping Costco, Amazon, Walmart, and Azure Standard. But I have definitely found that Costco’s prices are overall cheaper for the wonderful quality they offer.
Here’s how my monthly grocery budget currently breaks down:
These are all rough numbers and each month varies. But that’s a general idea of where our grocery money goes each month. And here’s a general idea of who enjoys said groceries: