I’m not great at grocery shopping planning. I know that is the secret of success in saving money and kitchen efficiency, but what can I say–I’m a rebel. I like to go with the flow of my moods, baking and cooking what I feel like instead of making a list and checking it twice, thrice, and so on throughout the week. I try to keep some things on hand, but beyond that, I shop the sales and improvise as I go.
For Christmas, my sister and brother-in-law presented us with a 1-year BJ’s membership. For the uninitiated, BJ’s is a warehouse club, selling food (and just about anything else you can think of) in bulk for a discount–as long as you’ve paid the $45/year membership fee. We used to be members several years ago when I worked full-time outside the house and was able to obtain a discounted membership through my employer. When that working relationship ended, I balked at the regular rate and refused to renew. I believed that I didn’t save nearly enough to substantiate the cost of being one of the cool kids.
I am grateful, however, for the gift. It allows me to shop by the seat of my pants without sticking to the sales so much. I can pretty much match sale prices without the planning, and even occasionally beat them. And the $0.03/gallon gas savings–whew, that’s a winner! (Actually, I shouldn’t poke fun seeing as I only eek about 14mpg from my 12-year-old fully-paid-off-and-hence-why-I-still-have-it mode of transport…) Today, for example, I was able to pick up 2 lbs of Campari tomatoes–oh, let me count the ways I love you!–for $5.49. Do you ever buy Camparis? They’re something like $3.99/lb normally and this week they were on sale at Big Y for 2 lbs for $6! What other gold medal deals did I score? 18 oz of blueberries for $4.99 versus Big Y’s $6.49; 32 oz Chobani plain Greek yogurt for $4.99 (I think that’s regularly around $6); 4 lbs of unsalted butter for $8.99; 3 lbs of bananas for $1.49; $6.49 for 2 lbs of naturally-raised, hormone-free ground beef; 102 oz of crushed tomatoes for $2.99… Yeah, that one’s kind of funny. Have you ever seen a can that big before? It’s the equivalent 3.62 28-oz jars of spaghetti sauce, all in one can. But heck, it was only $2.99!!
So buying in bulk can save you money, but don’t forget to factor in those membership fees… At the very least, that $45 saves you searching ads for 52 weeks of the year. I never really thought about it that way before, but your time is worth it, right? And if you still want to clip coupons, they’ll take ‘em.