Shoestring Meals - Does anyone use Sam's Club?




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NiteNicole
08-27-2010, 12:21 AM
My mom wants me to split a membership with her and I'm not sure if it's worth it. I haven't been in YEARS and have no idea what they have. It's a long drive (over an hour) so I need to save more than like, $2. At the same time, it's not like I'm swimming in options either (Walmart, one Kroger, slightly filthy, and one Winn Dixie, which is eh).

My brother assures me they have great deals on frozen veg, frozen chicken breast, and frozen fish. I don't mind frozen but I don't know if his idea of "a great deal" is the same as mine (I have a feeling "comes in a big bag" = "great deal" to him. I don't see him comparison shopping, y'know?).


bronzeager
08-27-2010, 03:06 AM
See if you can check them out and actually taste something before you sign up (usually you can do that). If the other produce options are really that bad, it might be a good deal. But my mom gets ALL her food there for her and my stepdad, when the produce is actually much better in the local groceries, partly because she thinks it's cheaper. I find the Sam's produce tends to LOOK very nice, but often has that tasteless hard flavor of being packed far away not-quite-ripe and being kept in cold storage for a long time. (They often have things way out of season, like plums in February.)

And although there is Sam's Club stuff that is healthy, it can be a problem if you or someone else are tempted by the giant jars of Cheesy Poofs, 24 packs of cupcakes (but we'll freeze them! It's such a bargain!) and huge boxes of frozen pizza rolls. That is a big problem whenever she takes my stepdad shopping. And it all comes in giant bags and containers that takes up lots of room in her pantry and fridge and inevitably half ends up going bad/stale in the back when they get tired of it or don't like it. Sometimes quantity buying isn't really such a bargain.

Do check unit prices and compare with your grocery, some things are much cheaper, some are about the same. (And then think, can we EAT the six heads of lettuce in that package before they go bad?) And for some things they only carry brand names, like my contact lens solution or vitamin pills, when I can get the generic for cheaper in a Target/Walmart. Depends on how you do your buying.

If you have one of the newer Super Walmarts or Super Targets with a grocery section, a lot of the time that is surprisingly good. In the Super Walmart in Memphis when I lived there, they had fresh herbs and organic produce that the Kroger didn't carry, and nice frozen fish, and the SuperTargets have whole grain "bakery style" breads and stuff. I agree that Kroger produce is generally crappy (having experienced it in four different states.) I don't know why that is when Cub and Meijer in the upper midwest can have quite nice produce and also meat sections, and the prices don't seem any different. It's like the Kroger people don't think you should enjoy grocery shopping or nice food.

Natasha1534
08-27-2010, 03:36 AM
I have a Sam's Club membership and I absolutely love it. Their fruit and veggies are really good (OMG, their red seedless grapes are the BEST), they have a 3 pack of Laughing Cow cheese for $7, and if you like sirloin steaks they have them for about $4 a pound normally. They also have fresh chicken instead of frozen...we get the chicken tenders for I wanna say $1.80 a pound or something. We usually get about 6 meals out of them (the tenders are pretty large). Bone-in porkchops run about $1.88 per pound normally. If you like the Arnold's whole wheat sandwich thins they have an 18 pack of them for a good deal (don't remember the exact price, sorry). And they have bulk size low-fat feta cheese and blue cheese as well. Oh, and if you like sausage they have a FANTASTIC pack of chicken sausage that has spinach and asiago cheese in it...YUM!!! It is a little pricey, though, at about $13 for 15 sausages.

We got every month during the first few weeks and stock up on all our meat and fruit for the month. Just stay away from the snack aisles and you'll be good. ;)


bronzeager
08-27-2010, 04:20 AM
And they have bulk size low-fat feta cheese

Hee hee, this is one of my mom's favorites, as in, every time I go home there are two mostly-full packages rotting in the back of the fridge. It's low fat, you see! But neither of them actually like it. Yes, I don't understand either.

I guess I'm mostly turned off on the place because of my parents' using it in the worst possible way. My stepdad buys mega-boxes of the most horrifying junk he sees, eats one package, and then rejects the rest; and there's an enormous gap between my mom's healthy intentions and what either of them will actually EAT. It just produces so much waste.

WebRover
08-27-2010, 04:42 AM
We go almost every week.

Produce: Organic spring mix in a large plastic box 16 oz. for 3.98. It stays fresh for over a week and we almost always use all of it. DH makes a large salad almost every day for lunch and I eat it also.

We buy berries, broccoli, feta, low-fat swiss cheese, tomatoes (compari or cherry) sometimes apples, nectarines, or other produce. We buy some meats: steaks, ground beef. Virgin Olive Oil, pepperonicini peppers (in a gallon jar and DH goes through them), black olives. Arnold's Rounds/whole wheat. Napkins, paper towels, nuts, aluminum foil, vinegar (use it for cleaning and in the washing machine), toothpaste, vitamins, laundry detergent, dish detergent, dishwasher detergent,
Ziplock bags, garbage bags, etc.

The produce in our Sam's is tasty, but you do have to make sure that you only buy items that you like and will use. Saturday's, while busy, is a good time to go as they offer samples of many items.

NiteNicole
08-27-2010, 11:13 AM
Thanks so much!

I already know this is not the kind of place I can take my husband. I just don't go down the snack aisles and if I do, I'm looking for something specific (Cheddar Bunnies for my daughter, 100 Cal packs of almonds, which I'm going to give up anyway. I thought having them portioned would help my husband with portion control but no. It's just more expensive for no good reason). I don't cruise the cookies because I know I REALLY like cookies.

Because it's so far, I don't see myself getting there more than once a month so it would really be for bulk items - oats, toilet paper, paper towel, frozen chicken, fish, broccoli, cauliflower, dry beans, rice, frozen spinach or things with long expiration dates like Laughing Cow, string cheese, almonds, etc - that kind of thing. I can fill in fresh and dairy/eggs locally.

Produce is where I tend to get kind of crazy. When everything looks good, I want EVERYTHING and you just can't cook it all before it goes bad.

Super Target is about as far away as Sams and it's not as nice as it used to be! I used to go about every other week because their produce was just beautiful but the last few times they've been out of everything (seriously, basil? Basil is not exotic! I will never ever ever again let my own little herb plot die off!) or stuff has just looked kind of sad. We also have Fresh Market about an hour away in the other direction but good grief, it is PRICEY. I don't mind paying more for really good produce but it can be insane and more than once I've sliced over a good looking apple to find it rotten inside. Not cool.

Natasha1534
08-28-2010, 12:04 AM
Hee hee, this is one of my mom's favorites, as in, every time I go home there are two mostly-full packages rotting in the back of the fridge. It's low fat, you see! But neither of them actually like it. Yes, I don't understand either.

I guess I'm mostly turned off on the place because of my parents' using it in the worst possible way. My stepdad buys mega-boxes of the most horrifying junk he sees, eats one package, and then rejects the rest; and there's an enormous gap between my mom's healthy intentions and what either of them will actually EAT. It just produces so much waste.

Wow...that's horrible. :( We used to get the big plastic container of Organic Spring Mix and it always ended up going bad b/c we wouldn't use it fast enough...so we just stopped buying it and now if we want a salad we'll run up to Kroger and pick up a head of lettuce. You are certainly right, though...it makes no sense to buy "low fat" if you're not gonna eat it. LOL

We go almost every week.

Produce: Organic spring mix in a large plastic box 16 oz. for 3.98. It stays fresh for over a week and we almost always use all of it. DH makes a large salad almost every day for lunch and I eat it also.

We buy berries, broccoli, feta, low-fat swiss cheese, tomatoes (compari or cherry) sometimes apples, nectarines, or other produce. We buy some meats: steaks, ground beef. Virgin Olive Oil, pepperonicini peppers (in a gallon jar and DH goes through them), black olives. Arnold's Rounds/whole wheat. Napkins, paper towels, nuts, aluminum foil, vinegar (use it for cleaning and in the washing machine), toothpaste, vitamins, laundry detergent, dish detergent, dishwasher detergent,
Ziplock bags, garbage bags, etc.

The produce in our Sam's is tasty, but you do have to make sure that you only buy items that you like and will use. Saturday's, while busy, is a good time to go as they offer samples of many items.

Ooooh...have you had the pluots??? They are SO good but we were only able to find them once, unfortunately. We got hooked on those b/c there was a sample girl set up in the fruit section w/ tons of different kinds of fruit. YUM!!!

Your shopping list sounds a lot like mine. I love their brand of Olive Oil...that huge jug of EVOO lasts us for months and it's like $11. I also get my deodorant there (Dove Ultimate go Fresh Cool Essentials...green tea and cucumber scent) in a 4 pack for like $10 vs. the $3.50 per stick at Wal-mart.

lolcat
08-28-2010, 12:09 AM
Bronzeager is right... more than likely your Sam's will let you tour, so you can determine if a membership will be worthwhile to you.

I always buy my fresh meats at Sam's, the quality is so much better than Wal-mart and so much cheaper than Kroger. I pack and freeze what I don't use right away, it's less expensive than buying the pre-frozen.

I've also purchased electronics there - got a fantastic deal on my 47" tv and a copier-scanner-printer. The tv was the reason I'd gotten the membership, the food deals why I renewed. Some things are more expensive, as with any store you have to price it all, but it's worth it to me.

Before I started eating more healthy foods, I bought the big bags of shredded mozzarella, shredded cheddar, and pepperoni. Great prices on all those, but I don't use them anymore. I also buy the cases of Activia Light yogurt, cheaper than anywhere else. I get my TP there, and they have good deals if you use a lot of particular spices. They have REALLY big bags of rice.

The produce section at mine isn't exactly huge, but the quality is always great.

Call ahead just to verify that they will let you tour, and see if your mom wants to take a road trip to check it out.

ringmaster
08-28-2010, 01:29 AM
I go to BJs (similar club type store). I get the big thing of organic spring mix, peppers, cucumbers (pretty good deal compared to the supermarket), buy the frozen fish, pasta sauce, beans... The good thing about buying the vegetables in bulk is it forces you to eat them throughout the week before they go bad!

I like those chicken sausages... I fry one up with some vegetables or mix one in pasta sauce to put on pasta. ohoh... and I don't know if Sam's has these, but BJ's has these spinach and feta organic frozen pizzas... they are really good if you can control your portion with them.

Some things are ok, sometimes I feel I'm not really saving all that much..just depends.. I use coupons so sometimes it makes better deals.

WebRover
08-28-2010, 10:00 AM
The chicken sausages (with spinach and asiago cheese I think) are really good. The sodium count in them is really high however.

NiteNicole
08-28-2010, 11:10 AM
Thanks! I'll have to see if we can tour. I went to WalMart last night (yuck, seriously, maybe they are better in other areas but they are so dirty and disorganized here. How did we ever let them take over our small towns?) and tried to make a list of prices for the stuff we use over and over. I'll try to do the same at Target. I am TERRIBLE at remembering how much things "should" cost so at least I'll have a baseline to compare.

Windchime
08-28-2010, 11:53 AM
Thanks! I'll have to see if we can tour. I went to WalMart last night (yuck, seriously, maybe they are better in other areas but they are so dirty and disorganized here. How did we ever let them take over our small towns?)

Our local Wal Mart is horrible, too. Dirty, noisy, merchandise falling off the hangers onto the floor. The staff is always screaming into the overhead speaker system and everything looks picked over. I never could understand what the fuss was about, until I went to a Super WalMart that they built about 50 miles up the road. Big, wide aisle....clean floors....pleasant music playing, fully stocked, well organized...I was really surprised, as the only WalMart I had ever seen was our sad little local one.

I still don't go to WalMart. I prefer Target. But neither Target nor WalMart have groceries here.

WebRover
08-28-2010, 03:28 PM
I went to WalMart last night ... and tried to make a list of prices for the stuff we use over and over. I'll try to do the same at Target. I am TERRIBLE at remembering how much things "should" cost so at least I'll have a baseline to compare.

I'm sure you did, but just in case, don't forget to note down the size of the packages. At home at your leisure you can calculate the price per unit to figure out the best deal. Also, sometimes a 'Buy One Get One Free' offer can beat the Warehouse club price. It helps to be aware of the items your grocery tends to offer BOGO.

tryhardforlife
08-28-2010, 10:24 PM
Here's my list

Chicken Sausages mozz flavor
Laughing cow
fruit
big bag o coffee
Bagel Thins
Chicken

NiteNicole
08-29-2010, 12:04 PM
Somewhere here on 3fc, someone recommended making a book of prices to track what we normally spend on the things we usually buy. I'm trying to work on that - and yes, along with sizes!

ValentineNicole
09-05-2010, 12:23 PM
Not to play devil's advocate, but will you really drive an hour for groceries weekly? If you're looking at it as an option for produce, you likely won't be able to stock up in one trip for a while.. I know myself. I'll drive 30 minutes to Whole Foods or Trader Joes MAYBE once a month, but I tend to go to the Cub across the street 90% of the time despite preferring even the 5 minute away Rainbow.

IDK, that's just my two cents.. No matter how great the deals, if you're not going to waste that much time driving there to use it, it's worthless. Plus, what are those 2 hours of your life (driving there and back) worth, you know?

Natasha1534
09-06-2010, 07:30 AM
Not to play devil's advocate, but will you really drive an hour for groceries weekly? If you're looking at it as an option for produce, you likely won't be able to stock up in one trip for a while.. I know myself. I'll drive 30 minutes to Whole Foods or Trader Joes MAYBE once a month, but I tend to go to the Cub across the street 90% of the time despite preferring even the 5 minute away Rainbow.

IDK, that's just my two cents.. No matter how great the deals, if you're not going to waste that much time driving there to use it, it's worthless. Plus, what are those 2 hours of your life (driving there and back) worth, you know?
I live about 30 minutes from our Sams and we only go there once or MAYBE twice a month. We stock up the first part of the month w/ meats, cheeses, etc and occasionally we have to go back later in the month for shampoo, toilet paper, etc.

It's definitely worth it. As long as you've got the freezer space, you can easily stock up on meats and freeze them for later use.

devadiva
09-06-2010, 10:50 AM
I have a 2 person houshold and still shop at them I have two homes both very rural so bulk shop and freeze. I have learned to buy what holds up and I also eat fairly clean. I either shop at SAMS club or a Costco and my other stoer is a Walmart now if I can not find what I need I will go to another chain store but they are way more$$$$$. I use to be in the grocery industry.
I buy at SAMS or COSTCO
Paper goods
Frozen Chiccken Breasts
Frozen Salmon
Frozen Maui Maui
Frozen Cod
Frozen Hamburger Patties
Frozen Salmon Patties
Frozen Turkey Patties
Fresh MEATS
Baby Spinch {BEST PRICES}
Tomatoes
Apples
Grapes
Fruits

They have great deals on clothes and food prepaed and canned I usually don't use much they have cerals soups ect.

Suzanne 3FC
09-11-2010, 01:00 PM
I buy the giant tubs of organic spring mix and spinach for $3.98, which is half of what the supermarkets charge. I share it with my son so it doesn't have a chance to go bad and we buy it weekly.

I also buy their portabella mushrooms. They cost 3.99 for a 4 pack and they are always the hardest mushrooms in town. Perfect :)

We buy frozen fruit and vegetables from Sams.

They do have cheap canned/jarred products but the vast majority of them are highly processed. We don't even go down those aisles anymore. It's amazing - and sad - how much junk food they sell.