Big Box Stores and Food Stamps Cooking Club

February 24th, 2012 by admin Leave a reply »

Do big box stores have little price tags on their merchandise?

We have some food for thought and a treat from our blogger pal, Tawra Kellam today!  Tawra graciously offered a Guest Post, written by Jill Cooper, about saving money, which is what she is all about.  She gives us some really sound advice.  See what hits YOU like a brick…

Before I share her thoughts with you I want to remind you that 40 million of us are using food stamps or SNAP.  Many more have not applied for that sort of help, even though they might qualify. There are children in our own country who are going to bed with empty tummies.  Others who are living on a dime-or less-lean on food pantries, food commodities and whatever other help is out there.  Our purpose here is to help you stretch those food dollars to get the very most you can from your food budgets and feed your family well to keep them healthy.

Now let’s give Jill the floor: 

 Are Warehouse Stores Wearing Out Your Wallet?

 *Do they save you money or just create more work?

by Jill Cooper from Living On a Dime

It’s Saturday morning. With grocery list in hand, you drag a very unwilling family out to the car where you proceed to take them on a mega shopping spree at Sam’s or Costco.

Marching down each isle you tell your family members “We need 3 cases of corn, 4 cases of green beans and — Oh! That’s a good deal on peanut butter so let’s get 3 gallons. Of course Susie, your can get a bag of cookies. They are so cheap! …and Billy you can have a few bags of your favorite chips! Yum! Oh look — samples! These taste great. Let’s get some! What a great buy on chicken – we need 20…

At the dog food aisle the excitement mounts as each member of the family grabs a corner of the 50 lb. bag of dog food to stack on top of the basket. (We won’t mention you only have 1 toy poodle at home.) After waiting in line and waiting in line and waiting in line you push your agonizingly heavy and overloaded baskets out to the car. Getting everything into the trunk of the car makes putting together a 1,000 piece puzzle seem like a breeze but, finally, home you go.

After you lug everything into the house, it’s time to spend the next few hours repackaging things for the freezer. You double wrap your 20 chickens (they could be in that freezer for quite a while) and frantically try to find places for everything else in your cupboards and pantry. By the time you are done, you are so exhausted that you couldn’t begin to lift a finger to cook, so you all go out to eat.

A few weeks later you gingerly sniff the gallon of half used peanut butter as you try to decide if that strange taste is because it has gone rancid or simply because you are sick of peanut butter. You threw out that partially used gallon of maple syrup yesterday because it had sugared and was looking really strange. You still have ten of your chickens left but if you bathe them in some spicy sauce you are pretty sure your family won’t notice the freezer burned taste. In spite of having to throw out most of the 50 lbs. of dog food (after a growing family of mice had invaded it), you’re sure you saved money because “they” said you would.

People constantly ask me, “Can you really save more money at warehouse stores?” I usually answer, “Not any more so than at other stores.” I have checked prices at various stores on many different occasions and factoring everything in, I haven’t found any exceptional savings at warehouse stores.

Here are some tips to help you decide if a warehouse store is for you:

  1. Do your homework and compare prices. Buying in bulk is not always cheaper. You can really save by checking and comparing prices. I was at Costco one day where there was a display of two Clorox one gallon bottles for $1.98 AFTER rebate. I stood there amazed as people frantically grabbed this “great deal.” I knew I could get that same Clorox for $.98 a gallon at my regular discount store and I didn’t have to mess with a rebate, pay postage or lug two gallons of Clorox shrink wrapped together to my car.
  2. Don’t buy impulsively just because it sounds like a good deal. Say you can get 12 bottles of sunscreen for a great price. Think it through before you buy. If your family only uses one bottle of sunscreen a year, that means you will be storing sunscreen for 12 years, not to mention that most of the sunscreen will expire long before then.
  3. In most homes, one quarter of the food people buy gets thrown away. If your family of four eats pancakes once a week, that gallon of syrup is going to last you a VERY long time. You might also consider that unless dry goods and freezer items are very carefully stored, they will go bad or get bugs in them. Remember to buy the size that is appropriate for you.
  4. You need to be very well organized to buy in bulk. Finding places to store everything and then carefully keeping track of what you have is critical if you want to use it all before it spoils.
  5. Most people usually spend more than they originally planned on things they don’t need. This never saves money. We taste samples and so often end up buying. If this is you, be careful. Maybe sampling is a bad idea (unless you’re making lunch of it)!

If you have ten kids, run a day care or are buying for an organization then you almost have to buy in bulk. If you have a small or average sized family, you will probably save as much shopping for sales at your regular grocery store or discount store. The key is to do the math and evaluate your practical needs. You have to decide for yourself if buying at warehouse stores actually saves you money or just creates more work.


Good info, Jill and Tawra!  Food Stamps Cooking Club Members, if you liked this article, you can find more of the same on their website Living On a DimeCruise on over and scope out “Dig Out of DebtThere is a plethora of good ideas there and Dig Out of Debt is one of their best offerings yet!

You  are all welcome to offer YOUR best ideas by contacting us at  WE LOVE MAIL.

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly.



  1. mikemax says:

    I hate to be critical, but the bulk of this post was sooooo exaggerated that it really wouldn’t do many of us much good. The meat of it (and it was good meat) was here: If you have a small or average sized family, you will probably save as much shopping for sales at your regular grocery store or discount store. The key is to do the math and evaluate your practical needs. You have to decide for yourself if buying at warehouse stores actually saves you money or just creates more work.

    Every family is different. Buying even one big-ticket item a year can save the cost of the membership. I know what items I save money on, and I go to Costco about once a month to buy them. I go with a list and I am rarely tempted by anything else…just like at the grocery store. (OK, I’m tempted by the Skinny Cows). For me, these items are: low fat cheese, #10 cans of sliced peaches and applesauce, frozen blueberries and strawberries, lowfat microwave popcorn for DD, Splenda, niacin for DH, and big jars of garlic, dried parsley, cinnamon, seasoned salt (as needed–usually run out of one of them about every other month). We used to save a ton on milk there, but they changed the shape of the jugs and we don’t like them (tend to spill easily). I’m sure I’ve forgotten several items, but these are all items that are MUCH cheaper at the warehouse than at any grocery store.

    Also, I fill my gas tank anytime I am there, or close by and needing gas (even if I’m not going inside). I save between .05 and .25 per gallon, depending on the price of gas. We buy 95% of our gas at Costco (but don’t go Friday afternoon or Sunday after church).

    As for dragging an unwilling family to Costco–are you kidding??? It’s all I can do to leave them home!

  2. Well, Mother Connie has been wondering where MikeMax has been hiding. THIS is the post that brought you out so all is well in my world once again!

    You are SO CORRECT about every family being different…as in unique. For example, I would no more use Splenda than I would eat arsenic by the spoonful and we would NEVER microwave any food. KNOWING what the family likes and KNOWING what you can afford – both of these are key.

    It seems to me that Jill made some cogent points; but those points will differ, depending on our points of view.

    I appreciated Jill’s contribution because it made my life easier; I appreciate YOUR comment because I have missed you so much I was afraid my hair would burst into flames.

    Thank you so much, MikeMax. YOU ARE DEARLY LOVED.

    Mother Connie

  3. mikemax says:

    Well, my comments weren’t meant to start ANY kind of flames, especially with Jill or Tawra. (They are former Idahoans and the 3 of us used to shop at the SAME grocery store, and we have to stick together).

    I think the point was if you are throwing away food, you either bought too much (so buy less) or you’re not using up your leftovers, which she also mentioned. I have heard different percentages for the amount of food thrown away. Throwing away food is like flushing money down the toilet! Either cook less or eat leftovers.

    The past couple of months have been tight at our house, due to a huge unexpected vet bill in the same month as Christmas, property taxes and income taxes due (in lieu of withholding). I made a huge above-and-beyond effort to use up food in the house, leftover and otherwise, and it made a difference, not only in the amount of food discarded (just about zero) but also in the cleanliness of my fridge! This one really does make a difference! It’s also amazing what you can leave out of a recipe or substitute if you don’t have all of the ingredients on hand!

    One last thing about Costco: I rarely buy their fresh produce or meat, although I bought a bag of clementines the last time I was there. I don’t like the way their meat is cut and I can do better on grocery store sales. Also, their produce is excellent, but the packages are much too big for our family of 3 to eat without spoiling. Again, I can do better on grocery store specials. Their decorated sheet cakes are an outstanding deal (and delicious!) if you ever happen to need such.

  4. Oh, MikeMax,

    This feels like the “old days” when we all hung out over the imaginary back fence and neighbored.

    Throwing food out is just out of the question, isn’t it? Morphing one meal into another gets to be an art form and it saves TONS of cash.

    I think it’s hysterical that you 3 shopped in the same store. It really IS a tiny little world we live in, in many ways.

    You make salient points, as usual, MikeMax and it is so good to have you weighing in once again.

    I can’t WAIT to see what you come up with next…I got a food calendar for Christmas and it is all so high end that I have made very few of the dishes so far. But it’s great reading and fun to daydream…

    Speaking of morphing one meal into the next, I made the dumplings I posted and used the leftovers to make the eggs n veggies that Polysammo sent the next day. OH OH OH Talk about DELISH…

    Hurry back. There’s no danger of fire in my hair now. grin/giggle

    Mother Connie
    PS/ I have always spent part of Wednesdays cleaning out the fridge. No science projects in our kitchen…grin…and NO WASTE.

  5. CC says:

    Hi I’m over from the f-files. There are 2 people in my household and I shop at sams once a month or so.

    Some things I buy are, 52lb bag of dog food. Meat, usually marked down. Potatoes, onions, garlic, bread, I like the hoagie rolls 6 in a pack to use like french bread or slice and toast for cheese spread. Butter, eggs, sugar, flour, crackers. Tillamook cheese to name just a few items.

    I almost never buy processed food, cokes, or chips. I like to bake so buying the large package is better for me. Some items are cheaper some not but I don’t like to shop so this keeps me out of the stores except for milk and fresh veggies.

    I freeze most things and wrap the meats in freezer paper. Like the 2lb pack of breakfast sausage is cut into slices and I wrap 3 to a pack. Bacon is cut in half and packaged 4 slices per pack for a meal.

    I also have a chihuahua and a mastiff so that dog food last about a month, no wasting. I think you need to decided what you buy and how you shop to see if a warehouse club is right for you. Another factor in my case is I get a free membership. I had thought if I no longer received one I would join. I’ve since changed my mind and would more than likely change the way I shop.

  6. I am so happy to hear from you! Thank you for popping in.

    Every family is unique–I’m thinking not many households have the pair of dogs you do. (I bet they are cutie pies) WE all have different shopping habits, food preferences, and so on.

    I’m no shopper, either. I like to take a list, get what’s on it and GET OUT! Then I can get home AND COOK! grin

    Your comment is great and thanks again for coming by!

    Mother Connie