Navigating Sam’s Club – What I Buy in Bulk
I must say, I am often a little intimidated by all of the bulk items available at our local Sam's Club. I have been a member of Sam's for years, and I shopped there pretty often when my kids were little (hello diapers and wipes). However, when we moved, and our new house was about 30 minutes from Sam's, my shopping days ended. That was two years ago.
Recently, someone told me about the Scan and Go app at Sam's. I'm sure I am late to the party on this one, but it sounded magical. See, my least favorite part about my trip to Sam's was the checkout process. Something about waiting in forever long lines, unloading everything, finding a box to fit it in, and then getting to the car just turned me off. A few weeks ago, I decided to give the new app a try, and I've been back just about every week since. The app is as magical as it sounds...scan your items as you go, and you are DONE. No checkout lines :). I've listed a few of my favorite purchases below.
Almond flour is EXPENSIVE, and I use it A LOT. Whether I am baking or using it as breading for a dish, I always have some on hand. I have made my own before, but the store bought brands are so much easier. I was ordering my almond flour through Thrive Market (my favorite source for most Paleo / Primal groceries), but Sam's has Thrive beat on the price.
The 3 lb bag of Bob's Red Mill Almond Flour is $13.98. That's just over $0.29 per ounce. Considering the 1 lb bag of Bob's is around $10.00 at Publix and even Wal-Mart, the price at Sam's is basically a steal. If you are new to using almond flour, make sure you store it in the fridge...it will keep much longer :).
I use coconut oil for a variety of things. In the fall and winter, I use it as a moisturizer for my skin. I also cook with it just about everyday. This is an item that I like to have in bulk. The small little jars go so fast, and it is such a let down when you open the pantry only to find out you are down to the last little bit.
The coconut oil at Sam's is organic, cold pressed, and unrefined. The price tag is $13.98 for 56 oz. If you haven't priced coconut oil, that is a really great price. The jar is nice and big, so you aren't trying to shove your entire hand through a small opening to scrape the last bits of oil out.
Maple syrup is not a staple in our house. I do use it as a sweetener from time to time, but we don't use a ton of it. The quantity of the Sam's jar is a little much for our family, but it stays good in the fridge for a long time, so we can usually finish it off before it goes bad...I mean, we can always do some Saturday morning sweet potato waffles if we need to use it up.
For $9.98, you get 32 oz of 100% pure Grade A maple syrup. To compare, the small Greenwise syrup at Publix is nearly $10 for around 12 oz. The larger containers at most grocery stores are going to run you somewhere in the $14-$16 range.
Almond Butter and Nuts
I wish I didn't love almond butter as much as I do. I could literally eat it by the spoonful without a problem. I use it in my coffee as well as Greek yogurt, and my kids love it too. I struggled for a long time to find an almond butter that I liked that didn't contain added sugar and scary oils. The Members Mark brand is delicious. The ingredients are dry roasted almonds and salt.
The price for 24 oz is $9.98. If you are comparing, most of your regular size jars of almond butter are only 12-16 oz, and they are almost always over $10.
We use a variety of nuts in our home. Again, they are so expensive. Sam's beats most places on the price, and they almost always have almonds, pecans, and walnuts available.
We go through quite a bit of produce at our house...well, more than quiet a bit. We eat A LOT of salad, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and avocado. If I am at Sam's, I buy all of these. Sometimes, I can find the salad mix at Publix on BOGO, but the Sam's Club price is pretty close to the BOGO price.
Our Sam's Club carries the Taylor Farm organic salad mix in the large container for just over $3.00. I can buy a 2 lb bag of broccoli for $3.98, a 2 lb bag of brussels sprouts for $4.98, and a 5 ct bag of avocados for $5.48. I will also buy fruit such as strawberries, blueberries, and apples if they look fresh.
I try to buy local meat whenever possible, and we try to keep our deep freezer stocked. I have a client that sells amazing grass-fed beef, and I buy from her as much as I can. However, the first thing we run out of when we buy a 1/4 or a 1/2 cow is ground beef.
Sam's carries 3 lbs of organic, grass-fed beef for $17.98. This is actually about the same price as Wal-Mart, but chances are, I'm already at Sam's, and I really like to avoid actually going into Wal-Mart if I can.
Chicken is tough for me to find locally, and I always struggle with the fact that it can be hard to find organic, pasture raised chicken at the grocery store. I prefer dark meat chicken, and the boneless, skinless leg and thigh meat from Sam's are only $3.49 per pound. They are non-GMO, and contain no added hormones or steroids. For the price, this is a buy for me. It's packaged conveniently, and it works great for a quick weeknight meal. It's not perfect or pasture raised by any means, but for a grocery store option, it's pretty good.
Someone at boot camp told me about the pulled pork in the deli section at Sam's. I was pretty skeptical at first, but I checked the ingredients, and it's pretty clean. They carry a pulled pork and a pulled chicken, and neither of them have any added sugar. The package is $9.97, and you simply put it in an oven safe dish and pop it in for 35 minutes. Easy! It tastes great, and it works well when I don't have time to cook.
Butter, Cheese, and Avocado Salsa
Butter is a staple in the Presnell house. We also eat quite a bit of quality cheese. I can find the Kerrygold brand of butter and cheese at Sam's. The butter container is nice and large, and it's $7.58. The cheese selection in the deli is fairly large. They have a good variety of quality cheeses, but I typically stick to the Kerrygold. The block is huge, but it's only $5.98.
A few weeks ago, the kids wanted a sample of a salsa that they had out. It was an avocado salsa. I tried it and was pleasantly surprised. I'm not typically a big fan of avocado salsas...I'm a lover of chunky guacamole. However, the Chef Earl's Avocado Salsa is pretty darn good. It's clean, and I have been using on salads as well as on my eggs. The container is big, so plan to have some sort of burrito or taco bowl if you buy it. The price tag is $7.98.
I understand that LaCroix or any other sparkling water can definitely be an acquired taste. I personally love LaCroix, and we buy cases of it every week. If Publix has a brand that is BOGO, I usually will grab that. However, even if I have bought a few packs at the grocery store, I almost always buy some LaCroix at Sam's as well. I can get the fancy LaCroix (you know, the skinny cans) for $8.98 in a 24 pack. An 8 pack usually runs $4.00 in the store, so the price point is good. For us, it's something that won't ever go bad, so I buy it whenever I'm there.
Sam's Club - A Few Final Thoughts
The bulk items can definitely feel overwhelming when you walk into a store like Sam's Club or Costco. As you are getting familiar with the store, plan for some extra time. Compare prices on items you buy all the time. Try a few items that are the store's brand (ex: Members Mark). These items tend to be a little less expensive than the regular brands.
Be careful when you shop. Some items are actually less expensive at other stores, so watch your prices and know how much you pay at the grocery store. Don't buy more than you need. Food is expensive...you don't want to waste just because you bought a larger bag.
Download the Scan and Go app. This app is the reason I'm shopping at Sam's Club again. You scan the items as you put them in your cart (it even keeps a running total), you pay on your phone, and you show your phone to the person working the door. No hassle, and no lines. It's so easy, and you can have everything arranged in your bags as you go. I really love that I can see my total as I scan, so there are never any surprises like there used to be at the checkout line.
Good luck! Take the extra time, and can save some money!