Author Topic: Shopping at Costco on a monthy grocery budget  (Read 6954 times)

MissStache

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Shopping at Costco on a monthy grocery budget
« on: August 15, 2013, 07:12:31 AM »
This weekend we finally went to Costco and got ourselves a membership.  I've shopped at them before, but it was the first time for SO.  The first thing out of his mouth was "Look how cheap these jackets are!  Let's get two!" and then he wandered around wide-eyed for a while.  It was hilarious.

Anywho!  I'm VERY proud of us for keeping within our grocery budget, which we had $125 of left for the rest of the month.  Of course now we have ZERO left, so thank goodness we are getting fresh veggies from the garden!  But I'm curious about how those of y'all who stick to a monthly grocery budget manage your bulk shopping.  There were definitely a number of pantry staples that we didn't get because of our limited funds, but if we had purchased everything there that we use frequently, it would have probably been around $300, which would have lasted months and months.  With our monthly grocery budget of $250, that doesn't really work. 

Do you set aside $ from your monthly budget for costco trips, or do you just have occasional months where you ignore the grocery budget enitrely and stock up?

Eventually I'm hoping we get to the point where we don't have to worry about a monthly budget because our natural spending habits are better, but groceries are the one category where we really struggle to stay within our budget.

adesertsky

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Re: Shopping at Costco on a monthy grocery budget
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2013, 07:19:48 AM »
I had to "phase in" to Costco purchases to stay within my budget at first.  Every week when I run out of something that Costco has in bulk (and at a good price) I'll get that.  If there are too many things, I select the things that are the best value and that fit in my budget.  Eventually, everything will be on a cycle where I don't have to buy it all every month because I'll have enough to last a while.  I just started doing this maybe 2 months ago and I'm pretty much set now.  I get a few things at Costco each week, a few things at the farmer's market, and a few things at Trader Joe's.  I'm able to keep in my budget fairly easily.

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Shopping at Costco on a monthy grocery budget
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2013, 07:38:18 AM »
I don't think Costco's prices change too much, for items that aren't seasonal. So, buy it when you're out of it or anticipate being out of it that month. That should put you on a good rotation, unless you out of everything when you go. In that case, prioritize the items you anticipate needing that month and buy only those. If you need all of them, then I would consider prioritizing the items you need in bulk and buying the rest in a regular size.

Riceman

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Re: Shopping at Costco on a monthy grocery budget
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2013, 07:52:52 AM »
It's pretty inefficient not to buy things that you need--if they are priced well and will require you to purchase them on future trips--because it doesn't fit in your budget.  Well, assuming you have the money and don't need to take on credit card debt.

You could take the money you spent, divide by 12 (or 6, or 4) and subtract that number from your budget for the next 12 months.  You're still staying within the budget as calculated per month, but you're not crippled by spending that exact amount in each month.

StaceStache

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Re: Shopping at Costco on a monthy grocery budget
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2013, 08:04:41 AM »
I struggle with this too (though for me, it's Sam's - there is no Costco in our area). I only go to Sam's 2-4 times a year, and I only go when my parents are going so that they can take me - they have a membership, and I do not.

I definitely break the grocery budget for that particular month of stocking up, but I soothe myself by remembering that the next few months grocery spending will decrease because of the better price per unit at Sam's on staples.

mpbaker22

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Re: Shopping at Costco on a monthy grocery budget
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2013, 08:15:15 AM »
I don't do this, but why not try out this method:
Follow your monthly grocery budget like normal for August.  Go to Costco and buy all the staples you normally use.  Take that amount and amortize it across however many months you expect it to last.  Divide cost/months and subtract that number from each month.

I suppose that can be hairy because a 25 pound bag of rice won't last me near as long as a 40 pound bag of flower, but I'm sure you can make some modifications.

EK

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Re: Shopping at Costco on a monthy grocery budget
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2013, 10:36:20 AM »
When we first signed up, we went over our grocery budget a few months in a row getting stocked up on our staple items.  It's cheaper in the long run, and now that basically all we buy week to week is fresh veggies, our grocery bills are sometimes amazingly low.

It's pretty short sighted not to buy in bulk when you can get a much better unit price on things you  need and use just so as not to go over some arbitrary, magic budget number.  Some months are over, many months are under.  As long as you're saving money on cost per item you come out ahead over time.

Hunny156

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Re: Shopping at Costco on a monthy grocery budget
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2013, 10:40:29 AM »
I struggle here too, b/c I also have their Amex card, and it's pretty much the only thing I use it for, so when the bill comes, I can tell how good or bad we've been in the prior month.

I feel like we should spend less, but I've come to terms that some months our expenses will be higher due to purchasing bulk items that will last a long time.  For example, one month I spent $75 on generic Allegra, but I saved $15 over the course of the year by purchasing it while they had their coupon sale.

We shop there weekly, but we skip most of the store.  Bakery only for bread or if we need to bring a desert to a friend's party - their $10 red Velvet cake is hard to beat.  Nothing in housewares, electronics or clothing, except on the rare occasion where hubby needs new underwear or something like that.  Produce - this is where we spend most of our money.  However, not everything is a good deal, so I know my prices and buy what's cost effective.  Frozen we only do for wild caught fish.  Things like toilet paper and detergents are a very rare purchase.  Everything else is as-needed - cereals, quinoa, nuts, soy milk.

I also have to remind myself that since we buy things that aren't part of the grocery budget, the overall monthly cost may seem higher, but overall, I'm doing pretty well.  We keep to our $200 - $250/mo grocery budget pretty well, on an annual basis.