This past weekend I did my two week meal plan and wanted to share with you some tips I use to help keep my grocery budget low. If you are like me, you LOVE shopping at Costco. What is there not to love about it–samples, hot dogs for only $1.50, great quality products, and the fact they seem to have everything you need in one place. However, many people end up shopping at warehouse stores and spending MUCH more than they planned–leaving their food budgets over extended and their families finances in a pinch. I’m excited to share six simple tips to help you stay in your food budget and still have the flexibility of shopping at wholesale stores–saving you some BIG money!

*All of the items above from Costco as well as a regular grocery store only cost me $128! That was everything I needed for my two week meal plan. Fab, huh?! 🙂

Here are SIX simple tips to help you save money at warehouse stores:

1-Only shop at warehouse stores once a month
Although these stores are fun to shop at, you can get sucked in by all of the other ‘fun’ items to buy and leave spending WAY more than you expected too. The items I buy at Costco will last about a month and it seems to work out great for our family.

2-Shop the coupons
Costco comes out with a coupon book once a month. You can find all of the best coupon deals on our website. Login and see if any of the coupon items are items your family NORMALLY uses and then stock up. Many of the great deals on coupons have a limit, so buy as much as you can afford if it’s an item you use anyway. For example, this month mayonnaise is on sale, so stock up and buy several to add to your food storage. With the coupon you won’t be able to find it much cheaper any other time of the year. However, be careful and not buy items ‘just because’ they are on a coupon deal. ONLY buy items you normally use and know your family will eat. Here’s a link to some great tips on how the pricing works at Costco to save you money.

3-Go with a shopping list
Don’t go to these warehouse stores without an exact list of what you need–and stick to it! I know this can be hard. Don’t get caught up in all the different foods that seem fun to try and buy. If you are on a tight budget, stick to the items you know and try and keep your blinders on for all of the others–no matter how great the samples taste 😉

4-Make items from scratch
One thing people love about warehouse stores are all of the pre-made products. I know these items are delicious and fun to eat, but they are WAY over priced. For example, a small container of Avocado Hummus costs almost $6. However,  you can make this from home (here’s our awesome Copycat recipe) for under $2 for a HUGE batch. Another example, Costco sells frozen taquitos, burritos, etc. You get about 15-20 burritos for about $1 each small burritos. Why not make up a batch of frozen burritos from scratch and keep in your freezer. They are healthier and SO much less expensive.

5-Use Deals to Meals to help know which items are less than Costco and Walmart
Focus on stocking up on these items to save you the most money. Use Deals to Meals to help you know where to shop and what to buy. Whether you want to shop at regular grocery stores for the best deals, or price match all of the best deals at Walmart, this will save you BIG money!! For example, this weekend I went shopping at Costco and bought my ‘regular’ Costco items. I then stopped by our local Sprouts to get some of the items that were on sale at their store. Between the two I had everything I needed at the very lowest prices possible. It took only an extra 20 minutes to stop by a second store but allowed me to get many of the items much less.

6-Be an informed shopper–know what to buy and what not to buy
Just because a product is sold at Costco or Sam’s Club doesn’t mean it’s the best deal. In fact, many items are over inflated because they know you will ‘grab’ extra items once you are there doing your other shopping. One place Costco really inflates their prices is on produce. Yes, they have good quality produce, but unless you want to spend twice the amount on many items, you might as well be an informed shopper and shop where prices are less. Here are some examples of items I bought at a ‘regular’ grocery store instead of a warehouse.

Here is a link to a post where I listed the items I buy on a monthly basis.