Groceries: BJs (August and September)

In my last post I talked a bit about how bulk buying works for us and how it doesn’t. I went to BJs at the beginning of the month to stock up on some items that we use regularly. This is a combination of purchases that should last us through two months and some other things that will probably last longer than that. I specifically planned my trip to BJs to coincide with my membership ending as I want to hold off on the renewal for a couple of months. I also want to get in the habit of only shopping there every other month or so as I really think it helps me spend less generally AND I like having one less store to hit (I realize that I could chose to just only shop at one store, but…). Anyway, this is what we picked up.

BJs 073016 (1)

Meat

  • Ground beef (88% lean), 6.5lbs @ $2.99/lb
  • Ground turkey (93% lean), 4lbs @ $2.57/lb
  • Ground chicken, 3lbs @ $2.66/lb
  • Sweet Italian Sausage, 3.5lbs @ $2.77/lb

Except for the turkey, I portion this meat out into smaller packages and freeze. I think I am going to grind my own chicken at home from now on; I can usually find both breasts and thighs at a good price and this isn’t something I really need to spend money on. We do use it for lettuce wraps and burgers, but again, can do that just as easily with the food processor at home. The ground meat will last through the two months easily, with maybe 1 pack left over, depending. I had purchased ground beef and turkey during my previous trip to BJs, so still had some in the freezer. I really like having the ground meats on hand for very simple suppers. I also use them for meatballs and burritos which I like to then freeze for later use. The Italian sausage will probably last at least three months; each link is about 4oz and I portioned them into two link packs for the freezer. I use this in lasagne, stuffed peppers, and soups and stews.

BJs 073016 (2)

Pantry

  • Raisins, 4lbs @ $7.99 ($2/lb)
  • Olive oil, 1L @ $13.99
  • Soy sauce, 1.25qt @ $5.49
  • Kalamata olives @ $6.99
  • Chopped walnuts, 3lbs @ $13.99 ($4.66/lb)
  • Whole almonds, 3lbs @ $16.99 ($5.66/lb)

Michael eats raisins and walnuts in his oatmeal almost every day. We go through both of these items fairly quickly as a result, although this quantity will probably last a bit longer than two months. The almonds will last longer than that — I will pack them in small quantities for snacks during my long days on campus this fall. The soy sauce will also last quite a while; we just happened to have run out when I shopped this time. By my calculations, soy sauce is cheaper at Aldi but they do not always carry it at my store and hadn’t had it the last few times I shopped there. Of course, as soon as I purchased this large bottle I saw it on the shelf the next time I stopped by Aldi. They didn’t have any low sodium, though, so I feel somewhat vindicated. Also, I like only having to buy this large container every once in a while. The olive oil is a new brand and slightly pricier than my previous purchase, however, this is supposed to be a higher quality oil so I thought I’d try it. I probably won’t open this jar until September, actually, since we do have a previously purchased container still in the pantry. But that container will definitely be depleted before September is up! Finally, the olives are something we both love and which I add to many dishes just for the slightly piquant flavor and briny goodness.

BJs 073016 (3)

Dairy

  • Mozzarella cheese, 3lbs @ $6.99 ($2.33/lb)
  • Cheddar cheese, 2lbs @ $5.59 ($2.80/lb)

The mozzarella freezes well; I pack it into smaller containers so I don’t have a massive amount of cheese in my fridge at any one time. We’ll use this for pizza, lasagne and meatball subs, among other things. The cheddar is just a staple that we love. This is one thing, though, that I tend to make duplicate purchases of when I’m at the grocery store. I’ll buy cheese slices because they are so much easier for grilled cheese. Which is only partially true. The idea of them is easier, for sure. Really it would not take that long to cut off a few slices for these sandwiches. In addition to these two cheeses, we also have a container of blue cheese crumbles and a bag of grated Parmesan, both of which were part of the previous BJs trip.

Total: $125.34

Since I purchased these items deliberately to last two months, I’m splitting the cost between August and September. It works out to about $63/month.

There are some things I chose not to buy, either because I thought we had more on hand than we actually did or because I didn’t think we’d really want them. In retrospect, though, I wish I had purchased them. They are flour, tomato sauce, feta cheese, chili powder, laundry detergent and all-purpose cleaner. It’s good to know!

I’m actually considering switching over to Sam’s Club instead of BJs; I need to make a point to visit a local club and just walk through, assessing the prices. We used to have a Costco membership, which I really liked. I will be closer to the Costco, too, now that school has started (almost). Maybe I should do a little comparison of all three on the items I buy most often. As well as the membership cost. Probably we don’t even need a membership to any of these clubs; I just appreciate being able to go once and get everything I need for a while. I also appreciate that the prices are relatively stable — those are the best regular prices on ground meat that I have found around here. There are sometimes sales, but if I am not able to get to the store during a sale, I miss that opportunity. Just a few things I’ve been kicking around in the back of my mind. I do know that the amount I save just on the coffee beans we buy actually pays for the cost of the membership over the course of a year!

 

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8 thoughts on “Groceries: BJs (August and September)

  1. For years we had memberships to both Costco and Sam’s. TheHub’s office was close to Sam’s so he bought gas and would run it to pick up things he needed there. Costco is closer to the house, so I bought gas there and would run in when I was bulk buying. When his office relocated we decided it would be better for us to limit it to just Costco, simply because it is closer. We are about to hit renewal time and are trying to decide if it is even worth it to renew. I seem to be able to get about the same prices cherry picking grocery stores without having to bulk buy. Time will tell I guess.

    1. This is pretty much my thought process, except I really like bulk buying so that part has value to me. For some things anyway.

  2. I’m often frustrated by Aldi’s hit or miss on stocking items that seems like a no brainer like their Fit & Active light mayo, the low sodium soy sauce, the no-bake lasagna noodles and the large jars of crunchy peanut butter! That leads me to stockpiling those items when I do find them (well, the mayo and the peanut butter at least). I have 5 jars of mayo in the pantry! I’m low on the low-sodium soy sauce but I guess that’s how I’ll use up my Swagbucks gift cards for Walmart.

    I only ever had a BJ membership once when it was free for 6 months and it led me to spend way too much money on items that I really didn’t need. Plus I don’t like the idea of buying a membership to get a discount and then have someone check my cart at the exit anyway like I’m a thief. I don’t know if they still do that but that was a major annoyance for me.

    If it works for you, and I know you’ve worked it out since we discussed it last month, then you’re right that a comparison with Sam’s Club and Costco might be useful. I know BJ’s accepts manufacturer coupons, I don’t know if the other two do? Although, you said you rarely used coupons and with school starting on top of everything else, you won’t have time to deal with those anyway.

    1. I’m sure that Aldi keeps their prices low by maintaining a low inventory, but it does get annoying at times. Right now I actually feel that I tend to overbuy there because everything seems like such a good deal. I will equalize soon I think.

      I also overspent when we first had our Costco/BJs memberships but since I had paid for it for a year– I think I had a discount offer — I was able to figure out how best to make the warehouse experience work for us. I admit that some of it is a convenience thing — it’s really nice to stock up in one trip and know the prices will be there the next time I come around, as opposed to trying to hit all the store sales all the time.

      I’m not sure about coupons, although as you noted I am not a big couponer. BJs does still check your receipt. This has been my experience at most warehouse stores, actually. It doesn’t really bother me, but I can see that it might be off-putting.

  3. I have had a love-hate relationship with Costco. This year we do not have a membership because we are better off finding the grocery sales and stocking up. And I occasionally go to Bulk Barn to replenish my pantry staples. But around holiday time, I think of the things I would likely buy if I had a membership. But then I give my head a shake because we only end up giving cash or gift cards to long-distance family members anyway. I always end up over-buying at Costco because I lack self-discipline. *sigh*

    1. Yes, holidays are good times to stay out of stores in general, I think!!! And actually around that time I find a lot of good deals in grocery stores. In the end for me it mostly comes down to convenience and quality at a good price. I’m curious to see how my reduced budget will impact my purchases though. I am going to be thinking about that this month and next for sure!

      I will say that if we had a place like Bulk Barn or Winco here I would happily forgo the warehouse membership.

  4. We only have a Sam’s Club here. Like Nathalie, I get frustrated with Aldi even though I love them. I often find myself buying multiples there in hopes of not running out before they rotate items back around.

    I love their large packages of produce. I bring them home and prep them myself. I also buy their frozen veggies and fruit. I still think for the most part I save more by shopping like that and simply staying out of the stores.

    1. Staying out of the stores is the best way to save money, for sure!!! For me this is where the intersection of convenience and price comes into play. I’m happy to pay a little more if it means that ultimately I can stay out of the grocery store!

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