One of the biggest things to keep in mind when shopping anywhere is to only buy the things that you really need or what you are going to use. Sam's Club has lots of great things to offer and it can be deceptive to think you are getting a great deal because you get so much, but it is only a good deal if you are going to actually eat what you buy. I have had several friends ask me over the years what I buy at Sam's Club. When I share some of my top items their response is usually "we don't ever use honey" or "my husband eats out for lunch so we don't use that much sandwich bread." That is fine. My list will be different from yours. The trick is to look at the foods that you keep in your pantry and consider if buying some of those items in bulk would cut costs. On that note, I always love to hear about the good deals others find. So, if there is a great product that you buy at Sam's Club please let me know, it may be something we could all benefit from.
Try to pay attention to the prices of certain things as you are walking up and down the aisles at Kroger or Wal-Mart. That way when you are at Sam's Club you have an idea of the cost comparison. I have found that items like cereal are cheaper at Kroger if I wait until it is on sale and combine that with a coupon (Wal-Mart has even better deals on cereal, but I rarely make it over there). The opposite is true for other items. For example the lunchmeat I bought yesterday at Sam's Club. I know that at best that brand of lunchmeat will go on sale for $2.99 at Kroger. Even with a $1 off coupon if I buy 2 I am still paying more per package than if I buy the 3pack at Sam's Club for $6.78.
I didn't list any of the great buys on meat yesterday, but it is worth checking out. My sister Laura informed me that you can get a huge pork loin for $1.38 a pound. I looked at these yesterday and they sell for $10-$12. Laura cuts them up into 5 good size portions and freezes them for a variety of meals. I definitely want to do this soon! I have purchased hamburger meat and steaks there for large group gathering or retreats before.
That brings me to budgeting for Sam's Club. As I mentioned earlier in the week we go to Sam's Club about every 2 weeks. Often the only things I will buy are bread and milk for around $10. The rest of the staple items we use I just space out so I am not buying everything at once. I may add peanut butter to my list one week and pancake mix the next. It is rare for me to ever spend more than about $30 a trip and usually a lot less. I have one monthly budget for Kroger and Sam's Club combined so this ensures that I never spend a ton in one place.
One of the headaches of Sam's Club is the long lines at the checkout. Since we don't usually have many items to check out I have found that we can always go to the jewelry counter or the photo lab to pay for our items. As long as they aren't busy they are happy to ring up 3 or 4 items. Also, I like to pick up one or two of the flat "tray" boxes that they have by the registers every couple weeks to keep on hand. I have found that these work great for transporting meals to people.
Hope this series was helpful for you. Happy "bulk" shopping!