If you’ve been to the grocery store lately, you know that shopping for food and household items is an expensive endeavor. One way to save on groceries is to buy in bulk at your local wholesale club.
For money expert Clark Howard Costco is one of his favorite stores to shop in bulk and save. (To save even more, he uses his Costco Anywhere Visa Card, to get to 2% off everything in the store and up to 4% cash back on eligible items — including gas!)
Popular Items To Buy in Bulk
Though there is no denying that Clark loves Costco, what he loves most is a good deal. So, we recently asked Clark’s savvy online community what —and where— they love to buy in bulk. In most cases, we linked to the stores’ specialty brands: Kirkland Signature for Costco, Member’s Mark for Sam’s Club and Wellsley Farms and Berkley Jensen for BJ’s.
Wendell from Texas says he stocks up on coffee from Costco. “I like to buy in bulk to try and stay slightly ahead of commodity price hikes.”
Ginny from Georgia says that she favors the “Kirkland brand Whole Bean Decaf Coffee made by Starbucks, which you can only buy online.” She adds that to avoid the shipping charges she always buys in bulk.
- Costco: Kirkland Signature Decaf House Blend Coffee, Medium Roast, Whole Bean (40 oz.)
- Sam’s Club: Member’s Mark Organic Breakfast Blend Whole Bean Coffee (40 oz.)
- BJ’s: Wellsley Farms Decaffeinated Blend Ground Coffee (40 oz.)
2. Toilet Paper
Judy from Missouri says she buys paper products in bulk from Costco. “Toilet paper, paper towels, napkins. Higher quality for close to the same price as Walmart/Target.”
Todd from Georgia says about Costco’s toilet paper: “The 30-pack lasts forever and it is so much cheaper than buying smaller packs in the grocery stores.”
Larry from Georgia says: “Kirkland paper towels because they’re always the cheapest, while similar in quality to higher-priced name brand.”
- Costco: Charmin Ultra Strong Bath Tissue, 2-Ply, 220 sheets (30 rolls)
- Sam’s Club: Charmin Ultra Strong Toilet Paper, 231 sheets (32 rolls)
- BJ’s: Charmin Ultra Strong Large Roll Toilet Paper, 2-Ply, 220-sheets, (30 rolls)
Confused about the value of toilet sheets vs. rolls? Read up on how to shop for toilet paper.
Don from South Carolina loves tuna from Costco: “A great price and the can size is larger than the grocery stores, also paper towels & T paper.”
- Costco: Wild Planet Albacore Wild Tuna, (5 oz., 6-pk.)
- Sam’s Club: Member’s Mark Solid White Albacore Tuna (5 oz., 8 pk.)
- BJ’s: Bumble Bee Premium Albacore Tuna in Water, (5 oz., 4 pk.)
Elizabeth from Pennsylvania says, “Meat: I have a large freezer. I purchase meat in bulk and put it in the freezer.”
David from Georgia says this of Costco’s New York Strip Steaks: “They are about an inch and a half thick and lean and mean. My wife and I can split one and a pack will last about five weeks.”
- Costco: Rastelli USDA Choice Black Angus NY CC Strip Steak
- Sam’s Club: Member’s Mark Prime Whole Beef Strip Loin
- BJ’s: Wellsley Farms Strip Loin Steak
5. Cat Litter
Hans from Arkansas says, “Good quality cat food and cat litter. I always keep at least a six-month supply of cat food (kibble and wet) and cat litter. If I run low on cash, I know that my cats will be covered for a short time.
- Costco: Scoop Away Complete Performance, Scented Cat Litter, (42 lbs.)
- Sam’s Club: Fresh Step Non-Clumping Premium Clay Cat Litter (40 lbs.)
- BJ’s: Berkley Jensen Multi-Cat Scoopable Cat Litter (40 lbs.)
Jim from North Carolina on what he buys in bulk from Costco: “Quaker Old Fashion Oatmeal because of its quality and value.”
- Costco: Quaker Oats Old Fashioned Oatmeal (10 lbs.)
- Sam’s Club: Quaker Quick 1-Minute Oats (5 lb., 2 pk.)
- BJ’s: Quaker Quick 1-Minute Oats (5 lb., 2 pk.)
7. Raw Almonds
Bob from Connecticut says, “Raw almonds. A 3-lb package at Costco is around $4/lb. Eat them raw or roast them and experiment with different seasonings.”
- Costco: Kirkland Signature Supreme Whole Almonds, (3 lbs.)
- Sam’s Club: Member’s Mark Natural Whole Almonds (3 lbs.)
- BJ’s: Wellsley Farms Whole Almonds, (3 lbs.)
8. Virgin Olive Oil
Gerry from Washington says, “Kirkland brand virgin olive oil, great price and quality.”
- Costco: Kirkland Signature Extra Virgin Italian Olive Oil, (2 liter)
- Sam’s Club: Member’s Mark Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (2 liter)
- BJ’s: Wellsley Farms Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (2 liter)
How To Shop in Bulk and Save
If you don’t want to shop in person, you can buy in bulk online at Costco, Sam’s Club or BJ’s Wholesale Club and compare prices to see if you can lower your grocery bill. When bulk-shopping you’ll want to pay particular attention to the unit price, which tells you how much product you’re getting based on the unit of measurement on the box or label.
Clark says, “I started talking to my kids around the third grade about unit pricing because I wanted them to understand the tricks. I wanted them to know when something’s a deal and when it’s not.”
Take it from Clark, Team Clark and Clark’s readers: Buying in bulk is a great way to save on the items you want and need.
Aside from the prices for merchandise at wholesale clubs, you’ll also want to keep in mind what you pay in membership fees, which can help you determine whether shopping at Sam’s Club, BJ’s or Costco is worth it.
What’s your favorite items to buy in bulk? Tell us in our Clark.com Community!
Want more ways to save? Read our guide on savings hacks at Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s.