Best Deals at Sam’s Club; Non-Members Shop Free This Weekend

This weekend is one of a couple of times a year that non-members can shop free at Sam’s Club.  I don’t have a Sam’s Club or Costco membership for a variety of reasons, which I detail in this post: 11 Things To Consider Before Joining A Warehouse Club.  (None of the eleven reasons are the cost of the membership, by the way!)

But, I take advantage of the weekends where non-members can shop without a surcharge whenever I can – there are usually 2-4 per year – and I’ve found that I’m able to stock up on items I need without actually having a membership.

If you’re a faithful coupon user, you know that you can get most things cheaper by waiting for the right sale + coupon combinations at the grocery store.  Even now, when I’m not using coupons as much as I used to, I’m still generally able to beat Sam’s (or Costco) prices just by being patient and stocking up when the good sales hit.

But, there are still a few things that I have a hard time stocking up on at the grocery store, mostly because I don’t want to be a shelf-clearer and buy fifty bags of pasta at one time.  Also, because I have many young children and I don’t know if you’ve ever tried it, but grocery shopping with five little ones is quite a challenge.  My trips to the store are more limited these days simply because of that, so I don’t hit all the sales like I used to.

(It makes me feel really old to say I don’t do something “like I used to”.)

What I’m buying at Sam’s Club this weekend

Here’s a list of things that I’m planning to buy at Sam’s Club during their non-member weekend:

Dried Mangos
Canned Whole Tomatoes
Mozzarella Cheese
Cheddar Cheese
(Fresh) Parmesan Cheese
Fresh Garlic

Here are the things that I’m going to check prices on to see how they compare with what I’d pay at the grocery store:

White Sugar
Brown Sugar
Cottage Cheese (we’ve been eating a lot of cottage cheese patties!)

Things that are cheaper than the grocery store but aren’t really stock-up items or amazing deals:

Heavy Cream

And here’s a list of things that I normally buy at Sam’s (but I’m not buying them this time because I don’t need them):

Maple Syrup
Soy Sauce
Vanilla Extract
White Rice
Pinto Beans

Other Gourmet Cheeses (asiago, romano)

What I’m not buying at Sam’s Club

And, here’s a few things that I considered buying at Sam’s and why I decided not to:

Macaroni Pasta – I considered buying this, but it was $0.95 per pound, which is basically the regular price of the off-brand at the grocery store (OK, I’d save $0.05).  I know that I can wait for a sale and get it for less, even without a coupon, so I’m not going to be buying this at Sam’s.  I can’t justify spending a lot of money at once by buying something in bulk when it is only marginally cheaper than shelf price at the grocery store, and especially when I know I can wait for a sale and save a lot more.

Diapers – I briefly considered buying diapers at Sam’s because we are going through them like crazy.  But, I have the feeling that if I do, I will end up wasting them because my kiddos are growing too quickly, thus negating any savings.  They aren’t that much cheaper at Sam’s than what I’d pay with even a decent sale anyway, and if I end up buying too many, my savings are negated by the waste.

Toilet Paper – I’m tired of running out of toilet paper.  If you have a stockpile of toilet paper you are either a really, really extreme couponer; never use the bathroom and definitely don’t have any kids who use 5x as much as needed; or have some secret that you need to clue me in on (I might even pay you for the secret).  But, in looking at the price of toilet paper on the Sam’s website, it doesn’t seem to be much, if at all cheaper than I get regularly get with a sale + coupon.  So, I won’t be blowing my budget buying TP at Sam’s this time.


My strategy for shopping at Sam’s

Part of the Sam’s Club shopping experience is the discovery of new items you didn’t know they carried.  I excerise caution in buying things that aren’t on my list, since even one impulse purchase at Sam’s is usually in the neighborhood of $10 or more.  (Not exactly like an impulse buy of a candy bar at the checkout!)

I don’t even stop in the non-food area of Sam’s unless I have a very specific item on my list, like white t-shirts/undershirts for Jeremy.  They do have some good deals on clothing, books, and whatnot, but really, do I need any of that?  Nope.

I’ll be taking cash with me and will have an estimate of what I’m spending; however, since I only shop here a few times a year, I’ll be taking a little bit of extra cash so that I can have the freedom to buy an unplanned good deal or buy more of a particular item if I feel so inclined.  (Last time, I bought two trees for $12 each so it was nice to have that extra cash with me.  They were small, but seem to be doing great!)

All in all, I feel like not having a Sam’s membership really does help curb my expenditures (see what I mean here where I list some of the pitfalls of a warehouse club membership).  At some point, I’ll probably get either a membership to Sam’s or Costco, but every time I consider it, Sam’s does a free day!

What do you consider to be the best deals at Sam’s?



  1. liz lemon tree says:

    This is great info. Id love to have a membership as well but I have found that they arent better pricewise as well on basic things. I like getting big jars of artichoke hearts and jalepenos though. I got a large size bag of hemp seeds which were a better price than the health food store as well. What really suprises me is how the bulk vegetables are not a better price.. especially compared to someplace like sunflower.

    fyi on the cottage cheese. i got several free ones and free sour cream at king soopers last week when they had them on sale for 10 for 10. It was the store brand and I used the .55 coupon from the cal dairy site. I just noticed they had the red cal seal on them. If the lucerne cream cheese is on sale for 1.00 it would also be free. I saw it on sale last week i think.

  2. I always stock up on the baking things. yes I know there are times they are cheaper at the store but i bake. Alot. I mean we go through 25 lbs of flour in a few months. So for me stocking up more than once a year is a must. We don’t have the storage we used to. If you can”t get cottage cheese at a great price (by the way Liz I am totally jealous) we find that their price is the best. We have a 4 yr old who would eat it for every meal if we let him. I am with Carrie, when I go in I have a list and don’t look around at the middle isles at all. Also we take a calulator. That will give you a reality check instead of sticker shock at check out.

  3. There is one nonfood item I really love – the bug huge roll of plastic wrap with the slide-across doohickey to cut it. I love that thing. I bought one when my daughter was two. We thought it was nearly used up, so we bought one about a year ago when my folks were in town and took us to Sam’s…but no, we are still using the first one. My daughter is almost seven! That said, I am pretty conservative with plastic wrap – your mileage may vary!

    We also got some baking pans there – 11×17 cookie sheet type pans (but very heavy) that we’re really happy with.

    I mill a lot of our flour, and when I need all purpose I use unbleached. Sadly, Sam’s doesn’t carry it. I wish they would!

    Our list (most of this we are stocked on right now, but this is the checklist I go over before we go) is lemon juice, shoyu (we are brand-loyal to Kikkoman), yeast, bullion cubes, almond extract, cheeses, some spices. We can our own tomatoes, and I wait for Sunflower to do organic raisins for 1.99 a pound, then I buy 5 lb. for the year.

    It’s always so helpful to hear what other people get at these places, because it gives me some ideas of what to look for when I’m there. Thanks! :)

  4. Helen McAllister says:

    I probably go to Sam’s once a week. I love that their milk is ALWAYS 1.98 so I don’t have to use the milk tracker to find the best price. My regular items include the fresh organic 3lb. bag of carrots for 3.98, fresh organic bagged apple slices $4.48 (super for lunches – bags are not as big as Costco), Baked Tostito Chips and Sun Chips are always 2 for $5.98 and the bags are bigger than the ones at King Soopers. There is rarely a sale on the Baked chips at regular grocery stoes. The store brand pasteurized egg whites in a carton are only $6 for 4 cartons, which is much cheaper than anywhere else I’ve found. Chicken breasts are always 1.77 a lb. so I don’t have to look for a sale. When having a party you can’t beat their price on hamburger and hot dog buns.

    And yes I do get caught in their home goods aisles and buy a few items that I hadn’t planned on but I love them and got better prices than I found elsewhere. (memory foam kitchen mats for $19, XL grill cover for 17.98).

    I also purchased our media center with fireplace there, which is why I got the membership in the first place. After searching online for months they had the best price for the quality and design I wanted.

    I figure that I save approximately $10 a month shopping for the few grocery items I purchase here, which equals $120 a year. Less than the annual fee and I don’t have to drive around town or look for sales on these basic necessities. Add in my other non-essential and party purchases and I’m confident my annual fee is well worth it. Also, it’s right down the street from Sunflower/Sprouts so it’s an easy stop after my weekly shop on Weds.

    I also have a Costco membership and have a different list of things that I regularly buy there that are MUCH cheaper than other stores. (agave syrup, almond butter, hard boiled eggs, extra lean all-natural turkey burgers (which I also use as ground turkey meat for meatballs/meatloaf/tacos, etc), walnuts, maple syrup, organic frozen fruit, organic frozen vegetables, 35 oz Fage yogurt, Tilamook Cheddar Cheese Slices) I definitely think they have more organic options than Sam’s. Their milk is 1.99 all the time but you have to buy 2 gallons at a time, which I don’t always need.

  5. Butter, eggs, flour, and sugar are staples on my Sam’s list. I bake! I also get soy sauce, olive oil, salt & pepper, vegetable oil, and energy drinks (for my fiance, he works 12 hour days). Oh, and peanut butter!

    I’m sure that if I wanted to use coupons and shop around at different stores I could save money on these things. But I’ve found that the coupons in both the Gazette and Post are for things we don’t buy and I don’t want to waste gas going from store to store. I shop at King’s and Sam’s, that’s it!

  6. Tortillas!!! I get 3 LaFavorita 12 packs for 2.20ish….I freeze them. They are really good tortillas, and much better price than what I get usually

  7. I bake a ton, so I get yeast and flour and vanilla there often. But we seriously go through a bag of flour in less than a month! I also get milk there pretty often, tortillas, and the BIG cans of things like corn and pears, as my large family can go through a can pretty quick! In fact, those big cans are half the reason we got the membership at Sam’s and not Costco. I will also buy melons there a lot in the summer as they have reasonable prices on big cantelope and honeydew AND more obscure melons we like to taste-always fresh and ripe and sweet. I get my laundry detergent and Oxiclean there, and white vinegar-which I use for EVERYTHING! We also get gas there often, as it is usually a little cheaper than other places, though we never make a special trip just for gas.

    • Doh. Totally didn’t think to look for vinegar and I already made my trip. Oh well. I’ll know for next time!

  8. I’ve not been to sam’s club out here, but I found at home that the best place to get yeast was The Red Star Yeast I prefer was $16 for four lbs. That’s a lot of yeast!

  9. Sarah H. says:

    We love our Sam’s membership! We get cheese, tortillas, tortilla chips, cottage cheese, milk, rice, dried cranberries, oatmeal. That’s all I can think of right now. To be honest though, the main reason we keep the membership is for the gas. My husband drives for work, so he goes through a LOT of gas. It’s nice to know we can always fill up cheap.

    Does Costco ever have a free day like Sam’s does?

    • I’ve never heard of Costco having a free day. I know that some people get in without a membership by having a member purchase a gift card for them, but that’s about the only way to get in that I’ve heard of. :)

  10. I don’t have a Sams membership but will go this weekend. I do have a Costco membership and have a list of items I buy exclusively there.

    Take and bake pizzas( I freeze them when they go $6.99 each with the coupon) they’re huge!!
    Rotisserie chicken
    Coffee (kirkland) it’s roasted by Starbucks
    Cheddar Cheese
    Mozzarella Cheese
    Sour Cream
    Boiled Eggs
    Spices (especially taco seasOning)
    Tortilla chips
    Salad mix
    Sheet cakes
    Plastic wrap
    Parchment paper
    Powdered coffee creamer
    Microwave popcorn
    There’s a few other things but I can’t remember right now.

  11. Sharon F. says:

    I went to Sam’s this afternoon and stocked up on items I find cheaper there. I had no plans to buy a membership, but I found out that I could split the membership with a friend – each of us taking one card. And they gave me a $10 gift card, bringing the price down even more. So I decided a year’s membership for $15 instead of $40 was worth it – and my friend was happy with it too.

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