I am a stay at home mum trying to be a freelance writer - or a freelance writer trying to be a stay at home mum. I enjoy getting out and about with my two little girls and am Chief Editor of Perth Mums Group perthmumsgroup.com.au
Published May 11th 2020
Buy in bulk and save a few dollars on your grocery bill
Bulk wholesaler Costco has finally come to Perth. After making umpteen visits to the Melbourne stores since 2013, I set foot in Costco's Perth Domestic Airport store in April and I wasn't disappointed.
Costco Perth opened in March 2020 to a huge, totally socially distancing crowd of fans, curious shoppers and people looking for toilet paper.
Shopping at Costco is an experience in itself. Here are some things you need to know if you are thinking of shopping there.
Huh? Pay? To shop? Yep - you need to be a member to shop there or tag along with a member. Memberships are $60 a year for individuals and $55 a year for businesses. Why? Costco charges a membership fee to allow the store to offset a number operating costs and therefore price the merchandise lower, so you save more at the checkout.
60 isn't a lot when you price it over 12 months and works out to be just $5 per month to enjoy the lower prices. That's the price of a cup of coffee in Perth, so surely one less coffee won't be missed! Plus, you will easily make that $5 a month back in savings.
Think big packets of cereal, huge tins of Milo, coffee and multi-packs of ice creams. Think 48 rolls of toilet paper, massive slabs of meat and the biggest bags of flour and rice you can find in Perth. My 2-year-old is awestruck by the 1.7kg jar of peanut butter. Even the shopping trolleys are bigger than any others in Perth.
My family shops at Costco to reduce our weekly trips to the supermarket and our overall grocery spend. Plus, as a carnivorous family, we're saving money on meat, which has brought our cost-per-meal down too. Where else in Perth can you buy lean mince for $8.99 a kilo! You do have to buy a large amount of it, yes, but we simply divide it up, freeze it and plan our weekly meals around that and any other meat we have bought.
Somethings will be cheaper on special at the big supermarkets
To get the most out of your membership, you really do need to know your prices, which is why it is handy to understand unit price. Having been the designated shopper in our household since forever, I know what's cheaper on special at Coles or Woolworths and what's cheaper at Costco.
For example, when a 30-pack of Coke cans are on special for half price at Coles or Woolies, the price per can works out to be slightly cheaper (and I mean slightly) than the price for a 36-can pack at Costco. BUT - who is to say when that half-price special at the supermarkets will happen? This is just one small example, but knowing your pricing is definitely one of the keys to a successful shop at Costco.
Unlike the big supermarkets, Costco stocks a very limited range of stock, so you probably won't be able to get every single brand you like there. For example, there are only two brands of nappies and two brands of baby wipes. They sell beef stock, but not my favourite brand Oxo. They sell cereal, but not All-Bran, which my 4-year-old LOVES (yes, weird, I know) so I still have to go to the supermarket for those.
If you like the spontaneity of dinner time and aren't particularly interested in meal planning, Costco may not be for you. Costco's bulk buying power means lower prices for customers, so everything is bigger than your average. It's not a place to do your weekly shop or nip into if you just need a 6-pack of eggs (they sell packs of 30) or a bottle of tomato sauce (unless you need a 4-litre bottle.)
If you're curious, it's best to tag along with someone with a membership and have a look and see if it's the sort of place you are going to save money at by buying in bulk. If you buy a membership and feel it's not for you, they will give you your money back.
My advice? Go and have a look and think about the way you shop. If you are prone to spending tonnes of money on bulk snacks and random stuff you probably don't need and bulk snacks, it's not going to reduce your grocery bill. If you like buying in bulk, planning your meals and coming home with crazy big boxes of stuff then you will love it as much as I do.