When you’re a Champagne girl without a Champagne budget, it pays to take the time to find the best value on groceries and other household essentials. One of the best places to shop for bargains is Sam’s Club, a membership-based retail warehouse opened by Walmart nearly 40 years ago. (Speaking of champagne, Sam’s Club sells a great store-brand champagne for $20.)

I originally joined Sam’s Club to keep my job costs down. As a recipe developer, I often need a lot of staples for recipe and product testing, and the warehouse’s low prices meant I could stock up on affordable ingredients on hand. However, the more I shopped at clubs, the more I started stocking up on items for my own household – and I loved the fact that shopping in one place saved me time and money.

Over the years, I (and other kitchen editors) have learned a few tips, tricks, and suggestions for shopping at Sam’s Club. If you’re new to shopping at Sam’s, here’s what you need to know.

  1. To purchase groceries, you need a membership card.
    Anyone can walk into the Club’s café and buy a hot dog or pretzel, or even buy alcohol in the shop, but groceries (and other products and services) are for members only. Sam’s Club offers two annual membership options: Club ($50 per year) and Plus ($110 per year).

Both memberships include access to warehouse products and services, curbside pickup (although there is a $4 fee for Club members), instant savings (more on that below), gas savings, and the right to apply for a Sam’s Club MasterCard (Club membership). Members receive 1% cash back on Sam’s Club purchases; Plus members receive 3% cash back. In addition, Plus members receive free shipping, additional pharmacy and eyewear discounts, Plus Rewards (2% back on eligible purchases), and an Early Bird Offer (starting at 8 a.m.).

  1. Non-members can shop with a 24-hour guest pass.
    If you are interested in visiting your local Sam’s Club shop but don’t want to hand over $50 or $110 without a trial run, you can sign up for a free 24-hour guest membership for online use. Please note that a 10% service fee will be added to your purchase total and cannot be used in-store.

  1. Sam’s Club will price match other Sam’s Clubs.
    None of us are perfect, but Sam’s Club does come pretty close. According to their website, Sam’s Club prices do not match competitors (other Sam’s Clubs only) because pricing fluctuates so much for various products. That being said, Sam’s Club strives to offer the lowest possible prices throughout the warehouse, so if you do see a better price at another club (with the exception of markdowns and clearance items), you can carry that item in a variety of ways to get a better price on that item.
  1. It also accepts multiple payment options through the Sam’s Club app.
    Want to check out with Apple Pay, EBT or Google Pay? You can, with one added step: download Sam’s Club’s super-convenient app (you’ll definitely want it for the “scan and go” feature only). While you won’t be able to pay for these options directly at the register, you can still integrate them into the app and pay through the app or use them through Instacart (note: EBT can only be used in-store).
  1. You definitely don’t want to sleep on a Sam’s Club birthday cake.
    If you’re in the market for a high-quality birthday cake that caters to both popular tastes, you’ll want to do yourself a favour and trawl through the catalogue of Sam’s Club’s mesmerising cake books to create the cake of your dreams. In fact, Sam’s Club sheet cakes are so popular that many couples on a budget admit to ordering their wedding cakes from Sam’s Club.
  1. you’ll also need to stock up on baking staples – especially during the holidays.
    The club has a comprehensive inventory of shelf-stable and perishable items, including private label and branded products. It’s a great place to stock up on holiday staples like butter, nuts, herbs, olive oil and biscuit dough. I bake a lot of brownies and pound cakes throughout the year, and I always buy butter, nuts and vanilla at Sam’s Club. During the holidays, I can even find 16oz bottles of vanilla here.
  1. The roast chicken is comparable to that of other major retailers.
    The club serves a wide variety of poultry, fish and meat. One of my favourites is Sam’s Club’s rotisserie chicken, which sells for $4.98 each. I’ve tried roasted chickens from other big box retailers and I found this one to be more flavourful and tender. The ingredient list credits Laurie’s Seasonings, but I know they add secret flavours! The juices from the chicken make a great base for the gravy and hardly need any additional seasoning. These chickens are cooked in a club and are in high demand, so it’s worth waiting for the next batch of juicy chicken to come out of the oven.
  1. The shop’s frozen fish and fresh produce are not to be missed.
    My family loves salmon, and Sam’s Club sells both frozen farmed (Atlantic) and wild-caught (Alaskan) salmon under the Member’s Mark brand (the shop’s own brand). They currently sell for $9.77 and $11.99 per pound, respectively. Sam’s also offers a wide selection of products. I love the one-pound packages of organic salad greens, which include green and red leaf lettuce, arugula and baby spinach. When in season, Cara Cara oranges are always on my list.
  1. The cheese selection is extensive.
    Cheese is one of my regular purchases at Sam’s Club; the club has a large selection of private label and name-brand products, including Jarlsberg Swiss and Cabot. you’ll find 15-pound parmesan, one- or two-pound goat cheese, cheddar cubes, and large bags of shredded cheddar, to name just a few. If you’re planning a deli board, you can bypass the fridge freezer and snack aisle and pick up the rest of the ingredients: cured meats, fine crackers, nuts and fruit.
  1. You can skip the checkout line.
    Instead of standing in long checkout lines, I like to use Scan & Go in the Sam’s Club app. Simply scan the barcode of each product as you add it to your cart, pay for it directly in the app, and then show your digital receipt to the club staff as you exit. (Note: this option is not available to shoppers with a Guest Membership.) Plus members have the added benefit of shipping items (such as a large TV) for free.
  1. The Club has an instant savings programme in lieu of coupons.
    It’s true: Sam’s Club doesn’t accept coupons. Instead, the shop has its own instant savings programme, which features monthly rotating offers and discounts on select products, including pantry staples, popular snacks and frozen foods. (Some are limited to in-store purchases or have restrictions on the number of items you can buy, so be sure to check the details.) You can also use Ibotta, the free cash back rewards network and mobile app, which will provide you with cash for everyday shopping when you shop.
  1. Whether you shop online or in a physical shop, the price is the same.
    When you buy groceries on the app, online or at the Club, you pay the same members-only price. As mentioned above, shipping is free for Plus members (club members anticipate shipping at checkout). However, if you choose same-day shipping, there is a delivery fee for each order ($8 for Plus and $12 for Club).
  1. Products and services extend far beyond groceries.
    The previous suggestions focus on grocery shopping, but keep in mind that Sam’s also offers optical and pharmacy services, car care at the tyre and battery centre, petrol stations, and car buying and leasing. You’ll also find furniture, appliances, office supplies, photo processing and custom photo gifts. But that’s not all – you’ll also want to check out the club’s travel and entertainment services, as well as home improvement and maintenance services.

Are you a Sam’s Club member with hot tips? Let us know in the comments below.


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