Military moves mean restocking the pantry in the fridge often. Trying to do this in the savviest way possible is the challenge that comes with each PCS. And money isn’t the only factor, we also take convenience into account. There are a gazillion things that have to get done with every move — the fewer stops on the to-do list, the better. So, we narrowed groceries down, and we’re pitting our two favorites against each other. Will it be the commissary or Costco for the win?
Oh, Costco — where thou art the Costco? A great way to stock up is to stock up in bulk — one big trip for TP, paper towels, and that child-sized bag of caramel-covered popcorn. But what about the commissary? The government-subsidized grocery store surely has savvy options. We have done the math for you, and we’re ready to show you where you’ll save the most — Costco or the commissary.
Disclaimer: This research was done on the west coast in October 2018, and the prices may vary based on location and season. Items reported shouldn’t vary in price drastically based on region (not like produce might).
Commissary Best Bets
- Meat — Beef was used for price checks due to the larger cost associated with it. You will not find bulk sizes that you find at Costco, though.
- Diapers — If you use coupons, it’s an even better deal.
- Store-brand paper products
- Name-brand applesauce pouches — This is a total convenience thing for parents, and we get it.
Costco Best Bets
- Eggs — The smallest pack is two dozen, but per Foodsafety.gov, raw eggs in the shell can be stored in the refrigerator for three to five weeks safely. Buy those eggs in bulk and save money!
- Dog Food — In this comparison, the brand-name dog food was best per unit at Costco. This price was not including the coupon that was available at the time of price checking.
- Organic Milk — It’s no secret that the organic section at Costco’s across the nation is large. When comparing Kirkland Signature organic milk cartons, it beats the name-brand at the commissary. They come in carton three-packs, so for the dairy lovers in your family, it is sure to be a hit.
- Name-brand paper products — If you swear by a certain brand of toilet paper or paper towel, Costco is where you will find the best deals. If you are looking for an even bigger bang for your buck, buy in bulk when there are coupons.
- Coffee- Parents, unite. Ground coffee is the best deal at 20 cents per ounce of two name-brand coffees at Costco.
Items that have coupons offered at Costco would affect these prices. Diapers are a big example of this. The current trend is two to four times per year, big box stores offer big coupons of $6-$8 off a box of diapers.
In addition to coupons offered in the store, you can get rebates on apps like Ibotta or Checkout 51 with a receipt upload. Both Costco and the commissary have clipless coupons. Costco sends monthly booklet that shares what items will automatically have a coupon assigned to them. The commissary offers the commissary app and shopping card that can be used for electronic coupons.
The Research Breakdown
It is worth the research and time to save money. Want to know exactly what we found?
|Unit||Per Unit, Costco||Per Unit, Commissary|
|Pedigree dog food||lb||$0.43||$0.63|
|Generic dog food||lb||$0.71|
|Frozen stir fry veggie mix||oz||$0.09||$0.09|
|2 dozen eggs||dozen||$1.90|
|5 dozen eggs||dozen||$1.80|
|1 dozen eggs||dozen||$2.59|
|Organic milk carton||1/2 gallon||$3.83||$3.99|
|Store-brand toilet paper||roll||$0.56||$0.37|
|Charmin Ultra Soft||roll||$0.72||$1.00|
|Store-brand paper towels||roll||$1.33||$1.20|
|Brawny paper towels||roll||$1.67||$1.75|
|Huggies size-6 diapers||diaper||$0.36||$0.27|
|Frozen berry blend||lb||$0.14||$0.19|
|Prego pasta sauce||oz||$0.05||$0.08|
|Folgers Coffee (ground)||oz||$0.20||$0.24|
|Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (ground)||oz||$0.20||$0.45|
|GoSqueeze applesauce pouches||pouch||$0.57||$0.43|
|Dixie paper plates||plate||$0.09||$0.08|
|AAA Duracell batteries||battery||$0.50||$0.43|
|Organic maple syrup||oz||$0.34||$0.58|
|C & H white sugar – 10-lb bag||lb||$0.53||$0.54|
Got a craving for ramen? See our ranking of the Best Ramen Choices at the Commissary.