When the hubby and I lived in Charleston, SC the Navy base was a 30 minute drive so the hubby would grab groceries before leaving work. After the hubby left for Connecticut, I never went on base alone because I was too scared of breaking some rule and being swarmed by guards. I actually still get nervous and check my wallet for my id (usually twice) before heading to base. Probably because of my experience trying to get my military ID for the first time, but that’s a story for another day. Now that we are a single income family, I have to put on my big girl panties and head on base once a week to do the grocery shopping.
We always wondered if the commissary was really cheaper than Walmart. After talking and talking, I decided I would take our shopping list and compare. One week I shopped at the commissary and the next week I shopped at Walmart. It was pretty easy to compare since the hubby eats the same thing for breakfast and lunch every single day. No variety in his life.
Here is how our usually shopping list did:
On first pass, I thought the commissary won hands down. Even the products that were more expensive at the commissary were only a few cents more. Then I remembered that pesky 5% (before coupons) surcharge.
So I totaled my list and added my surcharge.
Of course, there are other players in this game. At the commissary, you can use manufacture coupons and military store coupons.
With my coupons, I do pretty good at the commissary. If I was an extreme couponer I could do even better, but I always seem to forget my coupons or not want the brand of razors I can get for $1.00 off.
Why I like the commissary:
:: Accepts coupons (most have military specific coupons on location too)
:: Manager’s Specials mean you can get products extra cheap. I once got a whole bag of clementines for $1.50
:: Meat is cheap
Why I do not like the commissary:
:: Only carry one brand/flavor of most products
:: Healthy food is hard to come by
:: Products differ week to week
From now on, I am going to do the bulk of our shopping at Walmart, but buying meat at the commissary is a must. What can I say… I like a cheap piece of meat. Plus, I can walk (or run) to Walmart.