The Quick Report

10 Things to Steer Clear of at Sam’s Club

Sam’s Club can save you a lot of money by offering deals on higher quantities. But buying in bulk has its downsides, such as items expiring before you can use them. Here are 10 things not to buy at Sam’s Club.

10. Produce

PIcture perfect produce

Many people throw out a lot of produce even when buying standard amounts. Therefore, buying produce in bulk is usually not worth it. It will only result in even more waste. The exception would be when you’re going to have to serve a large amount of people and can be sure most will be consumed.

9. Gigantic Canned Foods

Young couple selecting food in market
Photo by Gustavo Fring

There’s no issue with buying standard-sized canned goods in bulk. These typically have a long shelf life and adequate portions. However, giant-sized canned goods are designed for cafeteria and restaurant settings. Unless you’re certain you will use the entire can, you’re bound to have significant leftovers after opening. These can spoil in your refrigerator before you use the remainder.

8. Pharmacy Items

Woman shopping

It’s not a good idea to buy over-the-counter (OTC) medications in bulk that aren’t used often – such as cold or pain relievers. These have shorter shelf lives and may expire before they’re used. Items you use more often, such as daily vitamins and OTC medications might be okay to buy in bulk for a large household or frequent use.

7. Sunscreen

Photo by Muhammad Faris

Unless you spend every day of the summer in the sun, it doesn’t make sense to buy sunscreen in bulk or in a bulk-size container. Plus, when sunscreen reaches its expiration date, it begins losing its effectiveness. Buying in bulk, the sunscreen could expire before you even open some of it.

6. Gift Wrapping Supplies

red and white textile on white and red textile
Photo by freestocks

Sam’s Club offers a large variety of different wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows. But how many gifts do you actually give annually? Buying in bulk, you could have piles of these supplies taking up space for years. Plus, you may want to switch up your designs. Do you really need a $45 six-pack of ribbon?

5. Books

pile of books
Photo by Shiromani Kant

The prices on books at Sam’s Club seem like a great deal. However, most of the books are for children or young readers. There aren’t many choices for adults, and even those selections are slim. You’ll find better deals at traditional or independent bookstores when they do clearance sales. Used books through Amazon are another good option.

4. Condiments

a group of bottles of condiments
Photo by Debby Hudson

Although condiments have a long shelf life, those “best by” dates do matter and some products can taste strange after a while. Unless you routinely go through certain types of condiments rapidly, buying them in bulk doesn’t make sense. The exception might be if you’re hosting a big event and will have lots of mouths to feed.

3. Sam’s Club Brand Chips

brown chips on brown textile
Photo by Mustafa Bashari

Sam’s Club’s variety pack of potato chips seems like a deal. It features barbecue, sour cream & onion, cheddar & sour cream, and classic (think Ruffles). However, reviews say half of the 1-oz bags were barely full. One bag had only six chips in it. One video weighed the bags and several weren’t even half an ounce.

2. Beauty Products

beauty products

The problem with buying beauty products in bulk is that most of them have a shelf life of six months to one year. Therefore, if you do decide to buy products in bulk, factor in this expiration timeframe and how quickly you typically go through the product. Otherwise, it’s best to buy beauty products on an as-needed basis.

1. Breakfast Cereal


Unless you have a large family and everyone’s going to eat cereal for breakfast every day, buying breakfast cereal in bulk will likely be money lost. If you buy cereal in bulk, you may also want to invest in airtight containers to store it in after you’ve opened the box. This will help extend its shelf life.