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The 10 Worst Things to Buy at Sam's Club

It's better to purchase certain items at the grocery store or pharmacy.

Besides Costco and BJ's, Sam's Club is next on the list when you think of buying in bulk. The appeal of these stores is that you'll have to shop less frequently and you'll save money by purchasing larger quantities. While some items are worth the extra space they'll take up on your shelves, others might not be the best value and are better purchased at the grocery store or pharmacy. To help you get the most out of your next Sam's Club trip, we spoke to retail experts about what you may want to think twice about getting at the warehouse store. Keep reading to find out the 10 worst things to buy at Sam's Club.

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Sam's Club Produce Aisle
Joni Hanebutt/Shutterstock

Unless you plan to use fruits and veggies right away (or for a big party), bulk produce purchases are usually not worth it.

"There's a good chance you'll end up having to toss some out when it goes off, and that can destroy the value of buying in bulk in the first place," Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with, tells Best Life.

Gift wrap

Wrapping Paper and Ribbon

Come the holidays, it's nice to have different wrapping paper options and a variety of colorful ribbons and bows, but buying holiday gift wrap in bulk could be bad for your wallet.

For example, Samantha Landau, consumer expert at TopCashback, points out that the Member's Mark Six-Pack Premium Wired Ribbon (Cottage Christmas Collection) at Sam's Club retails for $44.98.

"It is unlikely that you will use all of this ribbon for one year, and you might decide that you want to switch up your designs down the road," she notes. Instead, she recommends getting these supplies at the dollar store.

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Sam's Club Pharmacy

Vitamins and daily medications like allergy relief are the best to buy in bulk. However, medications that are needed less often—such as cold and flu pills, pain relievers, or burn cream—aren't worth the hassle.

"These aren't things you take every day, so unless you have a large household, you're running the risk of these items hitting expiry dates or losing their efficacy before you can use them up," says Ramhold.


Multiple Bottles of Banana Boat Sunscreen
Colleen Michaels/Shutterstock

Buying sunscreen in bulk is similar to buying medication; as it hits its expiration date, it starts losing effectiveness.

"Unless you're heading to the beach and planning to slather everyone in your party with sunscreen every single day for the whole stretch of your vacation, you probably won't use a bulk-sized container up before it expires," Ramhold tells Best Life.

RELATED: 5 Warnings to Shoppers From Ex-Sam's Club Employees.

Giant canned foods

Syda Productions / Shutterstock

Buying multiple cans at once isn't a huge issue, as standard-sized canned goods last quite a while and come in handy when you need to whip up a quick meal. It's the oversized cans that, more often than not, turn into a waste after you've opened them. These are typically made for camp or cafeteria settings, not one family's kitchen.

"Limited-time goodies can be fun to add to your cart, but make sure that you're being reasonable with these additions and not spending extra money because something is a 'good' deal," says Ramhold.

While things like cranberry sauce or vegetables can be tempting during the holiday season, it's almost a given that they'll be collecting dust in the pantry instead.

"Those are meant for serving crowds of people, and unless you have the food storage to store leftovers after you open these giant cans, odds are good you're going to end up tossing some of it out, which means you didn't really get a deal," Ramhold shares.


Book Aisle at Sam's Club
Jeff Bukowski/Shutterstock

It might seem like you're getting a deal when it comes to the book aisle at Sam's Club, yet, in reality, the options are slim. Most of the books are for children or young readers, and there aren't many choices for adults.

"You're better off looking at traditional bookstores or even indie bookstores for a bigger selection and potentially better deals on some items," Ramhold says.

And if you own an e-reader, even better; e-books are almost always cheaper and the selection is much larger.

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Variety Pack of Condiments

Buying sauces and dips—like ketchup, mayo, or mustard—in bulk doesn't make sense, Ramhold says, "unless you're eating ketchup with literally every meal."

Even though condiments typically have a longer shelf life, they do start tasting strange after a while, so it's better to buy smaller bottles when you know you'll need them in the pantry. An exception might be if you're hosting a big barbeque and plan on grilling hamburgers and hotdogs.

Sam's Club-brand chips

Sam's Club Variety Pack Chips
Photo: Courtesy of Sam's Club

While buying off-brand products might seem cheaper, you're better off sticking to the name brand for some items, especially a variety pack of chips.

In a TikTok video, user @mami.mrya shares that she does not recommend buying the Member's Mark variety box of chips.

"I'm letting you know half of these chips are barely even full," she says, noting that each bag is supposed to be one ounce. However, after weighing them in the video, several bags didn't even amount to half an ounce. She then proceeded to dump out one of the smaller bags and counted that there were only six potato chips in the entire thing.

RELATED: The 5 Worst Things to Buy at Dollar General.

Beauty products

Woman Shopping in Beauty Aisle

Like medicine, beauty products should be bought on an as-needed basis.

"Many beauty products have a shelf life of between six months to one year before the product expires," explains Landau. "So when buying beauty products, it is important to factor in if you will use the product within this time frame."

"For example, the ChapStick Variety Pack at Sam's Club comes with 12 different chapsticks. If you're opening multiple sticks at once, it is unlikely you will use all of the product before they expire," adds Landau.

Breakfast cereal

boxes of original capn crunch and peanut butter capn crunch at the supermarket

Buying breakfast cereal in bulk is a surefire way to lose money.

"Unless you know for sure you're going to eat it every day for the foreseeable future or you have another container to store it in once you've opened it, you may want to skip it," explains Ramhold. "The prices can be good, but if your cereal goes stale, then all the marshmallows and bright colors can't save it."

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Courtney Shapiro
Courtney Shapiro is an Associate Editor at Best Life. Before joining the Best Life team, she had editorial internships with BizBash and Anton Media Group. Read more
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