This was first published on Military Spouse Advocacy Network and I am honored to work with them!
When I first got my military ID, one of the first things I wanted to do was go to the commissary. I had heard numerous times you could find excellent deals on all different types of grocery items, and I wanted to experience first hand the savings. Unfortunately, while my husband was at Officer Candidate School (OCS), the closest commissary to our home was over one hour away. It just didn’t make sense logistically to take a trip all the way there to save a dollar or two on cereal, bread, and eggs-or so I thought.
When we moved to Pensacola, Florida for flight school, I joined multiple military spouse groups on Facebook and saw posts from other spouses asking if it was worth it to shop at the commissary instead of the closest grocery store or Walmart. The common answer seemed to be that, while some items were cheaper at the commissary, there were other items that were not. For two months I decided to take their word for it and not do the research myself. I typically shopped at Walmart and used the Savings Catcher feature on their app. This feature allows you to scan your receipt, and it will search surrounding stores for their advertised sales. If anything you purchased at Walmart was advertised for a cheaper price elsewhere, they will credit you the difference into the app which you can then exchange for an e-giftcard. I would typically get back $2-$6 worth of savings a week by using this feature consistently. It depends on what foods you buy and where you live to determine the type of savings you will get if you choose to try Savings Catcher.
I decided to give the commissary a shot one warm February day in Florida, and I am so glad I did. I decided to do my regular grocery shopping at the commissary, so I could then compare what it costs there vs Walmart, since all my receipts are saved in the Savings Catcher app. Once I got home I compared prices, and this is what I found: every single thing I bought was cheaper at the commissary than it was at Walmart, as well as the advertised prices for cheaper prices at other surrounding grocery stores. While some items were a few cents cheaper, there were also a number of items that were $1-$1.50 less. This was such a pleasant surprise! Prices will vary depending on what you purchase and the brands, however, after this experience I am now a commissary convert and will be solely shopping at the commissary from now on.
Here are a few tips I would suggest for any other first time commissary shoppers: