According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans allocate 11 percent of their household spending on food. That is a big chunk out of a monthly budget.
One way military members can save on their food bill is by shopping at a commissary. Run by the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA), commissaries are grocery stores that offer a safe and secure environment where military personnel and their families can shop for groceries, meats, produce, and household, health, and beauty products.
Shopping at the Commissary
Items at commissaries are available at cost plus a 5% surcharge, which can add up to an average savings of over 30% on purchases when compared to commercial prices. The surcharge is mandated by Congress and is used to fund the building of new commissaries, as well as pay for maintenance, equipment, and facility improvement.
Commissary privileges are an important military benefit that can help service members save thousands of dollars. Commissary privileges are given to the following groups and proper ID is required:
- Active duty
- Guard and Reserve members
- Military retirees
- Medal of Honor recipients
- 100% disabled veterans
- Authorized family members
Additional Ways to Save at the Commissary
By offering items at cost, commissaries give military members an opportunity to enjoy significant savings on their grocery bills. But it doesn’t stop there. Here are some additional ways you can increase your commissary shopping savings.
Exclusive commissary offers and promotions – Commissaries partner with different companies and manufacturers to offer exclusive savings. Be sure to take advantage of coupons, rebates, and other special offers that can be used at the commissary.
Use coupons – Commissaries accept manufacturer coupons, and commissaries outside of the United States will even accept expired coupons. Look through your newspaper inserts or at online coupon sites for coupons and bring them with you on your next commissary shopping trip. Some commissaries may have coupons for taking at the checkout counter.
Shop advertised sales – Commissaries run sales, so be sure to keep this in mind when you shop. For the best deals, try to combine coupons and sales. And don’t forget to sign up for the Commissary Connection, an e-newsletter that features the latest commissary promotions, savings, and events.
Look for case lot sales – Twice a year, in May and September, some commissaries hold case lot sales where you can buy items in large bulk quantities, which can save you money in the long run.
Use the Commissary Rewards Card – The Commissary Rewards Card allows you to redeem coupons electronically when you check out. You can register your card online, access special coupons from the commissary, and then load coupons onto your card before you shop. There are also free apps available that give commissary shoppers convenient access to their Rewards Card account from mobile devices.
Be a savvy shopper and shop your local commissary! There are over 200 commissaries located at Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard installations throughout the world. To find one near you, use this store locator.