We compared prices between the commissary and Target so you don’t have to


(Photo: Collage, DVIDS, Wikimedia)

By Julie Provost

Standard advice in the military world is to shop at the commissary because that is going to be the cheaper option. Is this true? Is shopping at the commissary always the cheaper option? I went out to the Fort Campbell commissary and compared prices with the local Target in Clarksville, TN to find out where the deals actually are.

Keep in mind that often commissary prices are higher the week of payday and I did this research during a non-payday week. Target also has sales on these products and their prices can change too.

Paper towels

Commissary: Bounty Basic Select a Size, 6 rolls, $5.90

Target: Bounty Basic Select a Size, 6 rolls, $6.19

Target brand: Target brand, 6 rolls, $7.99

Although the commissary is the cheapest option here, skip the Target brand and go with Bounty if you are shopping at Target.

Toilet paper

Commissary: Cottonelle, 24-pack, $6.99

Target: Cottonelle, 12-pack $6.29

Target brand: 24-pack, $9.79

Target did not have the 24-pack of Cottonelle, but for almost the same price as the 12 pack at Target, you can get twice as many rolls at the commissary. Compared to the Target brand, you will save almost $3.

Diapers

Commissary: Size 3 Pampers, 104 count, $27.33

Target: Size 3 Pampers, 104 count, $24.29

Target brand: Size 3, 160 count, $21.99

You are going to save money going to Target for diapers– even if you buy name-brand. The savings are substantial– we all know how quickly babies go through diapers.

Apple juice

Commissary: Mott’s 100% Apple Juice, 64 oz, $2.29

Target: Mott’s 100% Apple Juice, 64 oz, $1.99

Target brand: 64 oz, $2.19

The prices here are all very similar. You would save  just $.29 by buying Mott’s at Target.

Water

Commissary: Deer Park, 12-pack, $2.99

Target: Deer Park, 24-pack, $3.99

Target brand: 24-pack, $2.49

Although my Target did not have a 12-pack, you can get twice as many waters going with the Target brand and still save about $.50.

Cereal

Commissary: Honey Nut Cheerios, family size (21.6 oz), $3.90

Target: Honey Nut Cheerios, family size (21.6 oz), $3.79

Target brand: 18 oz, $2.79

Comparing these boxes of cereal is like apples and oranges. If you want to compare two different sized products, break it down by how much is in the product. Here, the generic brand is 15 1/2 cents per ounce. Cheerios from Target are 17 1/2 cents per ounce, and Cheerios from the commissary are 18 cents per ounce. The generic brand wins for being the most frugal. . . but remember that knock-offs sometimes don’t taste exactly the same as the foods they’re made after.

Cookies

Commissary: Oreos, 14.3 oz, $2.50

Target: Oreos, 14.3 oz, $2.99

Target brand: Chocolate sandwich cookies, 14.3 oz, $1.99

The commissary is your best bet if you want to stay with the Oreo brand. If not, Target brand saves you money.

Crackers

Commissary: Ritz, 13.5 oz, $2.99

Target: Ritz, 13.5 oz, $2.69

Target brand: 13.5 oz, $1.99

The Ritz crackers were cheaper than the commissary; however, the commissary offers a bigger selection of flavors. The Target brand will save you $1 a box.

Laundry detergent

Commissary: All Free and Clear, 94.5 oz, $4.89

Target: All Free and Clear, 94.5 oz, $7.39

Target brand: 100 oz, $8.79

You can save quite a lot of money by buying this at the commissary. You do get a little more with the Target brand, but that can’t even compare to the commissary’s price.

Coffee

Commissary: Folgers Gourmet, 24.2 oz, 8.39

Target: Folgers Gourmet, 24.2 oz, $7.49

Our Target did not have a comparable Target brand coffee, but even so, you will save some money buying this at Target. 

I found better deals on these products at Target. . . which surprised me since I am used to going to the commissary to save money. As you are putting your budgets together, keep in mind that not everything will be cheaper at your local commissary. Remember that sales tax, the commissary’s surcharge, coupons, and savings apps can all change the grand total of your shopping trip. If you are new to your duty station, take some time to visit your local stores and see where the better deals are.

Julie Provost is an associate editor at Military One Click and a National Guard spouse. She can be reached at julie@militaryoneclick.com.

7 Comments

  1. Target has better oriducebive found, plus with the cartwheel ap you can save 10%. I buy all my berries there, they also seem to last longer which is odd considering they’re the same brand! Cartwheel can save you lots if you shop right, and if you have a red card credit or debit it’s an additional 5% off your entire purchase!!

  2. They should try Aldi 🙂 limited but often cheaper. On the other hand usually fruit and veggies don’t stay fresh as long. I pwrsonally don’t pay OK sales tax, while on post there is the 5 cents per $ surcharge I have to pay. For me often Aldi is the better option. Plus generally Target is a more expensive store compared to ie Walmart. If you have access to Sam’s club the savings are often much greater and easily make up for the yearly cost. Their fruit and cheese mostly much cheaper than commissary. Just my opinion.

    1. That’d be great if there was an ALDI within 100 miles of our post! 😉 We miss shopping with them. I prefer Target to Walmart on a lot of things. Plus Sprouts for Produce.

  3. Julie, I wonder if you factored in the 5% surcharge from the commissary. Also, I don’t think Target is a good comparison as they don’t have the lowest prices and are not as available as Walmart. Walmart even bags your groceries without expecting a tip.

    1. I forgot to mention that the commissary (DeCA) claims that they sell at cost plus the 5% surcharge. If they’re selling at cost, they’re definitely getting ripped off by the food distributors.

  4. I feel like whatever pennies you save shopping at the commissary, you just end up using tipping the baggers, so in the end it’s either a wash or a loss. Plus target has cartwheel which usually saves 5%, plus the perks, the coupons, and the red card, AND you don’t need to yo tip the baggers.

  5. I live in san Diego and the commissary is definitely not cheaper than some of the other places. We have a Mexican market, super walmart, aldi and Grocery outlet near me I shop those first before I even go to the commissary.

Comments are closed.