Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Checking out the food at BJ's Wholesale Club

The BJ's Wholesale Club in Paramus (September 2013).


I am a big fan of the food sold at Costco Wholesale, but it's not the only game in town. 

On Monday, I started a two-month trial membership at BJ's Wholesale Club at Routes 17 and 4 in Paramus.

I had to bring an invitation I received in the mail to a courtesy counter, and the woman tried to sell me a BJ's membership right then and there, saying, "We're better than Costco." 

She then checked to see if I was a lapsed member; if I was, she was going to charge me $45 for a renewal. I told her I wanted just a trial membership for now.


BJ's is different than Costco in that it takes all major credit cards, not just American Express, and honors manufacturers' coupons, as well as its own. Costco issues its own coupons, but doesn't accept anyone else's. Both give cash rebates.

Both also have snack bars with whole pizzas under $10 and Hebrew National's preservative-laden hot dogs, but neither has coffee. BJ's also is alone in having self-service checkout -- with the usual problems.

The entrance in Paramus.

Food shopping

On this, my first visit, I browsed BJ's food aisles and noticed signs above the refrigerated cases; Costco's cases don't have them. Overall, BJ's seems to have less food, including produce, and less variety. 

BJ's does have more Goya-brand food than Costco, including frozen tostones or fried green plantains, which we love. The package recommends deep frying them, but I plan to heat them up in the oven.

I plan to return several more times to BJ's during my temporary membership.

Meat and poultry

I saw organic spring mix, one pound for $4.99, compared to Costco's $4.49.  BJ's carries a brand of fresh and frozen chicken that is raised without antibiotics; Costco has some organic chicken. 

Both sell meat and pork that  are raised conventionally. I didn't see any Australian lamb for sale at BJ's, and I'm not sure it has fresh fish. You'll find lots of fresh fish and naturally raised lamb at Costco.

I spoke to one woman who is a member of both wholesale clubs. She said prices were pretty much the same in the two stores, but she preferred the staff at the Clifton Costco over the Hackensack store, where I shop.  A friend says Costco employees belong to a union.

Taste test

I made three purchases at BJ's, and used the self-service checkout:

Ten 6-ounce cups of Wallaby organic, low-fat yogurt, $7.99; Michael Angelo's vegetable lasagna, two 40-ounce packages for $11.99; and two 32-ounce tubs of Smart Balance "buttery" spread, $6.99.

I heated up the lasagna for dinner Monday night; it had too much sauce and not enough pasta, but the vegetables were firm and it tasted great. Still, when I saw Michael Angelo's eggplant parmigiana at Costco today, I kept on walking.

My wife went to Whole Foods in Paramus today for a one-day sale on 10 cups of Stonyfield Farm organic, low-fat yogurt, the same size as Wallaby's, but at half the price -- 40 cents each.

By the way, I was told BJ stands for Berkley & Jensen.

BJ's Wholesale Club, 30 Route 17 south, Paramus; 201-909-9800.


  1. What brand of frozen yogurt bars are sold at BJ's?

  2. I haven't been to BJ's for many months, and don't recall seeing frozen yogurt bars when I did shop there on a trial basis.

    I am a Costco Wholesale shopper, and don't think that store has them, either.

  3. Organic would be the conventionally raised...?

    1. No. Organic is naturally raised -- no additives, organic feed and so forth -- the best choice, but also highest prices.

    2. Here is the Environmental Protection Agency's definition of organically grown, which applies to produce, not meat and poultry:

      "Organically grown" food is food grown and processed using no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Pesticides derived from natural sources (e.g., biological pesticides) may also be used in producing organically grown food. Increasingly, some consumers are purchasing organically grown and processed foods as a way to reduce their exposure to synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Many supermarkets now stock organic products for their consumers. Ask your grocer about organic food and its availability at your store.

      This is what Whole Foods Market says about organic chicken:

      These standards include:

      The birds must be raised organically no later than two days after they hatch;
      They must be fed certified organic feed for their entire lives. Organic feed cannot contain animal by-products, antibiotics or genetically engineered grains and cannot be grown using persistent pesticides or chemical fertilizers.
      It is prohibited to give drugs, antibiotics and hormones to organic birds (please note: federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in raising poultry).
      All birds must have outdoor access.

      Costco Wholesale sells Coleman Organic Chicken.

  4. As a warning, please check the chicken before giving it to anyone. I purchased a family pack of chicken, as I make treats for my dogs and when I first opened the pack it smelled a little funny, so, since I use all of the chicken, I checked (smelled) each pack and it seemed to be okay, so I made the treats. My dogs got sick, but I never put 2 and 2 together. 2 weeks later, I get another large pack of chicken, and again, there was a slight smell and again, I checked every individual package and it seemed okay. Well I made the treats and my dogs got sick. This time I connected the dots. Some of the chicken was bad. Not all. That's why it was so hard to figure out. Now, I'll be returning the other pack of chicken purchase this week. Looks like I'll be getting my meats at regular grocery stores and pay a little more for peace of mind. No more meats from BJs!