SHARE
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.

MORE TO READ