This post is an independent post and was not paid for, solicited or sponsored by Costco.
Joining Costco can lead to big savings in your household budget. But you need to shop strategically, or that oversized shopping cart will fill up and can bust your weekly budget.
Putting some strategic practices into play knowing which products to avoid will save you money. That's where we come in with a list of favorite bargains, which products to avoid and shopping tips for Costco. Savvy shoppers know that bigger isn't always better.
TIP #1 – Know your price point. Sizes vary all across the board when it comes to stores. Did you know that some stores actually have manufactures package their own specially sized products. It's imperative that you break down and know the price of the regular items you purchase by unit (ounce, liter, sq. foot etc.) This tiny little piece of information is going to save you a ton.
TIP #2 – Make a list and stick to it. It's easy to head to Costco for a few of your favorite things and come out spending a couple 100 dollars. In fact, the store is designed that way. There's a reason you have to pass by all the spiffy new products for your home before you hit the produce section. You can do it! Put your blinders on.
TIP #3 – Shop when the store is the least crowded. In other words, don't go on a Saturday. The more crowded the store, the longer we tend to meander and that means more opportunity to walk out the door with something you hadn't intended on buying.
TIP #4 – Returns. With exception to electronics and a few select other products, Costco has a 100% satisfaction guarantee. That means that returning products (even food) items you're not satisfied with is easy peasy.
TIP #5 – Getting a deal for a membership. There's no guarantee, but for the last 3 years Costco has run a special membership deal every February. If you can wait, this is the time to buy.
THE BEST COSTCO DEALS:
You know me by now, I'm a pretty big cheapskate and love combining those coupons with the stores lost leaders. Keep in mind that these are my personal favorites and prices and products vary by store location.
Produce – Costco takes pride in their produce, it's not always priced lower than your regular grocer and remember that it is also sold in large quantities, which for smaller families could end up being a waste instead of a money saver. I have found that pretty much anything “organic” labeled is less money at Costco.
My favorites produce items include seasonal fruit, the blueberries pictured came in at $2.50 cheaper than my grocer, their 6 pack of romaine hearts ($2.89 cheaper than my grocer). I also really like their tomatoes in the winter. They are the ONLY tomatoes I've found that actually taste and smell like tomatoes during our winter season.
Meat: For bulk meat, I like to stick with Zaycon Foods. There's just no beating their quality in my opinion. Then I fill in by watching the lost leaders at my regular market. With that said, I do love Costco's big 3 lb. rotisserie chicken. It's delicious and plump and about $2.00 less than the grocery store. Their Seafood is also excellent quality and well priced.
I also recently stumbled on their rotisserie chicken breast, that look to be about 5 or 6 rotisserie cooked chicken breast (2 lb.). This meat is fantastic for salads, casseroles, sandwiches and more. I actually like it much better than the “pre-grilled” tiny packages you find at the grocery store, and it's priced for about $4.00 a pound less.
Condiments: Not all condiments are great deals and sometimes it is just too much to buy and store in your pantry but many are great deals at Costco. Some of the best to consider are:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – It only takes getting a bad quality one once to realize that all Olive Oils are not created equal. Kirkland Olive Oil is not only priced well, it tastes good too. I've never had one taste bitter or rancid that you sometimes find and it's very well priced at $0.17 per ounce it's counter part on sale at the grocer is $0.52.
(Olive Oil Storage Tip: Olive Oil keeps much longer when refrigerated.If space doesn't allow, keep it in a dark, cool cupboard away from the stove or other heat-producing appliances.)
Coconut Oil – (including organic un-refined) which is a whopping two times more per ounce in the supermarket. If you can use up and store the large quantity it's a great purchase.
Seasonings and Spices – If you can use the large quantity before they lose their punch, spices and seasonings are a great purchase. A great example is the Taco Seasoning which comes in MUCH lower that it's counter part package even with a coupon and getting the packets down to only $0.25. This product still comes in at 50% cheaper than it's smaller counterpart.
Other notable condiment bargains include Cooking Spray, Pure Maple Syrup, Pure Vanilla Extract, and Agave.
Dairy: The dairy section at Costco defiantly boosts some killer deals. Some favorites include:
Milk (including organic) – While Milk does go on sale for this price or lower, if you blow through a large amount of milk, it's always a good buy at Costco. The price for Organic Milk is far below what you find at the grocery store.
Butter – While you can get butter cheaper at the grocer. Deals are in-frequent and require a coupon. Regular butter price at the grocery store is about 50% higher than Costco.
Cheese (especially snack cheese products) such as Cheese Sticks, Cheese Curd, Laughing Cow ($1.99 vs. $2.99), BabyBel ($0.53 vs. $0.34 per snack).
Fresh Tortilla Land Tortilla's – These typically have about a 2 month refrigerator life and they are delicious! Just dry fry them when you're ready to use. You'll find they are about 50% cheaper in the larger quality package at Costco.
Other Random Costco Deals:
Discounted Gift Cards – Costco has various gift cards and special ticket pricing including Lagoon Discounts, Salt Lake Bees tickets discounts and Spa Membership Discounts.
Cakes– You cannot find a better price than the $19 custom cakes and they are super moist too.
Kirkland Plastic Wrap – This double pack of a whopping 750 ft. is high quality wrap. The cost is about $0.65 per 100 square feet. A package at the grocery store is typically around 200 sq. ft. Not only do you get a great product and price. You won't have to buy it again for a loooong time.
Kirkland Batteries (including car batteries) – Much cheaper than their name brand counterparts and I have not noticed a drop off in quality from the name brands and they are WAY cheaper at Costco.
Nuts and Dried Fruits – Not only is the Kirkland brand great quality, the prices come in much cheaper than the store. However, I do find that candy is cheaper on sale specials at regular stores.
Lehi Roller Mills Flour – The flour is not only a good purchase, it's the brand most bakers will tell you is the VERY best for baking, and you get to purchase local too.
Calrose Rice – Comes in at about $0.54 a lb. If you can use and store 25 lbs. of rice that a good price for this variety. Smaller bags of Hinode Brand Calrose is about $0.75 a lb. with a coupon or $1.10 without.
Frozen Fruit – at about 45% off the price at the markets these large size bags are also great to have on hand for smoothies.
Socks – Coming in for as little as $1.00 a pair, socks are most always a stellar buy at Costco. While style selection is limited, if you see some you like, feel confident picking them up.
Fresh Flowers – If you are in need of a fresh flower gift, there flowers are about the freshest I've seen.
Simple Green Cleaner – I like this brand and use it often for various jobs around the house. If you purchase organic cleaners, it much cheaper at Costco.
Medicines – Most Kirkland brand and name brand come in considerable cheaper than at the drug or grocery store even with coupons. If you take 81 mg aspirin daily this is the place to pick it up.
Pet Supplies – These include Dog Food, Cat Liter and the price for their popular Pigs Ears can't be beat.
Gas – Don't forget to fill up. Gas is usually much cheaper at Costco.
Things I Don't Buy at Costco:
Cereal – I don’t tend to buy cereal at Costco, it just isn't a great deal. My grocery store typically has better prices when on sale (even without coupons.)
Almond Milk – is usually cheaper at the grocery store and you don't have to purchase 3 cartons. Silk also routinely puts out coupons to make the cost even better.
Toilet Paper and Paper Towels – are much cheaper on sale at the Grocery Store.
Diapers and Wipes – While it's not to get a large supply and the quality of Kirkland Diapers and wipes are VERY good, they can be purchased cheaper on various specials at Target, Amazon and Smith's.
Food Saver Bags – Foodsaver.com actually runs regular stock-up sales and promo codes for bags that's cheaper than anywhere I've found including Costco.
Household Cleaners, Laundry Detergent and Dishwasher soap – With exception to the Simply Green mentioned above, these products are MUCH cheaper when on sale at regular stores and can often be pennies on the dollar if you're willing to clip a coupon.
Office Supplies – With the exception of ink refill cartridges, I don’t find the prices for office supplies very good. And, because we are about to hit back to school shopping, you'll find much better prices over the next 2-3 months at places like Target, Shopko and office supply stores.
Those are my favorites, what are yours?