15 Things You Should Buy at Costco

by Rebecca Leib on 11 December 2013 47 comments

Warehouse stores are some of the best places to get a great deal — but you have to be smart about it! The number of people in your household, price, quality, and product longevity can all have a bearing on what items you decide to buy in bulk. Still, there are some clear deals when it comes to warehouse shopping. Here are 15 Items that are definitely worth buying at Costco, and will give you the most bang for your buck! (See also: Frugal Rules to Follow When Shopping at Costco)

1.Berries

In regular grocery stories, berries can be pricey. Costco usually has larger cartons for a fraction of the price. For example, get a 12 ounce container of blackberries for around $5.50, when you might get half as much at a regular grocery store for a similar price. (See also: Guide to Choosing Fruits and Vegetables)

2. Almonds

Costco is definitely the place if you're looking for lots of raw almonds. Pay just 12 bucks for a 3 pound bag of raw almonds, which is much cheaper than stores who sell much less for a similar price. (See also: The Best and Worst Nuts)

3. Olive Oil

If you're not super picky about your olive oils, Costco carries a line of Kirkland Signature extra virgin olive oil that's actually pretty good (and actually EVOO, not like some other brands that are impostors), and runs $15 for a 2 liter bottle. Get your cooking on!

4. Soda (and Beer)

If you're a soda drinker, Costco is definitely the place to keep you stocked. Major brands sell 32 cans (that's more than five 6-packs) for $12-$13 which is way less than you'd pay at a grocery store — or through a vending machine! With beer from Costco, you wind up with a case — four 6-packs — for what you'd pay for three 6-packs everywhere else. Who doesn't want a free 6-pack? (See also: How to Make Soda at Home)

5. Soy and Almond Milk

Though usually they come in packs of three, it's definitely worth getting soy and almond milk (in any flavor) at Costco. These 3-packs sell for approximately 20% less per container than normal store prices.

6. Frozen Meals

Costco frozen meals usually come in packs of four and they carry a couple different brands. The varieties change, but the price in the four pack is usually at least a dollar cheaper than it would be to buy all four meals at a regular store. (See also: 15 Frugal, Single-Serving Freezer Meals)

7. Rotisserie Chicken

The rotisserie chicken specials at Costco are out of this world! Depending on the time of year, Costco often runs chicken specials that will give you two chickens for $5, or give you a discount on the poundage. You can freeze the chicken, use the bones for a broth, or cut up pieces for sandwiches, salads and dinners. It's a steal! (See also: 25 Ways to Use Rotisserie Chicken)

8. Organic Chicken Broth and Boullion

A case of one-quart cartons of broth or a package of organic base lasts a long time in the pantry, so stocking up at Costco is definitely a good idea. You can get a 16 ounce jar of chicken boullion base for around $5, and six 32 ounce boxes of Kirkland organic chicken stock for around $14, which is a big savings on regular store prices.

9. Fresh Seafood

Every other weekend, there will be a booth at Costco selling fresh, low-cost seafood. Though seafood is usually fairly expensive, these deals can cut the cost of your seafood purchase considerably. For example, Costco routinely has mussels and clams in the $2 per pound range, which is a great deal! If you're throwing a dinner party, these seafood specials are a great way to bring some sophistication to your event without breaking the bank. (See also: Affordable, Sustainable Seafood)

10. Lunch

For $1.50, you can grab a full quarter pound all beef hot dog or Polish sausage and an extra large fountain drink, while loading up on Deli mustard and other toppings for free from the pump dispensers. You can also get a very large slice of pizza for $1.50, or grab a chicken bake, parfait, or salad from $2-$5. Get a big lunch, so you won't overspend when you're perusing the aisles!

11. Paper Products

Paper products like toilet paper and paper towels are a great Costco buy! Sure, you'll have to lug them home with you, but you'll get a lot more from your money buying these products in bulk.

12. Ink and Toner Cartridges

Provided you aren't switching printers anytime soon, it's a really good idea to buy a bundle of printer cartridges for your home printer at Costco. At an office supply store, ink can run you around $12 for just one. At Costco, you can usually get five for around $50. Not bad!

13. Kitchen Appliances

Luxury and staple kitchen appliances alike can usually bought at a large discount at your local Costco, and this is especially true if there's a rebate or seasonal deal. For example, the Magic Bullet electric grinder, which usually costs about $60, was on sale for just $30 earlier in 2013. (See also: 5 Kitchen Luxuries That Are Worth It)

14. Glass Storage Dishes

Get your multi-piece Pyrex storage sets from Costco, and you'll save a bundle from regular retailers. These sets usually last a long time, and have durable rubber tops for stacking and are around $30.

15. A Gym Membership

If you're cool paying for a year or two upfront, Costco is by far the best place to get a gym membership. For example, get a two year membership to 24 Hour Fitness for just $25 per month! That's way less than you'd pay through the gym itself, and far cheaper than most comparable gym memberships.

Costco is a great place to get a lot of specific deals. What are your favorite Costco deals?

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Guest's picture
Marla

For a family of two, the mini-french breads in the bakery (sold in packs of six) are great. They are the perfect size, great quality, and easy to freeze individually. Fun post!

Carrie Kirby's picture

I have often been suspicious about what is really a good deal or not there. These are great tips -- next time I hear a friend is going I will definitely ask them to get me SEVERAL large jars of jam.

I would add to the list diapers and wipes. Serious couponers can get these things for cheaper elsewhere, but for those who want to buy diapers once a month and be done with it, the quality and price of the Kirkland brand are awesome. At least as I recall -- I haven't been a member for about 2 years.

Guest's picture
Deb

Gasoline! This week I paid $2.25/gal. I paid with my Costco Business AmEx card that gives a hefty percentage back on gasoline purchases (yes I pay it off in full ALWAYS). The cheapest I could find fuel at other stations was $2.29/gal cash, 2.39/gal credit.

Guest's picture
Sonja

Free range eggs are SO cheap at Costco! I was in a hurry yesterday and paid $4! At Costco they're somewhere around $2.

Also, they carry some tasty organic bread (my boyfriend thinks its too chewy, I like it). He goes there for electronics, I always stock up on eggs!!

Guest's picture
Karen

The Kirkland drawstring kitchen trash bags are great. They're equal in quality to the name brands, and much cheaper. A box will last me a very long time, which means I only have to think about trash bags once a year.

Guest's picture
Guest

In my experience, the Kirkland bags are BETTER than the name brand! We have used them for years and have only had ONE leak/tear, which was our fault, not a defective bag, but poor choice of contents. ;) Love them!!!

Guest's picture
Douglas

I agree -these trash bags alone are worth the membership. I also get the "drum liners" for our large outside garbage can. I hadn't been able to find any to fit the can at the grocery store so I was thrilled to find them at Costco.

Guest's picture
Guest

Bread flour, chocolate chips, YEAST (by far the best deal per ounce at Costco), spices, milk, cheese.

Guest's picture
Tyg

My savings on just wheat flour, yeast, and sugar are enough to pay for my Costco membership - especially the yeast (I pay less for 2 pounds of yeast at Costco than I pay for a single tiny 4oz. jar anywhere else). I also save a lot on the powdered sugar and white flour that I use for my holiday baking.

Guest's picture
Guest

The Costco rotisserie chickens are much cheaper, and much larger, than at any of the grocery stores in my area - and much yummier. I can make multiple uses of the leftovers, such as really quick chicken fajitas, for even bigger savings. Flour tortillas, white or whole wheat, are MUCH cheaper than any grocery store prices in my area, and their large quantity stores for a long time in the fridge with no ill effects.

I make my own pizza (and breads occasionally), and I've found Costco is the cheapest place to buy yeast, sliced pepperoni, as well as shredded cheeses - parmesan and mozzarella, as well as cheddar. The cheeses come in 3 - 5 lb bags, which I divide into smaller quantities and freeze the extra. There have been comments that frozen then thawed cheese loses some quality, but I haven't found this to be true, especially if you're using the cheese for cooking.

Costco is also the only place I buy gas. We have 3 different gasoline brands in our small city, including Costco, and their price is always cheapest, even when the prices spike upward. A survey of surrounding cities has proven Costco gas prices are regularly the cheapest in the whole area.

Guest's picture
Courtney Ostaff

Cheese (which freezes really well, FYI) ~$2.50/lb,
very good dog food (high fat, protein content) for 40lbs/$22,
baby wipes (about 1/3 less than WalMart or Target),
butter ($1.65/lb, unsalted, yesterday),
dried spices,
organic salad mix,
yeast,
sugar,
basmati rice,
flour,
the pumpkin pies for $5 at Thanksgiving (huge!!),
padded mailing envelopes (20/$6),
men's dress pants (~$20/pr)
Birkenstocks ($40/pr)
nuts (almonds, raw, $6/3lbs)
hot chocolate
instant mashed potatoes (4x as much for the same price of the largest on the grocery store shelf)
bagels (ginormous ones, 12/$4)
.

Items that are a good deal that I don't buy:
-fruit. The quality is better than at the grocery store, and usually cheaper. However, I rarely find organic at my local Sam's Club and we don't have a Costco.
-eggs. We don't have a free-range option, but they're $1.96/3 dozen.
-diapers. My daughter only wears pullups now and they don't sell generic ones. So, I have a standing order at Amazon.com for pullups, which saves me 15% and nets free shipping. $23/case.
-paper towels. Cheap, but I'm trying to cut down on them.
-infant/toddler's fleece playsuits - cheap ($7 or so) and terribly useful!
-milk. No organic, and the soy isn't terribly cheaper.
-ground beef/pork loin. They often have those big tubes of ground beef cheap, as well as $2/lb pork loin. I buy mine by the animal (1/2 cow, etc) organic, from a local farmer, for $2.65/lb, which I figure is a better deal.

Guest's picture
Guest

“Almonds, raw, $6/3lbs” are cheap. Is this price current available for all Costco or just in your city?

Guest's picture
Mercedes

great mentions!! I love the soymilk!

Mercedes

Guest's picture
Rick

A video game system, unlike computers and some other electronics, is a returnable item at Costco. (So are the video games). Xbox is notorious for failing. Mine has twice. Instead of sending it to Microsoft support, I boxed it up & returned it to Costco, then went and bought a new one at a greatly reduced price since the price is always dropping. I've done this twice.

Guest's picture
Janelle

Okay folks I haven't seen someone mention the tortilla's. A STEAL at Costco! I am feeding 7 people and you can't beat their price for those!

Other big savings items:

Dog and cat food
Sourdough bread rounds - 6 for like $3.50. I put the garlic spread (big jar at Costco for $4 that you blend with butter and the jar lasts FOREVER) and use that as my garlic bread on spagetti night.
Butter
Eggs
Coffee! WAY CHEAP! Its worth a trip just to buy that!
Drugs - pain meds, allergy meds, etc. Can't beat their prices especially if you buy the Kirkland brand.
Diaper and Wipes (though we are past having to buy those!)

I love Costco! Saves me family a ton of money!

Guest's picture
Guest

I mentioned the tortillas in my posting #9 - "Flour tortillas, white or whole wheat, are MUCH cheaper than any grocery store prices in my area, and their large quantity stores for a long time in the fridge with no ill effects."

Guest's picture
Valerie

Kalamata Olives
and
Bully Sticks (though these aren't alway there)

Guest's picture
Michele

The greatest deal is the enormous bottle of Old Vine Zinfandel for $9.99. They also have many excellent wine deals that even Trader Joe's can't beat for outstanding wine.

Guest's picture
Mary Alice

I have not priced the organic milk, but the Kirkland brand milk has no rBST (artificial growth hormone) and it is sold much cheaper than the local grocery stores (which all sell milk with rBST).

I buy the following items at Costco for less than at my grocery store:
cheese (block and shredded)
butter
yeast
chocolate chips
honey in bulk
eggs
Abuelita tortilla chips
ground beef (quite a deal!)
frozen strawberries
organic baby carrots (5 lb bag - too big for many families but not for mine)
bananas

I hate shopping at Costco because I really don't like the fact that they look at my receipt and cart every time I leave the store as that just slows things down. There can be quite a line at the door to get out.

But the deals are quite worth it.

Guest's picture
James

I second the rotisserie chicken idea. 3 lbs minimum vs. 2 lbs or less elsewhere. Fantastic deal for a quick and easy dinner.

Guest's picture
Craig

Agree, food is tough to buy at Costco because unless buying for a larger party, the food will most likely go to waste. Better to buy goods that are not perishable.

Guest's picture
Russell

We shop at Costco nearly exclusively, but one of my faves is their men's jeans. $13 for a VERY simple pair of jeans (5-pocket), no fancy designer add-ons. This is the kind of jean I actually prefer, and it's hard to find for anywhere near that price.

Guest's picture
JustAGuy

My wife and I would no longer buy any of the items you listed unless we considered it a nice monthly extravagance (eg. we were splurging for a dinner party or something). Saving money from the expensive grocery store no-longer makes it "worth buying" in our book.

We do have a membership at a Sam's Club. We buy kitty litter, cat food, flour, rice, pasta, and toilet paper in massive bulk quantities and weekly cheese and soy milk (non-organic) and occasionally some spices, but thats about it. We know many of the other items cost less than other stores, but we just stick to the staples now. It seems like our membership is worth it when we run the numbers.

We did buy topenade a couple of years ago, made nice little hors d'oeuvres on french bread with goats' cheese. But brother, that was then and this is now.

Guest's picture
Barbara

What do you mean?

Guest's picture

I love all the ideas about saving at Costco. In May, I added up my annual savings at Costco and figured I save about $500 per year there.

In the past, we saved a lot on cat litter and diapers. I think coffee is one of the best deals -- great-quality, fair trade or organic coffee beans at Costco (Kirkland brand) are under $5 per pound.

I also purchase flour in bulk (25-pound bags) to bake my own bread -- and the yeast at Costco costs 93 percent less than buying it in the little jars at my grocery store!

We buy clothes there, too -- not only for the low prices, but for the fewer choices which automatically limit what we buy.

Guest's picture
devoid

Here's another blog with a good listing of what people like to buy, either for savings, value, flavor, etc., The really interesting thing is looking through the comments to see what you might be missing out on. I found a number of things that I hadn't even thought of looking for at Costco.

The blog author has also done a price study comparing Costco to three of her local supermarkets in regards to basic food products like bread, milk, butter, eggs, etc.

Guest's picture

I like the giant size of Wyman's frozen blueberries (4 lbs for $10, that are at a couple of local Costcos, as well as baking ingredients, such as vanilla and nutmeg, which are so expensive otherwise. Nice!

However, today's find was a matcha green tea by an esteemed tea retailer, Ito En, for $12.99!!!

Guest's picture

For every person, the Costco experience is different.
You mention the seafood weekends. The $8.99/lb shrimp are a size that Whole Foods sells for $15.99 on a good day.
The cheese stix (motzarella) are $2.66/lb, less than half the supermarket price.
The secret to my Costco success is knowing prices, and tracking the unit price of the items I buy. TP and Kleenex at Costco? Better than supermarket, but not as good as BOGO sale with coupons. Same with some detergents, dish soap, etc.
When my daughter was a baby, the diapers and wipes saved enough to pay the membership in the first couple months.

Costco keeps looking for the best deals, so many items won't have a huge selection, you may also fall in love with an item only to find they no longer stock it. So for those, I just enjoy it while they have it.

Guest's picture
Guest

The Kirkland garbage bags are awesome. Also, the Kirkland 600 thread count sheets are better quality than the super expensive ones from Macy's, Bloomies, etc. They are not cheap ($69 queen) but they are AMAZINGLY durable and soft.

Guest's picture

I suspect that prices may vary from store to store. I've notices when traveling that Costco will have items particular to a certain region, for example, the Texas Costco had Spanish/Mexican foods on the shelves that I never see up NorthEast.

Guest's picture

The costco list was pretty helpful. I have also complied a list of what to buy at Costco. I have also included what to avoid at Costco as well. You can find the list at http://www.mewithoutdebt.com/2009/10/what-to-buy-at-costco-and-what-to-a...

Guest's picture
Rita

In addition to eyeglasses, the three main things I buy at Costco are organic chicken thighs, organic spinach, and organic lettuce.

Think twice before you buy cheap gas at Costco. The fuel pump went out in my Honda Accord. My mechanic said it could have been caused by using cheap gas. I had been getting most of my gas at Costco. My mechanic recommends Chevron gas.

I wrote about this on my blog The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide.

Rita

Guest's picture
Chiara

I am a coupon enthusiast so most times, I don't buy too much at Costco. Some things I find worth it are:

- Brita filters, especially with the Costco coupons they send out every month.

- Woolite Darks concentrate, with Costco coupon (you can buy up to 5 bottles with one Q), I buy 5 at a time, pay $65 (after Q) and use them for about 1.5 years before running out. My dark clothes stays nice longer :) There's no way I can afford this item from regular stores.

- Kirkland regular detergent, great huge container. Love it cause it's between $10-15 and we don't have many white clothes so the container lasts a long long time.

- Ziploc bags occasionally. Coupons for these have been sparse so if I need to stock up, I get them at Costco.

- Plastic wrap - I love the size and the slider that cuts the wrap!!! That thing saves me from wasting plastic wrap :)

- Costco gas.

- Costco paper for the office. I buy copy paper for work from Costco. They deliver it to the door so I don't have to lug 20 lb. boxes of paper and the price is quite good!

- Baking supplies like yeast and butter.

Most other things will go bad before my husband and I can use it and we don't have much storage. Someday, I would love to buy a Gouda wedge and freeze it :P

Thanks for the post! I will check out the strawberry jam and buy if the container can fit in the fridge :)

Guest's picture
Priscilla

Be careful of Costco seafood, they have good prices but they have an unsustainable seafood practice and sell fish that are on the endangered list. They sell lots of farmed fish too and I question putting this on our family table----yuck.

I buy veggies from Costco and split them up between my elderly neighbors who may not go and appreciate good food. It's so reasonable priced this is a nice way to share with friends and not allow food in those sizes to go to waste.

I went to Grocery Outlet in Seattle and the prices at TJ and Costco are much better.

Guest's picture
Guest

the reggio-parmagiano is a good deal, as is some of the made-on-premise breads.

Guest's picture
Leah

I love hearing about the deals people get at Costco - it can be hard to spot in-store deals sometimes. I got my dad's 'extra' card off the membership, so we're stretching that membership. Only issue is that if I want to pay by credit card, I'd have to use the Costco AmEx and it would go on his account. Ones I like and have compared prices on are the Kirkland Organic tortilla chips, the 1L of Jack's Fresh Salsa or Pace Salsa (depending on what I feel like), bruschetta, ravioli, couscous salad (yum!), Starbucks frappuccinos (12 for CAD18), juice boxes, juice (especially specialty kinds like mango/veggies), milk, lemon juice (2L for CAD4), Neutrogena Dry Touch sunscreen, the occasional makeup deal, and, believe it or not, condoms. I live on my own, so there's a limit to what I look at when I'm in Costco. Always worth checking out the clothing, too. Looks like I should be getting my shredded cheese there.

I have a friend who gets her pet food from there, and another one who goes for edamame & razor cartridges. My dad likes the seafood and packages of naan or raisin bread.

Guest's picture
AshATL

I am an avid couponer, so i know that I can get a better deal on most items elsewhere. However, we maintain a Costco membership because there are some things that are a better deal. I also note that I live in a vegetarian household of two, so I cannot opine as to meat prices, and I don't take advantage of the produce deals very often, since we can't eat that much that fast!

- Onions. A big Costco bag works out to about $0.49/pound. We cook at home about 6 nights a week, and just about everything we make involves at least one. Onions last a while, too. Other produce items are a good deal, but you'd better be serving an army. Also, they lack organic options at my Costco.
- Gas. Totally pays for our membership.
- Movie tickets. There is a Costco located down the road from the movie theater we go to, so we swing by for discount tickets on our way.
- Cheese. We get goat and Parmesan at really great prices. Trader Joe's may be slightly cheaper, but it's not as convenient.
- DOG FOOD. Just as I do not buy junk food at the grocery store just because it's on sale, I'm not going to feed my dogs whatever junk happens to be on sale. However, I have two 55-pound dogs, and the Kirkland brand strikes a good balance between nutritional content and price. At about $25 for a 40 pound bag, it's a steal. It's also one of the only dog foods that my Darby doesn't barf up, which is a big plus.
- Meds. For a while, I was having to buy a prescription out-of-pocket, and Costco's price was about $10 cheaper than other pharmacies I checked.
- Condoms. The Durex multi-pack has about 40 condoms for less than $12. At drugstores, you pay $10 for 12.
- Gift cards. Spafinder cards are 20% off.
- Cakes. There are a finite number of sheet cake decorations, but the price is awesome. Also, a two layer red velvet cake is $10. Great when I need to pick up something quick for a casual dinner party or work function.
- Allergy medicine. The Costco brand Claritin is cheap and works well for me.
- Clothes. I have found some great items, like 2-packs of camisoles and Kenneth Cole cardigans for $17.
- Stamps. Where else can you get a discount on forever stamps?
- Credit Card. The Costco AmEx card is a pretty good rewards card, and the only one that gives you cash back at Costco that I know of.
- Flowers. If you need to grab a bouquet, Costco's flowers are fresher and cheaper than the grocery store's, and you get more for the money.
Random stuff. I have the Glasslock containers, too. They were a great deal at Costco. I've come across other things, like my vacuum, that were just cheaper at Costco. I've been eying those skinny closet hangers with fuzzy material that keep your sweaters from slipping. You get three times as many for the same price that other stores charge at Costco. Their bed and bath items are also a good deal for the quality.

Things that are not a good deal (if you are willing to deal with coupons and sales at other stores): paper products, soft drinks, detergents and cleaners, shampoo, soap, etc., electronics (Costco has decent deals, but I can usually find it cheaper somewhere else) However, for really quality brands, Costco will rarely steer you in the wrong direction), books (I buy used or use a swap site, and Amazon usually has a better deal on new stuff), most non-perishable food items, wine (Trader Joe's and Whole Foods have better options in the under $10 everyday wine category), and, of course, anything that will go bad before you get a chance to eat it!

Guest's picture
Guest

I'd love to know what amazing Costco the author was able to find these products at. My local Costco in Los Angeles rarely if ever has anything organic.

Guest's picture
Guest

The University of California olive orchard growers say that Kirkland brand of EVOO is at the top of their list for quality.Some brands are not EVOO, but state they are. There is a list they put out of which brands to avoid.

Guest's picture
Jenna

I main things I buy at Costco are:

Diapers- 210 last me every month for 32$, I have a 6 month old baby girl
Tamales (Store in freezer and take when I want)
Giant Muffins- super moist!
Red Meat(Separate it and store in the freezer)
Cranberry and Apple Juice
Alcohol- Kirkland brand is bottled the same place as Grey Goose!!
Gushers- Husband loves them, still a kid at heart.
Gatorade- Live in AZ, 110 temp. got to stay hydrated
Snack bars, granolias,- Send my Cousin some goodies while he is Afghan.

Guest's picture
Guest

The vinegar at Costco is amazingly cheap!

Guest's picture
Guest

The only place to buy avocados ... They are sooo good. Also love the fresh mozzarella from Costco.

Guest's picture
Guest

The 2 year 24Hour Fitness membership actually works out to about $15/month

Guest's picture
Guest

A slice of pizza at Costco is $1.99

Guest's picture
Guest

The main one that I disagree with is pop which is always on sale somewhere and rarely more the 8 bucks , often less for 24 cans

Guest's picture
Guest

The other thing to watch out for at Costco is an item may be the same price as a regular store but it may include extra items Eg a Keurig coffee cup dispenser has about 60 k-cups included as well as a reusable universal k-cup to make your own coffee.

Guest's picture
Guest

Costco is a good place to get small appliances and electronics. While you can often find better prices on a certain type of item, (Ie: you may find a cheaper 50 inch TV, but you won't find the SAME 50 inch TV for less.), but Costco is not really in the business of selling cheap products, just high-quality products for less. A digital camera, or food processor from Costco is already vetted for quality. If you have expertise in a certain field, you might find better deals, but if you aren't an expert, it's a good place to get a baseline of price and quality.