Do you love Costco like I love Costco? If you go on a busy Saturday afternoon or the day before a major holiday, maybe not so much, but if you can go at a time where you get minimally bumped by the shopping carts of spatially unaware shoppers it can be really freaking awesome, especially if you shop smart!
A few things to consider before you go. Are you shopping for more than just you? If not, you may want to consider another option especially for perishables. I remember my senior year of college going to Costco with my one roommate, getting toilet paper and having zero place to store it in our dinky apartment that I spent about 1 hour a day in anyway. So we just stacked them in piles on the floor and it seemed like a lifetime supply for just the two of us. So consider who you’re shopping for before you get hypnotized by the free samples and go hog wild in aisle 5.
Another thing to understand is this is not the best place for weekly grocery shopping. Let’s say you’re meal planning and you have a recipe that calls for a can of tomato paste. How often do you even end up finishing one can of tomato paste before it goes bad let alone 8 cans of tomato paste? Leave those kinds of things for the grocery store, and concentrate on staples at Costco.
Before your Costco trip, head over to their website. At the top you’ll see a tab that says “View warehouse savings.” I always check that before I go to get an idea of what’s on sale. I can compare it with my list so I already know what’s going to be on sale. The best thing is that you no longer have to clip out coupons for their sale items! It automatically scans at the sale price. Hallelujah!
Speaking of list, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT go to Costco without a list and a budget. That’s just asking for a $300 bill at the end of this and we’re in this to save money not to overspend right? If you’re not willing to bust out your calculator while you shop, then at least make a mental note of how many items are in your cart. I have found that most everyday items average about $10 a piece so if I count 10 items in my cart I know I’m probably somewhere around $100.
Lastly, know your prices! Just because it’s at Costco doesn’t mean it’s cheaper. It can take some time to just know what’s a good price for something so in the meantime write down prices of things you buy when you go shopping so you have it to reference the next time you shop.
So those are my Costco tips! What else would you add?
Things I always buy from Costco
Milk- if you drink enough to go through it before it goes bad.
Eggs- haven’t found a better price recently.
Toilet paper and Paper towels- we get the Kirkland brand which is usually cheaper than name brands, even when they’re on sale.
Coffee- I like the Kirkland brand and at less than $3 a lb. you can’t beat it!
Clothes for the kids- they have Carter’s brand for much cheaper.
Cakes- their cakes are huge and you can’t beat the price.
Snacks- only when on a good sale.
Yogurt- again, only on a good sale because if it’s not I can find it cheaper elsewhere.
Bananas, Strawberries, Apples- simply because we go through a lot of them in our house. Most other produce we get from a grocery store because we don’t eat enough of it to justify getting it from Costco.
Gas- almost always the cheapest per gallon I’ve found.
Hot dog/drink combo- seriously $1.50? Duh!
Flowers- if we need flowers this is where we get them.
Crescent rolls- when they’re on sale they’re the cheapest here.
Electronics- if we need to buy something like this we always check here first because we can usually find the best price here.
Trash bags and Ziploc bags
Olive oil and canola oil- if you cook at home a lot then this is a great deal. You can pay the same amount for a ginormous bottle at Costco as a much smaller bottle at a grocery store.
Pillows and blankets
*always check the middle section. If we have a birthday party coming up we’re going to need a gift for, or want to just add to our stockpile of gifts at home they usually have great deals on books, art sets, toys etc.
Things I never buy from Costco
Bread- our local grocery store always has a 99 cent bread rack so it’s much cheaper for us to always get bread there than Costco, but compare prices with your local store to see which is a better deal.
Red meat- we don’t eat a lot of red meat anyways, but Costco’s tends to be a little pricier. Although the quality seems to be great so if you’re willing to spend a little more and you do eat red meat you may want to check them out.
Baking supplies- I really think that section is meant for commercial bakers. As much as I would love to have a use for that much flour and sugar, I just don’t. I usually skip that aisle.
Canned food- I figured out pretty quickly that I can usually get canned stuff cheaper. I got a case of 8 cans of black beans for $10 once and the next week at my grocery store, the same size cans were on sale for 50 cents each. You can usually get canned food cheaper somewhere else.
Huge bags of produce- Again we don’t go through it fast enough so it goes to waste.
Macaroni and cheese- Just like the canned food I can usually get it much cheaper at the store without having to buy a whole case of it.
Cereal- I have yet to find a cereal that’s a better deal than at a regular store. Even when it’s on sale it’s still no cheaper than the store.
So there you have it! My love affair with Costco explained in the form of shopping tips and a list. Just remember, don’t do Saturday afternoon or your excitement about Costco will quickly turn into disdain for the general public. You’ve been warned!