The best items to buy at Costco to save money!
Years ago I signed up for my very first Costco Membership. I had heard all about the best deals at Costco and how it could help save me money. The first time I walked into the store I was so excited to start saving money.
I spent an hour walking through aisle after aisle in the store filling my shopping cart with all of my new fun finds and couldn’t wait to see how much money I was saving. The beautiful organic produce, the cute kids clothing, and all those snacks! Oh, was it fun!
And then, I went to checkout.
My jaw about dropped to the floor when the cashier announced that I owed $300. “What about all those good deals I grabbed. I thought shopping in bulk would save me money!” were the thoughts that swirled in my head as I shakily swiped my credit card and the spending guilt set in.
After repeating this process for a few months I realized that my grocery budget was suffering, big time, and Costco was NOT saving me money. I cancelled my membership and never looked back.
Fast forward ten years, and a bunch of new frugal lessons learned, I decided I wanted to try out Costco again. But this time, I was going to be using my card with a new, better approach.
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The Wrong Way To Shop Costco
Here’s the thing, there is a wrong way and a right way to shop at Costco. If you want to spend less money at Costco, it’s so important for you to understand the differences.
Here are a few of the wrong ways to shop at Costco:
Shopping when hungry.
Don’t ever shop at Costco with an empty stomach (I learned this the hard way!). You will be much more tempted to grab more food than you really need.
Assuming that buying in bulk is cheaper.
The truth is buying your food in bulk CAN be cheaper, but not always. Always check the price per unit to help you decide which is the better deal.
Buying more food than you can eat before it spoils.
Before you buy anything at Costco, I recommend you think long and hard about how quickly you can eat the item you are buying. If you buy a huge pack of spinach, but your family can’t eat it before it goes bad, then unfortunately that spinach gets thrown away, meaning your hard earned money goes to waste.
Shopping without a plan.
Going into Costco without a plan is a quick way to break your budget. Aimlessly wandering aisle after aisle is a huge temptation to many of us (ME!) and should be avoided as much as possible.
Assuming that the sales are a good price.
I LOVE most of Costco’s monthly sale items (hello cheap Premier Protein shakes), but I have learned that just because something is on sale, does not make it a great price.
Like I mentioned earlier, it’s necessary to always check the price per unit before buying something. I like to compare Costco prices to Walmart Grocery Pickup prices using their phone app. This helps me know if I can find the same item cheaper somewhere else.
The Right Way To Shop Costco
Alrighty, now let’s talk about the RIGHT way to shop at Costco. Following these tips will help you get the most out of your Costco membership and not have to leave the store with a mountain of guilt.
Set a budget.
If you don’t already make a regular budget, I suggest you start one now. A budget gives you permission to spend, without the guilt; but it also decreases the chance of impulse buying.
Give yourself a budget for how much you can spend at Costco each month. My personal budget is $100/month.
Feel free to grab my free budget cheat sheets below to help you learn exactly how to start budgeting.
Always shop with a list.
Make a list of items you want to purchase at Costco BEFORE going into the store. If you shop with a list in hand you will be much more likely to stick to it and avoid any impulse shopping.
Research the current deals, and what you need at that time. A good rule of thumb is to plan about $10/item. Of course this number varies based on what you buy, but it gives me a good goal to work towards.
Use a calculator.
Yes! I am totally *that* person walking around Costco with my calculator, adding up everything before putting it into my cart. And honestly, it has saved me from overspending so many times!
Add up everything as you put it into your cart to make sure you stay in budget and there won’t be any surprises when checking out.
Know what is a good deal or not.
Like I mentioned earlier, it’s important to check the price per unit of items before you buy them. I recommend grabbing my free Stock Up Price Guide here to help you learn the best deals of popular food items.
Take a picture of the price guide so that you always have it with you while shopping. Check it often to help you compare food items before buying them.
The Best Deals At Costco
Here is my list of my favorite deals at Costco. Most of these items I buy every single time I go to Costco. Other items I have just noticed that the price is great!
1. Rotisserie Chicken
I am so in love with Costco’s Rotisserie Chicken. It’s moist, delicious and a great deal for only $4.99. This rotisserie chicken is always at the top of my Costco shopping list.
- Rotisserie Chicken at Costco: 10 cents/oz.
- Rotisserie Chicken at Walmart Grocery Pickup: 15 cents/oz.
I always make a habit of filling my car up with gasoline every time I am at Costco, even if my tank is 3/4 full. It’s by far the cheapest gas in my town and I never want to miss out on it.
- Current Gasoline Price at Costco: $1.92/gallon
- Current Gasoline Price at Maverick: $2.14/gallon
Another one of the best deals at Costco is their butter. I always buy this 4 lb. pack of butter. I store 1 lb. in my fridge and the other 3 lbs. are kept in my freezer until I needed. Today my local Costco has their 4 lb. butter for $6.95, making it only $1.78/lb. Walmart Grocery Pickup Butter is priced at $2.98/lb.
We go through about 4 lbs. of butter a month, making it perfect timing for my next Costco trip!
- Kirkland Sweet Cream Butter at Costco: 11 cents/oz.
- Great Value Sweet Cream Butter at Walmart Grocery Pickup: 18.6 cents/oz.
One of the very best deals that I have found at Costco is the Red Star Yeast. If you do any baking, make sure to buy your yeast at Costco.
- Red Star Yeast at Costco: 14 cents/oz.
- Red Star Yeast at Walmart Grocery Pickup: $1.16/oz.
*Frugal Tip: Keep your yeast in the freezer to help it stay fresh longer.
The Kirkland brand cashews at Costco yet another fantastic deal. You can get 2.5 lbs. of cashews for only $13.99, which is much cheaper than at Walmart Grocery Pickup.
- Kirkland Whole Cashews at Costco: 35 cents/oz.
- Great Value Deluxe Whole Cashews at Walmart Grocery Pickup: 43 cents/oz.
My kids love Craisins, but I haven’t bought them a lot in the past because they can be so expensive. I was so excited to find these Craisins at Costco for a great price!
- Ocean Spray Craisins at Costco: 14 cents/oz.
- Ocean Spray Craisins at Walmart Grocery Pickup: 24 cents/oz.
7. Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Another great buy at Costco is the organic extra virgin olive oil. You can buy a 2 liter bottle (which will last a very long time!) for only $9.45. If organic, extra virgin olive oil isn’t a priority to you, and you are happy with classic olive oil than buying it at Walmart Grocery Pickup will be the better deal.
- Kirkland Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil at Costco: 14 cents/oz.
- Great Value Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil at Walmart Grocery Pickup: 19 cents/oz.
- Great Value Classic Olive Oil at Walmart Grocery Pickup: 13.6 cents/oz.
8. Buttermilk Kodiak Cake Mix
I may or may not have a *slight* obsession with Kodiak Cakes (ok, fine I totally am obsessed!). It makes me so happy to be able to buy it at Costco for a much better deal than I use to buy it. For only $11.49 you can get 4.5 lbs. of buttermilk Kodiak cake mix, which is much cheaper than at Walmart Grocery Pickup.
- Buttermilk Kodiak Cake Mix at Costco: 16 cents/oz.
- Buttermilk Kodiak Cake Mix at Walmart Grocery Pickup: 23 cents/oz.
Many of Costco bulk spices are much cheaper than you will find at most grocery stores. One of my favorites is this this 20 oz. chili powder from Costco for only $5.49.
- Chili Powder at Costco: 27 cents/oz.
- Chili Powder at Walmart Grocery Pickup: 32 cents/oz.
We absolutely love Nutella at our house. I don’t buy it very often though because of the price. I was so excited to find it at Costco for a stealer deal.
These two huge (33.5 oz. each) containers of Nutella are only $12.39! If you buy Nutella regularly, I suggest buying it at Costco.
However! If you don’t mind buying off brands, the Great Value brand of Nutella at Walmart IS even cheaper!
- Nutella at Costco: 19 cents/oz.
- Nutella at Walmart Grocery Pickup: 22 cents/oz.
- Great Value Hazelnut Spread at Walmart Grocery Pickup: 15 cents/oz.
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I buy one 2 lb. cheese loaf every time I go to Costco. It’s almost half the price of the cheese I use to buy at Walmart Grocery Pickup and lasts weeks at our house!
- Mild Cheddar Cheese at Costco: $2.49/lb.
- Mild Cheddar Cheese at Walmart Grocery Pickup: $4.22/lb.
12. 1% Low-fat Milk
I personally do not buy milk at Costco, but it can be a good deal for many people. My family are not huge milk drinkers, so we wouldn’t be able to drink the two gallons before it spoiled. If you go through a lot of milk and like 1% milk, than this is a good deal for you.
- Kirkland 1% Low-fat Milk at Costco: $2.19/gallon
- Great Value 1% Lowfat Milk at Walmart Grocery Pickup: $2.28/gallon
- Great Value Fat Free Milk at Walmart Grocery Pickup: $2.19/gallon
13. Frozen Fruit
Another one of the best deals at Costco is the frozen fruit. I love buying a few packs of these to use in our smoothies. These organic frozen Mango Chunks are just one example of the great prices Costco has on frozen fruit.
- Frozen Mango Chunks at Costco: 11 cents/oz.
- Frozen Mango Chunks at Walmart Grocery Pickup: 13 cents/oz.
14. Organic Kirkland Creamy Peanut Butter
If you buy organic peanut butter, I suggest doing it at Costco. You can buy 2-28 oz. jars of organic peanut butter for less than $10! Which is a steal! However, non organic peanut butter will be cheaper at Walmart Grocery Pickup.
- Kirkland Organic Creamy Peanut Butter at Costco: 18 cents/oz.
- Great Value Organic Creamy Peanut Butter at Walmart Grocery Pickup: 22 cents/oz.
- Great Value Creamy Peanut Butter at Walmart Grocery Pickup: 9 cents/oz.
Shop Smart At Costco
It is possible to shop at Costco while on a budget! I am so glad I have learned the tricks to shopping at Costco. It has helped our family stock up our pantry and save money on groceries. I hope these tips for the best deals at Costco will help your family too!