Top Ten Things to Buy at Costco

The Frugal Girl's Ten Favorite Things to Buy at Costco

Before Aldi came into my life, I was a bigger Costco shopper than I am now. These days, I find that Aldi has better prices than Costco in a lot of cases, and at Aldi, I have the freedom to buy smaller quantities (which is especially nice when it comes to perishable stuff like produce!)

However, if you don’t have an Aldi, a Costco membership could save you a lot of money.  Heck, even though I do have an Aldi, I still find a Costco membership to be worth it.

(And like Aldi, Costco treats its employees well, which makes me happy to shop there.)

So. Here are the top things I buy at Costco.

Yeast

If you’ve been hanging around here for long, you already know that yeast is ridiculously, unbelievably cheap at Costco.  A two pound (!) bag generally sells for around $5.

Which is craaaazy, considering that a little jar of yeast at the grocery store usually costs $7-$8.  And we haven’t even mentioned how expensive the leetle packets are.

If you do much baking at all, bulk yeast is so the way to go.

I store mine in a screw-top* Rubbermaid container in the freezer so that it’s always fresh and easy to access.

*A snap-on lid is a pain because those can sometimes break if you try to open them while they’re frozen.

Batteries

This is another item that’s way cheaper at Costco than at a regular store.

Costco batteries

We do use rechargeables for some things, but when we need regular batteries, Costco is the place we go.

Frozen Fruit

I like to blend frozen fruit with my homemade yogurt for smoothies, and Costco sells gianormous bags for a little less per pound than the frozen fruit at Aldi.

Even though the price isn’t way cheaper than Aldi’s, I like that there’s less packaging per pound when I buy the huge bags.  Strawberries are the main thing I purchase there, but sometimes I buy the berry mix and occasionally, they have frozen cherries, which I really love.

Dried Fruit

I buy my raisins at Aldi, but it’s hard to beat Costco’s price on things like dried cherries or organic dates.

Nuts

I like to buy my pistachios, almonds, cashews and pecans at Costco.  The price is really good, and again, the food/package ratio is a lot better than when you buy little packs of nuts.

Costco Pistachios

Vanilla

One of these days I will get off my duff and make my own vanilla, but until then, Costco’s vanilla is a great frugal alternative.

Printer Ink

Printer ink is kind of a rip-off, I think, but it is cheaper at Costco than anywhere else I’ve seen.  I’m too chicken to use refillable cartridges or off-brand ink, so Canon brand it is for me.

(I use my printer to print photographs, and from what I understand, photo printers do perform better than way when you use the right paper and ink.)

Your mileage may vary depending on your printer model, but this is a good deal for me.

PJs for Kids

Costco regularly carries Carter’s fleece PJs in the fall/winter, and these have been mainstays for our kids (The first ones we bought for Lisey lasted well through three girls and have now been passed down to cousins.)

IMG_8373

Zoe, circa 2009

Sadly, Lisey and Joshua are too big for Carter’s now, but we found another brand of cute and fuzzy PJs for Lisey there this winter.

Contact Lens Solution

I use ClearCare, and it definitely costs more at other stores unless I hit a really great sale and also have a coupon.

Not all toiletry items are a good deal at Costco, though, so do compare before you buy.

Gas

Gas is always a good $0.10-$0.15/gallon cheaper at Costco, and sometimes the difference is even more.  This is not worth driving out of your way for (you can easily spend more than that in gas trying to get to Costco!), but there’s a Costco on the way home from Mr. FG’s work, so he often stops to fill up there, and whenever I happen to already be in the vicinity of a Costco, I fill up my tank.

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I’d love to hear what you feel are the best Costco bargains!  What do you always buy there?

(And I’m also interested to hear what you think is overpriced at Costco.)

Comments

  1. Amy O says

    Good list! If you wear contact lenses or need glasses – the Costco optical department carries ones that are about half price of what you can buy anywhere else. (We have four very nearsighted family members!) That eye stuff alone makes our membership worth it.

    Also we have bought tires there for a great price. I also recently bought the Kirkland brand sheets and also towels there and I have been very pleased.

  2. Mary B. says

    Ground flax seed ($7 for a 4 lb bag) and cheese (its cheaper at Costco than at Aldi’s!). Like you, I also buy nuts, frozen fruit, and yeast at Costco as well. Last year Costco had a great deal on conventionally-grown quinoa: $7 for a 4 lb bag, but they have stopped carrying it. Instead they offer a 4 lb bag of organic quinoa for $20. Not such a great deal.

  3. Valerie says

    I shop at Costco and BJs (my mom pays for a business membership so I have a card through that and pay nothing). I buy yeast, nuts, lance crackers, Pirates Booty, Kraft Parmesan Cheese, organic Sugar, Colesman Chicken and organic ground beef (costco) and NatureSource Chicken, beef and Pork (at BJs), kitty litter, kings Hawaiian Sweet Rolls, Chocolate Chips, peppercorns and other spices, Waffle Fries, Spinach, peeled garlic (for Mojo De Ajo), olive oil, Organic Maple Syrup ($12.99 a qt or 1ltr is a GREAT Price) canned tomatoes, sauce and stewed and Costco has Imported Italian San Marzano Tomatoes for $3.99 for a #10 can (6lbs 10oz) which is cheaper (by $1+)than my local store carries for a 28 oz can. I do have to make sure all the peel has been removed but to save that much is so worth it. There is more but I had to mail my latest receipt away for a TMF rebate.
    Since we had a Murpheys Express come into town (I live in a different county than both my BJs and Costco) our gas prices have dropped $.20 a gallon from what they had prior, and it’s cheaper for us to fill up near our house. But 4 yrs ago it was cheaper at Costco and BJs.
    Our only problem is both BJ’s and Costco are about 30 miles in opposite directions from my house so I only go to one or the other once a month.

  4. K D says

    I belong to SAM’S Club instead of Costco because it is closer to my house. There are the things I regualarly buy there:

    1. Gas

    2. Yeast

    3. Rotisserie chicken

    4. Yogurt, since I don’t make my own

    5. Bagged salad, if we’re going to eat a lot of it

    6. Vanilla and other spices(the large McCormick spices containers are about the same price as the small ones at the grocery store)

    7. Clothes. Sometimes they have good prices on clothes, especially clearance prices.

  5. Liz says

    I only have a BJ’s near me, so that’s where we do most of our shopping. They’ve just started building a Costco which should open within the next year, and I can’t wait! If you have an Ikea near you I recommend buying batteries there! For AA and AAA batteries it’s 1.99 for 10, and 1.99 for 9V batteries too. That is leaps and bounds less expensive than I have found anywhere else, and they last just as long if not longer than other brands I’ve tried.

    • Battra92 says

      Ikea is wonderfully fantastic for so many things! I am currently in love with those green plastic spatulas and the white kitchen towels with the red stripe on them.

      I always forget to buy batteries at Ikea and it’s time to change those smoke detector and thermostat batteries!

    • Kristen says

      Goodness, I had noooo idea Ikea even sold batteries! Sadly, it’s a little bit of a trek to Ikea, so I would only be able to pick them up every once in a while.

      • Jen says

        We have bought IKEA batteries. While there is definitely a price difference, in my opinion, there is also a huge quality difference. The IKEA batteries don’t last nearly as long as the Energizer or Duracell so while you may be saving money initially, in the long run, you’re probably spending more replacing dead batteries!

        • Kristen says

          That’s what I’m always nervous about…which is why I like that Costco has the Duracell ones for a good price.

          • Megg says

            The Kirkland batteries are great too. We’ve found them to be long-lasting and much cheaper!

    • Cyndie says

      I loved BJs when we had one…but Costco built across the road, and they were closed within the year. They had great buys, and things weren’t always in bulk. We went to Sam’s for a while, but I decided to pick and choose, so I chose Costco.

  6. Battra92 says

    We don’t have a Costco nearby (I wish we did, though) but we have a BJ’s Wholesale Club which is mostly the same thing. Here’s what I buy there:

    * Deli Meat: Yes, I know this is overpriced everywhere but I’m not buying a deli slicer to make sandwiches. So I get my deli meat here for a dollar or more per pound cheaper than the grocery stores.

    * Video games – on clearance only. BJs seems to regularly clearance out video games quite cheaply. I bought the newest Zelda game for $10 while most places have it for $40. That’s an EXTREME YMMV, though and I will confess I was just darn lucky.

    * Gas – Not 10 cents but usually 3 or 4 cents cheaper, plus it’s the closest gas station to my house and work.

    * Wool socks. Merino Wool socks can be had for cheap at BJs.

    * Levi’s – $27.99 for a new pair of Levi’s. I don’t buy these here because I wear slimmer cuts. In my experience they won’t have have many different cuts and washes. If you’re into just standard washes and cuts, this is probably up your alley but if you’re looking for Rigid 501STF or 514s, you’re SOL.

    * Flour. Unless I’m taking the drive up to Norwich VT to the King Arthur Flour HQ to buy my flour in 50lb sacks, I buy it in 10 lb sacks at BJs.

    * Toilet Paper is usually cheaper at BJs unless you aggressively coupon. Even then, there are times when BJs is still the best deal.

    * Garbage bags, plastic bags etc. We write the date on boxes when we open them. It’s fun to see how long they last. A box of garbage bags tends to last us a couple years. 1 kitchen size bag per week (can you tell we have no kids?) with 200 bags in a box means we’re set for years!

  7. rosie says

    I always buy my organic quinoa from Costco (mine is about 10 bucks for 10 lb bag) and organic coconut oil- a huge container for 16 bucks that lasts me forever.

    they also have pretty great prices on happy chicken and beef.

  8. says

    On the topic of gas, both in the Phoenix area and Austin area, I am able to find cheaper gas NOT at Costco. Sometimes I find Costco a few cents cheaper, but it’s often the same price if not a few cents more than the gas stations close to our houses.

    However I do like Costco for the following:
    -Organic ground beef
    -Organic tortilla chips
    -Pirate’s Booty
    -Ready to make/heat tortillas
    -Organic frozen veggies
    -Organic berries (during the summer)
    -Peanut butter pretzels
    -Alpine Valley bread
    -Organic flour
    -Organic sugar

    • Jewlz says

      Yeah, I’m thinking that you need the AmEx card to get the best deal on gas! We use to get good gas at Kroger, but my car actually runs better on the Costco gas and I have no clue what the difference is!

  9. says

    eggs, lactose-free milk, lactase pills, cat litter, paper towels, toilet paper, and brown rice are some of the things I think are a solid value at COSTCO. But like you I also find Aldi is often a better value. And nothing against COSTCO but Aldi’s chicken breasts are usually quite fresh.

  10. Lisa says

    BREAD!!!! This might not be true for those of you in the US, but in Canada, bread is an absolute bargain at Costco!!

  11. LizG says

    Tires! My husband is an avid researcher when it comes to any large purchases, and has found Costco to be the best deal for our last couple of tire purchases. It will vary based on your needs, but is definitely worth checking out Costco’s price.

  12. Tammy says

    I always buy dog food – the kirklands brand of dog food is so much cheaper than what you buy in the store and it’s good quality – I will only buy dog food that the first ingredient is a meat (chicken, beef, etc) Some of the higher end brands don’t even start with meat but their brand does and it beats out the feed store and walmart on it’s price for the large bags! I did not know yeast was so inexpensive there … i will get getting it. I also always get my craisins there .. my family doesn’t like raisens but will eat the craisins – so I cook with them and they eat them by the handfuls. Their cakes are wonderful – they don’t do a lot of decorating – nothing custom at all but the cakes themselves are so good – it’s almost worth it forego the custom artwork. Def buy my gas there too!!

  13. Tricia Feagins says

    Costco is a great place to buy blackberries (when available), individual hummus packs for the lunchbox, healthy juice boxes, yogurt, snap pea crisps in individual bags for the lunchbox, rotisserie chicken to cut up and use in more than one dinner idea, milk (no hormones) and……eye glasses! Love Aldi and Costco!

  14. says

    I love to shop at Costco too…especially over lunch time, when there are lots of samples to try! :) As for some of the best deals I’ve found…

    1. Shredded cheese (until I found an Amish store that is cheaper!) in large bags. I would just repackage it into smaller freezer bags and pull them out as needed for recipes.

    2. Honey…their 5 lb container is way cheaper than in the grocery store

    3. Maple syrup…it’s expensive any where you buy it…but again, Costo wins this price war

    4. Eye glasses…this is the main reason that I have a membership! I recently got my first pair of bifocals (!!) and I think I paid around $150 for the pair…way less than I would have paid elsewhere!

  15. Kris says

    I don’t have access to a Costco, but I did want to comment on the printer ink. I tried using a store brand ink and my printer stopped working correctly. I have now gone back to Epson ink cartridges (after some diy fix-it-up sessions with my printer) and the printer is working again. I hate how expensive the ink cartridges are, but I don’t want to have to buy a new printer, either.

  16. jenelle says

    It is so simple to make your own vanilla. Just good quality vodka and one or two vanilla beans and voila you have vanilla extract. I made a huge batch of it two years ago for Christmas presents. Everyone was shocked at how simple it was. A few even tried to drink it!!!

  17. Liane says

    Costco? Their dogfood gets high marks.

    Vanilla? My family gave me a bulk package (online order) for mother’s day last year, and voila, presents for Christmas were already planned. Seriously the easiest thing I’ve ever done. And super frugal. Start searching for lovely little bottles to give to your favorite family and friends.

  18. Cyndie says

    I love Costco!! I’m there at least once a week..it’s only two miles from home, so it’s not out of the way..Their dog food is great..it’s rated highly on http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com, and with my very large dogs..it’s a great savings, and I know they are getting good food. I have learned not to buy the produce…the hard way…unless, I have a reason to use 12 avocados…I find that I think I’ll use it all, then life interferes, and I have to throw things away..I have never been to an Aldi..even though there is one on the same road as Costco..I have always been intimidated by it for some reason. I think I will give it a try now, with your recommendations…

    • Betsy says

      Funny that you mention the avocados. We love them in our house and will go through 2 or so a day, so that is one I do buy occasionally. It’s funny how we are all different!

    • Jewlz says

      We burn through produce like water. I added it up last week and we went through something like 6lbs. of strawberries, a pound of blueberries, half a pound of blackberries and like, 24 apples and one bunch of bananas. I don’t even know on produce since our produce was frozen or mixed in but it was CRAZY! However, you’ll be pleased to know that they now sell avocados in 6 instead of 12! :D

  19. Betsy says

    I love Costco even though I don’t buy a lot of things. SOme of our regulars though:

    Dill Pickles $3.99 for a gallon jar
    Cat and Dog food, Kirkland brand (we feed our dog grain-free)
    Deli pizza when on sale
    natural peanut and almond butter
    Ecos Laundry detergent
    Kirkland shampoo and conditioner, sulfate/sulfite free
    potatoes, onions and sweet potatoes
    frozen organic veggies
    Dishwasher tabs
    Ice cream treats from the food court on the way out.

  20. Jen Anderson says

    Battery hint: The Kirkland Signature batteries are a MUCH better deal than the Duracell you have pictured. Way cheaper and just as good.

    I can also provide another “thumbs up” for Costco Optical for glasses and contact lenses. And another vote for Costco as a source of tires.

    And, speaking of cars and batteries… CAR BATTERIES are a much better deal at Costco than elsewhere.

  21. Becca Creason says

    I LOVE Costco. Organic baby carrots, Organic spinach, pesto, million pound bag of potatoes, onions, garlic, lemons, frozen chicken breasts, toilet paper, clorox wipes (when they have a coupon), Kirkland frozen pizzas come 4/box w/ plain cheese for $10. I add chopped spinach, pineapple, any other veggies I have on hand and dinner is super quick (and made a tad healthier by me adding veggies), frozen organic berries, organic basmati rice, honey (for baking), real maple syrup ($13/jug), white vinegar, rolled oats, big tubs of yogurt (I just can’t get my act together enough to make my own), ketchup, olive oil, bread flour, & sugar. Whew. That’s about it ;)

  22. Holly says

    I love costco!!! We eat tons of produce so if its not onsale its bought there. Always we buy the Kirkland super premium dog food. Our dogs have issues and we used Nutri for a while but they raised proce to like $50/ bag or sonething way back so we switched. Costco sells it fir $23/bag and I have 2) 75 pound dogs to feed! Dogfood alone keeps us going.but also cheese is a great price, coconut oil, baking soda and epsom salts(i make detergent and use plenty of those).
    Vitamins and pain killers and allergy tabs are an awesome price! I use all kirkland brand and they work as well as Claratin, Tylenol and Motrin;) Kids versions too plus cold liquids.

  23. Susana says

    I’m afraid to get a Costco membership! a guy at work says there’s so much stuff there it’s hard to resist – and I had a hard enough time at Sam’s Club. Sam’s is closer to where I live but I may eventually get a Costco membership esp if I get a freezer. I like to keep frozen fruit on-hand as well as nuts and dried fruit.

  24. Kate says

    In Canada, Costco has the lowest prescription dispensing fees around, as well as fair prices on drugs. Saves money (and makes your health plan go further if you have insurance). They have a phone-in service for prescription refills that saves a lot of time. Also, due to pharmacy regulations in Canada, you can buy prescriptions at Costco even if you don’t have a membership. Not sure if that is true in the US, but it is worth checking out.

    • Randi says

      When I lived in Canada, I only had to pay the dispensing fee.( my ex’s insurance covered the cost of the drug). We lived in a small town, so my grocery store pharmacy( part of Loblaws), matched Costco’s dispensing fee price.

  25. Megg says

    We just had a big Costco trip yesterday! It hurt a bit but we’ll be good for several months. We don’t have an Aldi here, so everything we buy at Costco is compared to regular grocery stores so often we can’t find it cheaper elsewhere.
    We buy almost all our meat at Costco. We were gifted a “seal-a-meal” so we divide it up into portions for the 2 of us and freeze it in our big freezer in the garage. We buy a huge pork loin and cut it up into loins and pork chops. It works out great!
    We, too, buy gas at Costco, but not exclusively because our Costco is about 25 minutes away. But it’s in the same city as our church so Sundays usually turn into Costco days when we need to go.
    Contact lens solution, soda when we have it (so healthy, I know…), toilet paper, cheese (just discovered it’s half the price per pound as the grocery store!!), our favorite bread, Dave’s Killer bread! It’s $6-ish for 2 loaves, vs. the almost $5 a loaf at the store. Definitely worth the extra money, because we really enjoy it. We just freeze the loaves.
    We also get some produce there, like strawberries in the summer. They’re way cheaper and I just cut them all up in a bowl and they don’t last long!

    In Washington, you can buy liquor at Costco, but it’s super expensive. Not because the liquor is expensive, but because there’s so many taxes on it! So the liquor itself is a good deal, but not after the taxes come into play! Unless you really need 3 gallons of vodka…

    I wish we had an Aldi because some of the stuff at Costco does have more packaging, but at this point in our marriage I’m more concerned with saving money (and we do recycle, reuse, etc.)
    Plus, Costco headquarters are here, and they employ a lot of local people so it’s *almost* like we’re shopping local, haha. (The Kirkland brand was named after a city named Kirkland where Costco started!)

  26. says

    I am very sad because my Costco yeast died before I could use it all up. I made three yeast based baked items over the past week, and none of it rose properly. And I even did a experiment with hot water, yeast and sugar and it hardly bubbled at all. So yeast is now on my Costco shopping list.

    Boo!

    We have the Costco American Express card which gives us a sizable annual rebate. We use it for Costco, gasoline and my husband uses it for soccer business related expenses as well. Needless to say, it gets paid off every month. I just received a $325 rebate check the other day, which I took in to Costco for cash.

    Free money!

    One thing you didn’t mention was pet food. Their cat and dog food are comparable to the expensive high end stuff, yet is cheap. We buy our cat food there and pick up dog food for my parents as they don’t have a membership.

    And my son gets his glasses there, and we always take whichever car has an emptier gas tank. And I love the organic condensed chicken broth which comes in a glass jar and is fantastic.

    I guess I like Costco! The key is to go with a list and stick to it!

    • lauren says

      keep ALL of your yeast in the freezer and it won’t die ;) just scoop out the amount you need each time and give it time to get to room temp and it will last forever!

  27. Joanne T. says

    I concur with the yeast suggestion! I keep a cup or so in a heavy glass jar (one of those with the bailed lid) in the refrigerator, and the rest gets wrapped up tight in the freezer. I figure if I only get good use out of the first pound, that’s OK, it’s way less than half the price of the grocery store stuff.

    From time to time my son’s boy scout troupe recommends them for camping equipment, especially the wool hiking socks.

  28. Claudia says

    Many things are great deals at COSTCO. My favorites are:
    Lean Ground Beef, around 2.50 to 3.00 the pound
    Roasted Chicken for $5
    Lunch meat for sandwiches, less than $10 for big package and 3 different flavors (turkey and ham)
    Bread for sandwiches, usually two loafs for less than $4.50
    Cheese: Cheddar or Mozzarella, happy cow.
    Eggs
    4 Pizza box
    Tortillas Guerrero, you can freeze some to use them little by little
    Hot dog and soda for $1.50
    Passport photos and prints are very cheap too.
    Prescriptions medicine, you get an extra 5% off if you sign for the pharmacy card. Excellent service.

    Hope this helps!

  29. says

    I always get dairy there. Sour cream and cottage cheese is always cheaper. Also in Seattle we have a business Costco a few miles from home. The grated cheese was a little more than two dollars a pound. The ground beef was cheaper too, but I didn’t like the grind. It was more like the consistency of ground turkey. Toiletries I have found are cheaper using rewards and coupons at the dollar or drug stores. I often get free.

  30. Hanneke says

    I love costco. I got a membership specifically for their lenses. I need high index ones and every where I’ve looked including online are very expensive (free glasses and lenses are a joke to me as i need the high index ones) so my membership fee is well worth it for that alone!

    I buy cheese, frozen veggies & fruit, rice, oats, beef, pork loin, maple syrup, nuts, raisins, granola bars, almond milk, butter (a lot cheaper than aldi). I only shop there every couple of months :).

  31. Meredith says

    Men’s pants. My husband buys his khakis for work there, Izod, for $17. Also, I just picked up a pair of Lucky Brand jeans for him for $20. Izods are usually 35 on sale and Lucky’s are $100 at a department store. He is brand specific so this helps us out a lot!

  32. Tina B. says

    I don’t have an Aldi in my area, we have Winco which is like Aldi, but not as cheap. Winco does have a fabulous bulk food section, though. I rely on Costco for distilled vinegar, Bob’s Red Mill steel cut oats, softener salt, Swiss and mozzarella cheese, toilet paper( hubby is very picky, and Kirkland passes the test. ;) ), bananas, shampoo, milk, butter, sugar, mayo, frozen berries, spinach, and tortillas. I also like to watch for deals on closeout products for gift giving. Last year I bought the most fabulous reusable grocery bags for a dollar each and a 16 count of drinking glasses for $5 on clearance.

  33. Diane C says

    I used to feel the same way about printer ink, until Costco started selling refills in their One Hour Photo Department. Works perfectly and is sooooooo much cheaper. I’d encourage you to try it without hesitation.

  34. says

    I’ve never been to Costco but I heard from a friend how cheap products are. We’re 50 miles away from the nearest Costco. But, I will check this soon and maybe will sign up for membership. I can’t believe how cheap the yeast is. It’s really a good deal.

  35. Janknitz says

    Paper goods: toilet paper, paper towels, and tissues.

    Cleaning products when they carry the few brands we use. Dishwasher soap and Dawn dish detergent. Toothpaste and shampoo. Laundry detergent.

    Organic products: Coconut Oil, Avocado oil (for homemade mayo!), flax and chia seeds, almond butter (we don’t do peanuts).

    Kerrygold grassfed butter. Best price anywhere! We spend the extra money on grass fed butter for the health benefits, and it tastes great too.

    I make my own kombucha, so I buy black tea , organic sugar, and dried cherries (to flavor it). My price comes out to around $0.50 per bottle, instead of $2.99 for commercially prepared. Full of probiotic goodness.

    If you have to buy medication out of pocket, it pays to find out how much at Costco. They have good drug prices (though you should also check to see if the particular drug is on the $4 list at Walmart).

    We try to go to Costco no more than once a month (less often if we can) as we always walk out of there with $100 to $200 spent. We ONLY buy what’s on our list–too many tempting things with good prices to spend money on, but if it’s not on our list we REALLY don’t need it. It’s way too easy to walk out of there with things you didn’t intend to buy!

  36. Kim from Philadelphia says

    Our local Costco doesn’t have a gas pump- boo!

    Some of our favorites:
    – natural peanut butter
    – albacore tuna
    – real maple syrup
    – Kirkland frozen pizza
    – vanilla
    – powdered sugar
    – milk
    – cream
    -Fage yogurt

  37. says

    We have Commissary privileges, so we don’t buy much at Costco. However, we have found yeast, flour, sugar, applesauce, and pistachios are worth it there.

  38. says

    We are in California and mainly shop at Trader Joe’s and Costco. We do not have Aldi in our area, and I think that Safeway is expensive. On our recent trip we purchased dog food, frozen fruits and stir fry veggies, oatmeal, cereal, bread, coffee, and canned tomatoes. We also buy some household items such as garbage bags. We focus on stocking up on our staples and filling in with fresh produce and dairy at Trader Joe’s. Thank you for your list! I keep looking for ways to save money and waste less.

  39. Jewlz says

    Lots of comments so I wasn’t able to read through them all, but I wanted to mention to you that Costco is now carrying a new rechargeable that we have started using and they are FANTASTIC. The brand is Eneloop. The charge life is unreal. And for a little less than $20, you get a good pile of starter batteries and the charger. After using the first set (for our Wii remotes) and seeing just how crazy long they lasted, we decided to get another set for other toys and things!

    • Jewlz says

      Ok, finished the rest of the comments! I’ve been shopping at Kroger for a while, but I’m considering shopping at Aldi. My only issue is that it’s in another part of town that isn’t convenient for me, so I’m not sure it warrants the drive for me to go for the odds and ends I don’t purchase at Costco. Since shopping at Costco, I do find that we seem to eat more whole foods. Like, A LOT. Especially fruit. But we also get toilet paper (LOVE), the batteries I mentioned, bread, awesome crackers/chips, cereal, frozen items, meds, and most of all milk. Their milk is something like an entire dollar cheaper than Kroger. And with two growing boys, we burn through milk like water. 3 or 4 gallons on an average week!

  40. Liz says

    GOOD deals not mentioned by Kristen:
    Speedo Brand Swimsuits
    Frozen Organic Veggies
    Organic Olive Oil
    Organic Coconut Oil
    Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate
    Sheet Cakes for Parties!!!
    Kirkland Brand Diapers, currently size 1-2 is $14.99 for 136 diapers!!!!

    BAD deals:
    Apples, way overpriced
    Laundry Detergent
    IMO, all the processed food/snacky stuff in little individual packages

  41. says

    As a frugal spinster (old maid for those of you who don’t know what a spinster is) bulk purchases aren’t as important to me as they are for a growing family. Even though I work just a few blocks from the Kirkland Costco I don’t think the savings would off set the membership fee. I do like to make bulk purchases at a restaurant supply store. The prices are better in most cases than the grocery stores and there is less packaging. They are open to the public- no membership fees. I have calculated my consumption so I go every 3 months and get only what I will need before my next trip.
    My workplace shops at Costco for office supplies and I whole heartedly agree with Kristen’s assesment of off-brand printer ink for photographs. I put together a product portfolio only to have the Costco ink smudge even after it had plenty of time to dry. The Cannon ink was twice as much but no smudges.

  42. says

    I love Costco! I like to look at the coupon booklet, pick out the items I normally buy and then buy two or three of each item. Not only am I saving money by shopping at Costco, but I am getting it at their sales price!

  43. Kelly says

    Wow, this is such a timely post! I was just thinking about writing in and asking about whether you thought Costco saves you money!

    My spouse and I live in the city and only have easy access to Whole Foods and CVS, which is where we used to buy all of our products. However we recently became members at Costco on the suggestion of a friend.

    In the past two months we’ve basically stopped shopping at CVS because we can get all of our toiletries at Costco, which is a huge cost-savings. We still buy meat at Whole Foods and produce at the farmer’s market when in season, but we’ve found that the Costco produce is a significant savings over anything we have nearby! We also buy nuts, brown rice (what a deal), berries, cheeses, and chia seeds, in addition to things that we buy occasionally one at a time at the store counter (like bulk Clif Bars and Kind Bars).

    I think we’ve saving lots but I’m also wondering if we’re consuming more. I’ll have to do the calculations sometime. I figured you already had! Thanks for a great post!

  44. Jennifer says

    This is almost my exact list of things I only buy at Costco. I also whole wheat tortillas, big blocks of cheddar cheese, butter & hummus. I like the Kirkland brand contact solution, super cheap. Oh, and cat food!

  45. Super_E says

    I love their Kirkland trash bags!

    And I love getting a big jug of laundry detergent or softener when it goes on sale at Costco. I’m set for a few months and don’t have to go crazy looking for grocery store specials and coupons.

    I used to love the Kirkland toiletpaper until they changed it a few years ago and made the rolls bigger. Now the rolls are too big and don’t fit in my dispenser.

    And I absolutely love their return policy. I’ve never had a problem returning anything there.

  46. Jennifer says

    We have been having our canon cartridges refilled at the Costco photo center for this past year and they work great! We also used to go for the mini peppers, but now our Aldi sells them. We get our natural peanut butter there Coconut oil and the Kerrygold butter. Because of you I buy yeast there. I am also going to check out the nuts, brown rice and batteries. Thank you.

  47. Ada says

    Costco has some great gift certificates. Yes, I buy them for myself, but it’s still a gift-a gift to me! I have the best massage therapist (I’ve been seeing him for 10 years) and the spa he works at takes spa certificates that are sold at Costco. I pay $75 and get $100 worth of spa certificate. I’ve also bought movie tickets at Costco (good only if you don’t go to the cheaper priced matinee) and gift certificates for restaurants that I go to regularly.

  48. Virginia says

    For us Costco’s best deals are maple syrup, toilet paper, vanilla, frozen berries, and half n half cream. Costco saves us SO much money. You can’t load up on impulse buys, tho.

  49. says

    I have a very short list of things I buy at Costco – the frozen berreis… yum! Shredded Parmesan/Romano cheese, organic chicken (it’s cheaper, plus it’s one of the only places I can find boneless skinless thighs, which are my favorites), dishwasher tabs, and giant bags of baking soda. But in general, as a person who lives alone, I find it’s often hard to use up the Costco quantities before they go bad, so it becomes not such a good deal for me.

    BUT – did you know, that you can share a Costco membership? When you sign up you can put another person on your membership, and they don’t even have to be in the same state! I’m on my parent’s membership because it wouldn’t be worth it for me to buy my own with the few things I buy there. I don’t think that purchases I make count toward their refund thingy though.

    The other thing I wanted to mention to all the people buying eyeglasses there, is that I’ve found the cheapest place to buy glasses is online at Zenni Optical. You can get single vision glasses starting at $6.95! Bifocals and transitional lenses are more, but still WAY under $50. If I need an eye exam too, I generally go to America’s Best – I can get the exam with 2 pairs of glasses for about half of what the exam itself would cost elsewhere.

  50. says

    I’m still in awe of Costco’s prices for yeast and vanilla (and it’s the real deal, not imitation) and I learned about them years ago. I don’t know how they do it! The yeast lasts way longer than the date on the package, too. I like your freezer tip (mine is in the fridge). I also like to get my nuts there, since they are cheaper than the bulk bins at our local and well priced grocery store. I wish they sold raw cashews (I’ve only found roasted). Chia seeds and hemp seeds looked like a good deal on my last visit. It could be worth it for you to try their ink refilling service the next time they have a coupon (they seem to offer it regularly). It’s so cheap, that it wouldn’t be a big loss if you weren’t happy with it and they might refund it, too. Photo enlargements are also insanely cheap at Costco compared to other places. We’ve made some large prints and framed them as wall art. The large prints are so cheap that we bought 6 of them to rotate in two frames.

  51. Angie says

    I shop at Sam’s because it is closer to me. And, agree with so many on the items like olive oil, cheese, maple syrup, vanilla, spices, bagged veggies. But my absolute fav is generic zyrtec prices. My daughter takes the liquid daily. And I, the adult zyrtec. Sam’s price is $6 for 2 bottles of liquid. That’s less than the price of 1 bottle at Walmart! And adult generic is $15 for over a years supply–like 400 pills. Roughly what it is at walmart for a month-ish supply. I honestly thought it was a misprint the first time.

  52. Cheryl S. says

    A car…I used the Costco buying program and it was hassle free and $750 below dealer invoice plus some other freebies…I am a big Costco shopper (food, furniture, clothes, jewelry, electronics, eye glasses and eye exams) and I had read all about the auto buying program and finally joined the ranks of happy customers…

  53. Randi says

    Milk( we drink skim), organic bread, big bags of tortilla chips( when we have a party), dog food, dog beds, goat cheese, parmesean reggiano, gummy vitamins( when they have an extra coupon sale), same with Finish dishwasher tablets and the spot remover( only with extra coupons). We always get our glasses there too and they take VSP so they will bill it for you.

  54. Hollie says

    I love the dried fruit at costco, but unlike you, I don’t need to buy dates because my husband’s family owns a date farm and we have 30 acres of date trees. :)
    I also love the baked goods, and we love pasta in my house so I get pasta and cheese, and sometime sauces.
    I will also get gas if I need it, but our costco is out of the way to get gas there unless we’re in the area.

  55. says

    Gogo Squeez applesauce, and juice boxes (for lunches). Microwave mac n cheese (for the kids who eat lunch at home). Fresh fruits and veggies and big bags of frozen corn. Wipes. Now that we’re doing Huggies instead of Pampers, we can buy them there (though often the Costco trip doesn’t coordinate with being out of diapers, so I just get ‘em shipped from Amazon).

    I so wish Costco could sell liquor in my state. I imagine they’d have good prices…

  56. Sharon says

    Hi Kristen: Love your web-site and content.

    I cook from scratch, have a giant deep freezer, can food, make all of my baked goods, bread, salad dressings, and much more so I am interested in quality ingredients.

    I love Aldi and Costco and am mostly in line with your thoughts. My saving at Costco has been as you, the yeast which I also store in my deep freezer, what a blessing. Olive oil, however, Aldi has been carrying some really good olive oil in smaller bottles which I like. VANILLA, wonderful. SLICED AMERICAN CHEESE, CHEDDAR CHEESE, sliced and shredded. I repackage shredded in small packages and freeze. PEANUT BUTTER, excellent price and quality. VINEGAR, I use for cooking and many cleaning solutions. BAKING SODA, same use.

    SOCKS – a wonderful deal. SHEET SETS, good deal and last a very long time. I line dry my sheets which saves them from getting worn out in the dryer. COFFEE, I grind my own, a decent savings at Costco. TOWELS are thick and full of fiber. I bought a wonderful mattress topper, very pleased. Not terribly cheap but very good quality. Terrific HOOVER VACUUM SWEEPER, the best I have ever had, really gets the dirt up.

    I love the people who work at my Costco and visit with them as I weave through the store. Aldi employees are treated well and pleasant to be around. I am happy in either store from beginning to end. Savings is wonderful but it’s the quality of merchandise and how the people are treated that draws me back repeatedly.

    Blessings to you and your family – Sharon

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