My Favorite Things to Buy at Costco

by Melody on February 16, 2012

When I first started seriously using coupons after our first son was born, we actually canceled our Costco membership.  We were getting so much for our pantry for so little out of pocket that it seemed a waste to spend the $50 for the annual membership if we were only buying a few things.

Along came Little Man #2.  With him came a lot less time for coupon shopping and a lot less energy from me to actually make the trips to the store required to maintain our current grocery budget.

My parents bought us a Costco membership for our birthday.  Scratch that, they bought it for my husband.  He made the comment once that he missed going to Costco to just “walk around and look” and they felt bad for him.  With this came an unintentional renewed love for Costco from me.

There are definitely things you can get for much cheaper with coupons than you can get at Costco.  There are also TONS of items that are a better deal at Costco or that you can get in much larger quantities for a decent price, instead of a smaller quantity for super cheap at the grocery store.  Quite honestly, most times it is worth it to me to pay a few pennies more and not have to drag my kids to 7 different stores with 32 different coupons.

Since I started doing the Costco home coupon mailer match ups a year or so ago, your response has been off the charts.  It seems that there are many of you out there like me, who want to save money and lower your grocery budget, but struggle finding a good balance of time and energy spent versus pennies saved.

We thought it would be helpful for me to share my favorite items to purchase at Costco.  These are things I buy on a very consistent basis and will rarely buy anywhere else.  Since everyone shops Costco so differently, we’ve also included lists from our contributors.  Emilie does a little bit of everything around TBFL and is a far fancier chef than me, check out her list of must-have items here.  Jessie is our resident recipe guru and is an amazing cook, her list is here.

  • Lettuce – The romaine lettuce comes in a pack of 6 for about $3.50, which is about $.58 per head.  This is a crazy low price and having this much lettuce in our fridge forces us to eat more salad.  I’m sure you can grow it for cheaper, but it’s not cheaper if you kill your lettuce plants year after year.  (Hint: It’s me.  I kill them.)
  • Organic Carrots – These come in a 10 pound bag for just $5.99 or $.60/pound.  The bag is so big I can barely fit it in the produce drawer of my fridge.  Carrots last FOREVER, so we use them as our last chance vegetable.  We throw them in salads, keep carrot sticks cut up for snacks, steam or roast them for my kids dinner, shred them into pasta sauce.  You name it.  These carrots can do it.
  • Organic Frozen Veggies – Now that we have made the choice to do away with canned vegetables, these are a fabulous option.  At our store, they come in 5 pound bags of peas, sweet corn and green beans and are grown locally here in the Columbia Basin.  My kids love to eat the peas as a crunchy snack, the corn is a fabulous addition to salads or most recipes and the green beans are super easy to steam and keep in the fridge as an easy snack.  At just over $5 per bag, they are a steal.
  • Raw Almonds – Both my husband and I (and sometimes our kids), eat these for snacks every day.  We don’t keep crackers or chips in the house, so these satisfy our need for crunch.  They are a good healthy fat and I can rarely find them cheaper than Costco.
  • Sour Cream and Cottage Cheese – These come in 3 pound tubs from Darigold and are priced at $3.89 and $4.99 respectively.  Quite a few of my freezer meals call for sour cream and we just love cottage cheese, so go through it like crazy.  Great sales on these items are pretty few and far between, so for our family, it’s just much less of a headache to pick  it up at Costco and call it good.
  • Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil – This is a new addition.  Costco just started carrying it at right around $.28/ounce, which is seriously unheard of for this brand (or any brand for that matter).  We use it in just about everything, swapping out most oils in baking with it, roasting veggies, greasing baking sheets and muffin tins.  For ideas, you can follow my Coconut Oil Recipes + Uses Pinterest board.
  • Pecorino Romano – At $5.49/pound, it’s almost half the price of Parmesan and it lasts forever.  This was one of the things I rarely bought when I was a “serious couponer” because it never went on sale.  However, for about $9-$10 at Costco, I can snag a good size wedge that will last us at least a month or two.  It doesn’t take much to add a huge punch of flavor, I just shave off a little bit here and there and it makes all the difference in some of our recipes.  Sometimes I just eat it plain, because it’s good.
  • Half and Half – We don’t buy traditional coffee creamer anymore, I make my own.  The Darigold 1/2 and 1/2 comes in a 1/2 gallon for just $2.75 and I make my own Homemade Chocolate Almond Creamer (along with other flavors and varieties).  So much cheaper than coffee creamer and beats chasing the “deals” any day.  The taste is definitely different, as it doesn’t have any fake sweeteners, but I’m come to love it even more.
  • Organic Strawberry Spread – Deals on jelly and jam are very few and far between and I got tired of chasing them.  At just $.16 per ounce at Costco for a product that only contains 4 ingredients, I’m in.  I sometimes eat it straight out of the jar because it has so much flavor.
  • Spices – Truthfully, almost every spice at Costco is an amazing price.  My 2 favorite items from the spice aisle are the taco seasoning and the cinnamon.  The cinnamon is just $2.65 for a 10.7 ounce bottle, which will last me for approximately forever.  The taco seasoning is just $3.99 for a 24 ounce bottle, which is like paying just $.16 for one of those 1 ounce packets you can get at the grocery store.  I know you can often get these for free, but it generally requires having 17 computers to print your coupons from.  I buy it at Costco and forget about it.
  • Tortillas – Another item I got tired of chasing deals on, mainly because we go through them like crazy people.  At just $.14 per flour tortilla or just $.31 per whole wheat tortilla, you really can’t beat the price or convenience.
  • Kirkland Signature Tortilla Chips by Mission – If you haven’t tried these chips, you probably should. We don’t keep traditional potato chips, Doritos, Fritos, nothing, in the house.  Before they even cross the door frame,  I have them eaten.  These tortilla chips are a little heavier, not as outrageously salty so it’s hard to sit and eat the entire bag.  Not to mention the fact that the bag is bigger than my 3-year old.  They are delicious, are perfect for salsa dipping and nachos and are CRAZY cheap.  For just $3.59 for a 3 pound bag, the price can’t be beat.
  • GoGo Squeez Applesauce Pouches – These are all-natural, made with very few ingredients (like basically apples and water) and are perfect for on-the-go snacks.  I don’t buy them all the time, but they are perfect for road trips, long mornings in the car with lots of errands or just a special treat.  At $.48/pouch, the price absolutely can’t be beat!

There are a zillion other things we pick up, but these are consistent favorites.  I’ve spent quite a few hours compiling a list of my stock-up prices including Costco comparison prices, so if there is something you are looking for, definitely check it out.  Please let us know about your favorites, I’d love to hear what you all have found to be the best deals for your family!

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