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In need of a new microwave? You're in luck.
Costco has made headlines in 2019 for its discounted items (like this 6-pound bucket of Nutella), and may have attracted a few new shoppers since then. If you're unfamiliar with Costco, there's much more to the warehouse than massive amounts of junk food. There are plenty of healthy staples priced in bulk, plus the too-good-to-be-true prices on everyday items. And did we mention there are great sales every month for members?
This month, Costco has launched a new furniture savings event for members to take advantage of through March 3. But if you're looking to makeover your kitchen, you'll be happy to hear that there are also many appliances on deep discount this month. Plus, a few of our favorite groceries—like organic kombucha, Belvita bars, and Laughing Cow cheese—are on sale, making your weekly shopping trip that much more exciting.
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Some of the sale items below are available only in stores, and prices and availability vary based on your local store. However, if you have an online account with Costco, you should be able to purchase a few of these online. Click here to see the full list of Costco's sales this month.
These discounts are available through February 25, right before Costco will release next month's deals. If you don't have a Costco membership, but still would like to snag these sales, get your hands on a Costco Cash card ASAP. This card allows you to shop in the store, without actually ponying up the $60 needed for an annual membership—but you'll need a Costco member to pick one up for you.
More on how to shop smart at Costco:
1) Daewoo Retro Microwave, $65
Photo courtesy of Costco.
We never thought a microwave could be so cool! This 700W model comes equipped with 5 auto-cook settings, and you can save $15 right now online and in stores.
2) J.A. Henckels 10-Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set, $150
Photo courtesy of Costco.
Packaged cookware sets are sometimes cheaply made (translation: they last for about five minutes before you have to replace them again), but this collection of tri-ply, stainless-steel pans and pots can tackle even the toughest recipes. This set comes with two sautée pans and four stock pots, and only costs $150. We call that a stainless STEAL!
3) Dyson V10 Cordless Vacuum
Photo courtesy of Costco.
Costco is known for discounting Dyson's rather pricey handheld vacuums, and this is the month to buy one for all your upcoming spring cleaning. You can get ahold of Dyson's latest model with a substantial $80 discount. The only caveat? This Costco deal is only for members.
4) FoodSaver 2-in-1 Vacuum Sealer, $100
Photo courtesy of Costco.
A dream for anyone who shops at Costco and purchases bulk groceries, this handy gadget lets you seal proteins and fresh vegetables using disposable vacuum bags. This month, Costco shoppers can buy a new system that comes with a starter set of sealing bags for just $100 (a saving of $40).
5) Maytag Top Control Dishwasher
Photo courtesy of Costco.
If you're in the market for a new dishwasher, this model might be the perfect option for you. It comes with four different programmed modes and a heated dry finish, and is covered under a 3-year Costco warranty with free delivery and setup. Save $200 off the final price, this month only.
10 Things We’ll Only Buy at Sam’s Club (& Ya Can’t Find Them Anywhere Else!)
A trip to Sam&rsquos Club can be overwhelming.
So we&rsquore helping you plan a successful shopping trip and sharing the top 10 best things to buy the next time you&rsquore planning a trip! Plus, ya can&rsquot find them anywhere else or beat their bulk prices, so if you&rsquore not already a member, don&rsquot wait for another second to score these hot buys.
OK, &ldquoCostco Chateauneuf-du-Pape&rdquo doesn&rsquot exactly roll off the tongue. But who cares &mdash it goes down the throat quite nicely. The 800-year-old appellation, quaffed by popes and praised by Nostradamus, is now available under the &ldquoKirkland&rdquo house brand at your local warehouse club. And it&rsquos good stuff, according to experts. The 2008 Chateauneuf-du-Pape sells for $20, but would be $30 anywhere else, says Andrew Cullen, who rates wines sold at the store at the CostcoWineBlog. &ldquoBefore you see a bottle at Costco, it has been screened by Costco wine buyers, which cuts out 75 percent of the less desirable wines,&rdquo says Cullen, who has no relationship with the company he writes about.
Ray Isle, executive wine editor of Food & Wine magazine, says the fact that Costco sells such huge quantities of wine &mdash it&rsquos the largest retailer of fine wine in the country &mdash means it can get good deals and better access to top vintages. In addition to selling wine under its own brand, Costco offers a good selection of other wines at competitive prices. A recent favorite of Isle&rsquos is the Lot 200 Cameron Hughes 2008 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which sells for $28 a bottle at Costco. &ldquoI just tasted this two days ago, and it was pretty damn good cabernet for the price,&rdquo Isle says.
There&rsquos a lot of turnover, though, so don&rsquot go in expecting to find the same bottles month after month. On the upside: Thanks to the convoluted state regulations on liquor sales, you don&rsquot even need to be a Costco member to buy wine there. When the greeters ask you for your membership card at the entrance, just tell them you&rsquore only buying alcohol and they&rsquoll wave you through. Cheers!
The Items That Will Single-Handedly Pay for Your Costco Fee
Costco is an awesome source for saving money on groceries, depending on what you buy . Maybe you have reservations about whether or not Costco's annual membership fee is worth it. Frugal Living site Save Outside The Box compiled a list of Costco items whose savings will single-handedly pay for your membership fee.
What to Buy at Costco Versus Your Grocery Store
Buying in bulk at Costco can save your family lots of money—depending on what you buy. To find out…
If you're wavering on membership, or you just want to get the most out of your fee, you might find this list helpful. The site points out:
". here's a list of items that will single-handedly pay for your Costco membership – hopefully this will entice you to check it out. Each one of these items will, by itself, pay for the $55 a year membership fee. And even if you are a member, here [are] some items to take advantage of on your next visit to the value-laden warehouse giant."
Costco Is Offering an Unbeatable Deal On This Delicious Bakery Item
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it’s also the one we have the hardest time planning out, especially on weekdays. Nothing sets you up for a bad work day like a terrible breakfast (or no breakfast at all &ndash coffee and an empty stomach simply do not mix). But getting breakfast at a cafe or drive through every morning can be super expensive, and we usually don’t have time to whip up something from scratch in the morning. That’s where Costco comes in. The Costco bakery (it’s our “happy place”) offers up bounties most of us can only imagine, and their latest deal will make breakfast the tastiest and most economical meal of your day: they’re now offering two 6-packs of muffins for just $7.99 total.
Our mission at SheKnows is to empower and inspire women, and we only feature products we think you&rsquoll love as much as we do. Please note that if you purchase something by clicking on a link within this story, we may receive a small commission of the sale.
The muffins at Costco are ginormous, too, so if you don’t have a huge appetite in the morning, you could split these, giving you even more days of breakfast. The deal allows you to mix and match your favorite muffin flavors, so you can get six of Apple Crumb and six of Double Chocolate, and be set for a couple of weeks of easy breakfasts.
It is worth noting that not all Costcos serve all flavors of muffin. In fact, one commentor on this Instagram post shared that each Costco has its own muffin flavor selections that vary based on your region, so if you have two Costcos in your area and really want to add some variety to your life, you could visit both of them to see if the muffin flavor selection is any different.
You don’t have to worry about these muffins going stale. They freeze really well. Just move them to a freezer-safe air-tight container, then thaw overnight in the refrigerator for a fresh baked good in the morning.
You can perk them up even more by toasting them whole, or cutting them in half, toasting them, then spreading them with butter. We can’t be the only ones who will be thinking of nothing but gigantic buttery muffins for the rest of the day! All you need is a Costco membership, and this dream can be your reality.
Satisfy your sweet tooth with more awesome Costco bakery items seen in the gallery below.
10 Worst Things to Buy at a Yard Sale
You can find everything but the kitchen sink at a yard sale. Heck, you might even find a kitchen sink for sale. And prices are usually rock-bottom. Affordability is a key appeal of yard sales, after all, along with the opportunity to unearth hidden treasures. That's why yard sale pros always do two things: Arrive early and haggle often.
No matter what you find, it's important to remember that some items aren't worth buying at any price. Certain things for sale at yard sales should be avoided for safety reasons, while others are simply unsanitary to buy used. Still other items might not last long -- or work at all -- by the time you get them home.
So if you're planning to hit up a couple of yard sales this weekend, read on before you do. We talked with several consumer experts to compile a list of the worst items to buy at a yard sale. Here's what they recommend avoiding and why.
If you're looking for the latest electronics -- LED televisions, wireless surround-sound systems or Blu-ray disc players -- a yard sale won't be the place you'll find them. What you'll likely turn up at yard sales are outdated electronics that owners no longer want, such as discontinued plasma-screen TVs, says Jen Smith, a personal finance expert for ThePennyHoarder.com. In addition to being dated, "the laptops, televisions and digital cameras you'll come across will likely run slow and have very little storage compared to a brand-new version," she notes.
Also, keep in mind that yard sales are held outside, so there probably won't be a way for you to plug in that stereo system that's up for grabs to see if it still works properly. As such, you run the risk of buying an item that may not even function once you get it home.
Child Car Seats
Many new parents underestimate the thousands of dollars they'll need to spend on baby gear including car seats, according to a NerdWallet study. Even with the hefty price tags, these are products that you shouldn't skimp on and buy at a yard sale due to safety concerns.
There's no guarantee that any baby product you find at a yard sale, from car seats and cribs to high chairs and strollers, will meet current safety standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. This is true even if the item doesn't look very old. "Car seats have an expiration date that many people don't pay attention to," says Chris Heiska, owner of the YardSaleQueen.com, a consumer advice website for all things related to yard sales. If you do choose to buy a car seat (or other similar baby product such as a bassinet) at a yard sale, at least be sure to call the manufacturer's toll-free number when you get home to find out if there were any recalls, she advises.
Another caution: There's no way to tell if a car seat has been previously involved in an accident -- and that's a risk not worth taking with your little one.
People hosting yard sales are usually trying to get rid of unwanted items that have been taking up space in their homes for years. In addition to yard sale staples, such as clothes and kids' toys, you may even stumble across a few pet-related items, such as indoor pet cages and pet carriers.
These are items you want to steer clear of, because they could potentially harbor bacteria that cause disease in cats and dogs, warns Lisa Lee Freeman, a consumer expert and co-host of the Hot Shopping Tips podcast. Also, older pet cages and pet carriers may have been constructed from materials that are now considered unsafe for animals, she adds.
A new vacuum can be expensive. Prices on Dyson cordless stick and upright models run into the hundreds of dollars. So it may be very tempting to take home a used vacuum that costs a fraction of retail. But the savings you'll get on a secondhand vacuum cleaner at a yard sale won't amount to much if the vacuum stops working soon after you get it home. "Most people don't sell perfectly well-running vacuum cleaners," YardSaleQueen.com's Heiska notes.
If the seller allows it and the vacuum is charged or plugged in, you can at least check to be sure it turns on and off. But even if it operates, when it comes time to actually clean your rug or floor, you may discover it doesn't work very well, she adds.
If the thought of buying a used mattress at a yard sale grosses you out, it should. Top of the list: You could be transporting bed bugs into your home -- and once you do getting rid of them isn't as simple as throwing out the mattress, ThePennyHoarder.com's Smith warns. "You'll have to hire an exterminator, deep clean your entire house multiple times and possibly have to get rid of some of your favorite things depending on how bad the infestation is," she says.
No matter what the seller tells you, you'll never know how clean the mattress really is (or isn't). Dead skin cells, dust mites, body oils and other bodily fluids can seep into the mattress and accelerate deterioration, which can go undetected by a surface-level inspection, according to mattress maker Serta.
Just like televisions and digital cameras, the computer printers you'll find at yard sales will likely be several years old. They won't come with the latest technology, such as wireless capabilities, or print as fast as current models, says YardSaleQueen.com's Heiska.
There's also the hassle of trying to get an older model printer to work with newer computer software. Plus, you may end up with a printer that has an old, dried-up ink cartridge still in it that you'll need to clean out and replace, she adds.
Yard sales are known for having all manner of secondhand clothing that'll allow you to dress from head to toe on the cheap. But when it comes to shoes, ThePennyHoarder.com's Smith recommends steering clear of athletic footwear, such as running shoes and basketball sneakers.
For starters, there's the natural yuck factor. You have no idea if the shoes were worn without socks, which could potentially expose you to a fungal infection such as athlete's foot. Also, after extended use the stability and traction of athletic shoes begin to wear down, Smith notes, which can make them unsafe to wear while playing sports.
Vintage Toy Chests
The charming and seemingly innocuous vintage toy chests you'll sometimes spy at yard sales come with hidden dangers to children, warns Heiska. Case in point: A toy chest can cause serious injury if the lid slams down on a child's fingers, she says. They've also been linked to several deaths over the years as the result of a child getting stuck inside and suffocating due to the latch locking on its own. Additionally, many older cedar toy chests don't have hinges on the lid to prevent them from closing suddenly and strangling a child who may be looking inside one.
However, if you still insist on buying one because you love how it looks, the Consumer Product Safety Commission strongly recommends removing the latch lock so the toy chest can’t automatically lock itself.
Kids' Clothing With Drawstrings
A yard sale can be a good place to stock up on secondhand clothing for the entire family. However, if you see children's tops or outwear that have hood or neck drawstrings, you should leave them behind, YardSaleQueen.com's Heiska recommends. That's because the Consumer Product Safety Commission has deemed any children's clothing with hood or neck strings in sizes 2T to 12 a strangulation hazard.
While many of the children's clothing manufacturers in the U.S. have stopped making these types of garments, you'll still see some older items pop up at yard sales, Heiska says.
Jigsaw puzzles can be fun gifts, especially for kids. Or, a puzzle can be used as a budget-friendly way to decorate your home -- for example, displaying a completed puzzle that's been sealed on your coffee table.
The Top 20 Best Things To Buy at Costco
1. Pretzel rolls: you just have to taste them to believe their divine goodness. They are like poofy clouds of bread– the perfect marriage of a pretzel and a roll. They’re great toasted with warm butter on top, or delicious in chicken salad sandwiches, sliders, and more!
2. Raspberries and blackberries: these containers should say “grown in heaven.” I don’t know where they come from, but the berries at Costco are always plump, always juicy, and always sweet. Best berries I’ve ever had!
3. The sheet cakes: I know what you’re thinking, “No way, store-bought sheet cakes taste like cardboard and plastic icing.” Not the Costco cakes, my friend. These cakes are superb. Deliciously moist with the best cream filling inside layers of cakey perfection. You will never go wrong with a Costco cake!
4. Costco butter: it’s creamy, quality, and MUCH cheaper than butter you buy in the store because it comes in a four-pack. Usually lasts me a few months and my favorite butter for baking.
5. Naan bread: pretty much everything in the Costco bakery is fantastic, but this Naan bread has become my favorite hidden find. We love to make flatbread pizzas out of it, or tear it off and dip in sauce. Plus, it freezes amazingly and when you want one, just stick it in the microwave and it still tastes fresh!
6. Kirkland Signature sliced lunch meat: I’m kind of a lunch meat snob. But this Kirkland brand rocks!
7. Kirkland grilled chicken breast strips: again, Kirkland brand is solid. I love these already grilled chicken breast strips for quick dinners. Throw them in salads, pastas, or wraps.
8. Rotisserie chicken breast meat: Let me tell you why this is awesome. I love getting rotisserie chickens, but I hate taking the meat off them. Costco does it for you! Look for these bags of rotisserie chicken already taken off the bird for you (in the fridges by the rotisserie chickens).
9. Frozen fruit for smoothies: If you drink a lot of smoothies like my family does, Costco is your place to buy frozen fruit. It’s a great deal for a huge bag and the fruit is really good.
10. Uncooked fresh tortillas: I just caught on to this yummy find recently. It’s like having homemade tortillas at the ready. Just slip them on a griddle, flip and your ready for some muy bueno burritos or tacos. These also freeze well.
11. Johnny’s seasonings: if you haven’t discovered Johnny’s seasonings yet, get to Costco now! They could make a rubber tire taste good.
12. Dried Mangoes: If you’ve got an addictive personality, you may want to steer clear of these honeys. They are like candy in fruit form. My kids devour these before we even get home.
13. Coconut Almonds: Another guilty pleasure that you will never forget. The best way to describe these is like little Almond Joy morsels with the perfect ratio of chocolate, coconut, and crunchy almond. My favorite treat for when the kids go to bed for sure!
14. Coastal Berry Blend Premium Trail Mix: Healthy snacking never felt so good. This trail mix is the best found anywhere.
15. Bark Thins: A friend raved about these to me and of course I had to try them. She was right…delicious! I’m not a huge dark chocolate fan, but this hardly felt like dark chocolate.
16. Sabatasso’s Pizza Singles: Looking for a quick, yummy lunches or dinner? These are definitely a family favorite. The cheese is real! These don’t taste at all like other cardboard-y frozen pizzas, plus they are the perfect little size!
17. Nuts: Costco has a huge variety and we love them all. Almonds, cashews, pistachios, and candied versions.
18. Kirkland applesauce pouches: If you’ve got young kids, this is a must.
19. Kirkland Super Premium Vanilla Ice Cream: I saved the most sinful for last. It’s not even premium…it’s super premium! This stuff is decadent, creamy, and you taste like you’re eating liquid gold. Like this is the vanilla ice cream celebrities eat.
20. Photos: Costco photo center churns out probably millions of photos a day. It’s my go-to photo printing place by far. Good prices and excellent quality.
Okay, now it’s your turn! Dish your favorite Costco finds for us all to try!
5 things NOT to buy at Costco and Sam’s Club
Many a shopper has walked out of warehouse clubs like Costco COST, +0.04% and Sam’s Club WMT, -0.40% with a receipt containing at least a few extra zeros. And while you may feel like everything you bought was worth it (half off!), sometimes, despite their reputation for low prices, these warehouse clubs aren’t the best places to be spending your hard-earned loot, experts say.
“Sometimes you can get better deals at other places or you should skip buying some items,” says Matthew Ong, the retail analyst for NerdWallet.com. However, “what you should buy is a longer list — their reputation holds,” he adds.
Ong says that meats, such as bacon and chicken breasts, are often great buys at warehouse clubs (freeze whatever you don’t use), as are some kitchen appliances like toasters and microwaves.
Erin Konrad, a spokesperson for CouponPal.com, says that car parts like batteries and tires can be had for a very low price. “You can find the same brand tires as automotive stores, but for less, and get them installed while you shop,” explains Jon Lal, CEO and founder of BeFrugal.com.
Drugs also tend to be a good warehouse-club buy: A 2013 survey by Consumer Reports found that Costo was the cheapest place to buy drugs, while drugstores like CVS CVS, +0.92% and Rite Aid RAD, -0.23% were the priciest. Other to-buy items include alcohol and beach gear like beach chairs, says Lal.
Still, experts say, you may want to avoid — or at the very least do a thorough price comparison on the warehouse club vs. other area stores — on some of the items sold at warehouse clubs. Here are five.
(This story was originally published in October 2014.)
Books, CDs and DVDs
“It might be tempting to buy books or DVDs at these stores, but you’ll find much lower prices online (like on Amazon),” says Konrad. Warehouse clubs sometimes put items like books, CDs and DVDs out near the register hoping consumers will pick them up, even though the prices aren’t the best, Ong explains. And because Amazon AMZN, -0.02% offers these products so cheaply (sometimes for a few cents) — even with shipping, it’s still sometimes cheaper to buy online.
Condiments, sunscreen and other surprising perishables
There are probably only a handful of shoppers who haven’t, at least once, bought something perishable at Costco or Sam’s Club, only to see it go to waste. In general, Lal says that you shouldn’t buy the food perishables — “as they will likely be in bulk and there is too great a risk that you won’t consume it in time” — with the exception of items that can be frozen. That, you probably already knew.
But Ong points out that some perishable items might surprise you, including condiments, sunscreen and beauty products. “Many condiments go bad after about six months,” he says. That means unless you have a big family or lots of parties, that six-pack of mustard, ketchup or another condiment might go to waste. You should also watch out for buying things like sunscreen, which may suffer from a similar problem, as well as some beauty products.
Konrad says that sometimes diapers are cheaper at Target TGT, -0.21% or Wal-Mart WMT, -0.40% (she’s found them a few cents cheaper per diaper in some cases, which she notes “adds up”) than at warehouse clubs (though this is far from always true). Another option that may be cheaper is Amazon, which allows you to buy in bulk and save through its Amazon Mom (free with a Prime membership) program, which gives 20% off diaper subscriptions that are delivered to your doorstep.
While buying laundry detergent in bulk may seem like a good idea (and the prices at warehouse clubs make it tempting), Ong points out that it may not be smart for some consumers because it can lose some of its efficacy fairly quickly, at least compared with some other cleaning products like disinfectant sprays and surface cleaners, which can last for a couple of years. The rough rule of thumb is that detergent may begin to lose some of its effectiveness after about six months to a year on the shelf, though it’s typically still safe to use. Of course, if you have a big family and do a ton of laundry, this may not be a problem (and then, by all means, hit up Costco and Sam’s), but for many people, it may be better not to buy this in bulk.
Paper goods — everything from toilet paper to facial tissues — can sometimes be found cheaper at Target or Wal-Mart, says Konrad Ong adds that sometimes paper items (even paper plates and napkins) can even be found cheaper at the grocery store, that is, if you look out for the coupons that the stores put into the weekly circulars and combine them with sales.
Don't buy these 8 foods at Costco, experts say
Costco can be a great place to find good deals on the foods you eat every day. But there are a few areas where your local grocery store or a big box store like Walmart and Target can offer better value for your money.
That's especially true when it comes to size. Because Costco generally sells products in bulk, to get the most out of your purchase, you need to make sure you can consume the larger quantities of a product before it goes bad. For ordinary families or individuals, that can be a high bar to clear.
That's primarily why Charlene Haugsven, founder of MyFrugalAdventures.com, tells CNBC Make It, "Just because Costco has it doesn't mean it's a bargain."
Here are the eight types of groceries she and other experts suggest that the average shopper should think twice before buying in bulk at Costco:
- Breakfast cereal
- Ground coffee
- Condiments and sauces, such as soy sauce
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
If you compare these items, especially the Kirkland brand, to similar products youɽ find at the grocery store simply on price, Costco usually wins. However, the reason grocery experts put these items in the "don't buy" category comes down to the size.
The containers or packages are simply too big to end up being a good value for the average person.
Sure, some folks with big families, an extra freezer or lots of pantry space may think these are a good deal. In many cases, though, you'll end up throwing a good portion of the food away or struggle to find room for it in your home.
"A normal family is just never going to get through the quantity you have to purchase," Haugsven says. That's especially true on items like soy sauce, spice mixes and produce. If you live by yourself, springing for Costco's 1-pound container of fresh spinach, for example, may not make sense, though it is a steal at $4.99. That's because, even if it's stored properly, fresh spinach will usually only last 5 to 7 days in the refrigerator, according to shelf-life guide site StillTasty.com.
Large quantities can also be unwieldy to store. Though grocery stores usually sell flour in 5-pound sacks, Costco sells it in 25-pound packages, and it can be difficult to find space for all of that. "I would never want to store 25 pounds of flour. That's a whole year's worth of flour in advance," Haugsven says.
Shopping for Real Food at Costco: My Top Picks + Printable Shopping Guide
Note: This series isn’t about endorsing any particular company or brand. My goal is to cover major stores, where most Americans shop, to show people that just making a switch in the products they purchase is a huge first start in adopting a real food lifestyle–this only requires changing what you put in your cart. Once this hurdle is conquered, other options may be explored–farms, co-ops, and local health stores. Small, but practical changes lead to a doable lifestyle! Learn more about shopping for real food under the “Shopping 101″ section on the blog.
Gone are days of only finding real food at specialty stores. Today, real food options abound in stores most of us would least expect. I find the idea of accessible real food to be incredibly encouraging. No matter where you live, what your food budget may be, or which stores/farms are available in your area, real food is an option.
Today, let’s continue our shopping series. So far we have visited five stores in this series: Target, Walmart, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Meijer. Last week we took a break from the big chain stores to talk about the importance of sourcing local food. This week, we’re going to visit Costco.
To be fully honest, I am a member of the local Costco in my area. In fact, while I try to remain as neutral as possible in this series, I must say: I really love Costco!
For many years, before becoming a member at Costco, friends would rave about the member-only store. At that time, we were members at Sam’s Club (thanks to Dustin’s employer). I rarely visited Sam’s so I figured Costco was probably not worth my time or money. Finally, I took a friend up on her Costco tour offer and visited a store. As we walked down each aisle, I noticed junk food along with quite a few real food options: Kerrygold Butter at an AMAZING price (3 bars for $6.99), produce sold in bulk, and well-priced healthy pantry items. I’ve been a member ever since that day.
The food selection at your regional Costco may vary from the food I highlight below. I know my friends in California often find pantry staples–like almond and coconut flour– that I can’t find at my local Costco. Keep this in mind as you read through this post and print the shopping guide. I highly recommend visiting the Costco in your area and asking to tour the store so you can get a feel for the food selection. Also, if you’re a member at Costco and you find real food options not listed here, please share in the comment section below.
Remember, I’m not affiliated with any food company. I haven’t been paid by any store or brand. The selections highlighted in this post include my top food picks based on the Live Simply definition of real food and my visit to Costco. While everyone defines “real” in various ways, here’s my definition:
Practical Shopping Tips
1. Make a List:
Costco is one of those places where I can easily overspend! I can visit the store for six items and easily walk out with a full cart. Costco is constantly bringing in new items, both food and household related, so the lure of “Ooo, I need that!” is always just an aisle away. My best advice for maintaining a food budget and shopping at Costco is to never enter the front doors without a shopping list! And remember, stick to the list!
2. Stock Up On Asterisk* Foods:
I haven’t confirmed this statement with a Costco representative, but from my experience, when a price sign at Costco includes an asterisk* in the top corner the item is only available temporarily in the store, meaning it’s a one-time product. This is important to note since some real food options may include an asterisk on the price sign. This means it’s time to stock up on that particular item. While I don’t normally recommend wavering from a shopping list, now is the perfect time to do just that. Waver, my friend! Fill that freezer or pantry.
3. Buy Foods You’ll Actually Use:
This tip applies to just about any store, but at Costco it’s important to keep in mind since stores bring in some unique real food options (for example: organic black rice). If you find a new real food and you’re thinking about adding it to your cart ask yourself, “How will I use this?” If you can answer this question, buy the black rice!
4. Shop Kirkland:
Costco offers an exclusive line of products under the brand name, Kirkland. I’m often surprised by the high-quality and clean ingredients found in many Kirkland packaged foods.
5. No-Risk Membership:
Costco is a member-only store. This means you must pay an annual fee to shop in the store. My initial concern about joining Costco and paying the annual $55 membership fee was the fact that I never used our Sam’s Club membership. Would my $55 go to waste?
The no-risk membership sold me! According to Costco.com: “We will refund your membership fee in full at any time if you are dissatisfied.” It’s been three years since I became a Costco member, and so far I haven’t found a reason to ask for my annual membership payment back.
6. Shop the “Buy Organic” List:
Costco offers a large selection of bulk produce. No matter where you purchase food, I recommend shopping according to the “Buy Organic” list (based on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen). This list includes the top fruits and veggies to prioritize when making the decision to purchase organic produce. Most of the produce at my local Costco store is conventional (not certified organic), so I use this list to help prioritize produce choices.
For example: My local Costco sells lots of berries. Strawberries are on the Buy Organic list, so I avoid purchasing the conventional bulk strawberries from Costco. Raspberries and blackberries aren’t on the list which means I can safely purchase them and save a significant amount of money compared to purchasing berries from another store. With my savings I can purchase the organic strawberries from the market or local health food store.
Shopping for Real Food at Costco: My Top Picks
Costco offers a lot of produce, from seasonal finds to regularly stocked fruits and vegetables. If organic produce isn’t a priority, a customer could easily find enough produce at Costco to feed a family without the need to visit another store. If organic produce is a priority, shopping from the Buy Organic list (see above) is the best option.
Remember most of the produce from Costco is sold in bulk (melons are usually an exception).
2. Frozen Produce:
Costco also offers frozen fruits and veggies in bulk. I regularly purchase berries and fruit for smoothies and smoothie packs. The frozen broccoli is handy to keep in the freezer for soups and casseroles. Purchase fruits and veggies with clean ingredient lists (just the fruit or veggie listed) versus packages containing special sauces or “smoothie blends.”
I recently found Froozer fruit pops (pictured above). This product is an example of some of the amazingly clean real food convenience foods you can find at Costco these days. The product contains: mangoes, bananas, pineapple, and a small amount of guar gum.
3. Meat and Seafood:
Costco sells “better” meat options: organic chicken and organic ground beef. While these choices aren’t pastured or grass-fed (at least the label doesn’t claim to be from animals living in these conditions), I would recommend both options over conventional meat. Pastured chicken can be really expensive and hard to find my area, so a whole organic chicken from Costco is often my best option. As Costco expands the real food found in stores, I hope we will soon see grass-fed beef selections.
Along with a good selection of canned fish (sustainably sourced tuna and salmon), I also found wild-caught frozen fish: snapper, salmon, shrimp, and mahi-mahi. Fresh sustainably-source seafood can also be hard to find my area (which is crazy since I live in Florida), so I’m thankful Costco sells these options. The countries of origin are usually printed on the bags.
I haven’t been able to jump on the sardine food train yet (yuck!), but I know many real foodies love a healthy sardine. If you have an appetite for sardines, Costco is your store!
4. Dairy and Eggs:
Eggs aren’t considered dairy. I know this is often a point of confusion for many people, so while I’m lumping them into one category in this post to maximize space, please remember eggs aren’t a member of the dairy family.
Costco sells my favorite store-bought butter: Kerrygold. While Kerrygold has come under scrutiny in the past for not being 100% grass-fed (more like 90 something), I still believe this butter is the best store-bought option, and the one I purchase and use in my home. Costco also sells Kerrygold Dubliner cheese for $13 per 2 pound block. This same cheese sells at other stores in my area for $6.00 per 8-ounce block. Talk about a nice savings!
Costco also sells Cabot cheese (a brand I purchase when I don’t trust other brands), along with lots of imported cheeses (European countries often have higher standards for food production). As always, read the label before purchasing dairy products.
The best find for eggs at Costco is the Kirkland brand. These eggs are cage-free and organic. Granted, cage-free doesn’t mean free-range. If you need to purchase eggs from the store, and you don’t have a local farmer in your area who sells pastured eggs, these are a decent option.
Finally, let’s talk about milk. As we’ve seen from visiting other stores, good dairy milk can be really hard to find in conventional stores. Most organic dairy milk is ultra-pasteurized, a practice I can’t endorse. Once again, finding a local farm or visiting a local health food store is going to be your best option for finding high-quality dairy milk.
Costco sells Silk Almond Milk (this brand doesn’t contain carrageenan) and So Delicious Coconut Beverage. If you need milk from Costco, both these milk alternatives are your best buy. Another option for a dairy-free alternative milk is to purchase the large bags of nuts from Costco and make your own nut milk.
As mentioned above, if you need to purchase milk from Costco I recommend either purchasing nuts to make homemade nut milk, or purchasing Silk Almond Milk or So Delicious Coconut Beverage. Both have minimal ingredients.
While most of the time my kids drink water, the Apple & Eve Organics Juice comes in handy for classroom parties or events where juice is requested. Of course, these are a treat and, in my opinion, should be treated as treats–used for special occasions.
Another great real food drink option at Costco is Pellegrino Sparkling Water. This brand of sparkling water can be expensive when purchased individually from a food store, but Costco offers a very affordable price! When I need something fizzy (other than kombucha), this is my go-to drink.
PS: It would be amazing if Costco started selling kombucha in bulk–hint hint, Costco!
6. Dry Goods:
Yes, you’ll find junk food at Costco, but real food options are starting to fill the aisles more and more. The manager at my local Costco estimated that 19% of his store consists of organic foods.
Costco sells a large selection of products I already purchase from other stores, at a bulk rate. For example: Maple syrup from Costco costs $14! The same size and grade maple syrup from other stores costs $20-25. It’s little savings like maple syrup that make the annual $55 membership fee (FYI: that’s a standard membership) worth the expense.
The selection of dry goods I found at Costco recently includes: organic tomatoes (canned–not sure about the BPA), virgin coconut oil, avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil (a few varieties), dried herbs (a few organic selections), sea salt (just like Real Salt), organic white sugar (perfect for kombucha), rice, raw honey, almond butter, nut and seed butter, dried fruit (read the ingredient lists), quinoa, quinoa pasta, raw nuts, dry beans, rolled oats, organic ketchup, salsa, and organic jam. I’ve listed my favorite items and some brands in the printable shopping guide.
There are also a few items pictured above which I consider to be more convenience foods. These foods come in handy when I really need some extra help in the kitchen: spaghetti sauce (a very clean ingredient list) and organic mac and cheese.
7. Beauty/Health Products and Books:
Costco sells some of the best new cookbooks on the market. And guess what?? Most of these books are real food cookbooks.
Costco offers a few DIY ingredients: hydrogen peroxide (stain remover, toilet bowl cleaner, soft scrub), rubbing alcohol (glass/window cleaner), white vinegar (surface cleaner and just about everything else!), baking soda (so many uses) and epsom salts (bath salts). You can also find some products from The Honest Co.
8. Treats and Convenience Foods:
Finally, let’s talk about the “better” processed food options. Here are a few options I found for treats/convenience foods at Costco: Squeeze fruit pouches, Stonyfield Drinkable Yogurts (these have lots of sugar so treat them as a dessert), fruit leather/strips, Lara Bars, Mary’s Gone Crackers, Kirkland’s Organic Corn Tortilla Chips, and Nature’s Path Organic Pumpkin Flax Granola. Raisins are more of a pantry item, but I’ve also included them here as a treat/snack.
My Costco Shopping Guide
Thank you so much for joining me for another shopping trip! Before we part ways, I want to leave you with a special gift–a printable shopping guide!
Click on the image below to download and print your shopping guide. I’ve found some of the brands at Costco can change frequently, so I’ve only included the brands I regularly find stocked.
Special Note: Thank you to Costco for granting us permission to come in and take photos at the Costco in our area.