(Updated List!) Items I WILL buy at Costco…

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It’s been almost 2 years since I first posted my “Items I WILL buy at Costco post” and in that time we’ve switched servers more times than I can count. Thankfully each time it was to accomodate the growth that we weren’t anticipating, but sadly in one of the moves we lost a lot of images and this post was one of the main ones to suffer the loss.  It took me hours to put this post together the first time around so frankly I’ve been dreading it, but it’s finally happening!  Mr. Frugal and I spent quite a bit of time yesterday at Costco getting ready for this post, today I’ll be adding quite a bit of new content but there is MORE to come!  Also stay tuned for an updated “What we would NEVER buy at Costco” post as well.

It’s been 2 years now that we’ve had our Costco membership, you can read about Why We Bought a Costco Membership.  The following is a photo series of items I do buy and would suggest you buy at Costco – these items are rarely cheaper even with a good sale or coupon (if they even exist) and as of right now I think you’d be hard pressed to find a better deal.  Plus I think the $1.50 hotdog/drink combo alone may be worth the membership :)

Fruits & Veggies: In most cases, I prefer the Farmer’s Market but when the market is not open I’ll opt for Costco.  However not for all of our produce.  I always shop the grocery stores “loss leaders” first – the produce that they have marked down to $0.99/lb or less.  They do this to get you in the door and it works for me!  I buy in bulk and freeze my fruits and veggies when I can find them around $0.99/lb or less and I stockpile my freezer with seasonal produce.

Dairy (Milk, Eggs, Butter, Yogurt, and Cheese):

Milk: It really depends when it comes to milk, lately I’ve seen some great in-store promotions for free milk with the purchase of various breakfast items that I already have coupons for.  So at this point it time it’s been a while since I’ve purchased my milk at Costco, but this is a great place to start for a good base price.

Eggs, Butter, and Cheese: Again here, my buy it now price for eggs is $0.99/dozen and Costco is pretty close but a bit over.  So it depends on the store sales when I need to buy eggs.  Fred Meyer often has their brand of butter on sale for $1.66 so that is my stockpile price and Costco is a bit higher at $1.84/lb.  Cheese is almost always on sale somewhere, so unless you really need it in bulk or prefer a higher end brand.  We love Tillamook so we buy this occasionally at Costco but you can likely find a deal elsewhere.  We recently stocked up on Lucerne cheese at Safeway for $2/lb.

Yogurt: I can’t find a single deal on single serve yogurt that I would ever consider a good buy – my buy it now price for yogurt is $0.25 each.  However when it comes to the larger tubs of Greek Yogurt, Costco is almost always the best buy unless I find it clearanced somewhere.

Household Goods (Toilet Paper, Kitchen Trash Bags, etc)

Toilet Paper: For most household goods I prefer to buy the smaller packages, especially when it comes to household cleaners and laundry detergent.  You can find deals on these regularly or you can make your own laundry detergent from home and save a bundle!  However quite the opposite is true when it comes to toilet paper.  That is one item that rarely, if ever goes on sale for less than Costco sells it for.  I’ve found a deal once or twice and I was sure to post it on TFF, but for the most part I would send you to Costco for this purchase.

We’ve gone back and forth about how to determine what exactly is a good price for toilet paper.  This is the formula I use below.  I’d also say that anything roughly below $0.50/roll is a good deal.  With that said brands vary great by size/length/and ply.  That is why the formula below is a sure fire way to know if you’re getting a good deal or not.

This is the equation I use with Costco’s Kirkland Brand #s to as a gauge…

Square Footage = 1539 sq ft
Insert a decimal 2 places to the left = 15.39 ($15.39 or less is a good deal and Costco’s is $14.99)
= $0.01 per square foot SO if you have coupons or if the cost of the toilet paper is LESS than this, it’s a good deal.

Kitchen Trash Bags: The same goes for Kitchen Trash bags – deals to exist but the price you pay for 200 bags ($0.07 per bag) just isn’t worth the hassle of clipping coupons and hunting down a deal.  Plus the quality of these bags far surpasses most other brands, in my opinion.  I also love that 200 ct box lasts us several months.

Breakfast Staples (Oats, Maple Syrup, Honey, etc):

Steel Cut Oats: Costco now carries Bob’s Red Mill products which makes me so happy!  They have 4.5lb bag of Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats for just $4.75 that’s just over $1/lb and I’m not 100% certain but I am pretty sure that beats any grocery store price or bulk bin, please correct me if I’m wrong.

Maple Syrup:  We recently ditched regular syrup in favor of Maple Syrup, it’s much better for you and we think it tastes a lot better too!  It is however fairly pricey.  I’ve found great deals on VitaCost with the new member free $10 credit, however on a regular basis Costco’s price of  $0.37 per ounce is hard to beat.

Honey:  Costco’s prices are good, but the huge bottle deters me.  I’d much rather smaller more manageable bottles, so if you’re up to refilling them that is an option.  We however prefer the taste of the Great Lakes honey that we order on Amazon, it’s actually just a few cents cheaper right now too (prices can change at any time though!)

Almonds: I have yet to find a better price on almonds at $3.26/lb.  These are so fresh and tasty too!  We use them in a huge variety of ways – roasting, trail mix, baking, etc.

That’s it for today, but I’ll be adding more items that I will buy at Costco to this post as I have more time available. I hope you’ve enjoyed this update! What are some items you think are consistently the lowest price at Costco?


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  1. I just bought gift cards there to use for end-of-the-year teacher gifts. I got a 4pk of Cold Stone GCs (so $40 worth) for just $27.99. Great deal! They have a lot of variety on the cards, too.

  2. Heather E. says:

    We have had a membership for about 15 years! But this year we upgraded our membership with an American Express card. We buy all of our gas at Costco, so with the AmEx card, we get 3% back on our gas purchases & 1% back on everything else. At the very least, it pays for our membership!

  3. cory phillips says:

    the gelivia coffie ground is on clearence at walgreens for 2.00 ea reg. 7.50.:-)

  4. I don’t pay for my Costco membership because it pays for itself. I have the executive membership and that gives you I believe 2% back on purchases. We don’t do massive amounts of shopping at Costco so we usually get just the amount of our membership back each year. But to me that’s worth it. It’s not cash in your pocket but it’s Costco cash and since we are there buying anyway it’s worth it.

    • BTW you can redeem the rebate check for cash at any Costco.

      • Costco’s Executive Membership is $110 a year, so you have to be spending $5,500 to get your membership cost back. That’s a lot of toilet paper.

        • $5500 spread out over 52 weeks a year is only $106 a week and for a large family buying in bulk, this wouldn’t be difficult to achieve. Especially if you purchased other things like prescriptions, gifts or higher-ticket items like electronics or furniture. We actually buy clothes at Costco because they often have good quality, name brand kid’s clothes that are very durable. We buy outerwear, pj’s and socks especially.

          • Completely agree with Jen. We’ve had our membership for over 15 years and upgraded about ten years ago when we noticed we were spending over 5k per year in diapers, food, clothing, furniture, electronics, prescriptions etc. I often joke with my hubby that we cannot make a costco trip without spending less than 100 dollars but in the end we pay way less for the products we buy often and in bulk. I love getting the little check in the mail with the rebate as it pays off the membership price.

        • You can also split the executive membership with someone else and both of your purchase totals go towards the rebate check. When renewal comes around you can split the difference after your membership is paid. I pay for the membership and mom has the second card on the account so I redeem all of her purchase points. This is what Costco advised and it works beautifully.

    • Elizabeth says:

      FYI: If you don’t make up your membership fee with the 2% back, take your check to member services and they’ll pay you the additional amount in cash. For example, if you get a $30 check, you’d get the additional $25, plus the value of the check, for $55 total.

      • Hey Elizabeth, this sounds very interesting as I had never heard that. But what would prompt them to cover the additional amount, any more information you can give on this?

        Thanks.

        • Anonymous says:

          They’ll do it to honor their money back guarantee, I think they expect most people wont bother to ask for it.

          • yes, I just had my first trip to Costco recently. They explained to be that the difference between the $55 membership and the $110 membership. The $110 has more “perks” and if I remember correctly, you earn back a 2% reward on all purchases. So, at the end of the year, you get a check for that 2%. If your check is less than $55, you take it up the desk and they will adjust it to $55 for you. Either way, you are never going to lose money with the $110 membership…there’s a good chance you will make some money, if you make a lot of purchases!

  5. I resist shopping as long as possible, so Costco’s large quantities are great for me. With 2 freezers I stock up on their multi-grain bread, yummy hoaggy rolls (for hot dogs, subs, garlic bread with spaghetti), tortilla chips, grated cheddar and parmesan, organic sugar, walnuts, old-fashioned oats, soy sauce, Adams peanut butter, honey; bananas, romaine, head lettuce, bulk carrots, spinach, broccoli; TP, napkins (serviettes), kleenex; butter (rarely cheaper in our area); office supplies – their 3 ring notebooks, especially the large ones, are cheaper than even the current back to school office store ads. I also like the chicken thighs and legs packaged into meal size portions. Fruits and meats I compare with the weekly ads. Our return on the Executive card more than covers it’s yearly cost – not to mention the gas savings.

  6. Chris Hunger says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with garbage bags- the kitchen boxed ones are a steal there.
    But, I do not agree with toilet paper. By me, you can find toilet paper for 3.99 for 24 rolls if you are patient and the sq. footage is usually comparable – although it is hard to figure out exactly how much you are getting.
    Bags of yeast are an awesome price if you do a lot of baking – much, much, much cheaper than individual packets at the store.
    Mozzarella cheese is pretty good too – usually less than .99/8oz.

  7. My Sam’s Club membership just expired and was debating whether or not to try Costco. Think I will based on all your posts here about Costco. Thanks for all the tips!

    • Price may important but I did not renew my COSTCO membership because our local store sells expired foods, food not keep cold , and just employees do not care.

      • sharon stone says:

        Gosh that’s really too bad. I wish you had access to the store where I shop! Just the opposite experience.

      • I sure wish people would report these things when they happen instead of just writing the store off.

        The store has a bad general manager or it would be in decent shape.

        Corporations cannot know that their policies are not being adhered to if people do not report the bad conditions.

        If the employees do not care it’s probably because the local management is twisting the policies against the employees and they aren’t being taken care of as promised.

        Until it gets reported it’s a slim chance it will be found out in a timely manner to stop the degradation there before it’s too late.

        Or, is that what you want?

  8. Tamara Thompson says:

    I buy all the items you have pictured except for the steel cut oats and agree they are good deals. I also buy softener salt there and think it’s a good deal. I like their 3 lb loaf of Inn Keepers Bread and think it’s a good price as well. I have bought their organic 2 loaf bag of bread and it’s a good price but doesn’t keep as long though healthier. I freeze some too. I get almost all my gas at Costco too. I like that they get new items sometimes so I like to try some of those and of course I like their samples!

  9. Howdy! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new iphone 3gs! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts! Keep up the fantastic work!

  10. Don’t forget to check Home Depot/Lowe’s for trashbags and cleaning supplies when you’re there. They offer good plain jane bags and concentrated soaps and cleaners at prices that are hard to beat.

  11. robert ungar says:

    do you have or when does it come in seaweed salad?

  12. I buy the seaweed salad. In the DC area it seems to always be in stock. It is a good deal for me. It is very different from the food I make and so I love having it prepared by others. Restaurants of course charge many times the price we get it for at Costco. BTW,
    it has use within a week after opening, but we keep it for a month without problems.

  13. Intersting formula for TP that I will keep in mind next time I need it. I resisted Costco for the longest time but once we had kids, that was it! The kitchen trash bags are great as are most Kirkland brand items. One thing I greatly appreciate is that Costco items apprear to be curated. They offer a select amount of goods and they are chosen carefully. I have never purchaed a bottle wine that was not delicious from a Costco run dept – personal purchases ranges from $5 – 45. I cant say the same for Whole Foods, Trader Joes, or any other wine outlet.

    Part of the Costco experience is the faith the store carries item only worth my while and dollars. Once they started carrying organic produce and meats, i could totally justify the cost of membership.

    And at the holidays, their toy selection is great! Kid and family friendly!

    Now if only they carried organic whole milk and organic yogurt…a girl can dream!

  14. We didn’t renew our Costco membership this year, for the first time in many years. Too many processed, prepackaged, high fat, high sodium foods. It seems like the vast majority of food there is junky and geared toward kids. All those chips, cookies, frozen chicken fingers, candy, high calorie granolas – yuk. What is healthful, is same price/more expensive than at the grocery. Apples $1.99/lb, salmon $8.99/lb, grapes $2.99/lb., cheese $8.99/lb and it goes bad before you can work your way through that $14 hunk. And I keep seeing the prices rise.

    I used to like the bananas, lemons, feta, rotisserie chicken, bread, wine, organic milk, Tide, but I can find easily find this elsewhere. And of course I loved the samples but there were always hoardes of rude people waiting and grabbing two – uck. Maybe that’s because I’m in Chicago.

    • Yes, there is junk but no one is forcing it on you. Start the day with Quaker Oats, a big box weighs 5llb and is split in to 2 bags inside. On a regular basis I buy Colombian supreme whole bean coffee, walnuts, almonds, blueberries, pineapples, multigrain loaves in packs of two, NZ lamb chops, us rib eye steak, steelhead trout fillets (better than salmon IMHO) plenty of good offers on many cleaning and laundry products etc.
      Every year I find nice Calvin Klein or Hilfiger shorts and Pima cotton sweaters, their bath towels are amazing as are the sheets sets. Oh and the staff at Willowbrook are great.

  15. How much are the almonds today? Is the price on http://www2.costco.com/Browse/Product.aspx?prodid=10183563&whse=BD_115&topnav the current store price?

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  1. Items I WILL buy at Costco: Gift Cards says:

    [...] Membership and the Items I would NEVER buy at Costco.  You can also read my first post about Items I WILL buy at Costco.  Today we’re going to talk about their gift [...]

  2. [...] a fan of their new toilet paper, it’s quite simply very rough. Ouch.  With that said though, Costco sells a 30 roll package for $14.99 or $0.50 per roll.  It used to be $0.01 per square foot but I don’t have the current [...]

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