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

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. Chantell Fithian via Facebook says:

    I buy most of my fruits and veggies there. Since switching to all organic, costco has the best prices by far. They also have the best price on grass fed ground beef and cliff kids products, and organic eggs!

  2. Sarah Case Lee via Facebook says:

    not sure if someone mentioned it in the comments already, but we buy a 25 lb bag of oatmeal for about $15 at Winco. Much cheaper than Costco’s over $1 a pound

  3. What about vinegar. Once I went their with my friend who has the membership i got the vinegar and it lasted me around 1.5 yrs. I use it for make cleaning solution etc. Can anyone tell how much Nutella costs at costco?

    • Last time we bought Nutella at Costco it was around $8/9 for TWO of the bigger jars. Very good price.

    • At my Costco (in NorCal) Nutella is $0.11/oz ($6.29 for two 26.2 oz jars) when it’s a coupon item and $0.165/oz ($8.79 for two) regular price.

  4. My organic baby spinach, broccoli, fruits (close to .99 a lb), toilet paper (Kirkland), yogurt, almonds, cheese, lunch meat, the unsliced kind ($3 something a lb vs the high cost grocery store, even with coupons and sales). Pretty much the stuff you listed. :)

  5. Michelle Corder via Facebook says:

    I don’t know which Costco you go to but prices differ at each location. I have seen this first hand from the Federal Way one to things being more expensive at the Tukwilla one. When asked they said each one has the right to price things as they wish. So I choose to shop at Federal way. Also at both locations for K-Cups the San Francisco brand 80 count for $25. Great deal by far!! And its great coffee. Sure hope they don’t stop selling it.

  6. Rachel Bell says:

    I buy medicine there. Some stuff will always be a better deal. Like kid vitamins and ibuprofen. I bake alot so flour and sugar too.

  7. Country Choice! Organic steel cut oats and there’s a coupon for it on coupons.com right now.

  8. vivian cross says:

    The kikomen soy sauce is a great deal. We also regularly buy the wonder bread there for our daughter. She really likes the texture and they give you larger loaves for a much better deal. The only time winco can beat the per loaf price is when they are selling it too close to the expiration date, and even then you get 1/3 less product.

  9. Samantha says:

    LOVE IT!!
    You have to stick to a list and I would add:
    Vinager
    Baking soda
    Ground beef—b/c of quality

    Also once you hit size 4+ diapers Kirkland w/coupon is a great price

  10. Jennifer Bush LaRocque via Facebook says:

    So thankful you updated! I was starting to beat myself up for all my buys at Costco but they are all on your list! :) thank you! :)

  11. Susanna Burke says:

    I consistently buy 25 or 50 lb bags of flour, butter & milk (because around here in the bay area they have the best price, hands down) vanilla extract (awesome and CHEAP), and spices like cinnamon or garlic powder. But I bake a lot, and I also have room for bulk sizes of these items. Another family favorite is the uncooked Tortilla Land tortillas, in the refrigerator section. Also the 5 lb bags of frozen veggies are great quality and an excellent deal at just over $1/lb.

    I’m happy to hear you say that Costco generally has the best deal on toilet paper and garbage bags! I have thought that for awhile now and I’m glad you validated it for me. Also I wonder about dishwasher detergent- it seems like their price on Finish tabs is pretty good, too. And if I am desperate for diapers, their everyday price is ok.

  12. I try to always buy my milk there because it is undoubtedly the cheapest in this area- ours is only $2.50 at Costco! Everywhere else is about $4! I also usually buy our laundry detergent- we use the Arm and Hammer and it’s usually a better price there then anywhere else. And lemons! At our Safeway they’re usually 2 for $1 or even 99cents each, while I can get 5 lbs at Costco for under $5. I was surprised to see Toilet Paper on your list, I always thought it was a little high, but I’ll have to pay better attention to the square footage and see if your formula helps. Thanks!

  13. Elizabeth A. Maher Purdum via Facebook says:

    Thanks! I was honestly a little worried to click on this as I LOVE Costco ( I even went there in labor) and didn’t want to hear that I was blowing it by going there. However, I am happy to report that my Costco list looks pretty identical to yours. Yeah!!
    Can’t wait for what not to buy @ Costco…

  14. We just discovered the Tree Top Unsweetened Applesauce. It’s such a great deal for four big jars! Our son loves to eat it all the time. And we bake with it too. I would add that to your list for sure!

    This also reminds me that it’s time to renew our membership! :) Thanks for the great work you do!

  15. Rotisserie chicken $4.99 I could make tons of quick fixing meals with it! From stew to enchiladas, LOVE IT! Aside from the eggs, milk, OJ & Greek yogurt…

    • Totally agree – the rotosserie chicken is a great deal, and can be used for tons of stuff… I always buy two when I go – one for dinner, and one to shred and freeze for later meals :)

  16. We get our milk, eggs, cheese, tortillas, tp, garbage bags, olive oil… And a few other things too.. Plus I totally agree about the hot dog and a drink :)

  17. Ellen Engles Couch via Facebook says:

    Hamburger, toilet paper, their brand of prilosec, mixed nuts, brown eggs, and much more.

  18. I recently price-checked dog food and the Kirkland brand was the cheapest, especially for the quality. Let me know if you know of a better deal.

  19. Lianne Vipond via Facebook says:

    Funny story – my frien’d son came to her the other day to tell her his girlfriend was pregnant. Things to NEVER buy at COSTCO? – Condoms!!!

  20. Julia Guinter Chandler via Facebook says:

    Awesome thank you! I’m the same way about their milk, toilet paper, trash bags and some produce. I’m curious about the maple syrup now and the honey!

  21. Jackie W. says:

    These are the things we can’t beat the price on elsewhere:
    Generic over the counter medicine (allergy, etc.), Artichoke hearts, Vanilla extract, Fancy Feast cat food, and Finish dishwasher tablets.

  22. LeAnna McAllister says:

    Nutella!! Nutella is less that $8.00 for TWO LARGE jars!! They are about $7.00 EACH at the grocery store for the same size jar. Practically a buy one get one free every time you shop!

  23. I love Costco, usually buy eggs, milk, trash bags and the finish tabs, last time I bought these they had a bonus pack with an extra 100 tabs and a coupon for 3.50 off, also don’t forget about gas. I have the executive membership and I usually spend just enough every year for my membership to pay for itself.

  24. I forgot I always buy movie tickets there too

  25. I started making my own yogurt instead of buying. I get to control what’s in it and it’s about $3 to make 1/2 gallon of greek style. Just a thought. As for the honey, we started getting it at our farmers market. It’s raw, so the good stuff in it isn’t destroyed, and it’s about the same price as costco. The bee keepers tend to have different flavors, whatever the bees pollinated is what the honey will taste like. Most let you taste the different ones that they have. My family really didn’t like honey until we tasted different flavors. We’s always thought that clover was all there was. None of like clover honey, but we love black raspberry and blackberry mix. It runs about $15 a quart. Our costco run $14.79 per quart. Just a thought

  26. Kirkland brand dog food is a good deal. For a 40 lb bag it is usually $23.00. That’s .58 cents/lb. And for the quality, it’s great!

  27. nichole says:

    We buy our dog food from Costco. Our dog has severe allergies and before our frugal lifestyle we were paying $46 or more for a 40 lb bag and at Costco we get it for $27 (Northern California price). However, I have been think of making her food to reduce that cost even more.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Yep yep your Costco shopping list looks like mine. plus I use the coupons i get in the mail every month and save even more! (I don’t know if they are included with all memberships or the Executive which I have). I opted for the membership because the rebates I receive at the end of the year pays the differrence between the Executive and regular plus I like the expanded hours it offers.

  29. Danae Hoobler via Facebook says:

    I have yet to find a better deal on maple syrup…love the stuff!

  30. Also protein powder is the best deal at costco!

  31. Norma Lee Cron via Facebook says:

    What about the skippy peanut butter

  32. Calendar Girl says:

    OMG! I always buy the TP, the organic salad mix, and the Kirkland drawstring kitchen bags. I’m glad I’m getting the best price around for them. Thanks!

  33. I found the price on sliced almonds to also be very good at roughly $3.50/lb. Quinoa is less than $2/lb.

    Speaking of yogurt. For those going primal, or following the paleo diet, CostCo has the organic, *whole* fat yogurt made by Strauss dairies in Sonoma, for $2.50/tub. Not only is it a fantastic price, but whole fat yogurt is difficult to find at the grocery store or Trader Joe’s.

    Bread Flour is about $2.25/lb, considerably cheaper than Safeway’s $4.75/lb or Lucky’s $3.50/lb (Gold brand bread flour).

    Ground Pleasant Hill coffee is $5/lb, and the quality compares to the Trader Joe’s wake up and other blends.

    This week they have boneless/skinless organic chicken thighs for $2.99/lb, which is very reasonable compared to most stores and isn’t all that much more than the non-organic price. The difference in quality and water content makes it worth the extra $.

    As for honey, I started buying it at Walnut Creek Produce. Local honeys are running about $6/lb which is great for raw, unfiltered honey.

  34. Jennifer says:

    I’m curious if you buy organic eggs and if you think it’s necessary to buy organic milk? It’s so much more expensive. And for those that bake a lot do you ever buy organic sugar, eggs, butter? If so what’s the best price?

    • Anonymous says:

      We stick to organic for eggs, milk and beef/chicken, veggies/fruit about %80 of the time. We started slowly and realize that with smart shopping and freezing it was cheaper. Mind you we don’t buy processed stuff so it’s way less expensive , healthier and better for the environment. :-D

  35. olive oil (in the glass jars only); pure vanilla (for baking…)

    • Olive oil can very easily to go rancid. I believe the glass bottles are dark bottles, so therefore they keep out more light, and therefore it stays fresher longer. HTH.

    • Daniel says:

      I also discovered that the glass jarred olive oil is 100% from Italy. If you buy in the plastic container it is a mixture from Italy, Morocco, and I believe Spain. The best tasting is from Italy, the soil there gives the best tasting oil. I use the good stuff (glass bottle 100% Italy) for dressing salad and the plastic jug for pan frying.

  36. Ruth Arellano via Facebook says:

    Our Costco sells organic chicken for 2.99/lbs I’ve seen it at whole foods for 3.99/lbs. I haven’t bought any at Costco yet because I bought 10 when Whole foods had their chicken on sale for 1.99/lbs

  37. Mara Sharpes Maxwell via Facebook says:

    Hi Julia~ I was looking at this post and was wondering what county of CA are you in?

  38. Mara Sharpes Maxwell via Facebook says:

    I am trying to make a Price book and need so info ;-) thanks

  39. Mara, I’m in Bend, OR

  40. Mara, I’m in Bend, OR

  41. Mara Sharpes Maxwell via Facebook says:

    O I thought you were in CA thanks ;-)

  42. Kimberly Nguyen via Facebook says:

    Thanks for posting this :) I usually get the Toilet Paper, Kitchen Paper Towels, Fruits and Veggies at Costco. My favorite buy are the Bosco Pears and Yoplait Yogurt :)

  43. I shop at the Turlock, ca or Modesto, ca Costco. Im kind of surprised that toilet paper is on your list. In fact I have always heard that paper goods at a wholesale club are overpriced, so I will have to check it out. Some of our common buys are the tortillas, hamburger buns, Hidden Valley Ranch dressing, batteries, bread, eggs, syrup, cleaning household wipes(whichever ones have the coupon that month), the whole pizza in the food court. Curious to hear what you think about the batteries and the wipes????

  44. Melissa Carr via Facebook says:

    there’s a segment on Rock Center with Brian Williams tonight about Costco

  45. Ginny Logan says:
  46. No one mentioned gas. In our area Costco is always the cheapest gas, that reason alone is a great deal. Also their photo center is cheap and travel center is great too. I hunt for travel deals often I find Costco is a better deal than AAA (not for everything but alot of times it is).

    I also buy some meats there too. Last few months I’ve bought pork loin and cut it myself into pork chops. For $16, I was able to make 10 meals for my family of 4 that works out to be 40 cents a chop.

  47. Cases of baby wipes!!! I have 2 in diapers, and we go through wipes super fast :)

  48. Carolyn M says:

    Tuna – they actually have 7 oz cans and it is great quality, Taco Seasoning, we get the Marathon TP (among many of the above listed items!) Costco is so great for a large family.
    We do have the executive membership and often find it a great place to get big ticket items (appliances, mattresses) Annual check more than pays for a general membership

  49. WinCo’s old fashioned oats is $.61 or $.65 per ounce. Bob’s Red Mill 5 grain mix with flax is $.68 per ounce. I’m almost positive that the steel cut oats were less than a dollar, as was the organic oats. During this last shopping trip, I noticed that many of the bulk items were Bob’s Red Mill brand. :)

    I often buy our frequently used spices and vanilla at Costco. We love the McCormick Taco mix. It was $3.99 for a 24 ounce container and contains no MSG and a short list of common (not chemical/processed) ingredients. After three years of couponing, we are about ready to not renew our Costco subscription. There are some deals, but it isn’t worth the $40 and drive for our family anymore…

  50. I joined to buy my 24 HR fitness membership – $300 for two years, and my Vitamix. Now I buy Tp, cereal, tofu, almond milk, grey poupon mustard, organic sugar, spinach, grape tomatoes. I love Costco but I wish the membership was less expensive!

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