5 Tips to Help You Shop Smart at Costco
Shopping at Costco: When & What to Buy
Who doesn’t love shopping at Costco? Go ahead… raise your hand. I don’t see any hands. Why? Because everyone loves hanging out at Costco! That is, until you check out and pay. 🙂 I believe there have only been two occasions when I’ve actually gone inside Costco, stuck to my big list of 3 things (it’s rare that I only have 3 things on my list by the way), and got out of there without putting something else in my cart. That of course is the most important tip of all… make a list and stick to it! If that’s beyond your capability, here are some other tips to help you save money while shopping at Costco.
Contrary to popular belief, it is VERY possible to shop smart while perusing the aisles of Costco. You’ve just got to keep some things in mind… and yes, I realize that some of these things could be a better deal if you use coupons coupled with watching for sales at a grocery store. But there comes a time when you’ll have to weigh that decision… for me personally, I had to simplify my life and I usually only shop the coupon deals at Fred Meyer when they are awesome. So that’s why we wanted to share our favorite Costco tips… to help you maximize your savings and get the most for your money.
#1 – Shop According to What is on Sale
Every month or so Costco sends out a new coupon book to their members (you can view them online). This is a fantastic way to save BIG! I always like to thumb through it and find the items I’m already purchasing that have a coupon. I like to take note if there is a quantity limit, and I take note of the effective dates. You DO NOT need to have the coupon book with you to get the savings! I like to add the items that I want to my Costco shopping list (I use Google Keep for this). I will purchase whatever snacks have a coupon that month as the snacks for their lunches or after school snacks. They get what’s on sale, not necessarily their favorite snack/treat. Plus it’s a great way to add a little variety to my pantry.
#2 – Stock Up During Seasonal Sales
As soon as I see their seasonal items hit the warehouse flour, I will buy them if I need them. I’ve learned the hard way that if I wait too long, the seasonal items will be gone! Here are some of my favorite seasonal items:
- Summer: I’ll grab goggles & swimsuits to last my kids throughout the whole year. The speedo goggles run about $5.00 each and it’s a great time to grab them for any winter (think: hotel/YMCA) swimming that you might do throughout the year. The huge beach towels are great quality and are a great price as well!
- Post Christmas: I love to watch for sale prices on toys for my gift stockpile, and also wrapping paper & ribbons for the next Christmas.
- If there is an * in the corner of the price label, you will know that this product is about to leave the warehouse and has been marked down to it’s lowest price… so watch the prices on clothing at the end of each season. I was able to get a pair of yoga pants for my daughter for $4 at the end of the summer last year.
- Movies & books can also be found on sale when you look – so take a few extra minutes to browse!
#3 – Plan Meals Based on What Will Save You the Most
- Menu planning is always going to save you money… and if you plan based on what the sales are, you’ll save even more! This will also help you keep a variety of menu options (see more Menu Planning Tips)
- Don’t forget about lunch and breakfast! I love to purchase the pack of 5 dozen eggs and a 3 pound roll of sausage to make breakfast burritos.
- We always buy the big packs of bread for lunch sandos too. You can put these in the freezer… I’ve been doing this for years with no issue!
#4 – Buy Kirkland Brand
If you’re a brand name snob, it may be time to consider the Kirkland Signature brand. In my opinion (and many others), it’s just as good as name brand items. Test it out and save some money! I even think the Kirkland brand of diapers is as good as Huggies diapers. Some of my favorite items that I buy Kirkland Signature brand are:
- Toilet Paper
- Trash Bags
- Granola Bars
- Fruit Snacks
- Contact Solution
- and more! Tell me your favorite Kirkland Signature brand items in the comments below!
#5 – Consider: Is it Really a Good Deal?
Just because the product is in bulk it may not be a great deal. Make sure that you price compare before you grab the bigger pack of your favorite product Check out the price per ounce or price per pound of some of your favorite Costco items next time you’re at the grocery store. Write it down (I love Google Keep for this) and then price compare next time you’re at Costco.
Speaking of deals… here are our favorite grocery deals at Costco:
The Best Grocery Deals at Costco
Dairy & Fresh Produce
Shopping the Dairy & Fresh Produce can save you a LOT of money if you know that you will eat it before it goes bad. I know that we go through a lot of berries, spinach, and baby carrots… so getting this in bulk is smart for my family. Here are a few great tips to keep your fresh produce and strawberries last for longer.
My top picks for fresh produce and dairy to grab the next time you’re at Costco.
- Bananas (I love to freeze them when they are super ripe and use them in smoothies!)
- Organic Baby Spinach
- Organic Spring Mix Lettuce
- Organic 5lbs Baby Carrots
- Strawberries/Organic Strawberries
- Berries: Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries (I love to get the frozen berries for smoothies too!)
- Baker Potatoes
- Organic Eggs
- Organic Butter (most often the price on regular butter can’t be beat either)
- Cottage Cheese
- Brick Cheese
- String Cheese
- Ground Turkey
- Rotisserie Chicken
- Chicken nuggets
- Pork Roast
- (We get the best prices on chicken when we buy through Zaycon Fresh – they also have deals on ground turkey!)
- Fruit Snacks
- Granola Bars
- Raw Almonds
- Protein Shake Mix
Staples and Baking
- Canned Beans
- Canned Tomatoes
- Baking Soda
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Soy and Almond Milk
- Shampoo & Conditioner
- Saline Solution (there are coupons for these at least quarterly… I buy enough to last me 3 months when there is a coupon for them)
- Over the counter medication (I love to buy the Kirkland brand rather than name brand)
Household Supplies & Pet Care
- Toilet Paper (although I’ve been getting my TP via Amazon Subscribe and Save!)
- Trash Bags
- Ziploc Bags
- Laundry Detergent (although when I was talking to my friend about this during the week she mentioned that the laundry detergent’s potency will diminish as time goes on…so going big may not be as effective once it’s open… but with the size of my family, this is NOT an issue!)
- Dog beds, food, and treats
- Paper Plates – (because not every night calls for real dishes! Plus I love having them on hand for when we have large family dinner nights).
And don’t forget to stop by the food court and grab lunch on your way out, unless you totally filled up on the free samples!
What do you love to buy at Costco?
I asked my friends on facebook and here were some of their favorite items. Share yours in the comments below!
- Produce (although I feel I can get apples and grapes cheaper at my local Kroger store)
- Hot Dog & Soda for $1.50
- Free Samples
- Rotisserie Chicken
- Frozen Organic Veggies
- Nutella (did you see there is now a Kirkland knockoff of Nutella?)
- Peanut Butter
- Diapers and Wipes
- Milk (I always buy8 gallons at a time when I shop at Costco!)
- Sports Socks (I like to stock up on socks on Black Friday at Fred Meyer)
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