5 Costco Shopping Tips to Help You Save Money
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 Costco tips to help you save money.
5 Costco Tips for Smart Shoppers
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.
That’s why we wanted to share our favorite Costco shopping tips… to help you maximize your savings and get the most for your money. On top of that, we want to help you save time!
#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 my kids’ 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
- Meal 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 Meal 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:
What to Buy at Costco for the Best Deals
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.
- 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 beaten either)
- Cottage Cheese
- Brick Cheese
- String Cheese
- Ground Turkey
- Rotisserie Chicken
- Chicken nuggets
- Pork Roast
Note: We used to get great deals on meat at Zaycon Fresh, but sadly they are currently suspending business operations.
- 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! They have a hot dog and soda deal that is pretty tasty!
What do you love to buy at Costco?
I asked my friends on facebook and these were some of their favorite items. Share your favorite products and Costco tips 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, Baby Wipes, and Baby Formula
- Milk (I always buy 8 gallons at a time when I shop at Costco!)
- Sports Socks (I like to stock up on socks on Black Friday at Fred Meyer)
Looking for more grocery shopping tips? Learn how to save money without coupons!
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For a while there, when I had young kidlets…Costco was the only place I got to buy myself clothes. haaa Taking young children to the mall was NOT happening.
Now…they’re 6 and 9. Our Costco favorites are: Milk, blueberries, Kirkland TP and Paper Towels, Kirkland butter, vitamins, granola bars, and any big purchases we can get there. Last year we bought a couch there and some blinds for our house and our annual membership reward check was for almost $200.00. DOUBLE BONUS!!!!!!!
The reward checks are AWESOME! I love that I can fit two littles in the carts too… ha ha!
The Kirkland Baby Formula is great. Same nutrients as the name brands..double the amount for half the price!
Oh my goodness… how could I have left that one out!? I love the baby formula! Thanks for reminding me!
Kirkland canned chicken. Love it for a quick meal.
Smart Amy…. I need to try that!
Kirkland popcorn. I can’t stand the smell of other brands.
Dogfood and cat food
Cetaphil cleanser and lotion
Vitamins, gummies, vitamin D.
Gluten free flour
Gluten free crackers
What is Cooli Rita? I’ve never heard of this! I love buying undies there for my kiddos too! Thanks for sharing your favorites!
Cooli/Kooli, I may have spelled it incorrectly. it is their version of Yakult. Probiotic drink.
I left off seaweed! Cheaper and better than Amazon.
Mexican cheese mix
Virgin Coconut oil
Probably more stuff. If you know your cuts of meat, I got top loin labeled short loin or something odd for $3.99/lb. The labeled top loin was $7.99/lb. Super tender meat and delicious.
Boxed organic chicken stock. Usually make my own, but this helps for times I am out.
I am sure there is more. But I hate grocery shopping but I love going to Costco. My dh would rather I stay home so he can save money….LOL
Ha ha. Great tips Rita. Thanks!
other good buys :
fancy bread, like portland french bakery
Annies mac and cheese when on sale
boxed chicken broth, kirkland
sugar, organic sugar too
electronics, they have a great warranty on tvs.
there’s always something!
Oh yes, I love to buy the organic chicken broth and organic syrup! LOVE the warranty… on my cell phone too!
We have friends who purchased one of Costco’s huge wooden playsets for their boys. A microbrewery of wind came through, lifted the entire thing off the ground, flipped it on its side, and slammed it back into the ground. They were pretty upset! Understandably! They called the manufacturer who said too bad, so sad. They called Costco and Costco replaced it. Free. Their response when asked about allowing that type of return/replacement? They work with the member “until the member is happy.” That, in my book, is a great reason to shop at Costco even if they aren’t always “the very best deal” in town. Good customer service is worth its weight in gold!
I totally agree… they have an awesome return policy!
The Costco app allows you to make a shopping list and “clip” the coupons, which are also attached to the list. It is great since I have my phone anyways. I go into the app, and look at my list to see what I need to purchase.
Love the app Doreen!
Your comment that you think Kirkland brand diapers are as good as the Huggies brand…..well you’re right! That’s because they are Huggies
I love the Optical Center. The price for glasses with or without insurance is still cheaper than what I pay at tradtional eye doctor. My daughter lost her glasses on vacation and I was able to buy her 2 stylish (picky teenager..lol) pairs for $190. Love..love..Costco.
Oh yes… look at all these things I’ve forgotten about! I’ve got 4 of us in contacts/glasses. For sure the way to go!
I buy ALL my diapers on Amazon, because you can’t beat the price. But wipes — I will ONLY use the Kirkland brand. They work better, are better quality, and have a better container than anything I buy on Amazon. When they go on coupon (which isn’t often) I will buy as many as I can!
You’re soooo right Hilary. I’m a Kirkland brand wipes girl all the way! I don’t care for the pampers/huggies packaging either!
And gluten free flours! I can buy Honeyville Almond flour for cheaper per ounce at Costco by me than I can in the 25lb. box straight from Honeyville, with their 10% off coupon. Gluten free stuff has been WAY cheaper for me at Costco than just about anywhere else. And with four kids with wheat allergies (two who also have Celiacs), having Costco increase their number of gluten free products has made it so I will NEVER cancel my membership!
I don’t need GF stuff, but I have been noticing a lot more products marked as GF too. That’s awesome news for all of you who have Celiacs!
Kirtland TUNA….terrific white albacore tuna, fully packed cans, the best!
Do you know when we will see the Costco membership deal again? I missed the one on December last year.
Hi Kay – we saw one in August last year as well… so hopefully it strikes again!
My father in law works at corporate and told me that the reason the Kirkland brand is just as good or better then the name brand is because most of the Kirkland brand stuff is made by the name brand company
Great tip Mameelynn!!
We have our home and auto insurance and the umbrella thru Costco Ameriprise Insurance. We save over $1,000 per year over our best price no claims State Farm Insurance. If you have the $110 Costco membership Ameriprise won’t cancel you if your have an accident.
Nice find! I forget that Costco has all those other great member benefits! I’ll have to check it out… thanks Helen!