When it comes to saving money on groceries, I swear by two things: meal planning and Costco! For families, you can save tremendously on your grocery budget by buying right and buying in bulk… and there’s no better place to do it than Costco. Just before the holidays, I asked my Instagram followers what the best things to buy at Costco. And the results were pretty consistent. So if you are looking to make the most of your Costco trips, or new to bulk buying and want to know what to look for, here’s your list!
If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’m a HUGE Costco fan. And I’ve previously shared my price comparison between ALDI and Costco (and how to save money at the grocery store by keeping tabs on the best deals!). BUT buying in bulk can also be costly and you can waste money, if you aren’t smart about what you buy.
When I shop at Costco, I always shop the perimeter of the store only and steer clear of the clothing, seasonal and gift items in the middle. I stick to my list, and I have a fixed budget for my bi-weekly trips. I know if I stay under that budget, I will stick to my family’s monthly grocery budget. But rather than just share my family’s Costco list, I reached out to my thousands of Instagram followers to tally their Costco favorites – and there was pretty significant consensus. Here are the top 10+ best things to buy at Costco, according to thousands of family finance moms…
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10+ Best Things to Buy at Costco
I tallied the more than 300 Costco recommendations from my followers, and the following were at the top of everyone’s lists. In some cases, I categorized them by a specific food or product category, but I have also highlighted brand specifics where they were given. So get your pencils ready to make your Costco list, or pin this post for later.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that prices change and vary by location, and in-store vs. online.
10 (tie). Peanut Butter
The Kirkland brand Organic Peanut butter was a repetitive fan favorite. It comes in a 2 pack of 28 oz. jars for $10. It does separate, so you have to stir it up really good before using it, but you can’t beat the price for the quality. And it’s a staple for lunches around here, as well as homemade snacks, like these Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Energy Balls.
10 (tie). Olive Oil
Almost every meal I make on the stove starts with sauteing in olive oil, so this is a definite staple in our house. And it sounds like the same is true in your houses too! We actually just made the switch to Avocado Oil (which was also mentioned several times by my followers) because it is healthier and has a higher smoke point. But you can find them both in the same aisle. Costco offers a variety of name brands and Kirkland varieties for olive oil at different quality and price points.
10 (tie). Milk
Whether you are buying organic, regular or milk alternatives, milk was a favorite for many families. And it’s no wonder – our Costco definitely has the best price in town, saving me several dollars a week on milk alone. With milk being a dietary staple for families, this is one you for sure want on your Costco list.
10 (tie). Apple Sauce
Kids’ snacks, in general, popped up frequently in your best things to buy at Costco recommendations – but Apple Sauce was specifically mentioned the most, both in cups, jars or pouches.
9. Guacamole Cups
The fact that the chunky guacamole cups made the list *might* be my influence… these are ALWAYS on our shopping list, and one of my favorite things to buy at Costco. In the Northeast, avocados are expensive, and typically underripe when you buy them, and go bad by the time you go to use them. Now, I just use the chunky guacamole cups, and no more throwing out avocados. They are also super convenient to pack in kids’ lunches, and I frequently use it as a sandwich spread or in chicken salad in lieu of mayonnaise.
8 (tie). Nuts
Another one that makes my family’s list too – and my son and husband’s personal favorite. Nuts in the grocery store are often expensive and come in small quantities. Costco sells them in bulk jars, and bonus – the jars are great for reuseable storage. My family’s personal favorite are the cashews, though many of you were partial to the chocolate covered almonds.
8 (tie). Frozen Pizzas
This might be the best deal to be had at Costco… you can’t make 4 cheese pizzas for less than $10. But you can buy them frozen at Costco for that! For a little more, you can get meat or supreme varieties, and for those with dietary restrictions, there are also cauliflower crust, gluten free options too. We always have some of these in our freezer for quick dinners on busy activity nights.
8 (tie). Coffee
One of the best ways to save money? Make your coffee at home. Want to save even more? Buy it in bulk at Costco. Whether you prefer it in beans, ground or k-cups, Costco has it all and a variety of brands to choose from. If you aren’t a big coffee snob (I know some people are very particular about their coffee), we are perfectly content with the Kirkland Breakfast blend. And the k-cups end up costing us about $0.30 a cup.
8 (tie). Aussie Bites
This was a new one to me – but so many of you mentioned it. And on my last trip to Costco, I saw them in EVERONE’s carts. They are healthy mini-muffin sized oatmeal bites, packed full of dried fruit, protein, fiber and more. I haven’t tried them yet, but they are on my list of items to try and look like an awesome option for breakfast on the go, kids’ snacks or lunches. According to Aussie Bite fans, you can find them in the back by the bakery with the baked goods.
Other than maybe having your own chickens, you cannot beat the price of the 2 dozen organic eggs from the dairy fridge at Costco. You’ll find them right by the milk, and I grab these almost every trip!
So many of you pointed to cheese as the best thing to buy at Costco. A few specific varieties came up too: the Tillamook cheddar, the big blocks of Parmesan, and my family’s personal favorite, the sliced cheddar. We also buy the bulk shredded Mexican cheese – it comes in 2 2.5 lb bags, and given my children’s consumption of quesadillas and my own need to fulfill my TexMex cravings at home, it’s a no brainer.
5 (tie). Produce
Lots of you highlighted different produce as your favorite thing from Costco. I will caution on making sure the quantity is not more than you will consume before it goes bad – otherwise, you are throwing away any savings you might have in the garbage. But a few repeated favorites in this category with the baby spinach, the mini peppers, the bagged salad mixes, berries, and apples.
5 (tie). Bread
Almost ALL bread at Costco comes two loaves to a pack. And often for the price of less than one in the regular grocery stores. I always throw one in the freezer while we use the first one.
4. Paper Products
Toilet paper and paper towels were frequent favorites mentioned by all of your as best things to buy at Costco. My family also gets our napkins, and paper plates here too. But for essentials like these, that never go bad, buying in bulk for the best price is a no brainer.
So many fans of the Kirkland brand diapers. Your kids won’t need to wear them forever, but when they do, diapers can add upwards of $100 or more to your grocery budget. Twice, we had two kids in diapers at the same time – potty training was an automatic raise! But in the meantime, save big by buying in bulk and Kirkland brand. Their wipes are great too.
The meat department at Costco is legendary and has been for decades. Meat is one of the largest components of most family’s grocery budgets, so if you can buy it for less, it’s the easiest way to make a big impact on your family’s finances. With a huge selection, organic options in almost everything, specialty items during the holidays, and even fish, it’s hard for me to buy meat anywhere else. They also make it super easy to buy in bulk, with many options portioned in 1-2 pound servings, even when buying 10 pounds at a time.
1. Rotisserie Chicken
This was far and away the most mentioned family favorite at Costco. It was mentioned nearly 2x more than all other meats combined! And you only have to look at the in-store traffic jam around the Rotisserie Chicken station to know that it is true. I ALWAYS pick up a rotisserie chicken when I go. You can reheat it and serve it as is, break it down and use it in countless recipes, for chicken salad, and so much more. And at $4.99 – you can’t even buy a whole raw chicken for that price!
A few more items that lots of your loved, but just missed the top 10 list included:
- Kerrygold Butter
- Cakes – $18.99 for a cake to feed 50!
- Maple Syrup
- Frozen fruit and berries
- Gas – always the cheapest price in our town
- Printing services – I had no idea, but you can get Christmas cards printed at Costco
- Pharmacy – prescriptions and OTC meds are a fraction of the cost vs. CVS and others
- Travel – I haven’t tried this yet, but definitely going to explore Costco Travel for our next family vacation
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One last thing I would be remiss if I didn’t mention on a list of the best things to buy at Costo. Get the Executive Membership. It’s twice as much as the regular one for a year, BUT it will pay for itself. How? With Executive, you get 2% cashback on EVERYTHING you buy at Costco, including gas and travel. If you spend $6,000/year, or $500 a month at Costco, the cashback equals the annual membership fee. You get a rebate check at the end of the year, and I use it to renew my membership every year.
For our family, I budget $200 every 2 weeks and we purchase the bulk of our groceries at Costco. Add in the cost of gas for both our cars, and our rebate is almost always right around the cost of the Executive Membership. If you are already a Costco member, the customer service desk can pull up your spending history and advise you if upgrading is a good choice for you.
Are you a Costco member? What are your favorite Costco buys? And most importantly, what are your favorite ways to use the rotisserie chicken??? For more ways to save, be sure to check out 25+ Best Ways to Save $500 and How to Save on Groceries with Meal Planning, and follow me on Instagram for more daily insights on your family finances to help you build a financial plan you can LIVE with!