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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Costco shopping list

A few weeks ago, multiple readers emailed me asking for a list of items that I buy at Costco.  One of them was contemplating whether or not the membership cost was worth it, and asked if I would share how we save money there.  It's taken me a bit to write it all up, so dear readers, forgive the delay.

Cost of membership: Costco offers different levels of membership that range from $55-$110 per year.  With the memberships, you get two cards.  I know many families that each split a membership and have one card per household.  It definitely reduces the yearly cost, while still allowing you access to the store.

We have the Executive membership which is $110 per year.  It is similar to the $55 membership, but we get a 2% rebate back each year that actually pays the difference in the cost of the membership.  If you were to plan on big purchases like appliances, etc., you'll receive a sizable rebate.

Here are some of the items we purchase at Costco.  Many of the prices are ranges because I'm not 100% sure on the exact amount.  Keep in mind, many of these prices may not be the same around the country:
  • Organic apples.  Price varies depending on type of apple, but it's typically about $7 for what I think are about 5 pounds
  • Organic whole carrots (I can't stand baby carrots) - 10 pounds for $6.50
  • Organic baby spinach, 1 pound (it's a huge tub) for $3.99
  • Brussels Sprouts, 2 pounds for $4
  • Kiwi, 4 pounds for $6ish
  • Pineapple, non-organic for $2.79
  • Avocado, 5 pack from $3-5 depending on the time of year
  • Tillamook Cheddar, 5 pounds for $14.99.  Tillamook was named the "World's Best Medium Cheddar" in 2010, and it is a Pacific Northwest producer.
  • Smoked paprika, $3-4
  • Organic evaporated cane juice (it's the sugar we use), 10 lbs for $11.49
  • Organic Better Than Bouillon, 16 oz for $7ish.  I make my own stock, but these are great to have on hand if you just need a tiny bit for a recipe.
  • Rosemary crackers.  We're obsessed with these, and they're from a local company no less!  1 big box for $7.29.
  • Environmentally friendly dish soap.  I have no idea the cost of this, but it's a big jug for a very reasonable price.
  • Cascade dish tabs.  I tried and tried and tried environmentally friendly stuff in our dishwasher, but it just isn't working.  It worked well in our last rental, but not in our new place.  90 tabs for $13
  • Toilet paper - Charmin, a giant package for $20, and every 2 months they have a $2 off coupon in their coupon books
  • Mozzarella, 2 pound loaf for $5-6 ish
  • Dried dates, 2 pounds for $8ish.  I use dates in homemade Lara Bars
  • Adams Natural Peanut butter, 5 pounds for...$9 ish???  I still occasionally make my own peanut and almond butter, but Troy dropped a bomb on me that he doesn't like almond butter.  When I'm behind in life, and short on time, I just buy some Adams.  The only two ingredients are peanuts and salt.  You do have to stir it to distribute the oil when you first open it, which is annoying, but a small price to pay.
  • Organic frozen berries - the availability and price vary throughout the year, but we found a berry blend there once that had blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries.  10 pounds for $10.
  • Frozen blueberries, non organic - 10 pounds for $13.  They're not organic, but they are from a Pacific Northwest farm.  Jack loves to eat frozen blueberries ("cold blues") for dessert.  I give them to him in the tub.  It makes for a speedy clean up
  • Organic eggs.  I prefer to purchase them from our local farm, but the chickens have been on strike or something lately because they never have eggs.  I've had to purchase them from Costco for the last few weeks, and man oh man, they're just not the same.  2 dozen for $6.
  • Organic butter.  I haven't purchased it from there in awhile, as I've been buying from Azure Standard lately, but I believe Costco's organic butter is $7.29 for two pounds.
  • Snap Ware Glass Lock containers, which to date are the only glass containers I've found that don't leak if liquids are placed in them.  I can throw these in my work bag, and they go from the fridge to the microwave.  Costco sells a whole big kit of them in various sizes for $30.  Every so often, they have $6 off coupons in their monthly coupon packets.
  • Light bulbs.  Last month, they had LED lights for $4.99 ($14.99, with a $10 off instant rebate), but they have a wide array of LED and CFL bulbs.
  • Stretch Island Fruit Leathers.  I've made these before, but sometimes it's nice to have a ready to go snack.  The only ingredients are fruit purees and fruit juices.  And they're a Washington State company!
  • Stamps.  I'm not sure how they can do this, but you can buy stamps for less than the cost of getting them at the post office.  It's not a huge price difference, and you do have to buy them in a 100 pack.
  • Photos.  Their processing prices and times are reasonable.  They also print holiday cards and invites for something crazy like $14 for 50 cards and envelopes.
  • Nuts.  The prices of these definitely vary throughout the season, but they have great prices on pistachios, almonds, walnuts, and peanuts.
  • Organic meat.  I know they carry it, but I don't know the prices.  We purchase our meat at a local butcher, but we used to get the organic ground beef from Costco and I think it was about $3 per pound.
  • Organic chicken broth.  I no longer purchase it, so I don't know the price, but it was quite reasonable when we used to buy it by the box.
  • Frozen wild caught fish.  I don't know the prices, but they are affordable compared to other stores.  We buy their frozen salmon and cod.
  • 32 oz, Grade B pure Maple Syrup for $11-13
I know they also have organic frozen veggies like corn and peas, but it isn't something we purchase.  Friends who have used disposable diapers and formula, report that the deals at Costco are great.  They also carry organic brown rice and quinoa, and really delicious rice crackers.  Naked Juice and Odwalla are also sold there, but it's not something we purchase.  We used to buy their organic carrot juice to give to Jack, because he is so anti-vegetable, but I didn't like him drinking so much juice all the time.  Now I just put spinach or kale in his smoothies.

Last time I was at Costco, I saw they also carry coconut oil (finally)!  I think it was a half gallon of Nutiva, for around $22.

How about you, what do you buy at Costco?
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  1. I don't look for organic, but I have compared the prices between Costco (in Canada) and my usual grocery store. I buy vanilla, honey, bacon, frozen broccoli, eggs, milk (although the milk savings alone is not worth the trip), meat (the price doesn't beat a sale at my grocery store, but the quality is SO much better that it is totally worth buying at Costco), sugar, coffee beans, cream for said coffee, heck, I even got the coffee maker itself there! Canola oil, vinegar, deodorant, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, the Kirkland answer to robaxaset can't be beat (and works great for monthly cramps). Umm... we get our prescriptions there. Although we have coverage, their dispensing fee is cheap. I also just bought a vacuum cleaner to replace the ten year old one that was crapping out, that I ALSO bought there.
    I also used the cell phone kiosk when switching providers and received crazy amounts of Costco gift cards in the process.
    And sometimes, there are so many samples to try, you don't even need to make dinner!

  2. The prices on their frozen fruits and veggies can't be beat, and their produce is inexpensive as well (though sometimes a better deal can be found at the local grocery store). They also have fantastic dog food--the Kirkland brand has great ingredients (not a bunch of corn or other fillers) for a price that can't be beat anywhere. They also carry grain free dog food for about half of what you would pay at a pet store. I also love that they really stand by their products with their long term return policies.

  3. Wow, Mozzarella, 2lbs for $6? I'd be all over that! I've never been to a Costco (don't even think we have one in Maryland- I could be wrong). But such stores are great for bulk items... still, I'd love some of that mozzarella.

  4. So, I got the coconut oil last time I was there, and these are my thoughts: great for baking or cooking with, because it doesn't have much of a coconut flavor. However, I like to use a tablespoon of coconut oil in my coffee as well, as a way to up my coconut oil intake and as a healthy way to flavor my coffee, and because the brand Costco is selling has little flavor, it's less than ideal for that. Point being, if you're using it for things where you don't need/want a coconut flavor, it's a good choice. If you want/need the coconut flavor, try a different brand (Trader Joe's, Kelapo...)

  5. *sigh* out here in Rochester NY we only have a bulk club named after fellatio. And the one that is affiliated with the ever evil Walmart empire. We got a Trader Joes and I thought I was going to have a heart attack when I saw that. But of course it is on the other side of town...

  6. We buy a ton of stuff at Costco, but found one time that pays for our membership with only two purchases. Organic, low-sodium chicken broth, 6 liters for $10. Insane! It's $4-5 PER LITER in the grocery store. Buy 12 liters, save $50, membership paid for. I've also found organic tomato puree for like 75 cents per can. We buy our pup's grain-free food there for half the price of conventional stuff with fillers and nastiness from a pet store. We also make a trip when we need small appliances, office supplies, toddler jammies, and a Samples Lunch.

  7. I love costco- I buy lots of everything there. Our biggest savings are on dog food and nutella, lol. I also am almost done using a $6 bag of rice from 3 years ago! Some stuff, even if it's comparable to a price in the grocery store I like to buy it there just so I don't have to worry about shopping for it for awhile, it just takes stress off. Did you know that they do cruises and such too? I will definately be checking them out when I go to book my cruise this summer!

  8. Ooh, I was just making my Costco Shopping list for tomorrow. So far my items are bacon $12.18, bananas $1.39, brown sugar $3.37, rotisserie chicken $4.99, milk 2 gallons for 5.59-6.19, 1/2 and 1/2 $3.79, 18ct eggs $2.49, tortilla chips, TP and gassing up the mini-van. I'll post my purchases tomorrow. I know I'm forgetting something.

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  10. The difference in the stamps is 2 or 3 cents- not per stamp... total. Sorry.. this just makes me laugh.
    But... I LOVE Costco. They have amazing deals on tons of stuff and totally worth the yearly cost!

  11. We don't have a Costco, but we do have a Sam's Club that I have been tempted to walk through to see if we could get anything there. With your post, I think I might add that walk through to my weekend to-do list.

  12. No Costco anywhere near, but i would jump on the chance to join if we had one to join!

  13. Rumor has it our crappy little town is getting one, but I'll believe it when I see it and make do with Sam's until then. My folks live in a large, metro area, so we usually stock up on stuff when we visit since they have one of the biggest Costcos I've ever seen. They have great freeze-dried fruit packs that I like as a snack for DD. I also like to get spices there - most of them are the same price or cheaper than the tiny little bottles at grocery stores for a bona fide vat. My mom also recently got these little french bread rolls...OMFG, y'all. They come in a big bag in the bakery section a la brown n serve. Seriously best bread ever, and they only take 10 min in the oven. Other than that, paper products & cleaning supplies are usually on the list, as well.

  14. I'm printing this list to go shopping today. Thank you TONS!

  15. I don't have a membership to Costco, but there is one about 40 minutes away from us that I decided to visit yesterday just to see what it was like. WOW. We have a Sam's club close by, but Costco has it beat by 1000 percent. I am considering giving up my Sam's membership and switching over to Costco. It's quite a drive, but there's also a Whole Foods and Trader Joe's close by, so schlepping over there once a month or so wouldn't be too bad. Sarah, they had all the things that you mentioned (Except for the Wholesome Organic Sugar - it was another brand name, but still organic evaporated cane juice), and the prices I thought were REALLY reasonable. It's also twice as big as my local Sam's club. Now if I can keep the DH from going with me, I might be able to make it work with my budget!

  16. Shade grown coffee... good price, good for the rain forests (which are being demolished to grow scads of less tasty but cheaper to grow sun grown coffee (in our Costco it's not with the other coffees but with the organic stuff. Just ask someone...). Also, all of the above, including Preparation H. Hallah!


Comments make me more excited than Jessie Spano on caffeine pills!

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