I have a love/hate relationship with Costco because every time I shop there, I’m tempted to go off my shopping list, which immediately takes me over budget on my groceries.
And while it seems that everything at Costco is a great deal because of how much you get, there are definitely some items you should avoid if you want to save money in your grocery bill.
I have to start here because this was a weekly buy for me and when I think back at how much money I wasted, I feel bummed.
Mostly every cereal brand that Costco carries are almost always on sale at one store or another.
My favorite cereal brands are much more expensive at Costo, and I find that with digital coupons, I’m able to get a much better price at my local grocery store.
I am still guilty of buying fruit from Costco. They make it so easy and everything always looks perfect.
But, most of the time, I buy fruit from my local international grocery store instead for a fraction of the cost, especially if the fruit is in season.
Let’s talk about apples shown in the picture. How can apples be this expensive? I can get a pound of apples for $0.99-$1.69/lb. So, no thanks, not today!
Also, I found myself throwing a lot of fruit away because we just couldn’t get through them fast enough before they went bad. I’m not a fan of food waste, so I’d rather avoid buying too much and stick with smaller quantities that actually get eaten.
I stopped buying liquid laundry detergent about 5 years ago from Costco when I made this crazy discovery.
I used to buy the Arm & Hammer detergent for about $11 for 250 oz. size (160 loads) from Costco when I ran across an ad from Vons on their $5 Friday deals and what did I find? A better deal on 150 oz. Arm & Hammer detergent for $5.00.
At the $5 price, I can get 300 oz. for less than what I get from Costco. At that time, I happened to have some $1.25 off coupons that made the deal even sweeter.
I ended up buying about 8 of the detergents for about $30 and I still have some of them on hand until now. I go through 1 150 oz bottle (100 loads) in about 8-10 months. It’s been over 4 years and I still haven’t purchased detergent. I’ll keep you posted on my next detergent run.
Join next Wednesday’s Grocery Game Changer class to learn the exact steps I took to go from $1,200 to $400 per month on my groceries and have been able to maintain that for the last decade.
The options for bread are endless, but my current favorite place to buy bread is Aldi. They have a wide selection for a fraction of the price of Costco.
I also stock up on my pita bread from my local international grocery store.
Costco has great prices on tortillas, but other than that, your best bet is to buy bread when it’s on sale or marked down at your local grocery store.
Another really high ticket item. You can purchase toothpaste for much less at the drug stores when they have a sale, especially with their digital coupons.
If you need to have a specific toothpaste like Sensodyne (my husband’s preference) which is a bit more expensive ($21.99 for 4 tubes at Costco), you can STILL find better deals at the drugstores.
There isn’t a lot of variety here, and if you’re selective with your haircare products, like I am, you’ll pay even more.
You can almost always find national name brand haircare at a lower price at the drugstores, especially if they have a sale or offer digital coupons.
Save your money.
Pre-packaged Snack Foods
I still get tempted to buy them from Costco. Well….tempted and lazy to plan ahead and get a better deal somewhere else.
The truth is pre-packaged foods will always be more expensive, it’s much more cost for you to buy family sized packs and split them up yourself. You’ll save a lot of money because it adds up quickly.
I tend to do this with oatmeal, chips, nuts, etc.
Your photo quality is amazing in this post. Keep up the great work. I really enjoyed reading al of your exciting posts 🙂
Very helpful and useful information Gina. Thanks for sharing! Other items I’ve stopped buying at Costco are meat, eggs and milk. I can get better quality and price on these items at the grocery store. Keep these articles coming!
Wow, I’ve always wondered if I could get good quality meat somewhere else for less. Thanks for the tip!
Love that you DIY a lot of the list and have a lot of great alternatives! That is so motivating! Bakery bread is definitely the best tasking bread in my opinion, but it’s usually more expensive at the bakeries near me. I’d love to know if there’s a certain time of day that you can get a discount on it, perhaps before closing?
Unfortunately in my area, we don’t get coupons, atleast not for products we use (the only coupon I’ve ever gotten for laundry is Tide and we can’t use it). As well, prices are much higher here! Granola bars come in 6 packs (I’ve never seen an 8) and the lowest price I’ve seen is 1.99 (usually they’re 2.49 or 2.99). The Costco box of 48 is 9.99, so even on sale at the grocery store, I’m saving about $5, and that’s before taxes! A three pack of tortilla at Costco is the exact same price as a one pack at the grocery store, and they never go on sale. The bread we buy (hubby is fussy) is 3 for 6.49 at Costco and 3.99 a loaf at the grocery. It’ll go on for 2 for $5 if buy one get one occasionally, so I’ll get it at the grocery, but usually I get it at Costco because we go through at least 2 loaves a week (no kids in school yet). I don’t buy fruit, veg or meat at Costco, though, because it’s to much and we waste it, I prefer to buy produce at a local stand.
Thanks for chiming in Natasha! Yeah, I imagine it would not be cost effective if you didn’t have coupons, hopefully they start coming to your area soon! I’ve just found local grocery gems that save me much more than buying from Costco in certain items. I agree with you on the tortilla, I still buy them from there, but sliced bread is always on sale at the national chains that it makes more sense for me to buy from there.
I would like to learn more. I can’t agree with some of your suggestions – meat at my Costco is usually significantly less than Publix and the quality is outstanding. However, I won’t buy a pkg of 8 HUGE apples or big fat oranges when I get great quality at the farmer’s market. I do appreciate Kirkland toilet paper and paper towels – one package lasts me a LONG time and keeps me from running to Walmart and leave with a $100 tab! Like everyone else, I suppose!
I totally agree with you Vicki. I’m working on finding a better place to buy meat, actually. Sometimes I can find deals when there is a sale, but Costco tends to be my plan B when all else fails lol