Come learn how to shop at Costco… the RIGHT way! I'm bringing you my best money-saving tips to get you the most bang for your buck. Buying in bulk is an amazing way to save a buck or two, but only if you do it right. Excited? You should be. 😉

I consider myself to be a bit of a Costco expert. Not only have I been shopping there my whole life (yes, family outings to Costco as a kid were the bomb), I've become fascinated with Costco and have made a point to learn everything I can about this amazing store.

*Note: When you click the links in this post, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Oh, the mysteries of Costco…the $200 store, as many people call it. Does it save you money? Are the deals as good as they seem? Is it worth having a membership? How do you shop there and not lose your entire paycheck? How do I fit Costco trips into my budget?

All great questions. We'll go into detail here, but also check out this YouTube video I did!

Thus, today I've compiled a massive list of what to buy from Costco that will actually help you save money! Here are the best resources all in one place! This post breaks down how to budget for Costco, what to buy and what to avoid, how to use their coupons, tricks for getting tons of cash back on your membership, and much, much, more. Hope you enjoy it!


Now there are a few things you need to know before you hit the streets… I mean aisles at Costco.

  • Set your grocery budget! This is crucial. If you don't have a budget, you will definitely overspend. There are just too many good things at Costco. I set up my shopping budget and some general tips for grocery shopping!
  • Track your grocery budget! However, you track your spending will work.
  • Learn how to buy in bulk without breaking the budget. Here are tips for how to fit buying bulk into said grocery budget. Guys! Shopping at Costco is definitely a learned skill. But you can totally do this!
  • Last but not least, know your meal plan and grocery needs in advance! And if you need help with meal planning, let us help you here!


For my shopping at Costco, I typically stick to the bulk items that are usually involved with cooking and try to take advantage of their coupons whenever possible.  If you don't get the coupons mailed to your house, the membership desk usually has extras. Ask to be put on the mailing list next time you are there!

So below, I have listed the things I pretty much regularly buy from Costco. Just for the record…No, I don't always buy these items every time I go. Rather, I buy these when they go on sale and/or if I'm running low on my supply. I usually always try to keep these items on hand.

One more note, no, I didn't list EVERYTHING here…there are plenty of things that I missed, I'm sure.

Frozen foods and lunch items are basically the best from Costco! Here are some of my favorites to keep on-hand:


  • Kirkland Frozen Lasagna – I usually shy away from frozen, store-bought meals. However, in this case, since it's around $10 for two trays (I believe), it's a decent deal. One time I mentally calculated the cost of making lasagna, and Costco can basically do it cheaper!
  • Bags of Frozen Fruit and Veggies – They are not only cheaper but much better than other stores' frozen veggies.


  • Lunch Meat – I have found some KILLER DEALS on lunch meats at Costco.
  • String Cheese – I freeze most of it, and pull a few out of the freezer at a time and keep it in the fridge for my kids. Packing them into lunches frozen is also a great way to keep them fresh – they are perfectly thawed out by lunchtime!
  • Chips – Potato and Dorito chips mainly
  • Tortilla Chips – the 3 lb bags of Mission chips
  • Snack Items – Fruit snacks, granola bars, some crackers, pretzels, veggie straws, etc. Nearly always with a coupon.
  • Applesauce Pouches – for my kids (like THIS KIND) are great for lunches on the go.
  • Those awesome Kirkland chocolate diet drinks (like Slim Fasts kinda). Great meal on the go!


  • Eggs – The cheapest place I've found to buy brown eggs.
  • Milk
  • Cheese – I buy their huge bags of shredded Kirkland mozzarella and cheddar. I divide them into small sandwich baggies and freeze them; pull out one bag at a time as needed. I also buy a huge 5 lb block of cheddar, slice it up, freeze it in small baggies with small squares of wax paper between the slices, and pull them out when needed. The slices are great for sandwiches.)
  • Bananas – Unless I can price-match it cheaper that week.
  • Potatoes – They may not be the cheapest, but they are HUGE and last forever.
  • Strawberries – When in season. They are the biggest and best strawberries EVER. Tip: Rise them in 1 part vinegar, 10 parts water. They will last way longer!
  • Romaine Lettuce and Bagged Spinach – I can often price-match the lettuce for cheaper, but the huge bags of spinach are nearly always cheapest at Costco.


  • Seasonings and Pre-Minced Garlic – Their containers are HUGE and are much cheaper than other stores!
  • Canned Food – the BIG cans. The small cans aren't the best deal, but the huge cans are! Open them up, divide them up into saved jars, freeze them. Spaghetti sauce, tomatoes, pineapple, whatever it is, just divide it up.
  • Quinoa
  • Frozen Salmon – With coupon when possible.
  • Hamburgers and Foot-Long Hotdogs – Smaller hotdogs are nearly always cheaper at Walmart, but their Kirkland foot-long ones are to die for.
  • Salsa – We love their Kirkland salsa. Tip: If it starts to go bad before you can use the whole container, stick the rest in the freezer and pull it out when you're ready to use it! Never let it go to waste.
  • Juice – With coupon when possible.
  • Jam 
  • Rotisserie Chicken – Great quick, healthy, cheap dinner idea. For $5, you should always pick one up during a Costco trip, and here are 5 ways to use it!
  • Olive Oil
  • Vegetable Oil – I buy the huge container,  pour some into a smaller container that I keep by my stove, and keep the huge container in my cold storage. I refill it when needed.
  • All Things Baking – Flour, sugar, sometimes butter, and margarine.
  • Pancake Mix & Syrup
  • Chocolate Chips – With coupon.
  • Nuts – And you can freeze them too if you don't go through a huge bag of sliced almonds or a big vat of mixed nuts quickly!
  • Organic Items – Costco how has an extensive array of organic items. I'm not much of an organic shopper myself, but if you are, Costco is hands-down the place to get the best deals!

As you can see, most things on my list aren't necessarily for specific meals. Rather, they are staples that we try to keep on-hand at all times if I shop in bulk once a month. By keeping up with the coupons and stocking up on the items that are on sale that month at Costco, we tend to always have the things we need on-hand so we don't have to pay full price for them in a time of need.


Next up! Let's chat non-consumables! The non-food side of the store holds the best deals. Many of us think FOOD when we think Costco. But really, the best margins in price are on the non-food side of the store! Furniture and housewares tend to have the highest markups – anywhere, all the time. But with Costco, they will never have a higher than 14% margin on ANY of their products at ANY time. Thus, they drop the price dramatically to stay within that 14% margin. So cleaning supplies, diapers, dog food, vacuums, rugs, pot & pan sets = all great deals.


Costco is great for finding deals on quality items that you may use around your house, especially if you're a mom with young kids… or a dog!

  • Laundry Supplies – Detergent, fabric softener, dryer sheets. with coupons (see HERE for my preferences)
  • Cleaning Supplies – Disinfectant wipes, Comet, Swiffer refills, etc. (with coupons)
  • Personal Supplies – Face lotion, hand soap, body soap, deodorant, razors, shampoo, and conditioner. Don't forget a coupon! Extreme Coupon-ers will gasp at this because you can often get them cheaper with couponing, but I go for convenience since I only buy these 1 or 2 times per year.
  • Paper Goods – Plates, utensils, cups are all great with coupons. You can actually run their clear cutlery through the dishwasher.
  • Toilet Paper and Paper Towels – The Kirkland brand mainly. It tends to be cheaper, even if a different brand has a coupon.
  • Garbage bags – The big, sturdy black ones – with coupon. Trust me, you get what you pay for with garbage bags!
  • Ziplock Bags – with coupon
  • Socks
  • Postage stamps – When I need a lot of them. They aren't cheaper per stamp, but you don't get slapped with any fees, and it's an easy way to buy lots of them at once.

Heads up! You might not need 800 toothbrushes. If it's just you and your spouse, it would probably take you a few years to go through a Costco-sized container of toothbrushes. Don't get too excited about the convenience of Costco. If you only need 2 toothbrushes, maybe buy a $1 toothbrush and put the money you would've spent on Costco toothbrushes toward other things.


  • Diapers & Wipes – $5 or $6 off per box usually when you use their coupons. I buy whatever brand is on sale that month because Huggies actually makes the Kirkland brand (so they are literally as good!)
  • Baby formula – Kirkland formula is just as quality as the expensive stuff (it's most likely made by the same manufacturer, actually)…but a fraction of the price!


Costco offers a lot of great services that you may not be aware of!

  • Prescriptions & Vitamins – with coupons when possible, but in general, they are nearly always MUCH cheaper at Costco! Tip: you don't actually need a membership to buy from their pharmacy.
  • Photos and other printing – GREAT deals on prints many times. If you buy their picture frames, you get 100 free prints included which is killer. Also, they often have $5 or $10 off photo books in their coupon books.
  • Printer Ink – You can refill your empty cartridges for $7! (And sometimes they have an additional coupon in their mailer.) I've done this for years, and it works great.


  • Flowers and Plants – A friend of mine's folks own a large chain of flower shops. They said that Costco's prices are so good, absolutely no one can compete with their prices. Same with their plants and trees.
  • Outdoor Equipment and Sporting Equipment – When in season. Even if it's not the most rock-bottom price, their return policy makes it worth buying there, in my opinion!
  • Electronics – We bought our nice DSLR camera from there after shopping around for months. It went on sale around Christmas time, so not only was the price good, but their return policy is awesome. BUT…shop around because not all their electronics are cheaper.
  • $1.50 Hotdog/Drink combo – $1.50? For a hotdog and drink? Now that’s what I’m talking about, people! For those Costco hotdog virgins out there, we’re not talking a dinky boiled hotdog. It’s a true-blue, footlong dog of goodness and wonder. Fun fact: when Costco first opened in the 70′s, it was $1.50 for a hotdog and drink. The price has never changed and will never change – guaranteed. In fact, Costco was losing so much money on their hotdog combo that they actually built their own hotdog factory and now manufacture their own Kirkland hot dogs to keep the price down! Now that’s true love if I’ve ever seen it…
  • Gasoline – This will save you major $$ over time and is 3% cashback on your card!
Fairfax, USA – September 8, 2017: People in cars waiting in long line queue lanes to fill up vehicles with gas, gasoline, petroleum at Costco store in Virginia

Now, keep in mind, it depends on why you are buying. Costco may be more expensive than Walmart (that's where I am comparing my prices because those are the two places I shop), but their quality might not even compare in some people's minds. The quality of the things I buy isn't different enough for me NOT to save money. Does that make sense?


  • Ground beef – I can almost always price match it for $1.60 or less, and get the super ultra lean stuff for less than $2/lb. I stock up like crazy when it's on sale at other stores and freeze it, so I always have it on-hand (I oftentimes cook it up first, put it in 1lb quantities in freezer baggies, and freeze it so it's ready to go for recipes). Costco's is upwards of $2.50 or $2.99/lb. Good quality, but much more expensive. Ground beef is cheap, fatty meat by nature, and is rarely ever eaten alone. Since it's usually mixed into the meal, why pay a lot?! I save my money for the nice meats.
  • Other meat (roast, steak, etc.) – This is a personal preference. Costco's quality is unmatched but based simply on price, you can get better deals when they go on sale at the grocery store. For me, I'd rather buy good food (and maybe not THE BEST food) and stretch my dollar to get MORE food. But, once again, personal preference.
  • Cereal – They have coupons occasionally, but still more expensive at Costco.
  • Small cans of canned food – It's convenient to have them in a big box of 8 or 10 cans, but the price per can is higher than Walmart, especially if you price-match a good deal.
  • Condiments – Condiments go on sale like CRAZY in grocery stores around holidays. Stock up on ketchup, mustard, and BBQ sauce at stores when they go on sale and you'll save way more.
  • Soda – Costco soda may be tempting because of the HUGE boxes, but when you price it out per can, you can almost always find a better deal at your local grocery store when it goes on sale. Plus, soda stays good for a long time so stock up when it’s on sale and hold onto it, rather than buying at Costco.
  • Pasta & sauce – You can typically get 1lb of pasta for $1 (oftentimes much less) on sale. It's usually always more than that at Costco.  Sauce you can usually get for $1 per jar (or much less) at Walmart, Costco is nearly always more expensive. I buy cheap pasta sauce and use it as a base to making my own sauce. I make large quantities and freeze it. Much cheaper, and better!
  • Most produce – Once again, personal preference. Costco's produce is awesome, huge, often organic, and high-quality…BUT it's typically more expensive. Once again, I'd rather stretch my dollar and get MORE for my money. There are times when their produce is cheaper, but you just need to learn your prices (see below for more on that). For example, their 3lb bags of spinach is a great deal. And when in-season, their strawberries are competitively priced. They might not be the cheapest, but the size and quality make them a good deal. However, their apples, oranges, grapefruits, grapes, and other produce will cost you a lot more.


  • LEARN. YOUR. PRICES!!!! I cannot stress this enough! Remember, just because it's bulk and/or from Costco doesn't mean it's cheaper. I carry around a little “price notebook” with me and mark the price per ounce, pound, or ‘price per each' of things. Learning your prices is really the ONLY way you'll save money at Costco.
  • Take advantage of the pharmacy. Did you know you don’t actually have to have a membership to use their pharmacy? It’s true! But members get additional discounts. Costco pharmacy prices pretty much slaughter the competition, even Walmart (and especially Walgreens. They are NOT that good of a deal, people!)
  • USE. THE. COUPONS!! For heaven's sake people, use the coupons! Don't get them? Ask the membership desk. They even have them online many times. When there's a coupon for something you need or would buy anyway (very important) then stock up. Limit 2 on diapers but you only need 1 box? Buy 2. Then go back and buy more. Why? The coupons rotate. So yes, the Huggies coupon will be back, but not for another 2 or 3 months. What happens when I run out of diapers in the meantime? I end up paying full-price…unless I have them on hand.
  • Make a budget and shopping list and stick with it! If you don't need it, you're wasting money…even if it is a good deal. Be disciplined. Make a budget, make a list, and don't be afraid to take stuff off the conveyer belt when checking out. Use some self-control, people! 🙂
  • Don't be afraid to return things. Costco has a great return policy! They will take back just about anything. So if you buy the solar lawn lights and they don't fit right in your yard, don't be afraid to take them back. Now, that being said, please don't abuse the system. Returning things unnecessarily or dishonestly (using it with full intention of returning it after using it, for example) only increases prices for the rest of us. No fun-o. Try your best to make it work. If it doesn't, get your money back.

Here are more great grocery shopping tips for you:

Hope that helped all of you. Thanks for the questions and good luck shopping!

Jordan Page Signature from Fun Cheap or Free