Top 6 Costco Purchases
I love me some Costco! That’s why this list is a Top 6 instead of a traditional Top 5. The top reason Costco has my heart is that it allows me to purchase certain items in larger quantities, therefore keeping them off my shopping list for long periods of time. Other reasons are that Costco allows me to make reasonably healthy choices for my family, and the shopping experience is not terribly unpleasant as the store is well laid-out and easy to navigate with wide aisles, even when crowded (the only exception to this is the eternal traffic jam in front of the milk and eggs cooler- if you know, you know).
Like other big box warehouse stores, Costco comes with an annual membership fee. We do the basic “gold star” membership, which is $60 per year. In the name of complete transparency, since I call myself the FRUGAL Frisco Momma, I personally don’t think a Costco membership saves us money. In fact, once the annual membership fee is factored in, it’s more likely that we end up spending a little more than we would if we stuck only to traditional grocery stores. But I think the benefits and convenience of a Costco membership outweigh the slight increase in the grocery budget. So by maintaining a membership, I am being frugal with my time and mental capacity expenditures. (How’s that for a justification!?)
I typically go to Costco once a month. I feel like that’s about the right amount of time for us to work through most of what I bought there the previous month. On my shopping trips, there are 6 main things I almost always buy. They are:
Paper Products - These products typically consist of paper towels, toilet paper, and paper plates (I love the environment, but not enough to wash dishes after every meal). We are picky about our paper products, and I feel like Costco does a good job on keeping the quality high and prices reasonable with its Kikrland’s line. However, if there is an in-store rebate being offered on the name brand (Bounty, Charmin, etc.), and there often is, I’ll get that instead. The biggest advantage to getting paper products at Costco is that I don’t have to inventory and purchase these things at any other grocery shopping trips during the month. In fact, these items will often last us up to two months. And no one ever gets stranded without toilet paper!
Chicken and Salmon - We’ve tried a lot of Costco meats, but the true winners in our book are their chicken and salmon. I LOVE Costco chicken because of the way it’s packaged- individually vacuum-sealed bags, making for easy freezing, thawing, and meal prepping. The vacuum-sealed chicken comes in boneless, skinless breasts and boneless, skinless thighs, both of which we purchase regularly. You also have the option of organic and non-organic for all raw chicken varieties.
For the salmon, I typically only purchase the fresh salmon that is ready to pop right in the oven, located in the pre-packaged meals section. The salmon comes pre-cut into three large planks and is pre-seasoned with butter and herbs. But be warned, it’s A LOT of butter, so you may choose to remove some before popping it in the oven. One of these salmon filets (3 large planks) is enough to feed our family of four, so at about $22, it’s a good deal for a healthy(ish) meal.
Butter and Cheese - We’re a cheesy, dairy family and I’m not sorry about it! But if dairy isn’t your thing, you can skip this one. I typically buy all our butter, cheese, and sometimes even yogurt from Costco since we go through a lot of it. Again, the Kirkland’s brand usually does the trick for us on these items, such as the Kirkland’s organic butter sticks and all the Kirkland’s block cheeses. And there’s almost always an in-store rebate on some kind of yogurt product, from Chobani and Stonyfield to Activia and Dannon.
Produce - I have a love/hate relationship with Costco produce. I LOVE it because it’s always fresh and delicious, and there are plenty of organic options. I HATE it because we usually end up throwing some away because we don’t eat it all before it goes bad. But I continue to buy certain produce items from Costco, including strawberries, grapes, bananas, romaine hearts and butter leaf lettuce, green beans when available, and sometimes asparagus or Brussels sprouts. I feel like the prices on the organic produce items are especially good considering the quality and quantity you get.
Drinks - I’m ashamed to admit that in the recent past, I was a Coke junkie. The soda kind. And not diet soda, either. But in the last few months, I’ve kicked that dirty habit and have gone over to the light side. I have a hard time drinking only water, and I feel like I’ve given La Croix enough chances to grow on me, but it hasn’t. So when I’m tired of regular water, I reach for a Vitamin Water Zero. I’ve found it hard to find the Zeros (no sugar or calories) in regular stores, but Costco always has a 24-pack waiting for me. Costco has lots of other non-typical beverage options as well, including beer and wine. It’s always fun to explore their drink aisles!
Lunch! - Most of the time, I usually have at least one kid with me on a Costco run, so I try to time our trip around lunch time. Have you had the pizza from the Costco cafe? It is DELICIOUS. Like everything else in Costco, the portions in the cafe are oversized, so we split a slice of cheese pizza and a berry smoothie, sometimes a churro if we’re feeling wild, and still spend less than $5. That quick Costco meal gives us the carbs and energy we need to do our shopping, and helps me avoid putting unnecessary items in my cart because I’m not shopping on an empty stomach.
And I have one Honorable Mention- MUFFINS. (Which I guess makes this a Top 7 list…) I added this as an Honorable Mention because we don’t buy these each time; they’re more like a treat we pick up about once a quarter or when I have to provide a breakfast item for a school event. The fresh blueberry and almond poppyseed muffins are to die for. They’re huge, of course, and you get a dozen for about $9, so I freeze half of them as soon as we get home. They freeze and thaw beautifully so we have muffin treats whenever we want! For teacher or corporate breakfast potlucks, I quarter each muffin and arrange the pieces on a platter. It’s always a hit!
I buy other random items at Costco as well, but these 6 are the ones that I buy consistently. What about you? How do you feel about a Costco membership- yay or nay? If yay, what are your go-to Costco items?