Shopping Strategy: What Small Families Can Buy at Costco

For my birthday last year, my parents gave us a Costco membership.  As a family of just two, I wasn’t sure we would get much benefit from it, but we’ve already renewed the membership because of a few things we’ve found that we really love to buy.

Here are what we consider to be Costco wins and are regular purchases for us:

  • Cheese: cheddar, extra-sharp cheddar, and Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Butter: regular and Kerrygold
  • Milk
  • Eggs (organic ones come in a 24-pack)
  • Frozen fish: wild hake and salmon
  • Snacks: pretzel thins, organic tortilla chips, pita chips, and kettle chips
  • Olive oil
  • Almonds and other nuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Bacon
  • Ground beef and turkey (before the side of beef came)
  • Fresh ravioli or tortellini
  • Berries: fresh when in season and frozen the rest of the year
  • Green beans
  • Yeast
  • Rice
  • Spring mix or baby spinach
  • Bagels
  • Avocados

The biggest one for me is cheese — I’m pretty sure we come close to making up our membership just in cheese savings.  I’ve bought some other produce there, like onions, bell peppers, and Brussels sprouts, but not super-regularly, since we have to have something in the meal plan multiple times for it to work out correctly.  The yeast package is so enormous you will never buy more until it expires, but it costs the same (less, maybe?) as the teeny jar at the grocery store so it is definitely worth your time.

Not everything at Costco is cheaper than the grocery store, so knowing your prices will definitely help you save the most money possible. Chicken seems like the worst offender to me, but whole chickens are still a good price.

Sometimes the prices are cheaper than the grocery store but you get an outrageous amount that you could never use before the food went bad. If it’s a huge package but cheaper than the smaller package at the grocery store (not per ounce, in total — and yes, that happens sometimes at Costco), then consider if you can freeze part of it or just give some of it away to a friend. Even with giving some away, you can still save money.

They also have discounted gift cards for sale. If you go regularly to any of the places they have for sale (or or planning a large purchase soon), they can be a good deal so it’s worth a look.  They also sell stamps and movie tickets.

Outside the kitchen, we’ve also bought a blender, socks, eyeglasses (four pairs), detergent, paper products, and OxyClean at Costco.  The eyeglasses in particular are so much cheaper than anywhere else.  Getting a Costco membership as a small family can definitely be worthwhile!

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