Don't Shop at CostCo

by webkangaroo

Until You Read This!

Shopping at CostCo is a good way to save a lot of money on your grocery bill. There are great deals on food at CostCo, and great deals on household items of all kinds. But be careful! It's super easy to go overboard and spend way too much. In this article I'll suggest some ways to shop at Costco without saying to yourself, "I think I just went broke saving money!"

Don't Buy Produce at Costco

(Unless You're Having a Party)

First of all, the prices on produce at CostCo are only okay. Especially if you live in a city, there will be markets with cheaper and "greener" produce. You will also only find large packages at CostCo, so unless you're ready to power down three green peppers a day for the next two weeks, some of it is bound to go bad before you eat it. That's waste, and waste is expensive!

That said, if you're hosting a bunch of people and need to make a mammoth fruit salad, then go for it. But you'll still probably save money at the local mercado.

Don't Buy Meats Unless You Have Freezer Space

Like much of this article, I learned this the hard way. The prices for meat at CostCo are amazing, and you can buy enough for several weeks for less than you'd spend for one week elsewhere. The downside comes when you get home with all of your CostCo groceries and realize you have nowhere to put them. You can't fit half a cow in your side-by-side! Make sure you're prepared to stock up.

Not coincidentally, CostCo also sells stand-alone freezers...

We Have Come To Eat All of Your Food!
We Have Come To Eat All of Your Food!

Don't Buy Huge Amounts of Food Your Family Will Get Tired Of and Stop Eating

Ah. This is a killer. If you have kids like I do, especially big hungry teens, then you know how fickle their food obsessions can be. "Dad, I love those chicken hot pocket things. Get a lot." So I get a lot (at CostCo, that's pretty much all you can get), and after a few days it's "Dad, I'm totally sick of those chicken hot pocket things." So I currently have three dozen chicken hot pocket things that no one will eat clogging up my freezer. There's really no sure-fire way to completely avoid overbuying food at CostCo, but here's one approach: "Sorry son, you made me buy 'em. Choke 'em down."

End of discussion.

Don't Buy Clothes When You're Shopping for Food

First of all, do you really want to walk around in clothes you bought at CostCo? No, you don't. Second of all, they look like -- well, they look like clothes you bought at CostCo. I say you're actually better off going down to the local thrift store and trying on some fly suit coats and button-downs. At least you know that someone, somewhere, at one time, actually wanted to wear them.

Don't Buy Small Packages at CostCo

Assuming you can find them, that is. Almost everything at CostCo is giant-sized, but once in a while you'll come across something that's normal-human-sized -- bags of chips, for example. These are almost always NOT a deal, although it's easy to say "what the heck" and buy them anyway, since you don't have time to go to ten different places just to go shopping. If that's the case, then consider doing without! Don't let CostCo rake you over the coals for a lousy bag of Doritos. 

Don't Buy Huge Amounts of Candy

This is really hard, since the prices on candy at CostCo are insane. You can avoid this if you don't go to CostCo hungry, but once in a while... Just make sure that when you stock up on candy at CostCo you get a kind that your wife likes also. But not your kids.

What's Good about CostCo?

Lots of things! If you have space, buy things that keep, and force everyone to eat what you got until it's gone, you can cut your grocery bill at CostCo in ways you never dreamed. Go forth, go shopping, but keep your wits about you!

Updated: 07/03/2012, webkangaroo
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BrendaReeves on 07/04/2012

I quit shopping at Costco a long time ago. There are too many impulse items to choose from. Great article.

Jerrico_Usher on 07/04/2012

I live 3 blocks from a Costco and I love the place. I use a networking concept to shop, however that allows me to not go overboard and yet still get everything I need cheap. I have about 8 friends/families that I work with and once a month we build our shopping lists, bring our empty containers (from when we once bought things the expensive way) and devise a plan.

We all like the same things so we use this mainly for the staples like meat, bulk items (for refilling those containers with the same name brand stuff we bought the expensive way), and on hollidays we do this for candy and treats we split.

One of us is the "store" and budgeter of what to get for the lot and this person consolidates what we can buy in bulk and what we can't.

Things like cooking oil tend to be expensive but in bulk it's almost wholesale. The one with the shopping list figures out the cost divvied up and comes up with a budget for each person to meet the bulk costs-

It sounds complicated but we've done it so much it's just how we shop. We buy the large containers or bulk sets and in the end we each save hundreds a month and get just what we need for that month (some elect to get several months worth of oils, flours, butter, etc...). I end up personally getting 600.00 worth of food for 300.00... and it gives us all an excuse to come over to one of our homes for a bbq where we spend an hour doing shopping business and the rest of the time enjoying eah others company. Great article!

katiem2 on 07/03/2012

This is a great article. You've mentioned many reasons why I don't shop at Costco. I have a few good friends who shop there, but they have larger families. I have two girls and we are primarily vegetarians so bulk or large quantities of anything don't really serve a purpose. Thanks for the honest tips on shopping at Costco.

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