How To Get The Most Bang For Your Buck At Costco

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Good day friends!  I hope you are all having a nice Friday! :-) First of all, I want to thank you for being here! :-) I know you come here each day to find One Good Thing by JILLEE…but I sincerely appreciate you understanding that on occasion I need a little help from my friends. :-)

Today I would like to introduce you to my friend Jordan Page from “Fun, Cheap, or Free“.   I first met Jordan when we were both guests on the same local television talk show, and I knew then that should the need arise, she would be a terrific guest post on One Good Thing By Jillee.

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Jordan represents “The new face of frugality”.  After she and her husband fell onto some tough financial times, they learned the secrets to living WELL, on very little. She teaches that it’s not about going without, it’s about stretching every penny so you can HAVE more, DO more, BE more, and LIVE more than you ever thought possible. Thus, she has been dubbed the Fun, Cheap, or Free QUEEN!

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Many of us know and love Costco. Their prices are good, food is great, and buying bulk will save you “millions”…right?

Potentially.

BUT – did you know that there is a RIGHT way and a WRONG way to shop at Costco? It’s true! Here is some helpful information to ensure you are SAVING money at Costco, and not SPENDING yourself into oblivion!

Helpful Preliminary Info:

HERE is a SUPER easy method for making, and tracking a grocery budget. It will change your life. It also shows how much you should be spending on groceries.
See how I fit buying bulk into that budget HERE
See the easy way we track ALL our budgets HERE
Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the post to get the REAL “meat and potatoes” tips on how to save money at Costco!

Ok! Now onto Costco…

For my shopping at Costco I mainly stick to the bulk items that are typically involved with cooking, and try to take advantage of their coupons whenever possible (see more on that at the bottom of the post).
(For a helpful video of a TV segment I did on this subject and additional Costco buying tips and tricks, click HERE.)

So what SHOULD you buy from Costco? Here’s everything I could think of that I typically buy:

Note: 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. And another note, no, I didn’t list EVERYTHING here…there are plenty of things that I missed, I’m sure. That being said…

The best deals at Costco:

  • Dog food – about 1/2 the price of pet stores!
  • Olive Oil
  • 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!)
  • Milk
  • Laundry detergent / fabric softener/ dryer sheets – with coupons (see HERE for my preferences)
  • Cheese – I buy their huge bags of shredded Kirkland mozarella 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 5lb 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.) – see my tips HERE
  • Tortilla chips – the 3lb bags of Mission chips
  • Bags of frozen fruit and veggies – They are not only cheaper, but much better than other stores’ frozen veggies.
  • Seasonings, and pre-minced garlic – Their containers are HUGE are are much cheaper than other stores!…unless you buy them loosely in bulk, seen HERE.
  • Cleaning supplies – Disinfectant wipes, Comet, Swiffer refills, etc. (with coupons)
  • Prescriptions & vitamins – with coupon 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. Click HERE for info.
  • Cakes – $17 for their MASSIVE, semi-customizable cakes? Unbeatable. Oh yeah, and they are delish too!
  • 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.

 

Other great deals at Costco:

  • Toilet paper and paper towels – The Kirkland brand mainly. It tends to be cheaper, even if a different brand has a coupon.
  • 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!
  • 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!
  • Bread/rolls/buns
  • Bagels – Not necessarily always cheaper, but WAY better. I also like the mini bagels for brunches, parties, and mini pizzas/sandwiches for the kids.
  • Frozen chicken (*update: I used to buy bags of frozen chicken from Costco. Now I price-match chicken when it’s on sale for $1.70/lb or less. Then I put each fresh chicken breast in it’s own ziplock sandwich bag and freeze it. Ends up being much cheaper most of the time!)
  • 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!
  • Romaine lettuce and bagged spinach – Many times I can price-match the lettuce for cheaper, but the huge bags of spinach are nearly always cheapest at Costco.
  • Chips – Potato and Dorito chips mainly
  • Fruit snacks / granola bars / some crackers / “snack items” – Nearly always with a coupon.
  • Tortillas – Their bake-at-home ones are basically the most delicious tortillas ever.
  • 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.
  • 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 factored the cost of my making lasagna, and Costco can basically do it cheaper!
  • Face lotion / deodorant / razors / shampoo / conditioner – With 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.
  • 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.
  • Eggs – Cheapest place I’ve found to buy brown eggs.
  • 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.
  • Juice – With coupon when possible.
  • Quinoa
  • Baking items – flour, sugar, sometimes butter and margarine, but I can usually price-match it much cheaper.
  • Jam (see HERE)
  • 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 times have $5 or $10 off photo books in their coupon books.
  • Plants, outdoor equipment, 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!
  • Socks
  • Garbage bags – The big, sturdy black ones – with coupon. Trust me, you get what you pay for with garbage bags!
  • Paper plates, utensils, cups – With coupon. You can actually run their clear cutlery through the dishwasher, see HERE.
  • Hand soap, body soap – With coupon.
  • Rotisserie chicken – Great quick, healthy, cheap dinner idea.
  • Pancake mix & pancake syrup
  • 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.
  • Lunch meat – See HERE for this killer deal I found once.
  • 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 simply refill it when needed.
  • Chocolate chips – With coupon
  • Dog beds, bones, and treats
  • Ziplock bags – with coupon
  • Those awesome Kirkland chocolate diet drinks (like Slim Fasts kinda). Great meal on the go!
  • Gasoline – will save you major $$ over time, and is 3% cash back on your card!
  • 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.

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. To me, the quality of the things I buy isn’t different enough for me NOT to save the money. Does that make sense?

That being said………

 

What I avoid buying at Costco:

  • Ground beef – I can almost always price-match it for $1.60 or less, and get the super ultra lean stuff for less than 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 often times 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 a 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 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 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.
  • Pasta & sauce – You can typically get 1lb of pasta for $1 (often times 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.

 

The most important tip:

LEARN. YOUR. PRICES!!!!

I can NOT stress this enough! I carry around a little “price notebook” with me and mark price per ounce, pound, or ‘price per each’ of things. Learning your prices is really the ONLY way you’ll save money at Costco. See HERE for all the info about my Price Notebook.

Remember: Just because it’s bulk and/or from Costco doesn’t mean it’s cheaper. There are many staples at Costco that are NOT cheaper, so I usually deal-shop for those at other stores. Get to know pricing so you can really only buy the things that will actually save you money.

Additional tips: 

Make it last. If you opt for the huge container of strawberries and they start to go bad, don’t toss them! Get creative! Make strawberry spinach salad for dinner. Make smoothies. Make freezer jam. Do what you can to NOT let anything go bad, because you’re just throwing money away. My tip?
FREEZE. EVERYTHING. If it’s on it’s way out, freeze it! If it ends up being funky when you thaw it out, hey…at least you tried. This goes for everything – produce, meat, bread, sauces, fruit, buns, milk (yup. freeze it.), you name it.

Buying bulk WILL save you tons of money…unless you only use half, then throw away the rest. See some of my creative uses for food HERE.
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
…however…

Don’t be afraid to store things. Some people might not want a Costco-sized pallet of toilet paper because, well, that’s a lot of toilet paper to hold onto! But guess what? It’s cheaper. Deal with it ;) haha. Hide it under a bed, in a rubbermaid bin in your garage, under your stairs. Don’t be afraid to hold onto things. The savings are worth it many times!

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.

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 higher than a 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. However, learn your prices and don’t impulse buy on furniture and appliances, those are NOT always the best deals at Costco. To see a great video showing other great insider tips of shopping at Costco, click HERE.

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! :) Once again, click HERE for how I work shopping at Costco into my tight budget.

Get the most out of your membership. Click HERE for more on that.

So there you go! I hope that gives you lots of tips for making sure you are SAVING the most money possible the next time you go to Costco. Happy shopping!

Jordan

 

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CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED!

The winner of the one-year membership to Costco is……………..

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Not a Costco member? Would you like to try it out? Enter to win a one year membership!

HOW TO ENTER:

Leave a comment about how YOU save money when shopping for essentials.

Extra entries:

Follow One Good Thing By Jillee on Facebook and leave a comment saying you did so.

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One winner will be announced on Wednesday, May 15th, 2013!


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Comments

  1. Cheryl P says

    I also live on a *very* tight budget, as well as don’t eat/buy conventional dairy/meat/produce (I very rarely if ever shop @ Walmart, and *never* for food items). Costco saves me a lot of money on basic DIY ingredients as well as some organic foods that are cheaper than my local health food store, and those “compromise” items that aren’t as bad as regular grocery store but not as good as I’d prefer (when the $ is super tight). Things I always buy at my local Costoc: 2.5 lb box of baby Bella mushrooms (on the clean 15 list, cheaper per unit than anywhere else), organic spinach (1 lb boxes), avocados (almost always between $4-6 per bag of 6, and they will ripen nicely within a week on my kitchen table, always in good shape), onions (clean 15, $10 lbs of LRGE onions for less than $5? oh yeah!), boxes of sweet potatoes, grapefruit or oranges in season. 10 # organic fair trade sugar for $10.99 and 20# organic flour for $10.99 can’t be beat anywhere else. Rice: India produced Basmiti is best for low arsenic content, 20# Kirkland brand for $14. Also, 2 1-liter bottles of organic lemon juice for $7 lasts a good long time! 30oz bottle of raw, unfiltered local honey for $10.99. 2 gal box of whole milk for $5.75 (major compromise BUT not ultra pasteurized and no growth hormone; if it can’t be grass-fed this is better than even national brand organic milk) 1/2 gal heavy cream $6.79 (another major compromise, but 1/2 as cheap as my preferred brand of grass-fed heavy cream, not ultra pasteurized and only carageenan as additive, so acceptable). Definitely frozen organic fruits and veggies. Organic whole chicken and organic ground beef: *major* compromise for me to buy these, but significantly cheaper than the pastured, grass-fed of either that I normally buy, and I NEVER touch conventional meat, so this is a good choice in ultra-tight $ months. BEST buy anywhere: 1 box of 3 8-oz bars of Kerrigold grass-fed butter for $6.79/box (Whole Foods sells one 8oz package for $6-8, depending on season); 2.5 lbs blocks of Kerrigold cheese (less than $6/lbs, which is an excellent price when buying grass-fed and/or raw cheeses only). Bulk sizes of baking soda and vinegar are life savers for my DIY laundry/dishes/housecleaning. Cell phone: I upgraded my handset on my existing Tmobile account for $0.00! definitely worth it! :) I always have my ink cartridges refilled here for significantly less than new ones, and got an eye exam and 2 new pair of glasses (anti-glare,anti-scratch always included) for a rough total of $270. Always gas – cheapest in town.

    • Dianna says

      Cheryl, your buying habits are very similar to mine. Even with the desire to eat organic, pastured, grass fed meat and dairy, etc. there are loads of great things to buy at Costco. The Kerrygold butter alone is an amazing savings! Gas, organic fruits and vegs, organic olive oil, baking soda and goes on and on. Love Costco but I no longer have a membership because I am unemployed and money is to tight to afford to renew my membership. Someday…

  2. Deebi27 says

    How does Costco (which there are none in my community) compares to Sam’s??? I hope they are comparable in more ways than not! This email is going into the folder save me $. I will reread this many times to commit to memory. I love these kind of posts! Thank you so much!!!

    • Rae says

      I’m in the same boat. The Costco is about an hour’s drive so I don’t go very often. The Sam’s is 3 miles down the street. IMO Costco has much better quality than Sams.

    • says

      I’m a Costco member (and my family always has been) but I took advantage of the Open House Weekend that Sam’s had a couple weeks ago to go check it out. Now, if I’d been smart about it, I would have gone to Costco and walked around marking down the prices of the items we usually buy there, then taken that list with me when I went to Sam’s so I could compare. But I didn’t think about it, unfortunately.

      From what I could tell based on my memory, prices were pretty much the same on most items. Sam’s has different brands than Costco on many things, and one bonus of Sam’s is that they do offer many items in smaller amounts. Like you can get just a single gallon of milk at Sam’s, whereas you have to buy them in a 2-pack at Costco. The price is within a few cents per gallon at both stores, but at Sam’s if you’re only needing one gallon, you can do that. Juice looked to be the same way. And that corroborates with articles I’d read on the two stores as well. Most of them said you’ll spend less per trip at Sam’s, but the prices per unit were generally a little less at Costco.

      • Nicole says

        I used to shop both stores. The truth is that I get out of Sam’s buying less and saving more. I impulse buy at Costco, which makes it the more dangerous place for me to shop. I can go into Sam’s and stay focused. The basic membership is cheaper at Sam’s by $10 or $15. The last time I went to Costco, I compared prices. They mostly carry the same brands. When prices seem to be the same, I took a closer look. For instance, the double pack of sliced turkey was the same price but at Sam’s you’re getting 2 1/2 pounds and at Costco just 2.When Sam’s was more expensive, it was almost always by just cents, maybe 20. The one thing that Costco has over Sam’s is that they sell giftcards at a bargain. Sam’s sells them too but maybe only 13 cents below retail. Costco sells them at a wonderfully reduced rate. For instance, a 2-pack of $50 Lucille’s BBQ giftcards cost $80! See’s Candy certificates used to come in a 2-pack for $28, when at a See’s Candy shop each pound cost $16. I believe their rate per pound just went up so I’m not sure how much Costco now sells their certificate. And movie tickets can be purchased for Regal and AMC at better prices than a matinee showing. The gift cards alone could make up the difference in the membership cost if you choose Costco over Sam’s. One deal that I’ve taken advantage of the past few years though is buying my Christmas tree at Sam’s. They charge $30 for a 7-8 foot Fraser fir that stays fresh through the whole Christmas season.

  3. says

    Great tips! We already get half of our groceries (diapers, strawberries, laundry soap, shredded cheese, gas!) at Costco, but simply don’t have the room in our apartment to store many of the things we’d like to buy. I can’t wait to have a chest freezer and be able to save even more money!

  4. Marty says

    Most people don’t even think of this, but when you buy something at Costco and it’s advertised in their monthly coupon book, you don’t need to present the coupon to the cashier!
    The coupon price will automatically ring up on the cash register, because your Costco Card is already registered when the cashier scans it!!!

  5. says

    Hmmm. this list is definitely not for me, after reading it I feel like gagging. Many of those items I would not feed my family. Processed food, ground beef and other meats that are filled with hormones and antibiotics? No thank you. Processed frozen lasagna because it is cheaper than making your own? Holy cow! No thanks!

    I understand if you are poor or living paycheck to paycheck it is hard to eat healthy, and it is unfortunate because you aren’t investing in your family’s long term health, and they may pay for it in the long run with chronic illnesses, diabetes, obesity, etc.

    What about REAL food — without the hormones, antibiotics, chemicals, etc and REAL nutrition? And who has time to price compare? Honestly? I don’t.

    And all the chemicals and toxins in personal care products…. you know in this column Jillee talks about making her own laundry detergent — THAT is cheaper than even Costco… and toxin-free! And works well!

    The only things I have good to say is the bulk herbs and spices are way better priced than the grocery store (or even WalMart), and the Kirkland Signature brand dog food is actually pretty decent healthy wise for your canine friends. It is premium and better than any Purina or other crappy food that I would not allow my dog to eat.

    (I know I am a “food elitist” which is what my brother calls me, but I am not going to poison myself or my family and have decided that buying wholesome foods and cooking from scratch is worth it, no matter the cost. Unfortunately that limits myself in what I can buy at Costco — they do have some good fresh produce but certain ones you should never buy unless they are organic — or any other grocery store).

    • KD says

      I’m with you on this one. Not to mention, when you eat quality food full of nutrition, you eat less overall naturally, since the food is more fulfilling.

      I’m also confused as to who is charging fees for postage stamps. Is that even legal? You can go to the post office and buy as many as you want…

    • says

      I also avoid foods with antibiotics and pesticides and generally purchase organic. I also use the EWGs dirty dozen/clean 15 list. However, you can still shop some at Costco as they do have organic items and other healthy choices if you shop carefully and read labels.

    • Sharon says

      I agree. Plus it’s only me. I tend to spend way too much money at Costco. So I do not go often. However when I do its mostly none food items. Bathing suits are very cheap there ( I do pool aroebics often and go thru alot of suits) . Want great cheap produce? Try Sprouts or the local farmers market.

    • Pam says

      You are lucky that you can be a “food elitist” and live close enough stores that make that possible. Unfortunately, many of us do not have access to organic this and that and are forced to buy what fruits and veggies are available. Living in a rural area there isn’t much choice. Cooking from scratch is always a bonus but not everyone can do that all the time. When money is tight, people often do not have a choice. Thanks to Jordan and Jillee for making this information available. This helps people make the most of the money they do have, and those who are just trying to get by.

  6. Michelle Way says

    Great stuff! and I thought I was the reigning queen of Costco!! :D To add one more thing….It’s the only grocery store you can go to hungry, and take advantage of the free~sample~buffet!! Ha!

    • Mary says

      I was wondering when in the comments someone was going to mention the samples.
      I give out samples at Costco for a living (while I go through school- I’m almost 21) and it’s a common misconception that the samples are there simply to hand out for free to happy, hungry customers as an incentive to come into the store. That is not at all the case. As a matter of fact, our purpose is to sell products through demos and active conversation with Costco customers.
      Every morning our supervisors purchase the product that we are to serve. Warehouse Demo Services (the company we work for- not Costco- so the next time you ask one of the sample people where something is, remember that we don’t actually work for Costco but for another corporation that doesn’t offer benefits and caps our potential pay at $13 an hour), and we are judged based on the ratio of how much product we’re given/how many samples we serve and how much we sell.
      Taking samples and thinking that they’re free food that you don’t have to consider purchasing is actually detrimental to our jobs. There are tiny bonuses up for grabs to the demonstrators with the highest sales of the month. We are salespeople, not servers.
      Also, never let your children run around Costco unattended to grab samples. I once bumped a little girl (who was no more than four or five) while she was turning around with her sample and knocked a little bit of the Reese’s Puffs Cereal out of her cup. She ran off screaming and crying. Ten minutes later my coworker brings a woman to me who happens to be her Aunt. The little girl was too young to properly explain what happened so her Aunt accused me of hitting her. She would have known what happened if she was with her niece in the first place.
      Also, if your child has allergies, it’s not worth you losing your child because you wanted a few minutes alone to go shopping so you let your little one run off by themselves and they grabbed a sample with something they’re allergic to. And never assume that your child will think to ask. Allergies kill. Is that a risk you’re willing to take?
      All I’m saying is that while you’re taking advantage of “free” samples and the atmosphere that comes with “free” samples, people are suffering because of it.

  7. Amie says

    Clothes! Men’s jeans for $15 and they last. Carters outfits for little ones for $8. Carters footie pajamas for kids for $7. You just can’t beat those Carters deals, even in the closeout stores! My 3 year old gets all his clothes from Costco. I bought all of my wedding flowers through them for $200. All calla lilies, white and beautiful colors. Anyone who has priced wedding flowers lately knows that is more than half off from anywhere else. Above all else, Costco’s customer service is unbeatable. Their employees are wonderful and the company treats their employees wonderfully. Look up some stories on the CEO of Costco. We love Costco in this family.

    • Jen says

      +1 on the kids’ clothing! We buy pj’s, nice dress outfits around the holidays, swimsuits, coats….you name it! All name-brand and very durable. I’ve purchased workout clothes for myself, nice sweaters for my husband and all are in great shape and for a great price!

      Some of our other faves: the salsa….OMG, the salsa! So good and organic too! We also buy the organic strawberry preserves, the 2-pack of multi-grain bread, the Earthbound Farms organic spinach in the HUGE container, Kirkland brand organic rice milk (the only brand my son will drink), their Kirkland brand of fish oil capsules and other supplements, their huge containers of almonds and other nuts….list goes on and on.

      There are great organic and natural deals at Costco. We are currently eating about 50% organic across all categories and Costco is the only way we are able to do that with consistency.

      My husband is a “dog food snob” and won’t buy the crappy dog food for our dog. We were buying a premium brand only sold in pet stores for YEARS until we compared the ingredients and quality of the Costco brands and found them to be nearly identical and for almost 1/3 less! Our dog is 70 pounds, so any savings on dog food goes a long way!

      We don’t have a baby in diapers at the moment, but I wish we’d had our Costco membership when our son was a baby. I’ll definitely check out the Kirkland brand the next time around!

      I also LOVE how nice everyone is at Costco and that the company pays their employees well and offers very generous benefits. I see the same people there year after year. I think the employees know they have a great situation and refuse to leave! I even considered getting a part-time job there but there are never any openings. Haha! =)

  8. Lynn McDowell says

    I don’t just freeze meat when buying it in bulk. Frozen meat costs money and energy to store, takes time to defrost and can fill up your freezer fast.

    I pressure can meats.they take little preparation and you can be doing other things while they are processing. That takes a couple of hours, but just needs to be monitored and the temperature regulated. Follow the directions that come with your pressure canner and you can store if for months on your shelf.

    I process raw boneless chicken with only water. When I need a quick meal, I pop open a jar and make whatever I want that calls for canned, cooked or shredded chicken. If I’m not using the broth that was created during the processing, I freezze that for use in gravy, soups or sauces.

    I Roast semi boneless or boneless country styled ribs to remove the majority of the fat, pack the meat in jars topped off with water and process. When I open it, I can drain the broth and heat the meat in barbecue sauce for sandwiches or to serve over rice or in chopsuey.. It is amazing ly tender.

    I buy 93% lean ground beef in bulk, brown it, add onions and cook them well then pack the mixture into jars, topped off with 1-2 TBLSP of water and process. You could also add garlic or chopped peppers depending on what you cook with the most. Again, I add no seasoning. When I open the jar I add ingredients to create spaghetti sauce, chili, stroghanoff, tacos, enchilladas, sloppy joes … The list is endless.

    It is so much easier to take a day and fill dozens of jars with meat. (I usually have two pressure cookers going because the bulk of the time goes into the processing.) Then I have convenience meats for 6-12 months depending upon how much I process. While the pressure cookers are going my husband helps me mix meatloafs, season meat for burgers and meatballs and cut up chicken for stir fries. which we then package and freeze

    When I make my lasagna or other casseroles, I make 3-4 pans. A frozen pan can be placed in your oven in the morning which you then program to bake it so that it will be ready for dinner when you return in the evening.

    These methods save me time in the kitchen for months ahead and best of all, they limit how often I have to clean up after handling raw meats and frying them.

    • mary says

      I was a thrift store yesterday and found a cooker like the one your where talking about. I was going to buy it but looked at it really good and seen it was messing a piece. I was so mad because it was only $18.00. I looked online and it was more like $50.00 to 600.00.

  9. Anita says

    Cheryl P. your comment was most helpful! It sounds as if you may be familiar with the WestonA. Price Foundation. I’m just beginning my journey of trying to eat healthy, and have much to learn. Rebecca also had valid points about eating healthy, but it is expensive which is such a shame, as so many people could improve their health if only they had the money and someone to teach them. It would be great to have mentors that could go into homes and give hands on cooking and preparation and storing techniques. As for myself, cooking is not my forte (in fact I strongly dislike it), so it’s a constant struggle to not grab a box of this or that and start munching.

  10. Erin says

    I agree that Costco isn’t always the CHEAPEST but it it always a decent buy. For me, time can be more valuable than money and Costco streamlines my shopping. Besides, I like Costco and its company philosophy. Costco treats its employees really well. I like giving a company like that my money more so than one that doesn’t treat its employees as well.

    PS: They are always super cheap on baking supplies. You just have to get a lot at once. :-)

  11. says

    I just want to emphasize their return policy. I’m in Canada, but I imagine it is the same Costco-wide.
    It is AMAZING.
    I was having issues getting a warranteed part for the kettle ihad bought almost two years ago. On a whim, I asked what the reasonable timeframe on returns is. I then explained my issue, briefly, and was told “Bring it in”. So I did! I keep ALL my receipts and they were thrilled that I still had it, apparently having a receipt makes a return even easier.
    Because their policy is so fantastic, I ended up buying a new kettle of the same brand there (they only had one choice!) with confidence because I know if I have the same issue again, I can return it and NOT buy that brand ever again.
    Did I mention that their return policy is AMAZING?

  12. MaryG says

    Great information! Only thing I quibble with is the eggs: if you are paying more for brown eggs than white eggs, you’re wasting your money. Brown eggs come from brown hens, white eggs from white hens. There is no nutritional or health advantage of one or the other.

    • tim says

      so do green eggs come from green hen? dear city folk stop tying to tell people where your food comes from.. You dont know.
      Different color egg shells come from different breeds of chickens. The feather color has nothing to do with it.

    • says

      I think that’s standard for Costco everywhere. I remember watching or reading a “behind the scenes” sort of thing about the company – they take much better care of their employees overall than many other large chain companies. Especially Walmart, which reportedly treats their employees like crap.

  13. Kristin says

    We try to save money by having a monthly budget set aside for groceries. We also only try to make “big runs” to get groceries once or twice a month(we live 45 min from the nearest walmart and costco, so each trip really counts!) I plan out 4-5 meals each week for the month and make a grocery list with the items needed for each meal (if we don’t already have it at home). I’ve found that we tend to spend more money if we make little trips throughout the month. If we run out of the budget we don’t allow ourselves to spend anymore. It forces us to use what we have left at home. Nothing goes to waste and it lets us get creative for meals.

  14. Jan Jones says

    Make friends with the butcher at your favorite store and find out when they pull their markdown meat. I show up right before that time and get great deals! My Albertsons people are so nice, they have chased me down in the store to show me deals! I just portion out what I buy and freeze or cook the meat right away.

  15. Lisa says

    I’m a complete nut when it comes to prices and luckily numbers stay in my head so I know how much everything is everywhere that I shop…lol! With going on disability a few years ago, I’ve really had to watch my pennies and at times it’s downright tough but I do love finding bargains.

    Thanks for the info and would love to win a Costco membership. I had one before I got sick but that was an added expense I just could not afford.

  16. Cynthia says

    Buy vegetables, fruit, and eggs at a farmer’s market or grow them yourself. Paper products, detergents and cleaning supplies at the big box stores. Watch sale papers for everything else.

    • Marjori says

      Not where I live….

      I was just at the Farmer’s Market…they had regular strawberries, NOT organic, for $3.99 per little green basket. Fry’s (Kroger) has them for $.99/lb! Same with cauliflower, they wanted $2.99/lb for NON organic, whereas I can get it for $.88/lb. And some of the stuff at our Farmer’s Market is actually IMPORTED from Mexico or China. :::shakes head:::

      OH, and eggs were $6.00 for a dozen! With as many eggs that we go through per week, that’s all that I could afford. Fry’s has them for $.88/doz right now.

      Some people may be able to eat all organic & grass-fed, but with rising taxes, healthcare costs & hours being cut at work, not everyone can afford to and shouldn’t be berated over it…

  17. says

    Great post! . I used to have a membership but I can’t afford it anymore. Your useful tips are the best. Dollar Tree has cheapest prices for cleaning supplies. Would love to win a membership and follow your tips.
    *hugs*deb

  18. Kirsten Campbell says

    I usually buy only organic produce/meats/eggs/dairy, so it’s important to price-shop to get the best deals. And I ALWAYS save more $$ when I have a list and stick to it. Last, I try not to shop on an empty stomach…I always end up buying way more that than I should have. So quick recap – price shop, stick to the list, and don’t shop food when you’re hungry! Hope this helps!
    I liked both sites on facebook (I’m not on pinterest).

  19. Leslie T says

    I have Sam’s card but recently moved and believe I am closer to Costco now…so I guess I need to get a Costco card. My mom lives in AZ and just loves shopping at Costco!

  20. meg says

    great tips…..I usually have to connive or beg friends to take me with them when they go to Costco as I could never afford (justify) the membership myself.
    I do tend to buy sale items in bulk & freeze what I can. instead of paper towels I use a cloth towel for drying & a dishcloth for mopping up spills & such. unless something is exceptionally gooey or nasty or I’m cleaning up after chicken or meats (which I’ve since stopped eating). I do try to buy as many products that have as little packaging, especially plastic, as possible. and I also compost all kitchen scraps for my vegetable garden.

  21. Mikele Meether says

    I watch my budget by shopping at Walmart / Publix bogo pricematch at Walmart and BJ’s deli meat and cheese. The Walmart next store to Publix in our town matches at the Walmart price not the Publix price which can be much higher. I’m also using your tips Jilee as much as I can.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] When Jill told me that she was looking for some guest posts while she was out of town, I had two bloggers come to mind – Jordan from Fun, Cheap or Free and Shandra from Deals to Meals. I personally use both their sites to help me save money every single week. We introduced you to Jordan a couple of weeks ago in the post: How To Get The Most Bang For Your Buck At Costco. [...]

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