Costco prides itself on delivering high quality and low prices – and the result is a cult following. Everyone loves a good deal! But does it make sense for you? Find out what Costco has to offer and what we love to shop for these days.
Note to readers: This is not a paid endorsement but rather a collection of items our families enjoy and in response to a reader request. As always, we welcome your questions and feedback!
Some of the most legendary Costco products are time-tested, tasty, and well priced.
Longtime customer favorites include the shrimp cocktail (nicely arranged with cocktail sauce for $10 per pound), a 12-inch pumpkin pie (the recipe remains unchanged since 1987 and costs $6.99), and the $1.99 pizza slice from the Costco food court.
So what’s the catch? The following background information may be helpful before you run to the nearest warehouse for all your shopping needs:
Only members can shop at Costco. The gold star Executive Membership is $120 annually and has 2% cash back up to $1000. The Everyday Value Gold Star is $60 per year. These memberships can be opened for personal or business use.
Is it Worth It?
More than 100 million people think so, and are willing to forego shopping ambiance (the store is literally a warehouse) and membership fees in exchange for these savings.
But a Costco membership may not make sense for some. For those who live in a small household or for those who don’t live near a warehouse (Costco only has about 800 locations nationwide), it may not add up.
We are definitely on board. Our team does a lot of cooking, baking, and food photography, so bulk grocery buys can be economical for us.
Products are chosen based on quality, price, brand and features, and are often staple products and name brands we all know well. Given its high volume, the big box store has strong bargaining leverage and is able to buy bulk quantities at extra low prices.
They also have their own private label called Kirkland. Some of these items are actually produced by big brand labels like Starbucks but carry the Kirkland label.
So without further ado, here’s what we are purchasing from Costco these days…
Many of Ann’s recipes call for olive oil, so the Kirkland Signature Extra Virgin Italian Olive Oil is a pantry staple. Use the larger jug to refill a smaller tabletop olive oil jar, making it easier for daily kitchen use.
We all know that Ann makes her own Everything Bagel Seasoning but the Olde Thompson Everything Seasoning for Bagels and More at Costco is a good alternative. It rivals the version from Trader Joe’s, and you are less likely to run out of this 11.5-ounce (yes!) container. Use it for the Everything Crusted Salmon or sprinkle on Classic Deviled Eggs for some added zing.
The canned Kirkland Signature Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon is another one of Ann’s pantry staples. High in calcium, these are perfect for adding a quick protein to salad or making a batch of Potato-Chive Salmon Burgers.
For all of your baking needs, the 16-ounce Kirkland Pure Vanilla Extract and 34-ounce Kirkland Signature Organic Pure Maple Syrup may also be smart buys. If the containers seem too large for daily use, simply transfer a portion of the contents to smaller jars.
For snacks, try the Kirkland Signature Super Extra Large Virginia Peanuts that are delightfully crunchy and salty. The Kirkland Ruffle Potato Chips are also a yummy snack and are perfect in Super Crunchy Oven Fried Drumsticks and Chicken Chip Bake.
Ann also likes Costco blueberries, but if I had to guess, those are less for snacking and more for her fabulous creations like this Blueberry Coconut Almond Baked Oatmeal or the Blueberry Crisp. Her younger son, Christian, swears by the sweet (and enormous) Costco pineapples. I’m adding that one to my own list!
Ann starts her morning with a cup of coffee, and Costco has a wide range of offerings in this department. She often picks up a box of Dunkin Donuts brand (sold as both K-cups and ground), but other shopper favorites include Starbucks, Pete’s, Jose’s, as well as Kirkland’s Signature House Blend.
During Halloween season, Ann purchases her trick-or-treat candy from Costco. Don’t get the kids too excited, but I heard she springs for the full bars!
The large bag of One Degree Sprouted Rolled Oats is great for recipes like Toasted Maple Museli, Flourless Black Bean Brownies, and Crunchy Top Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal. Donovan’s son Solomon loves them for his daily bowl of oatmeal topped with peaches and a drizzle of peanut butter.
Those oatmeal bowls are also why his family appreciates the year-round convenience of Kirkland Sliced Peaches 24oz jars. They’re equally perfect as a topping for the Winter Breakfast Bowl or as an ode to summer when the days get colder in the Cuppa Cuppa Cobbler.
Donovan describes Kirkland Organic Creamy Peanut Butter as “slightly runny” for the classic PB&J, but perfect for Solomon’s peanut butter drizzle or in smoothies such as the Peanut Butter Cup Protein Shake.
Donovan’s daughter Noemi’s favorite cereal is the Kirkland Signature Nature’s Path Organic Ancient Grains Probiotic Granola. Since it’s her breakfast of her choice, they always have one of the 35-ounce bags in the pantry.
For making soups and other recipes, Donovan chooses Kirkland Organic Chicken Stock that comes in a 1-quart package. Try it out this fall when making Chicken Tortilla Soup or Turkey, Sausage, Kale & Potato Soup.
I rarely buy fresh produce from Costco because we can’t get through it fast enough before it begins to spoil, but I have a few exceptions.
My daughter is a cucumber fiend and loves the cocktail cucumbers. She dips them in Ann’s Smoky Roasted Red Pepper Hummus or I put them in a wrap with tuna salad. And what she doesn’t eat I use for Tzatziki. We also like the crate of nectarines in the summer because it’s my favorite beach snack and they go fast.
For on-the-go or lunch box snacks, the Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars, Harvest Snaps, and Veggie Straws have been staples in our house for a while. We aim for variety in taste and texture, so the variety packs are fun to try.
If you have extra freezer space, Costco may come in handy. My choices include:
–Frozen fruit (picked and flash frozen at peak ripeness) that can be used as needed for smoothies or other recipes like Easy Blueberry Lemon Sauce.
–Petite Cuisine Mozzarella Sticks and Cuisine Adventures Spanakopita, which happen to be perfect additions to a Game Day Charcuterie Board!
–Tyson Panko Breaded Chicken Breast Tenderloins, which can be used one by one as needed and are great as a salad topper.
We have several fall birthdays in our family, and Costco has an excellent selection of cakes. We love the Tuxedo Chocolate Mousse Cake. It’s creamy and decadent, and a small piece goes a long way.
For other parents out there with little ones at home, we all know it’s frustrating to run out of necessities (often at the most inopportune times!). Costco is great for bulk buys on Similac baby formula, Orgain protein drinks for toddlers, and even Benefiber (for adults too!) when a fiber boost is needed to get things moving.
And we didn’t forget…
Costco is well known for their high quality meat and poultry. Ann picks up the baby back pork bibs for her Oven Baked BBQ Ribs and Slow Grilled Baby Back Ribs. Also, we have both enjoyed the Costco lamb chops at family gatherings. Though neither of us has purchased them ourselves, they’re thick and juicy and especially well-suited to grilling.
And though Ann’s Slow Roasted Whole Chicken has been a longtime reader favorite, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention Costco rotisserie chickens. They are regarded for their size (large enough to feed a whole family!) and juiciness. The sliced meat is perfect to top Mediterranean Chicken & Hummus Bowls, and any time you need cooked chicken in a recipe, or as is for a quick and easy dinner.
Don’t forget to snag the Kirkland Kitchen Drawstring Bags, Kirkland Stretch-Tite Plastic Food Wrap (with slider cutter), and Kirkland Signature Bath Tissue (the absolute finest in our opinion!). We also like the Meyers Hand Soap 4-pack Variety Pack because hand washing never goes out of style and it’s fun to mix up the scents.
Other Fantastic Deals:
Did you know Costco is also known for deals on the following products and services?
- Travel packages
- Discounted medications (for pet too) and even vaccines
- Optical departments
- Hearing Aids
- Services like health insurance, phone services and installations (everything from carpets to generators and everything in between!)
- Gas pumps and tire centers
- Food courts (they are known for the hot dogs in addition to the pizza)
- Even a 6-person outdoor sauna (really!)
So, what are your favorite Costco grocery items?
Did we miss anything? We love to hear from you, so enter your responses below!
Good Afternoon Emily and Anne,
Thank you for a informative post on Costco. I was hoping to see prices on the items you purchased and also the packaging the individual products came in. For instance how many jars of peaches did you have to purchase and what was the price? It is my understanding that you do not just buy one of anything. It is just myself and my adult son in our household but I like to stock up on items we use and now especially with inflation so high Costco might be a good alternative. Some years ago on another food blog, (Valerie’s Kitchen) she would do a whole post on her Costco haul. I was hoping to see something like that in your post today. Emily’s suggestions on which recipes to use with the products you did but was a nice addition and appreciated, as I am sure that took a bit of work to compile. Do you have any idea of how much a person would have to spend at Costco in order to make the membership fee worthwhile. How much would I have to spend in order to recoup the membership fee?
Thank you to your entire team for all the hard work you put into your blog. I always enjoy the posts.
Hi Gail – thanks for your comments and questions.
The packaging at Costco will differ depending on the item, time of year, whether or not it’s Kirkand or name brand or changes they make. Sometimes the packaging is smaller than you would expect, other times it may be way too large for your needs. Instacart now does delivery for Costco, so that also may impact packaging. I looked up the peaches using Costco Instacart and they come in a 4-pack, 24 ounces each, for $11.81. This price will change depending on where you are located. We don’t eat this product at home, so for me this would not be a good buy. But, Donovan’s family eats them every morning and so this makes perfect sense for them.
I hear you, Gail, regarding weighing whether or not Costco is worth it. I live in an apartment, and so personally it is difficult for us to store large amounts of food. We do Costco for things we know we will use frequently or won’t be impacted by expiration dates. Perhaps there are items you use daily that would be worth stocking up on and getting lower prices because of it.
The three of us (Ann, Donovan, and myself) love food and enjoy exploring different products and stores. This was a fun post because we got to share more about our personal stories and what we like to buy. In saying that, we are certainly not claiming to be Costco experts. My advice is if you have a Costco nearby you are considering, head over there and speak with someone at the front. They will go through all of your membership options and also walk you through some of the other services they provide, travel, pet, pharmacy, home installations etc. Perhaps you could ask for a grocery tour so you can see the aisles and items for yourself. There may be some things which appeal to you that you never even knew were there. It may not be worth it to get a membership at this time, but it’s at least worth a consideration!