The Best and Worst Bargains at Costco That Will Help You Save Money

Although an annual membership starts out at $60, over 94 million people are head over heels in love with Costco. Is it the rows of products, or the major discounts they offer when you buy bulk items? Whatever your reason for going, it’s always a good idea to stay informed on which items you should and shouldn’t buy. That way, you can stick to your budget, shop smart, and stockpile on items that are really worth it.


Don’t Buy Kirkland Laundry Detergent

Buying Kirkland Laundry Detergent in bulk will save you money for sure. But according to experts, the shelf life of detergent is about six months once it’s been opened. So, unless you wash clothes every day because you have a very large family, you should probably skip this item.

Buy Maple Syrup

There’s nothing better than Kirkland’s pure maple syrup instead of that artificial maple flavoring alternative full of corn syrup. Although the real stuff is more expensive, you’ll pay nearly half the original cost of what you’d pay at a regular store if you buy it at Costco.

Buy Uncooked Cookies

Courtney LaValley

You can buy a box of unbaked cookies at Costco’s bakery counter. Each box comes with 120 cookies and it retails for $22.99. A regular box of 21 cookies on the shelf cost about $7.99. So obviously unbaked cookies are a better bargain.

Don’t Buy Books

brew books/Flickr

Costco has giant tables full of books, but you won’t get a discount for buying them in bulk. In the end, you don’t really save a lot of money. So, you’re better off shopping for books on Amazon or even better, look for sales at your local bookstore!

Buy Toilet Paper

Add one of these Kirkland bags of toilet paper rolls to your cart. It might seem excessive, but you’ll save a lot of money if you only have to buy toilet paper in bulk once a month as opposed to every week. Consider doing the same with paper towels, too.

Buy Olive Oil

Costco Business Center

Costco’s olive oil is extra virgin, organic and high quality. It’s got a long shelf life as well. Since it’s something most of us use daily, it’s probably a great idea to buy some so you can drizzle it over salad or to add a burst of flavor to your meal.

Don’t Buy Ground Coffee

Most people can’t walk out the door without a cup of coffee, so it makes sense to buy coffee in bulk instead of going to Starbucks every morning. The issue is that once ground coffee beans make contact with air, they start to lose their flavor and strength. So, buy a smaller container instead.

Buy Gas


For those of you who fill up their tanks a lot, consider buying brand gas at a Costco gas station. All you have to do is whip out your membership card along with your credit card or cash and save. It’s a great bargain for those who drive a lot.

Don’t Buy Kirkland Light Beer

A Dan for All Seasons

If you love beer, then stick to the brands you love like Budweiser or Guinness. You can save some money by buying Kirkland Light Beer. But keep in mind that a lot of consumers complained that the taste wasn’t so good. In fact, Costco had to discontinue their Kirkland Signature Light Beer in 2018.

Buy Frozen Fruits


Most of the frozen fruit at Costco is organic. They also come in resealable bags so you’re getting a great bargain. But you’ll have to remember to make extra space in your freezer before you go shopping.

Don’t Buy Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Happy Gourmand

Buy fruits and vegetables if your family consumes a lot of them. Just make sure you buy seasonal fruits and veggies at a regular grocery store because they have better deals there. Also, don’t buy in bulk if you can’t eat them before they spoil.

Don’t Buy Spices

Spices have a limited shelf life. So, even though a jar of Italian seasoning won’t get moldy, it will lose flavor over time. So, consider buying smaller jars of spices to add some extra flavor to your spaghetti, meat, or other delicious meals.

Buy Vanilla Extract


Vanilla extract doesn’t lose its flavor or go bad over time. So, go ahead and get a Costco-size bottle of vanilla extract. It’s a great investment to have if you love baking cookies and cakes. It’s also a great back up in case you run out of vanilla beans.

Don’t Buy Tissues

Tissue sold in bulk might seem like a financially sound idea, but the ones at Costco aren’t usually the best quality. This might not seem like a big deal at first, but when you catch a cold or the flu, the last thing you need is to have tissue that will irritate your nose.

Buy Tires


Costco’s Tire Centre not only offers tires at an affordable price, but they’ll also provide high quality service free of charge. So, if your car tires are looking a bit worn down, it might be time to get a new set today.

Don’t Buy Soda

If you and your family are soda drinkers, then consider buying it somewhere else. There are special sales at regular stores practically all the time, which big stores like Costco don’t necessarily offer for this product.

Buy Breakfast Cereal

If you, your family, or roommate love breakfast cereals, then get them at Costco, which offers them in bulk and at a great discount most of the time. They also have a long shelf life, so you can keep them in your cupboard or pantry without worrying that they’ll lose their flavor.

Buy Plastic Wrap

Costco Wholesale

Buy plastic wrap in bulk. It’s easy to use because the weight of the box keeps it in place on the counter. You’ll end up saving more money than if you buy the smaller plastic wrap and they’re easy to use, too.

Don’t Buy Shampoo or Soap


Never buy shampoo or soap at full price at Costco. Try looking for these items in regular stores instead. Chances are that they’ll have them on sale every other week. So, there’s really no need to spend extra cash by buying them in bulk or heading down to Costco.

Buy Oatmeal

If you’re a big fan of oatmeal and eat it in the morning or in the evening, then buying it in bulk is certainly a good idea. But if you buy 60 individual packets in a supermarket, you’ll pay almost $10 more every time.

Buy Healthy Bite-Sized Snacks

Eating healthy isn’t always affordable, but there are some options at Costco that won’t burn a hole in your pocket like these healthy bite-size snacks. They’re sold for $12 for 32 bites, which means you can have healthy snacks in your pantry that will last the whole week.

Buy Cashews


Cashew nuts are generally expensive, but if you buy them in bulk, you can save a couple of dollars and stay within budget. So, buy cashews with a resealable lid. This ensures that your nuts will have a longer shelf life. You can even buy them in large quantities and freeze them.

Don’t Buy Condiments

Unlike spices and coffee, condiments do in fact have a longer shelf life and won’t lose their taste. But once you open them up, you’ll have to keep them in the fridge which won’t be easy if you don’t have a lot of space in your refrigerator.

Don’t Buy Salsa

Salsa jars at Costco look more like buckets, which is fine if you throw parties every weekend. You can’t expect your guests to not have anything to dip their chips in. But if it’s just for you, then buying salsa in bulk will cost you a lot in the end. It’ll go bad before you’re done with it and will take up too much space in your fridge.

Buy Snacks

Stop by the snack aisle and stock up on those big boxes of individually wrapped snacks. They’re way more cost-effective than buying chips, nuts and cookies. They’re also easier to pack in your kid’s lunch boxes or in your own lunch bag when you head to work.

Buy Vitamins


Buy large format Kirkland brand vitamins. They may not be as popular as some of the other name brands out there, but what they offer in value is practically the same. The only difference is that you’ll get them at a more affordable cost.

Buy Batteries

If you own a lot of gadgets and gizmos that run on batteries, you’ll need to stock up on batteries. So, next time you’re at Costco, reach for the Kirkland brand. They’re made by Duracell, so they’ll definitely be long lasting and you won’t have to break the bank every time you need them.

Buy Milk

Costco Business Center

Whether you have a bunch of kittens or children, stocking up on Kirkland one-gallon jugs is a good investment because the price is pretty reasonable. This is a great bargain for families who drink a gallon per day, too. Just make sure that you use it all before you restock.

Buy Coffee Cups

If you have the kind of coffee machine that uses K-Cup Pods, then buy these cups at Costco. It’s perfect for coffee lovers out there because they take the whole coffee experience to a whole new level with their various blends.

Buy Rotisserie Chicken

The Daily Meal

Rotisserie chicken at $4.99? You’d be a fool to pass up this low-price deal. Not only are you getting a decent meal for the whole family, but you’ll probably have leftovers for the next evening. You could buy a few extra chickens and freeze them if you have enough space.

Don’t Buy Toothpaste

Toothpaste goes on sale in local supermarkets practically all the time. Even if you buy 10 or 20 tubes of toothpaste, you’ll still save more at a grocery store than you would if you bought them in bulk at Costco.

Buy Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is pretty much a household staple in most American homes, unless someone’s allergic to peanuts. So, buy a family-size jar of peanut butter at Costco. Not only will you save money but your peanut butter supply will last longer.

Buy Bagels

Costco West Fan Blog

Reach for those Costco bagels. They come in different flavors like plain, onion, wheat, poppy seed and more. They’re sold in bags of two, and you can either eat them with cream cheese or make a ham and cheese sandwich with them.

Kirkland Almond Milk

Almond milk is a must on your grocery list because it has a much longer shelf life than dairy milk. Also, almond milk can be used for coffee, smoothies or baking. Kirkland’s brand is more cost effective than name brand almond milk and it tastes great.

Buy Tahini Pure Ground Sesame Seed

If you love making your own humus or you use ground sesame seed in your meals or salad dressing, then buy the Tahini brand in bulk at Costco. This 100% pure sesame paste is more affordable than name brands, but keep it refrigerated, or it will go bad.