15 Things You Aren’t Buying at Costco—but Should
If you’re heading to Costco for only mega rolls of toilet paper, dish soap, and maybe a rotisserie chicken, we’re about to blow your world of shopping wide open.
Buying prescription glasses at Costco is a “no-brainer,” according to Bob Niedt, an online editor at Kiplinger’s. “I compared Costco prices to ones sold at the offices of eye care professionals, brick-and-mortar eyeglass retailers and online, and Costco had the lowest prices and offered superior customer service for selecting, ordering, fitting and adjusting them.” They’re super-chic too, believe it or not.
In a 2017 survey, Costco took the top spot for low prices among the Fuels 50 brands, a ranking of the most effective fuel brands by market efficiency or market share. Gas prices vary across the country, but it’s clear that Costco offers a pretty sweet deal for gas. In Maple Grove, Minnesota, Costco offers regular gas at $2.35 a gallon, whereas the average price for gas in Hennepin County is $2.53, according to GasBuddy.
For your next getaway, skip the travel agent and log onto Costco Travel for a long list of well-priced vacation packages, from a seven-day cruise ($454) to an eight-day Savanna Safari ($4,999 with airfare). Here’s how to shop at Costco without a membership.
Whether you’re buying or refinancing a home, Costco Mortgage Program can keep your costs down. Costco doesn’t sell the mortgage itself, but it will hook you up with well-established lending services. The biggest source of savings is Costco’s cap on loan origination fees—$350 for Executive members and $650 for Gold Star and Business members, which could add up to serious savings, when home buyers usually pay 1 percent of the total loan in loan origination fees, according to NerdWallet.
Food subscription services
You buy your food in bulk at Costco to save money, so why would you head to Costco for a meal subscription service like Blue Apron or Nutrisystem? The answer: Because it’s cheaper if you purchase a discounted gift card through Costco first. For example, a $100 gift card for the South Beach diet costs $79. These are the things you should never buy at Costco.
Skip the boutique photo services that cost a bundle and hit the Costco Photo Center for a 30- to 100-page hardcover or softcover book made from your personal photos, starting at $19.99. Costco also offers the option to have your photos turned into wall art, mugs, greeting cards and more, for less than you’d pay online.
You might be avoiding buying raisins, apricots, prunes, and other dried fruit in bulk for fear that they’ll spoil before you can get to them. “It’s easy to split up the large bags into smaller containers at home,” says Ken Immer, president and chief culinary officer at Culinary Health Solutions, a healthy living website. “They will stay fresh for as long as you need to eat them.” These are the foods nutritionists always buy at Costco.
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In the same way you’ll save on dried fruit, many of the frozen fruit SKUs at Costco are organic, which is where you can really save your pennies, Immer says. “People who make a lot of smoothies can take advantage of the large-sized sealable bags that the fruit comes in. Other stores sell it in tiny bags that you can’t reclose, and cost a lot more.” Don’t miss the secret code behind Costco’s prices.
Don’t fear the generic at Costco. Their store-brand, Kirkland Signature, means quality and good prices on a huge host of items, ranging from Costco’s own craft brews to golf balls, according to Niedt. “For example, the Kirkland soup is made in-store from Kirkland Signature’s store-roasted chicken,” Niedt says. “Other fine products, equal to or better than national brands, include bacon, cheese, dishwasher pods, olive oil, vodka, and wine.” These are the Kirkland products you should be buying at Costco.
Extra virgin olive oil
While olive oil can go bad, good quality extra virgin olive oil has a shelf life that won’t expire. “Many healthy lifestyles these days include a lot of EVOO in the recipes,” Immer says. “Buying EVOO for a lower price at Costco means you don’t have to feel like you need to skimp next time you’re cooking dinner.” These are the incredible gourmet foods you can buy at Costco.
A container of coconut oil from Costco is no doubt going to seem huge, but you can take your time using it. “It has a super long shelf life,” Immer says. “You don’t have to worry about just how long it will take to use it up. Then, as a bonus, you’ll be enticed to try new ways of using it, like in your hair, between your teeth, or even as skin care.” Here’s why you need to start buying cakes at Costco.
It sounds specific but if you’re interested in adding manuka honey to your diet, it’s best to buy the produced-in-New-Zealand honey at Costco, says Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist in New York City. “The Manuka honey from Comvita is $39.99 for a 2.2-pound jar,” she says. “It’s absolutely delicious and very high quality. Also, it’s certified authentic manuka honey, which is important because there are a lot of imposters out there now.”
Pure maple syrup
Grocery store maple syrup is pricey—and most of what’s for sale tends to be a blend of sugar syrup and flavorings—not the genuine stuff from the tree. “There’s nothing like the real thing,” Immer says. “Even healthy eaters are looking for a quality sweetener, and maple syrup is usually on the list, so save up for something that has a super long shelf life and is so much better than any knockoff.” Learn more Costco secrets employees won’t tell you.
Whether you’re shopping for walnuts, almonds, pecans, or pine nuts, you’ll likely find nuts for a better price at Costco and, hot tip, you can store nuts in the freezer. “They sell a lot of them so you know you’re getting fresh quality,” Immer says. “At other stores where nuts are more expensive, they may sit around for a while and not be as fresh.”
Those large bags of pre-cut produce such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and carrots tend to be less expensive than their whole versions at the grocery store. They’re more convenient too, especially if you want to roast them in the oven before reheating portions throughout the week. Next, find out the Costco shopping perks you need to know about.