Costco is so much more than just a grocery store or ordinary wholesale warehouse, but it can be a bit intimidating navigating the giant aisles. So here are a few of our Costco favorites and tips to get started.
Why we love Costco
True Confession: I am a Costco-addict. Where else can you buy a diamond ring, widescreen TV, organic chicken breasts, gas, and toilet paper? Where else can you buy a delicious hot dog and drink in the food court for under $2.00? It’s one of the only places in the world where I never leave spending less than $200, but am always amazed at the great bargains I’ve found!
I’ve spent too many hours navigating these aisles of this wholesale club and could just as easily write an article on ten MORE Costco favorites. But if the thought of shopping here terrifies you, here are four general pointers to get you started.
- Look for Costco’s Kirkland-brand products– ranging from nuts to canned tuna to glasses. They’re usually better than the name-brands and much cheaper.
- If you try a new item and LOVE it, especially if it’s seasonal, you might want to stock up! Some items are only around for a short period of time. But even though it’s frustrating when you can’t find your favorite item, you’ll probably find another new equally amazing product in the store.
- Before you get a membership card, take a Costco trip with a friend. That way you can decide whether or not you want to join this wholesale club, or if it’s not your thing. Another benefit: you’ll get great shopping ideas from your friend.
- DO NOT TRY THE SAMPLES ON AN EMPTY STOMACH! They usually offer fantastic items to try, so if you do so when you’re hungry, you might end up buying something you never intended to!
Ready to take the Costco plunge? Here are Ten Reasons to shop here:
1. Costco’s paper products are the best on the market.
True Confession #2: Good quality toilet paper really matters to me. I once spent over thirty minutes in line to use a special Charmin bathroom while on vacation in New York City. But the Kirkland-brand toilet paper is the best on the market. Sorry, Charmin!
It’s also Costco’s number one selling product, and the company continues to employ toilet paper technicians to ensure it stays that way. Their paper towels are another fantastic product- they’re strong and last a long time. But if Kirkland products aren’t your favorite, you can buy your other favorite brands there, too.
Extra Tip: If you know it will take you months to use that much toilet paper, go shopping with a friend and divvy up paper goods accordingly.
2. Costco’s meat selection is great quality and well-priced.
Whether you’re buying organic or conventional meat, Costco has you covered. Their everyday prices are usually comparable to the sale prices at traditional grocery stores, and their quality of meats and other whole foods is excellent.
Extra Tip: Since Costco usually offers larger quantities of meat than your family might be able to eat, freeze whatever you know you won’t eat within the next few days immediately when you get home. That way you don’t end up wasting extra meat, and you know that your meat will stay fresh immediately after you defrost it.
3. Costco’s rotisserie chicken is the best $5.00 family meal.
I don’t know how they can create such a delicious, perfectly cooked chicken for around $5.00, but I always make sure to pick one up on my shopping trip. It’s delicious, nutritious, and we almost always have leftovers I can use in a soup, chili, 0r even as a pizza topping later.
Extra Tip: Even if you are shopping early in the day, you can easily warm up the chicken in the oven at 200 degrees, and none of your kids will know the difference! Cover with foil to preserve the moisture.
4. Costco birthday cakes make a party.
Need a cake for an upcoming birthday party? Not only are Costco cakes delicious- complete with a vanilla or chocolate mousse icing filling, but they’re also under $20! They have great designs you can use for all ages. We’ll even get cakes here knowing that we’ll have tons of leftovers and can save the extra in the freezer.
Extra Tip: You can always pick up a Costco cake from their refrigerator, but if you want a custom order, you’ll need to plan ahead! Go to Costco in person a day or more before the date you need to pick up your cake. They don’t do phone or internet orders!
5. Seasonal decor and supplies will liven up your house.
Whether you want a Christmas tree, giant lit reindeer, Halloween costumes, or Easter baskets, Costco’s got you covered! Costco has fantastic Halloween costumes at really competitive prices. I have been known to buy a Halloween costume in August when they come out, and use it in the dress-up box for years to come.
Extra Tip: Costco has the best wrapping paper, ribbons, and cards. The quality and value are amazing!
6. Costco has fantastic toys and books for the young and young at heart.
They usually have an excellent selection of toys and books, which vary according to the season. They usually ramp up their toy and book aisles in September so your kids have plenty of time to add anything and everything to their wish list.
Extra Tip: If you are in a rush, AVOID THE TOY AISLE WITH YOUNG CHILDREN. They could spend hours picking out toys for themselves and friends. You’ll be more productive if you shop around the aisle, and then make a purchase while the kids are at home.
7. Find the perfect glasses and more.
Costco’s optical department is fantastic, whether you go there with a prescription or just need a great pair of sunglasses! Since Costco purchases so many items from the manufacturers, it can extend that bulk discount to consumers, offering great deals on lenses and frames. If you don’t want to spend money on a designer brand, look for the Kirkland glasses.
Extra Tip: Many local optometrists, like Studio Optix in Virginia Beach, will match Costco’s great prices on contact lenses. Ask your local provider if they’ll match Costco’s prices. They might not be able to compete with the cheaper frames but can stay competitive with the lenses.
8. You can fill up your gas tank at Costco.
While Costco has really great prices on gas, be forewarned- you might have to wait in line for a little while to fill up your tank. Their gas prices are usually about $.10 per gallon cheaper than competitors, so it’s always a good place to refuel.
Extra Tip: If the line’s not too crazy and you’re in a hurry, be sure to get gas BEFORE you do the rest of your shopping. Sometimes you’ll have to wait longer than expected for the gas, so it helps time the rest of your shopping trip.
9. Costco’s fresh flowers and plants brighten any room.
Whether you want a houseplant, like a succulent or orchid, or fresh cut flowers, Costco has you covered! Look for the already complete arrangments if you need a few flowers to brighten your day. On its best days, Costco’s rose collection rivals most florists. But be sure to check them out to make sure they’re in good shape before bringing them home. They can sometimes be hit-and-miss.
Extra Tip: In November, Costco usually brings in 8 ft. Christmas trees for $29.99. It also has gorgeous greenery and wreaths for the holidays! It’s not as romantic as chopping your tree down at a farm, but it’s a great deal!
10. Costco’s coffees keep you well-caffeinated.
Costco has an excellent selection of coffees and teas from all over the world. It might not quite compare to your artisanal coffee roaster, but if you drink as much coffee as I do, it’s far more cost-effective!
Extra Tip: If you need your coffee pre-ground, Costco has industrial grinders at after you check out.
Ready to Plan Your Costco Trip?
If the great value items aren’t enough to get you started, it’s also worth noting that Costco takes care of its employees, providing good benefits and fair compensation. Maybe that’s why the employees at check-out always draw such great smiley faces on the receipts for my kids.
What are your Costco favorites? Anything we missed? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to share your Costco finds with loved ones on FamilyApp!