Costco for dummies

Costco membership cardCandice and I went to Costco today and picked up a membership. We forced ourselves to only look around on our first trip, lest we accidentally come home with a new TV or something. It’s pretty much what I expected, with a bit more grocery and a bit less other stuff.

One thing I have realized, though, is that it really takes a different kind of shopping than the grocery store does, because of the shifting inventory and the club-pack quantities. I know that some of you folks are die-hard Costco fans. What techniques have you found useful for getting as much out of your Costco membership as you can?

6 responses to “Costco for dummies”

  1. I find that Costco is good for both imported and luxury food items (Nutella, biscotti, &c. — the things that have a huge mark-up commercially) and bargains on very specific items.

    For instance, this weekend, we needed to buy rechargeable batteries for the Wiimotes. I went to Costco, and I found exactly one brand of rechargeable batteries in there. They were what I needed and I was happy to buy them for about 40% less than they’d cost elsewhere, but if I’d needed something else, I’d’ve been screwed.

    The clothes are okay, though not much. However, what we’ve bought from there has lasted well. Bedding, again, okay though not much. I’ve found the prices on DVDs, console games, software, books, and music to be about the same as I’d pay at a Target, and about 10% less than I’d pay at an independent shop.

    I’ve bought tires from there, which were a good deal. Their prices on over the counter medicines are excellent. Their house brand detergents — laundry, dish, &c. are also good.

    Things I haven’t liked from there have often been produce. I go to farmer’s markets and greengrocers, and some of the produce is okay but a lot is just ick. There’s also the fact that there’s only so much food you can use before you completely get tired of it, and there’s no really decent way to deal with 10 gallon jugs of olive oil in an average kitchen.

  2. We didn’t like their dishwasher detergent… Other than that, their own brand stuff has been good, sometimes very good. The fresh pasta and frozen bean burritos are better than the name brands at the supermarket.

    I find it useful to have a price check widget on the phone to see if things are really a bargain. Also, remember that small items can make for significant savings if you go through enough of them. e.g. fresh fruit cups for 50 cents less, times 1 per day for a month…

  3. It helps to have a deep freeze if you are going to buy a lot of items here – lots of frozen food, but a few items and you have no room left in your regular freezer. They send coupons out every month I think; usually a few good things in there, but again, it all boils down to how much space you have to store things. I actually haven’t purchased too much there – I use them for a couple of items that are well priced that I use often – they have a large bag of frozen boneless chicken breasts for $13 that lasts for many meals (we eat a lot of chicken).

  4. I agree with what everyone said.

    There’s no real trick that Beth and I use, but our membership has easily paid for itself with cat products alone — the Kirkland Signature (CostCo brand) cat food is actually better than many others out there, and you get a lot for your money. The litter is litter, but you get a huge bucket and then Yossef gets a workout on the way back to the car.

    We don’t specifically try to get the most out of our money and shoot for CostCo above everything else. We have no strategy. We just go there periodically and get things we go through a lot. You’re at least on the right track just knowing that the inventory shifts and the quantities are other than you’d get at a regular store.