Saving on Whole and Organic Foods at Costco

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Carrie over at Organic & Thrifty has a useful post up about how she shops and saves on wholesome foods at Costco. Here’s part of what she had to say:

I am fortunate to live within walking distance to Costco, which allows me to limit my spending on large items. I go weekly to Costco and pick up the items that our family eats on a regular basis and it ends up being a very thrifty place for me to shop. The advantages to shopping at Costco are that Costco does strive to carry local products, and they are improving their selection of quality food offerings.

The downside to Costco is that you do have to pay an annual membership fee, the crowds are often unbearable, and the produce is not locally grown.

Read the full post here.

I would tend to agree with her. Our family also saves a lot by shopping at Costco, but the downsides she mentioned are all true. Overall, though, we feel that our Costco membership is worthwhile and so we continue to shop there about once a month or so.

She gave a long list of the foods and general prices that she pays. As I am in Canada, my purchases and prices are different, but I also buy some similar items:

  • Canned and frozen wild sockeye salmon
  • Almond butter
  • Organic peanut butter
  • Frozen organic green beans, peas and sweet corn
  • Canned tomato paste (not organic)
  • Organic corn chips (Que Pasa brand in Canada- they use lime to prepare the corn)
  • Organic tomato sauce (usually for emergencies or difficult seasons like morning sickness)
  • Organic spring salad mixes
  • Free-range eggs (only when I can’t get my usual ones from my local farmer)
  • Brown rice (long-grain and also basmati)
  • Sprouted grain bread (like Silver Hills)

I also pick up things like bulk white vinegar for cleaning, bulk baking soda, light bulbs, trash bags, contact solution, etc. and find that those basic purchases are much cheaper at Costco than most other places. When I travel down to the US, I also sometimes pick up the Aidell’s nitrate-free chicken sausages she mentioned, as well as cheese and organic butter.

What about you? Do you find it worthwhile to shop at Costco and which items do you buy there?

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  1. Teresa says:

    I buy bulk cayenne pepper and quick oats for my chickens, organic spring mix salad, and all my over the counter as well as Rx items (no lower prices out there) and my facial products.

  2. Heather says:

    Costco rocks. I’m in the SF Bay Area, so much of the produce actually is fairly local…which means I can often find it even cheaper elsewhere, so I don’t buy a lot of produce at Costco. Last year, we moved back to St. Louis for a year, and I had both Costco and Sam’s Club nearby (Sam’s was just down the street, Costco about 1/2 hour away). So I got a Sam’s membership, too. I shouldn’t've wasted my money. There was nothing I wanted to buy that Sam’s carried and Costco didn’t. If both places carried an item, Costco would have better quality at a similar price. For example, both carried 5 pound bags of frozen corn. Only the corn at Costco was organic, and the price difference was about 5 cents. The same care for quality shows up all over the store. Also, of course, there were a number of things I buy from Costco that Sam’s didn’t have any sort of analog of. I do a large percentage of my shopping between Costco and Trader Joe’s, filling in much of the rest at farmer’s markets or our CSA and Azure Standard co-op.

  3. Teresa says:

    After reading her article…. had to add a comment and cannot do so on her blog…. everybody posts about the great savings on organic butter…. why not make it yourself? I cannot remember the last time I actually bought butter, it is sooooo easy to make :)

    • Stephanie @ Saving Naturally says:

      @Teresa, I guess it depends whether you have a good source of cream, particularly organic and not ultra-pasteurized. Personally, I don’t, and so making my own butter would probably be more expensive for me at least. I can see it being worthwhile if you have a good source, though!

  4. Tammy says:

    I have found organic tomato paste there, as well as organic milk. We shop there about every other week for eggs and milk. I do like their organic chicken breasts and organic chicken broth/ stock. I wish they would add more things to their organic list of foods, since some things are hit or miss.

  5. Amy says:

    Love Costco. I buy a huge bag of quinoa for under $10 there. It is so fresh and wonderful–doesn’t even need to be rinsed. I have converted quite a few of my coworkers to Costco’s quinoa and I am affectionately known as the office quinoa dealer. I pick up multiple bags each time. I also enjoy their whole wheat rolls and breads. Just waiting for them to start carrying coconut oil… :)

  6. Martine says:

    I am in Canada too, but my Costco must be smaller, I have never seen organic frozen veggies, organic tomato sauce or brown rice :( I have an executive membership which gives you a percentage back in a gift certificate. I have always made enough to pay for the annual fee. Our big savings, are nuts, organic peanut butter, eggs and milk.

    • Stephanie @ Saving Naturally says:

      @Martine, Oh, interesting that your Costco carries different items. Are you in a smaller area (population-wise)? I live in the metro Vancouver area, and all of the Costco’s around here are quite large and carry a good number of organics as well.

  7. Mary Ann says:

    We love Costco over Sam’s Club because of the wide variety of organics. We like to get organic whole chickens, organic peanut butter, nitrate-free hot dogs when they carry them, Lindsay natural olives, organic and non-organic canned tomato products, cheese, organic frozen veggies, organic salad greens, 10 pound bags of organic carrots, dog food, some spices, olive oil, Quaker rolled oats, baby sweet peppers, other fresh fruit when the prices are right.
    .-= Mary Ann´s last blog ..Another Update =-.

  8. Christine says:

    I love costco for marathana organic almond butter

  9. Andrea says:

    Organic Baby Spinach- this is a true deal if you can go through the tub before it goes bad (and I can)- WAY cheaper than anything I’ve found in grocery store plus it’s organic!

    Organic Baby Carrots – I can buy these at Costco organic for about the same price I might be able to buy conventional (if I get lucky) elsewhere

    Chobani – Cheaper than grocery stores although not much cheaper than when it’s on sale- but the biggest advantage for me is buying by the case rather than hauling home 12 individual containers (I eat a LOT of greek yogurt)

    Cedarlane Bean, Rice, and & Cheese Burritos – Significantly cheaper than at the store (about half the price) and super yummy

    Bagel Things & Oroweat Sandwich Thins – similar to yogurt, there’s a convenience factor (just throw them in the freezer and I don’t have to think about buying bread for awhile) and also cheaper than in grocery stores

    Vitatops – cheaper than I can find them in other stores on sale, downside is they only have Chocolate and I also love the Banana Nut and Corn ones.

    I also buy Quaker Rolled Oats (again, convenience factor), and some snacks (Larabars, Annie’s Bunnies) ocassionally.

  10. I SOOO wish we had a COSTCO nearby. I sometimes have dreams about Costco, Wholefoods, and Trader Joes. Just kidding I don’t have dreams but I really do wish we had one of each of those here.

  11. Jenny says:

    Another Costco fan. Love the organic spinach and organic mixed baby greens. We also get milk, fair trade coffee, juice, socks, kids pj’s, cara cara oranges ( my favorite!), organic carrots, chicken, garbage bags, etc. I think the two best deals I’ve gotten at Costco were a nice, giant dog bed for $20 and almost a year’s supply of generic Claritin for $12!

    They haven’t had oatmeal for a while, except instant, which is a bummer!

  12. Shannan says:

    Quick tip: If you don’t already have this – CHECK OUT EXECUTIVE MEMBERSHIP at Costco. If you find that you spend at least $2400 annually at Costco, then you can get your membership FOR FREE the next year. Executive membership gives you 2% back of your total annual purchases. So if you spend 2400, then you will get $100 back which pays for an executive membership. Everyone in my family does this!

    We live in Western Oregon (salem area) and my husband is a store manager at Costco so I definitely have the inside Costco scoop. I am also an advocate for whole and organic food consumption. I have been so impressed in the past year by the variety of whole foods that Costco carries –
    A few of my current favorites:
    Organic fair-trade sugar $7 for 10 lbs!!
    Organic fair-trade coffe – 3 lbs for $13!
    Organic chicken bouillon soup base – $6!
    Organic apples – $7 for 3lbs! (to be fair, here in Oregon I am lucky to have lots of options for local grown organic produce and I grow most of our fruits/veggies in the summer, but in the wintertime, I do shop for produce at Costco).
    Organic whole wheat bread – 2 giant loaves for $5!
    Organic dairy – cheaper than regular dairy at local supermarkets

    I have not found an organic meat option at Costco as of yet, but with all the changes they are making lately, I would not be surprised if they did figure out a way to carry it in the store.

  13. Trista says:

    I *just* got a membership there again today and am sooooo happy I did! I was thrilled to find organic, free-range ground beef AND chicken breasts AND whole chickens. YEAH!!

  14. JosieAK says:

    Yes, the meat is a real bargain. In addition to organic whole chickens, breasts, and ground beef, they also have nitrate, MSG, etc. free sausages. Not organic exactly, but a great place to start. I also get their Tillamook cheese, organic butter, organic canned tomatoes and tomato sauce, organic salsa, organic apples, etc. They also have some wonderful energy bars type thing, like Lara bars which are mostly dates, nuts, and other dried fruit. These are great for a gluten and dairy free snack and they are MUCH cheaper than you would find at a regular store. Coscto is our friend! Especially in Alaska!

  15. Marisa says:

    Organic quinoa!! 4 lbs. for $9.99

  16. michelleb. says:

    HUGE bag of fresh spinach. Organic Whole Milk. Organic, diced canned tomatoes, Almonds, Walnuts, Pecans. I also get the organic ground beed, organic chicken thighs & breasts, and frozen organic veggies. All of our fish comes from Costco. Organic salsa. If I see something new that I want to try I have a friend who spilts the amount and cost with me. I go to Costco every othere week. It’s a 25min drive each way. I have an executive membership and it more than pays for itself every year. I know this because I get a check annually. Love Costco and I’m an addict, however, I don’t buy anything that I’m not going to use. Also, they have a great return policy. You can return anything for any reason. No need for a receipt, they can look it up in their computer by your membership number. Bought a crate of oranges once, 2 were rotten. Called them right away told them I wouldn’t be back for 2 weeks, wrote down the name of who I spoke with and returned the crate 2 wks later, no problem!

  17. Le says:

    this post was extremely helpful. thanks so much. i am a loyal reader but not so much a loyal commenter. i will try to do a better job.

  18. Sarah says:

    Hello, I found this page in a search result. I’m trying to compare Sam’s and Costco in St. Louis, just like one person above did. This has been a really helpful conversation.

    So…if you posted above, has anything changed in the last several months? I am probably going to get a Costco membership, but need something to push me over the edge into finally making the decision, lol.

  19. Sarah says:

    ~How nice that I can post without giving a bunch of information~

    I like it here!

    So…I have five children, and am so close to getting a membership because I think their food might be better quality and price than a Walmart Supercenter (where I currently shop most often). We don’t have a lot of money, though, so I don’t know what I would do if I discovered the TP and paper towels are more expensive at Costco. (Maybe I should just make my own paper towels? Idk.)

    I guess what I’m saying is that we buy all our food with food stamps, so I look at food prices from a different perspective. I’m not sure who has the cheapest paper goods, but we don’t use a lot of those (again, finances). We already drive over 20 miles to our usual store, and/but Costco would add 8 miles. So…I’m trying to balance all these conflicting goals–time, money, healthy food. And oh, then there’s the cost of membership. (A net cost of $40 or $90.)

    Decisions, decisions. I would appreciate any input anyone has. Thank you!

  20. Kelly says:

    The money you would save on Kirkland Brand laundry detergent alone would pay for your yearly membership….I love Costcos! esp for the holidays…You wont be sorry…just do it


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