Is a Costco membership for a small family worth it? We think so. We initially appreciated our membership when we were going through cases of baby formula. Their Similac cartons were the best price per ounce I had found anywhere, and they also accepted those $5.00 off coupons all new mothers get floods of in the mail (just tell them to process it like a check if you have any trouble). It was so reassuring to have a whole case of backup packs in our pantry – no need for late night panic attacks when you realize you’re running dangerously low. This purchase alone was more than enough to pay for our membership – probably 10 times over.
After our formula days were done, we still found that our membership was proving useful. Ellie is a big eater, and I almost exclusively cook all our meals at home. Therefore, we go through a lot of groceries. We have belonged to both Sam’s Club and Costco in the past, so I feel that I can compare them fairly now. The reasons I liked Sam’s were the following: they accept Discover credit cards, they seem to have shorter checkout lines (at least at our PA location), their book/magazine selection tends to be a little larger, and they carry Ghirardelli chocolate chips. That’s it.
The reasons I like Costco better? They have hands down, by a landslide and a mile the largest and best selection of organic products and produce, they are not related in any way to Walmart (I just personally don’t care for the company), and they DON’T carry Ghirardelli chocolate chips. Those things are dangerous to have in the house. We also switched back to Costco because they were running a promotion on Living Social that basically made joining pay for itself by reimbursements with a gift card and free item coupons. I’ve heard rumors about Costco switching allegiance from American Express to MasterCard in the next year too, which would be great!
I hate grocery shopping, but I don’t mind going to Costco for some reason. We’ve made it into a routine that I go every Tuesday, and I try to get as many of our groceries there as I can. Paper towels, toilet paper, baby wipes and tissues are four things that aren’t fun to run out of, so I never mind buying those in bulk. (We use cloth diapers 95% of the time, but if we used enough disposables, I would get those here too!) I think the Kirkland brand is often just as good as name brand on most things too, which saves even more money. One of the main things I like about buying in bulk is that 9 times out of 10, with a little creativity I have enough food in the house to scrounge up a home cooked meal. No excuses.
Here is a list of items that we personally like and buy from Costco:
- Wholesome Garden Organic Baby Spinach 1 lb. $4.29 (I try to freeze smaller portions of this in ziplock bags to throw in smoothies – so easy that way)
- Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix 1 lb. $4.29
- Bunny Love Organic Carrots 10 lbs. $6.99 (we sometimes see baby carrots too $5.99, which Ted likes to take in his work lunches with some type of dip)
- Avocados 6 count $5.99 – they are not organic, but avocados are on the “Clean 15” list of produce that is typically low in pesticide residue
- Organic Bananas 3 lbs. $1.99 – this is only 50 cents more than regular grocery store bananas, so I buy these when they have them
- They also sometimes have organic Gala apples, but that’s not really my favorite variety
- I absolutely love grapes and berries (so does my little munchkin) – especially raspberries and blueberries when they are in season. It’s impossible to find organic ones anywhere, even at our regular grocery stores, so I do make exceptions sometimes. The important thing is really just to eat mostly fruit and vegetables and less of everything else anyway
- Kirkland Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2 liters $13.99
- Kirkland Organic Chicken Stock 6/32 oz. $10.99 (I know homemade is best, but this stuff tastes really good and is so convenient!)
- Kirkland Organic Peanut Butter 2/28 oz. $10.99 – we go through tons of this because of one of my granola recipes
- Kirkland 100% Pure Organic Maple Syrup 1 liter $12.99 – I rarely use white sugar anymore, so honey is used to sweeten muffins and other baked goods, granola, and I also use 2 tablespoons in every loaf of bread I bake
- Nature Nate’s Raw Unfiltered Honey 40 oz. $12.99 – I just recently bought this and find the taste to be much better for eating straight from the jar (like on cornbread or in oatmeal) than the Kirkland brand (which is less expensive and fine for baking)
- Kirkland Walnuts 48 oz. $18.99 – nuts are expensive, but they last for quite a few months in our house. I mostly use them in granola, and Ted occasionally takes some to work in his lunch
- Kirkland Almonds – I forgot to write down the ounces and pricing, but I also use these in granola
- Sunmaid Organic Raisins 4 lbs. $8.69 – this is the best price for organic raisins I’ve seen anywhere. I use them in my peanut butter flavored granola, and Ellie likes them as snack once in a while. They last forever and I like the fact that they are split into two bags to keep them fresh
- Made In Nature Super Berry Fusion Dried Fruit 24oz. $14.99 – this is a mixture of dried cherries, blueberries, goji berries, cranberries, raisins and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) that I absolutely love sprinkled on my homemade granola. They have other varieties that I haven’t tried yet, but plan to someday if I get sick of this one (mangoes, bananas, etc.).
- Quaker Oats 100% Natural Whole Grain Old Fashioned Oats 10 lbs – I can’t remember the price, but it’s pennies compared to the same volume from a grocery store. How long does it take to use up 10 pounds of oats you ask? Surprisingly it’s faster than you would think. I usually make two double batches of granola every 1.5 weeks or so, and each of those uses 5-6 cups or so. We also occasionally eat oatmeal, or I make these amazing oatmeal breakfast “cookies” sometimes too. The oats are not organic, but they are whole grain, and a great fibrous, filling breakfast
- Kirkland Organic Diced Tomatoes and Tomato Sauce – I need to re check the volume and prices of these and will edit this post with correct info in the future
- Della Organic Quick Cooking Brown Rice 12 lbs. (need to double check the price) – this lasts forever, and I highly recommend a rice cooker to make it taste the best and have the right texture
- Tru Roots Organic Quinoa 4 lbs. $19.99 – this lasts a long time too
- Bybee Farms Frozen Sweet Peas 5 lbs. $6.89 – my local grocery store has a pathetic selection of organic frozen veggies and they’re way, way more expensive than this, so I was excited to find these
- Watts Brothers Frozen Sweet Corn 5 lbs. $6.89 – another thing I like about these bags of veggies is their ziplock seal, so you can pour out a portion and it stores really well
- Watts Brothers Mixed Vegetables 5 lbs. $6.89 – (corn, carrots, green beans and peas) Ellie is a big fan of this mixture. Some days when we’re running low on quality leftovers for lunch, or if we’re having a forage for supper night, I can heat up a portion of these to give her and feel like she’s getting a more balanced meal. It’s nice not to have to cut everything up for her too!
- Sunrise Growers Organic Antioxidant Blend 3 lbs. – (cherries, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries) I misplaced my notes on the pricing of these, but it’s somewhere around $12.00
- Farms Organic Triple Berry Blend 4 lbs. – similar to the other berry blend, minus the cherries. The price is somewhere around $12.00 – I remember this package being a slightly better deal than the other fruit mix if you don’t mind the lack of cherries. Considering our local grocery store charges $5.00 for one pint of frozen raspberries or blueberries, this is a great deal. I use these in smoothies and baked goods like muffins or fruit crumbles
- They also have other single frozen fruit options like strawberries, cherries and blueberries (which can be hit or miss at our local store)
- Kirkland Organic Ground Beef 4 lbs. $19.99 – this is far less expensive than comparable beef at our regular grocery store. It comes in a multipack, so you can leave remaining portions frozen
- Coleman Fresh Organic Chicken Breasts per lb. $4.99 (definitely more expensive than Tyson or whatever frozen chicken we used to buy, but it’s a trade off against healthier meat)
- Coleman Fresh Organic Whole Chicken 2-Pack per lb. $2.49
- They sometimes have other cuts of organic chicken available like thighs, drumsticks and wings. We typically prefer white meat, so that’s what we buy
- Costco also carries fresh and frozen seafood, but it’s expensive, so a rare treat in our house
- Kirkland Large Organic Brown Eggs 24 ct. $6.99 – more than the typical carton of white eggs, but much more heathy, and still a cheap meal at any rate. We love to have a breakfast dinner once in a while
- Kirkland Organic Whole and 1% Milk 3 half gallon cartons $11.99 – While I would prefer to find a more local source for our milk, this is a great solution in the meantime. A comparable half gallon at our grocery store is $4.99, so it’s a few dollars savings at Costco (I’ve noticed milk in general is more expensive here in PA than it is in MI)
*** Costco – if you’re listening, please start carrying more organic dairy options!! I would love to be able to buy cheese, butter and yogurt there.
I also want to point out that there are many, many snack foods and other items available that are organic. A word of caution is that organic junk food is still junk food. Just a tiny bit less junky.
There are tons of other items available in the store. One of my favorite food blogs (www.100daysofrealfood.com) has a really good comprehensive list as well – part 1 and part 2. This is just my own roundup of favorites. I also want you to know that I was not paid or compensated in any way for this post. This is just my passive aggressive way of spreading my Costco love to the world, in the hopes it will inspire you to try it too.