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New Video: Come Shop with Me at Costco (+ What to Buy at Warehouse Clubs & What NOT to Buy)

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Have you ever wondered whether a membership to a wholesale club like Costco, Sam’s Club or BJ’s is worth the annual fee?! Well, this video below may help answer that question for you or at least get you thinking! Although warehouse clubs are great places to snag amazing deals on produce, meats, and select dairy products, they are definitely not the best place to snag personal care items, diapers and more. Watch below as I share with you what items to buy at Warehouse Clubs and what items not to buy.

What TO Buy at Warehouse Clubs

(note that Warehouse prices and pictures are featured below on the left; grocery store prices and pictures are featured below on the right)

Fresh Produce like Strawberries

Rotisserie Chicken


Select Dairy Items like Butter

Specialty Cheeses like Pecorino Romano

100% Pure Maple Syrup

What NOT to Buy at Warehouse Clubs

Personal Care Products


Select Baby Items like Diapers and Pull-Ups


Cereal


Condiments


So now that you’ve watched the video and read through my post about what to buy and what not to buy, I would love to hear your thoughts! Do you shop at Warehouse clubs? If so, do you have any tips/suggestions for getting the most bang from your buck? If you don’t shop at Warehouse Clubs, why is this the case?

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180 Hip Readers Commented

  • Janelle says:

    If you live in a small town and don’t have access to regular shopping at Wags/CVS or even grocery stores that double, a huge monthly trip to Sams Club for such items is a major saver. Especially when you get into winter and literally might be snowed in. Some things are also just not carried in smaller grocery stores are are so much more money. While I love to shop local, we couldn’t have done it when we lived in tiny town IA, we had to stock up when we went to a bigger city with a Sams.

  • Cynthia says:

    I am an occasional Costco shopper. Gift cards for restaurants…one of my faves has $100 of gift cards for $80. I’m fortunate, in that my son is an avid Costco shopper (shame on him!) and shares his membership with me. I just bought 6 quarts of Mobil 1 Oil (the synthetic kind) for $26.95 for 6 quarts…Regular retail is over $9/quart or more. Huge savings! Change my own oil, and even huger savings! Oh, and their take and bake pizzas are fabulous! As many of you mentioned, love to grab a hot dog and soda for $1.50! Every time my mother comes to visit, she asks to go to Costco for lunch! Haha!

  • Brit says:

    My husband and I (no kids yet) don’t have a membership and won’t. I get produce reasonable at our local grocery store (Rainbow) shopping sales and gallons of milk are $1.99 night now. I get fresh chicken breasts for $1.99 lb. Kwik Trip accepts competitors coupons and we always save 10 cents a gallon on gas. If I had a bunch of kids and didn’t coupon, I probably would shop there but we save too much now to do so.

  • Hayden says:

    You left off regular old cheese! We buy the huge blocks of cojack / cheddar. It comes out way cheaper than the shred or blocks at the grocery (w coupons!), and if I’m getting to the end of my block and it’s been awhile, I shred and freeze the rest. The other thing is the Kirkland Brand Extra Virgin Organic Olive Oil. It is very nice olive oil for around $10 a bottle. My last heart for Costco is their occasion cakes — only $16 for a giant cake — the vanilla is awesome with the filling — yum — beats any grocery store cake hands down and great for big parties!

  • algal8 says:

    We’ve been Costco members for years now. The biggest thing is for chicken and ground beef. The chicken tenderloins are usually 5.99lb at my grocery, but only 2.99lb at Costco. They come in a unit of 6 1-lb sections, so they are already sectioned into easy to thaw segments. I buy them and pop ‘em in the freezer, then thaw for later. We prefer the tenders to the breasts because we tend to cut ‘em up small for quick cooking anyway, or grill the tenders whole (still quicker than cooking a whole breast). Also, we buy lean ground beef there that is 1.99lb, vs 2.99lb+

    I have always bought paper products and some personal care items there as well. But I only do so when I combine them with the store coupons that come in the mail every month. The beauty of those is that you only have to clip one from the entire mailer, and when it scans all of the qualifying coupons pull up.

    I also found that when I bought infant formula, Costco would accept the Similac “checks” that we would get mailed to us from Similac. Their tubs of formula were cheaper per oz than at the grocery store, and with the coupon made it. I’m sure it all varies by location though.

    • marlene says:

      thanks i didnt know that they took the similac checks. i breast feed occasionally formula but they still send them to me. i wonder if anyone can use these? do they ask you for your i.d.

  • Anastasia says:

    Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy life to make these awesome videos! We love them.

  • Emily says:

    We don’t have Costco here, we have Sam’s club and BJ’s. I used to take advantage of BJ’s free memberships for 30 days until they made it for new customers only and I had to pony up the cash lol. I haven’t been in a few months, but I agree w/Hayden above their cakes are really good and MUCH cheaper than the grocery stores. The BJ’s I go to accepts their store coupons and they also let you stack MC, but to be honest it’s hard to figure out how to coupon there. I usually just go to Stop&Shop near my house, they double coups up to 99c and every 100$ I spend there I get 10c off of a gallon of gas. (which really adds up, I just got gas 70c off!)

    • Emily says:

      Forgot to mention that bread and deli/meat and chz are always really cheap there, and I rarely get coupons for those items!

  • Suzanne says:

    thank you for posting this Collin! I have not purchased a Warehouse membership for the ‘not’ reasons you’ve pointed out! You are the best!

  • kaylen says:

    We only have a Sam’s Club and I do buy less food there now that we do more couponing the last few years. I do buy Huggies wipes there, .02/wipe including tax and I cannot beat that online and I don’t have to wait for a drug store to run a deal that might be sold out by the time I can get there. We have saved a lot there though by buying furniture, clothing and seasonal christmas presents.

  • Dana says:

    I shop at Costco for so many organic choices my local commissary just doesn’t offer. I enjoy organic olive oil, organic maple syrup, organic frozen fruits and frozen veggies, even organic canned tomatoes that I get a better price on than at the commissary. I also find that non-food items that Costco carries are enough to make my membership worth it! I purchased a Cuisinart ice cream maker there for $35, that sells on Amazon for $59. Don’t forget drinks like Monster energy and red bulls! You can get them for close to $1 each at Costco while some places sell them for as much as $2.29 each.

  • Stacie Most says:

    Well they Key is Price Comparing with ALL stores!!! I have a family of 5, 2 adults 3 children, and as Collin pointed out some things are a rip-off at the Wherehouse store, but TONS of other items are a GREAT Deal- I hope some of you realize that there are So Many “TO BUY’s” at wherehouse stores, then the few posted about here. I absolutely LOVE Collin & I agree 100% with her post, yet I think some readers are thinking that those are the only 5 items that are Great Deals at wherehouse stores! Just a few other great deals are found on: Veggies (3 lb Salad Mix 1.29- 3lb Mini carrots 2.69) Frozen Fruit Blend Varieties (6 lbs $10- great for smoothies), Kraft American Cheese slices ( 3lbs $7) Spaghetti & Sauces, Bread (including various buns) Huge Cakes, Chips, Fruit Snacks, Hot Pockets (17 pack under $10 Kraft Mac & Cheese 12 pack-$8 Those are just a few of my favorites- PLUS I never have to wait for a sale or coupons and the price stays the same YEAR Round. Important with a big family where you need to stay stocked year round! I price check almost EVERY item I buy grocery/drug store vs. Wherehouse store As We all should, you will quickly find if a membership is worth it or not Based on YOUR Peronal needs!

  • melissa says:

    thanks so much
    I always was curious about that! I noticed the personal care item seemed expensive and I found out they didnt take coupons…oops

  • Leigh says:

    Costco does not accept coupons is my understanding. However, BJs wholesale club has a a good coupon policy and I often snag many great deals there that I would not really find else where. You can use 1 BJs coupon, combined with manufacturer coupons. If each individual item has its own UPC code then you can use manu coupons in addition to the BJS coupon to score some great deals. So for example, all the items in 3-pack of body wash, have their own UPC codes. I can use a BJs coupon if one exists and 3 manu coupons as long as I don’t exceed the purchase price. I have been able to get some free, or very close to free items there.

  • Kathy says:

    I can’t get the video to work!

  • Jennifer says:

    I love your videos! So I don’t want to seem like I’m complaining..but……I have to differ with you here. Maybe it’s a regional thing but I can always gets butter free at grocery stores, I never pay more than $1/lb for strawberries thanks to Aldis, and cheese at Aldis is cheaper also. They have gourmet cheeses at our Aldis. So maybe it’s best to access per each persons situation what items are best at a warehouse store?

    However…..I never thought about buying rotisserie chicken at a warehouse store! Has anyone had good luck buying other meats cheap? Or is it best to wait for sales at the grocery store?

    • Mrs_Rad says:

      Jennifer, I totally agree. I miss Aldi since moving from Chicagoland to AZ. I will say that Costo’s meat is far superior to any other grocery store’s so if I pay a bit more I’m ok with that. Also, their cakes/cupcakes are always a hit (tho Sam’s Club has much nicer designs but that’s a whole other Costco VS Sam’s segment!)

  • Suzanne says:

    I think the best thing to buy @ Costco is meat. It’s tough b/c you do have to buy a lot but it’s such an easy thing to separate and freeze. I have found the best prices on organic/free range chicken to be @ Costco. Better than Whole Foods or even Trader Joes.

  • Christen says:

    My husband is a manager at Costco, so we get a free membership with rewards. Although we are major couponers, I buy all of my meat and produce there since we don’t really get coupons for those things in Delaware. Collin is right on, there are things avid couponers just know not to buy there. Costco is best for non food items. We just bought a cuisinart ice cream maker for $30. They always have great markdowns on their seasonal products. I am lucky enough to have an insider who is always on the lookout for price drops!

  • Clarissa says:

    Which store is better, Costco or Sam’s?

  • Nicole says:

    My parents shop at Costco every week and it drives me crazy!!! I’ve gone on trips with them and most food and household items they get end up being more expensive than the grocery store. I tell my mom she doesn’t have to use coupons, just follow the sale cycles and she’d pay a whole lot less per item. For instance, the Lysol counter wipes she gets are 50% more expensive at Costco than when they go on sale every two months at our grocery.
    You should comparison shop everything – use the price/per part of every sign! I pointed out to my mom (who always thinks generic/store brand is cheaper) that the Kirkland canned tuna is even more expensive than the Starkist Costco sells. She still bought the Kirkland to spite me…hahaha.
    I think these warehouse clubs prey on the elderly – ever notice how many old people are cruising these stores? They give a false sense of frugality by having a few items be a good deal and getting full or more price on other items. We used to shop there ourselves – years before I found out how to really save money using coupons and watching for sales and our “savings” were eaten up by our membership fees except for years we bought tires or electronics (big ticket items).
    I’m just not a fan of warehouse stores at all. Getting out of their system was one of the best moves I’ve made.

    • Kristen says:

      I totally agree that each person needs to assess it for themselves! For me, I can save $1-$1.50/gallon on milk, so over the course of one year that alone pays for my membership. We also go through two large tubs of Greek yogurt per week, and buying those at Costco saves me $4.39 per week versus the regular price at Target. I’m sure there are weeks when it’s on sale that my savings is less, but I have never seen a lower price, even on sale. So if you can go there to price things out you can determine if it’s legitimately going to save you money.

  • sparky says:

    The hidden valley ranch is $5 per bottle, but they are 40 oz bottles. The normal dressing bottles are only 16 oz bottles. So, really that hidden valley is 5 bottles of normal sized dressing for $10 or $2 each.

    Hidden Valley is pretty expensive around here. Usually $3 per 16 oz bottle.

    • Kristen says:

      Yes! I think some people get caught up in the high price without realizing how much you’re getting. There may be occasional times throughout the year when you could get Hidden Valley (or whatever) for cheaper with a sale and coupon, but if it’s something you use often, you may not be able to stay stocked up. I love Costco, but everyone really needs to determine for themselves if there is enough savings to justify the membership :)

  • QPon Diva says:

    Not sure if it has been mentioned (or in the video) but another thing to consider is the price for the memberships themselves! Here in Minnesota, Sams is $40 while Costco is $55. Also – if you or your spouse/significant other have any kind of employee offered discounts you may have an offer for these businesses. We got a $25 gift card (a $10 was offered for the standard account) for signing up for the Sam’s Club Plus account with a valid employee ID.

    Also not sure about Costco, but worth mentioning for Sam’s members: they offer free hole patching on tires (has come in handy for us twice now!) and free rotate/balance on a set of tires purchased there (otherwise it’s pretty cheap at less than $20 if you didn’t).

  • JOhn says:

    BATTERIES!!!

  • Amy says:

    Kirkland signature balsalmic vinegar!

  • cranefam says:

    Here is an idea that we do when shopping @ Costco-buy the rotisserie chicken, grab a $.59 pop, couple plastic knives and forks and eat your lunch at the deli on the way out, then eat it for dinner that night, then make chicken soup out of the rest. Our Costco Usual best buys: Kirkland Brand Prilosec-Omeprazol-(especially with store coupon-comes about twice a year), Estroven with store coup (they had an update on the brand, but we bought a year+ supply on their markdown-much better than coup price at Walgreens), Kirkland brand Prevacid (ran out of Prevacid coups), gasoline-usually one of the better prices around + cash back when using no annual fee AmEx card, stamps (nickel less than face price), depending on Staple’sprice-ink, hamburger, pop and hot dog, ice cream bar, fresh strawberries and blueberries (we have been having problems with these lately), check printing. Sometimes or usually: Canned chicken, clothes, cameras, bacon, milk (if no store sale/coups available), fresh veggies/fruit, gift cards for theme park and hotel. Have to’s: Some members of our family have to have Kirkland Brand toilet paper. :)

  • Mary says:

    Where is the video???

  • bali says:

    Ooh i just got around to watching this and totally agree. What we buy at Costco is Athenos hummus, chicken, the big tubs of organic spring lettuce, the portobello mushrooms, and the crumbled Feta cheese – add a balsamic vinaigrette, and you have an easy, delicious dinner for about a week. I also get their store brand Zyrtec pills for dirt cheap! One trick (for me) is to never use their shopping carts in store, otherwise i just end up buying huge bags of snacks. We’ll just buy what we can carry!

  • Delaina says:

    Collin, you’re famous! :)

  • Lucy says:

    With today’s gas prices, I need to go to one store that will have the majority of what I need. Meats, milk, butter, produce, all better quality and cheaper at Costco. Larger portions means I don’t have to go back every week. By going to Costco I save not just gas but my valuable time. Their return policy is amazing and the extra warranty they give you for free on certain larger purchases like TV’s and such is wonderful! Try returning a coffee maker or vacuum cleaner after you’ve used it a month or two or three and it turned out defective or gave out. Target will not give you your money back or give you a credit!

  • Denise says:

    Here in NY I feel like Costco is a must with family. I am a bargain shopper and there are only a few very specific items I buy at the local market. Our supermarkets are extremely expensive, don’t accept coupons, and are geared towards single people buying a few things to make dinner. Also, the quality of the market food is always an issue. Lots of times, I’ve brought home a steak that looked beautiful only to turn it over and find out it was rotting. I’ve been buying more and more items at Costco including things that were on the not to buy list because they are cheaper than anywhere else. I buy most of my cleaning supplies, laundry supplies, veggies, cereals, snacks, bread, dairy, meat and fish. I also find good deals on vitamins, ibuprofen and other random meds. The only thing that I find a questionable deal on is some of the personal products, but with a Costco coupon its not bad. Aldi is OK for certain things, but I have to say, there is nothing quite as raunchy as getting a stomach ache after eating their cheese. Ugh.

  • Tarri says:

    Watching the video I saw in the beginning behind Collin is bears and a playset. Not to long ago my daughters put bears on the playset as if they were playing.. at one of our local Costco’s. It was so cute and it stayed there for a few days.

    Thanks Collin for sharing what to and not to buy at Membership Warehouses.

  • AnnaMarie says:

    My sister and I live in different states but share a SAM’s club membership. It saves me in gasoline as often Sam’s is the cheapest in town. I rarely shop there as I find better prices on base where I can also use my coupons. There are some rare things I will buy there though like my large Hibiscus bush that has overwintered in my bathroom where it greets me with new blooms nearly every day. Nice having a touch of summer thru the winter. I do not buy furniture there, although the selection may not be as vast I find better deals at Big Lots for furniture and home decor.

  • violet says:

    Where was this taped? It looks just like my Costco! hmmmm (wondering?)

  • Carol says:

    Wow I did not know that about the diapers. I am going to take those off my list for the week. I shop at BJ’s. What about snacks? We always get the granola bars and big containers of pretzels there. They ‘seem’ cheaper to me???I usually do a large shopping trip there once a month where I stock up on meat, cheese, milk, bread, and paper towels and toilet paper. And then just shop the sales at the grocery store.

  • Katrina says:

    Kirkland vanilla!

  • Kathy says:

    I would love it if they carried more organic items. The first four items she mentioned in the video should only be eaten if organic. Conventional Strawberries are one of the “dirty dozen” for pesticides. Meats are loaded with hormones and antibiotics and should only be consumed if they are grass fed (organic), Cheese and butter (all dairy) should be organic because US dairy cows are toxic.

    • Sarah says:

      In my experience Costco carries a lot more organic than SAMs. I buy my meat at Costco because the cost of the organic is so well priced there.

  • Tanya says:

    I always get the free 30 day memberships. I stock up on fruit. The best deal I find is Pure Vanilla, which I use in baking. I can get a huge bottle for the same price as the little bottles at the grocery store. It is crazy.

  • Sarah says:

    The taco seasoning and soy sauce seem to be a good deal to me! $4 for the equivalent of 20 seasoning packets. And the soy sauce is $6 for a kikkoman which I usual get a small bottle for $4. Also the Athenos feta cheese is well priced and the Welches fruit snacks are about half the price as I find them at King Soopers!

    The quinoa is also slightly cheaper.

    I also don’t use many coupons.

  • Tami says:

    I buy a few items at Sam’s Club but I prefer Costco. The problem is the closest Costco is 30 minutes away. I like the price at Sam’s on Bob Evans sausage, Jimmy Dean’s breakfast sandwiches and Gillette razor blades. I don’t buy a lot there on a regular basis! Their rotisserie chicken is cheaper & bigger than the ones at our local grocery stores. They also taste better at Sam’s.

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