10 tips to save money food shopping at Costco and warehouse stores

I’ve been a card carrying member of Costco since my college days. Now as a working mom of two, I tell anyone who listens how I save money food shopping at Costco and even makes me money (pays for my membership and more) with my Executive membership. My friends joke I’m having an affair with someone named Kirkland, since I’m always raving about my Costco finds – ‘Kirkland Signature’ being Costco’s private-label. Let’s face it, who wouldn’t find something top of the line with a money back guarantee attractive? So I was happy to share a couple of my tips which were mentioned in a news article that can be found on usnews.com and news.yahoo.com.

Use these tips to save you money food or household shopping at Costco, or other warehouse store membership:

  1. Invest in a food sealer to store large quantities of food in smaller servings and extend freezer life by up to five times than traditional freezer bags. They are found for a bargain at Costco and will pay themselves back in food savings in less than six months, depending on your shopping habits. It can also be used to freeze leftovers for a quick weeknight meal. I also like to make double or triple of a recipe to save for later. Just remember to date it, because once you fill your freezer, it’s hard to remember how old your food is.
  2. Purchase a small chest or upright freezer for storing frozen items if your freezer space is limited. It’s another investment that can quickly pay itself back. Look for clearance appliances at your local department or big box store.
  3. Buy meat, dairy and coffee here. There is a huge savings on these items compared to buying in a grocery store, especially on organic and artisanal products. Using your food sealer and chest freezer, divide these into quantities you can manage, and date them, to enjoy in future meals.
  4. Take advantage of monthly discounts. Stock up on discounted staples at sale time, if you have the storage space. Usually the same or similar products go on sale twice a year; so stock up on what you can use for six months.
  5. Look for closeout deals. Note the cents on the price tag and look for an asterisk (*). Items with prices ending in anything else than 99 cents and/or has an asterisk on the price tag indicates it is being cleared out. Usually the price drops on these items, as stock is getting close to running out.
  6. Buy the private-label products for great value both in food and non-food products. For example, Kirkland Signature wines are sourced by very discerning buyers and are always very tasty for a fraction of the cost. Their ballistic nylon luggage is another great testament to the exceptional value and quality. A friend who works for a large airline’s damage coordination department attests to their durability noting the lack of frequency in which they replace Kirkland bags compared to all other brands.
  7. The Executive membership can make you money, since you earn 2% back on purchases. If you shop there as your primary source for groceries and household items you can earn back the cost of your membership, plus even more. If you are unsure, they will scan your card for you to tell you if you shop there enough for it to pay itself back or make you money. Also, if you get the American Express Costco Cash Back card, no fee, you can earn even more money. I’ve essentially had a free membership since I became an Executive member and received a nice cash bonus beyond the $110 membership fee. Even if you try it out for a year and don’t make the difference in cost back, Costco will refund you the difference.
  8. Gas up at Costco. They always have the lowest prices.
  9. Use Costco for your vacation needs. Book travel, especially rental cars, with Costco. Their rental car booking engine provides an at a glance view of the major car rental agencies showing you in one place the best price. Costco usually has at least one agency offering an exclusive discount. While on vacation, a stop at Costco can keep you on budget, especially when travelling with a family or group. Purchasing staples for the week like sodas, water, snacks or even beer can save you costly vending machine or non-sale grocery store prices. Also if you’re staying somewhere with a kitchenette, items such as a pre-made rotisserie chicken, ready to bake pizza and other ready to cook meal options can provide a budget friendly dinner in. For breakfast, items such as eggs, milk, and pancake mix can help keep your wallet full. With all the money you save on snacks and meals, you’ll have more to spend on side trips and attractions. To make things easy, you can usually find a Costco within a close distance to major airports.
  10. Get discounts when buying a car. When purchasing a used or new car participating dealers are required to offer you an exclusive Costco deal. Costco will even contact you post-purchase to be sure the dealer gave you the discount.


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