Two weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of giving a talk on meal planning to my own MOPS group here in Colorado. We talked about all KINDS of stuff from picking recipes to shopping on a budget, and one question that came up was what do I buy at Costco to make the annual fee worth it.
Getting the most from a Costco membership when you shop organic
When my husband and I were first debating whether or not to purchase a Costco membership, we were very much on the fence. We were definitely on a budget, and definitely committed to buying organics—would there be enough stuff there that we would buy to make it worth it?
In our area, membership is $50/year. We chose Costco because it is close to our house and because I had heard that they tend to carry more organic products than Sam’s Club.
We crunched some numbers and figured a few things out:
- First, we decided to purchase our gas for our cars at Costco. (Ours is very convenient for us.) With two cars and a husband who commutes 20+ miles one way to work, we calculated the savings on gas for us (usually around $0.10 per gallon over our other local stations) would actually come close to paying for our membership in a year.
- We also decided to get the Costco member American Express card for two reasons; first, because we could get the benefits of having an American Express (travel insurance and other perks) without paying the normal annual fee for the card, and because it’s a cash-back card. I think this will be our third year with the card, and so far we’ve gotten more than $100 back each time, so it’s paid for the membership to Costco.
So, right off the bat, we realized that the membership would pretty easily pay for itself for us.
But was there anything we’d actually BUY there?
Costco Organic Shopping List
- organic butter
- organic canned diced tomatoes
- organic pasta (whole wheat when they have it)
- organic rice
- organic flour
- organic sugar
- organic olive oil
- Wild Planet wild albacore tuna (canned)
- organic frozen vegetables
- organic frozen fruit
- organic ground beef*
- organic chicken*
- organic whole wheat bread*
- organic string cheese
- organic, free-range eggs
- organic apples*
- organic spring lettuce
- organic baby spinach
- organic cotton toddler pajamas (seriously—my kid developed a rash, we think from the fire-retardant in her jammies)
- organic tortilla chips
- organic walnuts
*I used to regularly buy these items at Costco, but I have now found them cheaper elsewhere.
Other stuff we regularly buy there that’s not necessarily organic:
- Tillamook cheddar cheese (Our favorite! But they do sell organic cheddar cheese.)
- New Mexico pinon coffee beans (Our favorite! But they do sell organic coffee.)
- Fage 0% Greek yogurt
- recycled paper toilet paper and paper towels
- Ziplock bags
- Lära bars
- printer ink
There may be other things! This was just the best list I could come up with off the top of my head (I’ll continue updating this list.)
And, the thing about Costco (and Sam’s Club) is that stuff rotates in and out all the time. They don’t have organic cotton jammies all the time. They may not carry New Mexico pinon coffee at your location (more the pity! It’s awesome!) But this is a general list.
I’ve found that some things—like the Kirkland brand organic butter—is consistently cheaper than anywhere else. Other things, including ground beef and bread, I’ve found cheaper other places. You shouldn’t approach a warehouse store as always having the best price, but as one more tool in your toolbox for budget organic eating.
Do you shop at Costco or Sam’s Club for organics? What do you buy? Let us know in the comments!