what to buy organic at Costco | laughinglemonpie.com

What to Buy Organic at Costco

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.

GOOD QUESTION.

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?

what to buy organic at Costco | laughinglemonpie.com

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!

Photo Credit: kenteegardin via Compfight cc

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14 Comments

  1. A friend recently mentioned the Costco Cash Card to me – it is a way for people without memberships to also or occasionally shop at Costco….http://thefrugalfind.com/you-can-shop-at-costco-without-a-membership/

  2. We recently upgraded to the Executive membership (should have done it years ago!), as we buy nearly everything at Costco these days ~ it’s easy one stop shopping, which is important to me as I’ve had 4 spinal fusions in the last 18mo & have another planned.
    We find that most things are fresher / last longer than their grocery counterparts (probably due to the sheer volume sold), and even if we don’t finish every single spinach leaf, the 1lb tub is STILL less expensive than a 5oz bag @ the grocery store.
    Some of the other great items we buy… dates, figs (I love nature’s candy!), herring in wine sauce, Seafood from the Roadshows,and dog / cat food!
    Nature’s Domain is Taste of the Wild rebranded for Costco~ Grain free goodness for the fur babes, at a fraction of what we were paying at the feed store! The dog food is $34 vs$54+, and the cat food is $20/18lb bag vs $14+for a 6lb bag. HUGE savings for us!
    Another frequently overlooked savings is the Costco pharmacy. You don’t have to be a member, and the savings are extraordinary (and a bit sickening an all honesty). My monthly meds were $626 @ Walgreens vs $177 @ Costco! It’s still a big chunk of change to drop every month until I hit my out of pocket ded & rx coverage begins, (and I’d rather not need ANY of them!) , but it’s a whole lot more affordable @ Costco! Also, everything spent @ the pharmacy is counted towards your 2% cash back w Exec membership, so it’s an even bigger savings : -)
    I love Costco!

    • I forgot to add the frozen fruits & veg! Organic broccoli florets & haricot verte are delicious, inexpensive & easy for lunch or dinner, and the organic strawberries, cherries, blueberries, etc are FABULOUS in smoothies, shakes, sorbet & “ice cream”! We toss them in the Vitamix & experiment ~ add a little milk, protein powder, hemp hearts, etc… and for chocolate cravings, toss in cocoa powder or a few good chocolate pieces, and create your own organic Cherries Garcia!

    • GREAT suggestions, Shana! I didn’t know that about the dog/cat food! I should definitely look into it.

  3. Great reminders, Lacy! I’ll add some of these to my list for my Costco outing today…although I ALWAYS have the problem of shrinking freezer space. That limits the amt of stuff I bring home, for sure.

  4. Our location just started carrying Organic Stonyfield Greek Yogurt. It works out to about $1.20/container, which is cheaper than regular (non-organic) Greek yogurts at a regular grocery store.

    My son loves dried blueberries (though I can’t remember if they’re organic or not), and while I normally don’t like oatmeal, I will eat oatmeal that’s been cooked with dried blueberries, so I figure it’s actually enabling me to eat a cheap, healthy breakfast. And I buy the other organic dried fruits (like figs) for snacks.

    And we tear through the frozen broccoli as well. I buy eggs there because we eat eggs a lot for breakfast, and organic eggs are expensive around here at other places. We stocked up on organic canned tomato products several months ago, and have used up all of it except the tomato paste.

  5. What is the current status of the Kirkland organic milk? At one point in time, it was said to be mislabled and not truly organic.
    Thanks

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