Costco Deals | 15 Things Not To Buy

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15 Items You Should Never Buy At Costco |

So I’ve talked about Is Costco Worth It and Top 15 Costco Deals.

Now it is time to discuss items which items are always cheaper on sale with a coupon than Costco’s everyday or with a coupon prices.

Since, I’ve posted on items that are FREE after coupon before, it goes with out saying that if I won’t pay for them at a grocery store or drugstore, I won’t buy them at Costco either. 

1. Cereal. You can consistently get cereal for a $1.00 or less per box. It is never that inexpensive at Costco.

2. Feminine Hygiene Products. On average you can get a small boxes for $1.50 or less. Costco’s prices are almost 50% more.

3. Bread. Even if you prefer a more “fancy” bread, you can always beat Costco’s prices when it is on sale at the local grocery store (without a coupon).

4. Frozen Chicken Breast. I don’t pay over $1.65/lb for frozen, skinless chicken breast. It is over $2.00/lb at Costco.

5. Frozen Pizza. Pizza goes on sale ALL THE TIME at the grocery stores. And most of the time there is a coupon to go with it. Buy it at Costco and you’ll pay at least 25% more.

6. Laundry Detergent. Unless you are an ECOS only user, you will pay less per load for laundry detergent after a sale and a coupon (up to 50% less).

7. Household Cleaners. You can get most cleaners (409, Lysol, Windex, or Clorox) for under $1.25 per bottle. You’ll pay nearly 50% more at Costco.

8. Paper goods. The great thing about napkins, paper plates, and plastic silverware is they store easily. Purchase and stock-up around Memorial Day and Fourth of July at a discount and use it through the rest of the year.

9. Peanut Butter. On average, Peanut Butter is $1.25 per jar after coupon. Buy the huge two-packs and you’ll be paying 50% more per ounce.

10. Snack Crackers. A $1.00 per box is the average price for snack crackers after sale and coupon. Most of the large boxes of crackers will run you 33% more per ounce at Costco.

11. Shampoo and Conditioner. Again, $1.00 per bottle is the magic number after sale and coupon. Purchase it at Costco and you’ll pay almost 75% more per ounce.

12. Lotion. Consistently $1.00 per bottle (or even free) after sale and coupon. It is almost 75% more per ounce at Costco.

13. Canned Veggies. Stock-up around the holidays for $.39 a can and pay 33% less than Costco prices.

14. Non-Organic Produce. Apples, oranges, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc. are close to 100% more per pound versus on sale at a store. Stock-up when it is on sale and avoid paying the Costco premium.

15. Bacon. Bacon typically goes on sale every six weeks for $2.50 in our area. Buy it at Costco and you’ll pay almost 25% more per pound.

What about you? What things did you used to purchase at Costco that you can get cheaper on sale with a coupon? Has anyone cut their Costco spending in half since they have started couponing?

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  1. Tara Gase says

    I always buy the nitrate/nitrite-free bacon at Costco. This is the only kind of bacon I’ll buy and I think it is generally cheaper at Costco, and very high quality. It’s not really apples to apples but if nitrate/nitrite-free is important to you then I think it’s worth it.

    • Alicia says

      I agree Tara. Due to health issues our family requires no nitrates. Hot dogs are always on sale along with bacon at grocery stores, but I consistanty buy bacon and hot dogs at Costco because the nitrate-free brands are less expensive at Costco than at a grocery store.

  2. Vanessa says

    Thank you for simplifying things for me. I spend so much time dividing price by ounces to see if items are a good deal or not (more often not).

  3. michele says

    exception to the bacon one, the costco pre cooked bacon is the same as 8 packages of oscar mayer, currently 10.99 package – like getting a package of oscar mayer for 1.37 .

  4. Susan says

    The name brand shampoo is the exception ~ Bed Head and Nexus both are way cheaper at Costco….also when it comes to chicken, they have a great kirkland brand thats hormone free and not injected with any sodium or fillers thats $1.50 less per lb then anyother store…..just like the hot dogs and bacon if you want better quality meat w/ less fillers…Costco is the only way to go!

  5. Melissa Matthews says

    we use Sam’s Club not Costco. We used to spend a lot before I started couponing and before we began Dave Ramsey’s envelope method which didn’t work well w/ bulk food because I would blow all my money there and not have anything I could turn into a meal. We put me on a weekly grocery budget which helped and I learned I could only get a couple things when we go to Sam’s. I buy Milk and bananas it is the cheapest by far!!!!! We also regularly get eggs, butter, kid yogurt there when we dont have it on sale, I know its cheaper than regular priced grocery store prices. I am guilty of buying bread I have a brand I like and its cheaper there unless its on sale at the grocery store and then I get it at the store. Bread for the rest the family I only buy at the store. Used to buy Laundry detergent until I was able to stock up on all the good deals you give us. We also used to get canned veggies and frozen pizzas but you have shown us better deals over the past year! Thanks! Oh and we get Diapers or Pull ups and Wipes but I have been told online deals are better but haven’t began that, it seems overwhelming to me to search but I know I need too. We like to do a family lunch date there too, the whole family can eat for very cheap huge hot dog and giant soda $1.50! of course no soda for the kids but its only a few cents cheaper. Plus they have the best salted soft pretzels w/ butter-mmmmmm We love to shop there for gifts too! WE LOVE SAMS CLUB!!!!

  6. stacey says

    I was wondering if you know how Sam’s club compares? I assume probably similar deals. We don’t have a Costco close (up North) but keep debating if Sam’s membership would be worth it. Wish we had a costco closer! BTW, new to your site and love learning all the wonderful information to share! THANK YOU!

    • says

      Stacey – it’s hard for me to say because I am not a Sam’s Club member. I would assume the deals would be similar, but I can’t say for certain.

      • Tirzah says

        Sam’s Club is a big box Walmart. Very few things are a discount due to bulk. Mostly it is just larger packages. Costco started as a restaurant supply so the quality of their products is great. In Tulsa we will soon have a choice between the stores and I can’t wait to be in a Costco again.

  7. Jackie Howard says

    At our Costco the chickens breasts are 21.99 for ten pounds. $2.19 cents a pound. They actually just raised the price. These are the Purdue brand and are the best quality chicken breasts we have found by far anywhere. They are sliced nice and thin with hardly any fat or gristle. They are perfect for fajitas. This is one of the reasons we keep renewing our membership!

  8. says

    Where do you find your frozen chicken breasts for that cheap? That is one item we usually always buy at Costco. Also, laundry detergent. We use the Kirkland powder in the giant white tub, we have used it for 4 or 5 years and have loved it. We tend to only need to buy a giant tub twice a year.

    • says

      Melissa – I only by Country Pride Chicken Breasts from Hy-Vee. I think they are equal is comparison to the Purdue that Jackie refers too above. (Because I’m ultra picky about chicken breast and meat in general.) If you wait for a sale – you’ll pay anywhere from $1.50 to $1.65 per pound. And then I stock up. I haven’t bought the Costco Purdue Chicken Breast in bags in over three years.

    • Danielle says

      I actually buy laundry detergent in 5 gallon containers from a distributor and for gain/tide it’s $35 and lays almost a year for a family of four.

  9. Tracy C. says

    I totally agree on everything you put above except for blackberries, raspberries, and sometimes blueberries. You just have to watch Costco’s prices, because they fluctuate A LOT and from store to store (OP vs. Lenexa vs. KC, MO). For example, the $2.99 for 18oz of blackberries price that often runs is my buy price because the best price I have EVER seen it at the grocery store is $.99 for 6oz and that was at HH one time. I totally stock my freezer in the summer when their prices go way down on berries. The holiday times are usually horribly overpriced on berries.

  10. kim says

    I’ve priced out the laundry detergent at Costco. We get the liquid Kirkland brand for around .06-.07 / oz. Tide is .11/oz. Even with a sale and coupon, I haven’t found Tide lower than .11. I guess I haven’t really tried any of the other brands though.

  11. michele says

    their blackberries are amazing, I dont know how they sell them so cheap all year around. and I’m in love with blackberries !

  12. Jen in VA says

    I enjoyed both of your Costco lists. I disagree on peanut butter. Our family likes the all natural peanut butter without added corn syrup or sugars. The Costco Kirkland brand beats everyone else in both taste and quality. Give it a try sometime!

    • says

      Marie – Yes, the list was created a few years ago, but I still stand by it. I’m able to get boneless, skinless chicken breast that is cage-free and antibiotic free for $1.79 per pound. And bacon is consistently on sale $2.99. So while it is a few cents more than a few years ago, it is till CONSIDERABLY less than the Costco prices.

  13. Rebecca Kipe says

    I think Sam’s Club and BJs is cheaper than Costco. I buy specific things at BJs and am careful about what I buy. (Did SAMs for many years until we moved where it wasn’t convenient) I do most of the rest of my grocery shopping at Aldis. I gave up in coupons bc they aren’t for anything I buy (mostly prepackaged stuff). Hers what I buy at BJs:
    Natural pb
    Contact solution
    Sliced provolone
    Alexia sweet potato fries
    Sometimes strawberries and blueberries in season
    Coconut oil
    Laundry det
    Fabric softener
    Chicken bone in thighs
    Chicken breasts
    Chicken tenders
    Pork loin (never seen it anywhere cheaper!)
    Actual contacts from their eye place in store

    Hope this helps someone!

  14. Elizabeth says

    We buy organic chic breast, organic mixed greens, organic butter, organic eggs, organic cereal, organic loaves of bread, organic canned tomatoes ALL at Costco. I assume you were speaking of conventional? And we have the “executive” membership so we earn a check each year that is 2% of what we spend. I also think it’s convenient… I wouldn’t want to drive around to save a dollar or two when my time is valuable, too. Thanks.

    • says

      Elizabeth – Convenience is always a factor! However, we see lots of the organic items you mention on sale at Sprouts for less than the everyday Costco prices. As many people have mentioned before, it’s all about knowing your prices.

  15. Jill says

    This is a great list but people really need to do their own price comparisons per ounce or per unit of the same product. Yes, bacon goes on sale at the store and will be cheaper, but it’s usually the thinner sliced stuff…we prefer the thick cut and the price at Costco and Sam’s is much better. And as far as shampoo….I understand not paying more than S1 a bottle, but how does the price compare per ounce, and can you get the $1 per bottle brand at Costco? Cereal is a great tip…much cheaper in the grocery store when on sale and using coupons. Thanks for making this list.

  16. Joyful_2010 says

    Thanks for the Costco lists! I think for some people it’s the convenience of shopping at fewer stores that matters; after all, time is money. Also, if you have an executive membership, you get a percentage back on total purchases for the year, which a typical grocery store may not offer. Considering time/convenience and cash-back reward might make the price difference a wash for many people.

    Unlike most of the items referenced here, if you shop organic, as we do, Costco is significantly cheaper.

    Lastly, I recommend updating articles with current amounts to add to the validity of your assertions. For example, although not listed, beef has increased in price significantly over the past three years. Other items no doubt have outpaced inflation, which would make the comparisons inaccurate.

  17. Lindsay B says

    What’s left? What SHOULD you get at Costco if not these things? Also, is this specifically Costco and not all bulk stores? Because I feel like I do well on many of these things at BJs…

  18. Lindsay B says

    Oh, and I should check… Where do you live? Because I don’t remember the last time I saw cage-free antibiotic free chicken breasts or bacon that cheap anywhere. Just wondering if this actually applies in my area…

  19. Frank says

    Hey Kelly, I was wondering if you could tell me where you shop for your chicken breast. as a guy who needs a recommended amount of macronutrients a day I find it hard to find breast under two dollars being from NYC. Now you said frozen, so do you buy it frozen?

    • says

      We buy it from our local grocery store Hen House or Sprouts. I buy non-frozen breast, but then put them in freezer packets myself and put them in our deep freezer.

  20. A. Shig says

    This doesn’t apply for California residents, unfortunately our grocery stores are pretty comparable to costco prices, it all depends on the item. A lot of the items you mentioned are cheaper at Costco.

  21. Lisa says

    I think some of those things are definitely regional. In the 3 years I lived there I never ever ever found anytype of chicken under $2.50/lb at the grocery store (and even then that was only bone-in chicken thighs) whereas the frozen chicken breast at Costco was always $2/lb. However, then I moved to Atlanta and the Costco frozen chicken breast is $2.25-2.50/lb while I can get chicken breast at Kroger pretty often for $2/lb.

    In addition to your list above I’ve also noticed that milk, eggs, and canned diced tomatoes are often more expensive at Costco.

    I have to say though – idk about frozen bacon or bacon strips but the bacon crumbles they sell at Costco are probably the best thing in the whole world – worth every penny.

  22. Mary says

    We don’t live by Costco anymore. I miss it so much. What I miss the most is their produce. Their food was never a disappointment. Most times from other stores, I get it home and it is rotten. Costco is worth it when it comes to produce. We live by Sams now and it doesn’t even compare.

  23. says

    I live near a Sam’s & not even close to a Costco. I mainly keep my membership for the gas prices. However, Peanut Butter is the best deal where I live. Especially when my husband takes 2 peanut butter sandwiches to work every day.

    To honestly see if the deals are better, you have to research what’s on sale any given week & go in with your list & a calculator, as it fluctuates frequently.

  24. Cheryl B says

    Check prices yourselves. Depending on where you live and if you don’t use coupons these may not apply. I don’t use coupons since we don’t get much in our Sunday paper and I checked sale flyers and even on sale, Costco still won. I live in rural Northern California on the coast, 5 hours north of the Bay Area.

  25. Emma says

    The peanut butter is cheaper where I come from. It’s 8.99 for a giant tub (don’t know the exact ounces) and like 6.99 for a MUCH smaller jar at the grocery store. (we’re talking about natural peanut butter here).

  26. Laura Smith says

    I also gotta disagree on the “fancy” bread. I need to buy Gluten Free bread, and if I can find it at the store at all the loaves are tiny and cost more than the first full-size loaf I can get at Costco.

  27. Thomas says

    Is this article still relevant? It was posted three years ago and I have to disagree with pretty much all of the claims made. But that’s just personal experience. Still a good article!

  28. Susan says

    Well here in Canada it’s different. Things are not as cheap as those in the US have it! So when we get a deal at Costco that you think is too much we’re happy!

  29. Jamie says

    I found this when trying to scope out organic and all natural products for my diet. I think this is very much regional. I live in Reno, NV and Southern California (work takes me both places 50/50). I typically stick to organic foods and more whole food type of items. I’m a single 30 year old who lives alone and regularly contemplate if I need my membership as 1 person. When I get my yearly check back from Costco it always covers the membership fee. I’ve also found that Costco is the cheapest for gas in my area, regularly has the cheapest organic produce, and usually has the best rates on travel packages and car rentals. I also get can gift cards there for 20% cheaper than buying directly at the restaurants or stores so if I buy 3 $100 gift cards to my favorite restaurants in down, I already saved $60. For me, it’s worth holding onto my membership.

    Even with coupons I rarely have found grocery stores items cheaper than Costco’s. Also I’m picking with brands. I’m not going to buy cheap shampoo because it’s on sale. Certain things to me aren’t worth saving on if you have to keep switching products.

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