What does a small household buy at Costco?


I've been asked before if Costco is cost-effective for a two-person household. Though my impression is that it definitely is, I've never done the math before. Given the current emphasis on saving money, I thought I'd do that exercise now.

Today, I went to Costco. I bought most of the staples we buy there regularly, as we hadn't been in months. This is what I came home with:


Here you see:

  • Two whole organic fryer chickens, $21.25

  • Three Amy's Organics spinach pizzas, $13.99

  • Two large jars of Jif peanut butter, $8.99

  • A dozen Einstein's cinnamon raisin bagels, $4.99

  • A dozen organic Jonagold apples, $6.79

  • A bag of mini tricolor sweet peppers, $3.79

  • A 190-ct bottle of glucosamine condtroitin, $23.45

  • A large jar of pesto, $7.49

  • A large tub of Sabra hummus, $5.99

  • A big jug of white vinegar, $3.29

  • A two pack of organic spinach ravioli, $8.89

  • Two big bags of Stacy's pita chips, $5.69 each

  • A four-pack of organic chicken broth, $9.99

  • A block of sharp Tillamook cheddar, $7.49

  • Two pounds of Parmesan, $17.97

  • A five-pack of celebration crackers, $7.69

  • A 25 lb bag of cat food (not pictured), $14.69

  • A 10 lb bag of baking soda (not pictured), $5.69

Was my trip cost-effective? Well, if I'm comparing it to not buying convenience items at all, probably not. But frankly, we're gonna eat some convenience foods. So let's compare some of those:

The cheapest I've seen Amy's spinach pizzas is about $6 at Target, and they are much more than that at our regular co-op. 3 for $13.99 makes them less than $5 each.

Costco's pesto is marvelously cheap for the quality. I've paid that much or close to it for 1/4 that much or less before, and Costco's quality is better. Same thing with hummus. Sabra is my favorite brand, and it costs about 1/2 what that giant tub costs to get 1/4 that much in a regular grocery store.

The prices on basics are pretty good, too. Cheapest vinegar and baking soda I've found, and definitely the cheapest-for-the-quality cat food.

Yep. My two-person household gets their money's worth at Costco. What about you?


Also a 2 person household with a Costco card. On the food side, we break even, but - if you are into photography - their developing equipment is some of the best around. So when you factor in the cheap, high quality photo development (if you are into that sort of thing) you definitely come out ahead.

You included the chicken just to taunt me right? ;) (I can almost buy one for that price, but not organic--those are more like 35-40 dollars apiece, depending on the exchange rate)

For comparison, several items on your list--in the bulk quantities mind-- are similar to what standard sizes cost here. I don't think you can find peanut butter for less than 6 bucks, and that is for a small jar.

And that quantity of cheddar would be anywhere from 15-25 dollars here, depending on brand. (Cheddar is uniquely expensive among cheeses here and not universally available; it's bizarre.)

So, keep up the Costco love!

Interesting to see those prices. We don't have Costco here and we're with 4 people so it doesn't compare, but I'm shocked something like peanut butter is so expensive in the US! Or are those jars 2 pounds each? And I don't mean to be nosy, but why do you buy so much Parmesan? It's very expensive (here also). And also cheddar, are you guys big cheese-lovers? ;-) The chicken (organic) and apples are about the same price as here. The spinach ravioli seems very expensive to me. I always buy (especially when I can get it in bulk) bottles or jars of strained tomatoes (passata). You can do so much with it and it's usually not expensive.
I know packaging is usually much larger in the US than it is here, interesting to see in your pic it really is. Pesto only comes in really small jars here. :-)
Great post!


I had no idea about the pesto, thanks for letting me know. I just realized they had tofu last week, why don't I know these things?

When I could afford it, I kept my Costco membership just for the Tillamook, hummus, fresh salsa, and 3-lb bags of spinach. Mmm.

For people who have to really watch their money, Costco has the potential to kill in 2 ways: (1) They only take debit cards or American Express. Even though the cost of Costco items is RELATIVELY small, it's still not small in absolute terms, and it adds up really quickly. I'd easily spend $75 per visit by just sticking to a few basic things. Without good planning, you risk overdrawing your bank account if you go the debit route. (2) Somewhat related--Costco depends upon impulse sales for earning lots of money. I don't know what it is about things in bulk, but some sort of primal hoarding instinct makes it really hard (at least for me) to resist buying things that I wouldn't buy in regular sizes. (Avoid the candy isle!!) And they rotate their inventory a lot, so every time you go in there, there's something new--and they'll give you a sample of it to make it even more tempting. So it can be hard to go into Costco and stick to a budget.

So if you're limited in terms of money and you have weak self-control, you may want to avoid Costco. :)

This makes me want a Costco really, really badly. I can't believe all the organic stuff you can get at such a good price!

We have a Sam's Club, and I was actually planning to do this kind of side-by-side comparison this week. I think we probably get our membership cost back just on Oxi-Clean, DD's gummy vitamins, and Cabot cheese alone.

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