18. Butter – while you may find butter on loss-leader sales (usually with a limit of 1 or 2 lbs.), this is consistently a good price.
19. Eggs – you have a choice of up to 5 dozen all the way down to just 1-1/2 dozen of organic eggs, so something for everyone here. Use eggs to make easy dinners of frittatas like chicken-spinach, sausage-chard, and potato-caramelized onion.
21. Real Parmesan – bought in the block, not shredded (which has non-caking additives), this seems expensive, but that’s because it’s so big. It lasts forever (okay, 6 months) and includes the rind which is a fun addition to vegetable soups. You can make Caesar salad and dressing, parmesan rice cakes, and fish with parmesan-herb crust to your heart’s content.
Fresh or Frozen Protein Items
22. Italian Sausage Links – such a deal on a package of four 5-link packages (easy to cut apart for smaller families). You can use these to have dinner on the table in 30 minutes with sheet pan roasted sausages and vegetables, or use them as a base for Italian sausage vegetable soup.
24. Rotisserie Chicken – it took me awhile to realize this $5/3 lb. chicken deal was the best thing ever. Now we cannot leave without at least one, but often two so there’s enough to stash 1-2 cup portions of cooked chicken in the freezer for quick and easy rotisserie chicken dinners.
Fresh & Dried Produce Items
25. Organic Carrots – cheap and almost always sweeter than other carrots (especially ‘baby’ carrots), you may think this bag would be too big for smaller families. Never fear: they last a long time (like months) in the fridge and you can use them up in carrot-heavy dishes like lemon-garlic grated baked carrots, slow cooker cassoulet, and of course lots of vegetable plates served with ranch or feta dip.
26. Dried Cranberries – I know these have added sugar, so we go easy on them and this big package will last us months and months. They are used to top my morning granola and in recipes like cranberry crumb muffins and broccoli slaw. They also make up a part of one of our favorite winter salads, along with feta, sweet onions, and nuts topping spinach or romaine.
27. Organic Raisins – some in my family prefer these to cranberries in granola and they’re also used in maybe my favorite recipe ever, addictive tomato chutney, as well as for snacking with nuts. And the price is way below what you’d pay for raisins elsewhere.
28-29. Organic Romaine & Organic Spinach – we most often get romaine since it lasts such a long time in the fridge and we like our Caesear salads. With menu planning, though, you can choose to make lots of spinach recipes to use up the larger container within the week before it goes bad. In addition to a base for salads, try one pot Italian sausage with spinach, chicken-spinach frittata, or curried turkey rice soup.
30. Sweet Onions – I think these make most things taste better and it’s a sad day when Costco doesn’t have them (which happens occasionally with seasonal produce). Use these to make a homemade onion dip that will have you licking the bowl.
31. Sweet Peppers (red, yellow and/or orange) – I love, love sweet peppers and use them in roasted vegetables for dinner (like this with chicken or this with sausage) as well as salads and vegetable plates.
32. Fruit: pineapples, mandarin oranges, grapes, bananas – we typically only buy one or two of these fruits, as this is one area where we can typically find better deals elsewhere in smaller packages that won’t go bad. The pineapple deal can’t usually be beat, though, and we have no problem finishing the mandarin oranges and grapes.
Snack & Drink Items
33. Almonds – I used to buy the roasted almonds, but when I discovered the raw almonds were cheaper for a larger package, and that roasting almonds with this recipe is WAY better I never looked back. While we occasionally will buy the mixed nuts, I always make sure to have a bag of raw almonds to roast for my go-to snack and to add to our granola.
34. Organic Tortilla Chips – in order to steer clear of corn GMOs, I have only bought organic corn chips for years. That gets expensive, though, for a staple we use for easy haystack or nacho dinners and to eat with either homemade canned salsa or fresh salsa. This big bag though, was too much for our family even when our kids were with us full time – until I learned this trick to keep them fresh. Now I always get to take advantage of this great price on organic chips!
35. Coffee – there are lots of coffee options at Costco that will save money if you are a coffee drinker. We like the basic San Fransisco brand French roast they’ve carried for years and occasionally we’ll buy a bag of Starbucks when they’re offering an instant coupon.
Buying Gas Reward
While not to do with the kitchen, I mentioned that we almost pay for our membership just from gas. This allows us to take advantage of the food deals we want without feeling like we have to do too much (since we know our membership is paid for through gas alone).
You can save and earn on gas two ways:
- Costco gas usually the cheapest around, beating others by at least .05 and sometimes up to .20!
- Use a rewards card to get 3-4% back (we use Costco’s card- 4% cash-back on gas – but any rewards card that pays you a a good percentage for gas will work).
Here’s our example: $200/mo. gas budget x 12 months = $2,400 and 4% of that is $96.00, which pays completely for a Basic Membership and almost pays for an Executive Membership (which is what we have, because it also pays back for a double-dip).
Since we easily pay for our membership this way we can take advantage of Costco’s food prices and quality even though we are a small household. So unless you don’t have a car, it really is financially feasible for most households.