Because let’s be honest, you can’t live on samples alone.

But not all Costco items offer the same value to every family.

Here’s what to get and what to avoid, based on the size of your family:

 

When it’s just you:

Focus on staples that you know are much cheaper than grocery store prices but that you’re 100% sure you’ll use.

Items like sliced cheese (did you know you can freeze cheese?). Or frozen salmon, beef patties, chicken patties, and frozen meals are all food items that can be thawed individually each time you need a meal.

Buy:

  • Rice: A 50 lb. bag of rice at Costco costs just $22.99, and will literally keep you eating rice for a full year.
  • Dog food: Maybe it’s you and your furry family member. If so, Costco has great prices on their Kirkland brand (incredibly well reviewed) pet food.
  • Beer: Costco has great prices on beer, and their Kirkland brand sampler boxes are great to take to parties. You can get a box of assorted Kirkland brand beer for only $22.00.
  • Rotisserie Chicken: Costco rotisserie chickens are only $5 and have easily enough meat for 2-3 meals. Plus, it’s pre-cooked so less prep time at the end of the day!
  • Cleaning or household items: Like paper towels, laundry soap and, of course, toilet paper. As a single person you can buy one Costco package of toilet paper and be set for several months, minimum!

Avoid:

  • Produce! If it’s just you, you will never, ever finish that gigantic bag of 12 heads of lettuce before it goes bad.

TIP: If you’re single and want to shop Costco but don’t want to pay for the membership, you can always have someone else (who has a membership) buy you a Costco gift card. You don’t have to be a member to use it!

 

When it’s you and your partner:

Obviously as a young couple shopping at Costco, you’re still going to use things like rice, toilet paper and frozen burgers. Those are just the basics!

But the one thing you might not know you can buy (besides all of the above) are discounted date nights!

That’s right, and I’m not just talking about grabbing a hot dog together (though, you know, that’s legit too). Costco offers discounted movie tickets and discounted gift cards to many restaurants, seriously cutting down the cost of date nights.

Buy:

  • Movie tickets: Two for $17. The regular price of movie tickets is $13 each (x 2 = $26). If you go to one movie a month for a year, you’re saving around $99 a year!
  • Gift Cards: Discounted by at least 25-35%. Last time I was at Costco, they had a promotion for a $100 Red Lobster gift card for only $64!
  • Wine: Did you know it only takes 8 bottles of Kirkland brand wine per year to pay for your membership? You can get a giant 1.5 liter bottle of Kirkland Pino Grigio for just $7.99.
  • Cooking supplies: If you’re suddenly cooking for two people, then you’re going to need to stock up on cooking staples such as cooking oil, spices, flour and eggs. All these staples are cheaper at Costco and can be used safely over the course of several months.

Avoid:

  • Canned goods: You’ll be really sick of that one kind of soup before you polish off a flat of 16 cans.

TIP: Want a fancy “date night in” that won’t break the bank? Buy a bottle of red wine for $8.99, a $5 Costco rotisserie chicken, add a salad and dinner roll, and you’re looking at a restaurant quality dinner (with drinks!) for around $15.

 

 

When there are 3-5 of you:

Everything I’ve already mentioned is game for you, including produce and canned goods.

Buy:

  • Pizza: Seriously! Apart from everything we’ve listed above already, do not skip on the $1.50 hot dog + soda, or the $10 delicious deli pizza. Where else can you feed a family of 5 for $7.50? At that price, dinner is still WAY cheaper than a trip to McDonald’s, and that doesn’t even include the samples you get along the way.
  • Costco Muffins: I mean, I could just call them “muffins” since clearly we are talking about Costco, but these muffins are so iconic that “Costco muffins” is appropriate. Want a breakfast crowd-pleaser? Costco muffins win every time. It’s only $9.99 for 12 muffins.
  • Milk: While it might be the same price as other stores, buying in bulk is worth the convenience.
  • Vitamins: Odds are if there are between 3-5 of you, you have underage kids who need their vitamins. Those Flintstones get pretty pricy at most stores! A giant Costco tub of vitamins is only $12.49 for 320 and will last you several months.
  • Frozen chicken: A 10 lb bag of frozen chicken breasts costs $20 and will last through quite a few meals or let you thaw one at a time if you need them individually.

Avoid:

  • Frozen veggies and fruits: Unless you drink a lot of smoothies, you’re going to use part of the bag and the rest will be freezer burned.

 

 

When there are 6 or more of you:

Congrats! If there are 6 or more of you in your family, you can confidently shop at Costco and rest easy knowing nothing you buy is gonna spoil.

The real reason for Costco at this size of family is sheer convenience. You don’t have to go to the store six times a week to get more milk, and you get all your shopping done in one place.

So go ahead and buy all. the. things. Plus, there are a couple of things you might not think of that Costco has to offer.

Buy:

  • Tires: Costco has great deals on tires, and at more than six people, you probably have multiple vehicles that need tires. While it’s not an expense that happens regularly, you can save hundreds if you need 4 new tires.
  • Toilet paper: It’s worth mentioning again, but when you have more than six of you in the house, you’re going to need a lot of toilet paper.

Avoid:

  • Snack foods: Yes, you’ll polish them off before they “go bad.” But you’ll get better deals when you use coupons. Download the KCL app to find good deals on chips, fruit snacks, bars, etc.

 

UP NEXT: 7 Savvy Ways to Avoid Paying Membership Fees