Costco is known worldwide for offering bulk quantities of items at reasonable prices. The store is more akin to a warehouse, however, and only a certain amount of food items are worth buying at such a scale. Otherwise, you run the risk of wasting money due to the sheer amount of a certain item going bad before you get a chance to eat it.
For that reason, let’s discover 10 things to skip at Costco and buy at your grocery store instead. (If you don’t shop at Costco, here are 10 things to never buy at Sam’s Club.)
To compile a list of the 10 things to skip at Costco and buy at your grocery store, 24/7 Tempo consulted a range of consumer indexes, lifestyle/food publications, and news sites. Then, we selected a wide range of items to reflect an array of consumer tastes. After that, we consulted health boards and government agencies for scientific backing such as the USDA and the National Library of Medicine.
While spices may seem like a great thing to get from Costco, it’s one thing you should avoid buying from the store. That’s because ground spices typically have a shelf life of about six months before they lose their potency. While Costco’s spices have competitive prices, a good portion of that five-pound jar of cinnamon will probably go to waste.
Unless you are cooking on an industrial scale, spices should only be bought in the amount you need. If you buy a bulk spice item at Costco, you’re probably wasting money due to the sheer amount you won’t end up using. For this reason, it’s better to buy spices from a normal grocery store, that way you can get the best bang for your buck.
Costco offers a convenient one-stop shop, and that extends into the realm of literature and books. These things, however, you should avoid buying at Costco for several reasons. For one, Costco’s book selection is constantly changing. Plus, the store is more likely to offer boxed selections instead of single copies. What’s more, the future of bookselling at Costco is uncertain.
According to Honolulu Civil Beat, the company has stopped selling books in all seven of its Hawaiian locations. Beyond that, Costco has stopped selling books at its Alaska locations as well. For these reasons, you’re better off finding new books to read at bookstores or libraries. Their selection is better, even if you have to pay a little bit more.
Much like spices or fresh produce, dairy products are things that you should skip buying from Costco. Something like milk, for example, is offered in far too large a container to not be at least partially wasted. Unless you have a large family that drinks multiple milk cartons a week, even one large Costco milk carton will be far too much to finish. That’s because, on average, dairy products like milk have a shelf life of five to seven days.
Dairy products are best bought at a local grocery store. They have the best selection of things like milk with the widest variety of options. That way, you can buy multiple types of milk everyone in the family likes, instead of buying one large container from Costco. It’s worse with something like a couple of pounds of cottage cheese. It is almost guaranteed to expire before you have a chance to eat it all.
The store is all about its bulk deals, but fresh produce is one thing to skip buying from Costco. While the superstore may have great discounts on a bag of bananas, there’s a good chance a certain amount of those bananas will go to waste. While the American Heart Association recommends four servings of fruits and vegetables daily, you’ll unlikely eat 15 bananas in a week.
This means you’re almost guaranteed to waste a portion of you’re bulk banana purchase. Plus, bananas don’t last as long as other fruit. Instead of Costco, you should buy fresh produce at your local grocery store or even a farmer’s market. The quality is comparable, and you’re less likely to have to throw out the extra amount that comes with a bulk purchase. (Discover the most contaminated foods in the produce aisle this year.)
Costco’s Kirkland brand clothes have become all the rage in recent years. Be it out of irony or just store loyalty, Kirkland brand jeans or sweatshirts are relatively ubiquitous on the street. They are, however, the types of things you should skip buying at Costco for several reasons.
For one, Costco’s clothing selection is limited compared to the other big box stores like Walmart. Plus, you’re unlikely to find much variety of styles or outfits at Costco. What’s more, the store doesn’t have any changing rooms, so you can easily walk out with a pair of jeans the wrong size. For these reasons, it’s best to buy your clothes at stores where you can try on a wider range of clothing.
This is one thing that seems like a great buy, however, it’s best to avoid buying soda at Costco. While the store sells large crates of soda for phenomenal prices, it is also one of the most heavily discounted items at normal grocery stores. This means you may think you’re getting a great deal on soda when an equivalent deal can be had at a grocery store for far less quantity.
Sure, Costco’s bulk soda pallets are great to store and take from as needed, but that much soda is unhealthy. For one, it has no essential nutrients. Plus, its excessive sugar is not only bad for your health, it can rot your teeth. This is only compounded when buying one hundred cans of soda at Costco, compared to a two-liter bottle at your local grocery store. (Discover 20 foods and drinks you only think are healthy.)
Another thing to skip buying from Costco is condiments and salad dressings. Again, the store offers great bulk discounts, but this is one item that doesn’t make sense to buy big. Unless you’re a social butterfly with dinner parties planned for every night of the week, these types of items will probably rot in your pantry.
While condiments and salad dressings are usually shelf-stable, they start to go bad the moment you open them. Frankly, even one bottle of salad dressing can take weeks, if not months, to be fully used up. For this reason, it’s best to skip buying these items at Costco. People hardly need one bottle of ketchup or ranch dressing, much less a dozen. Even if frozen, these extra bottles will likely sit in your freezer unused and slowly spoiling.
One thing Costco prides itself on is its fantastic selection of various snack packs. Everything from granola to potato chips is offered in bulk-variety packs at discount prices. Looks can be deceiving, however, as many of these snack packs contain at least one unwanted item.
Think back to the times you’ve bought a bulk variety snack pack. Using potato chips as an example, there is always one coveted variety, one variety that’s tolerated after the coveted one has been eaten, and one variety of chips that are never eaten. Unless you are certain you’re family likes all of the varieties of chips offered in the bulk offering, you’ll probably waste at least one-fifth of the snack pack.
Cereal is another thing that you should skip buying at Costco. Like everything else offered there, it will come in bulk. Costco’s selection of cereal, however, often pales in comparison to local grocery stores. More select brands like Cap’n Crunch Crunch Berries or Fiber One are much easier to find at a smaller grocery store than a big box retailer like Costco.
Plus, cereal goes bad pretty fast. If you’re the only person in your household who eats cereal, you’ll probably have to commit to eating it every day. Otherwise, there’s no way you’ll be able to finish all of the Costco-bought cereal before it expires. Plus, with Costco’s penchant for variety packs, there’s a possibility your cereal purchase contains at least one variety you never eat.
Over-The-Counter Pain Medication
Compared to the other items on this list, it might be dangerous to buy over-the-counter pain medication from Costco. Known for its outlandishly-sized items, the store seems like the perfect place to stock up on aspirin or other painkillers. However, you should skip buying these things at Costco.
No one needs a bottle of 500 Advil, even if the store makes you think you do. With that many pills, it’s easy to get into the habit of taking more than you need. The problem with this is that these over-the-counter pain meds can cause serious health risks including stomach ulcers, liver problems, and worse. There’s no reason to risk your health with Costco portions when a local grocery store can provide the amount of medications you need in safer quantities. (If you’re ordering groceries online, learn 12 rules for maximizing convenience.)