The Top Things to Know About Shopping at Costco

By JS Paul - July 03, 2020

There are a LOT of people buying at Costco. And when we say a lot, we mean 98 Million customers as of 2019. That’s almost 3 times the entire population of Canada. And for good reasons: the discounts on certain items can be highly enticing, as well as the broad diversity of products they now have in stock. Even though the premium membership will set you back $60, you can usually recuperate this cost within 2 or 3 shopping trips.

But is everything a bargain? Are the products all high quality? The jury is still out deliberating on this one so we decided to do a bit of research and finally came up with this list of top things to be aware of when you’re shopping at Costco. Not all that glitters is actually a deal…

Toilet Paper

Credits: costco.ca

If there’s one thing a global pandemic has taught us, it’s that people really, but we mean really, care about toilet paper. When you enter your local Costco, go near the cleaning products, and usually, you’ll see it there: Large palettes of Kirkland TP ready for purchase. Is it a good deal? You betcha! We find the Kirkland brand at times 50% cheaper than any other. And the quality has been up to par so far. No complaints from butts all over America.

Gasoline

Credits: costco.com

Yes, the line ups at Costco fuelling stations can be long and even at times, excruciatingly long. But the 15-20% discount on a gallon of fuel is really worth the extra 15 minutes in your day. Some buyers leverage the low cost to fuel their vehicles with premium gasoline, ensuring a longer lasting performance of the fill as well as their car. Double whammy benefit, we’d say!

Ground Coffee

Credits: costco.com

Coffee is one of those touchy topics sure to increase the volatility of conversations with most people you know. Some are aficionados and will buy some meth-lab looking equipment to get the best brew. Many are willing to take out a small mortgage for a good cup of joe from Starbucks, making them feel they are investing in some premium experience. Then you have the “no care” folks with lower standards, ineffective taste buds, and nothing better to do than criticize real coffee-loving people. But we digress.

Our take on this one? We’ll go ahead and say no. Nope. Nope. Hard no. Is it cheaper than higher-end coffee? Sure. Will it smell good? Likely. Will it taste good? See list above… we fall into the camp of those busy cleaning our AeroPress filters for our next vacuum-sealed batch.

Light Beer

Credits: beeradvocate.com

It’s hard to define a “buy or do not buy” status on this one, and for more than one reason. First, in the blistering heat of summer, when your skin is melting off your face and you’re parched from just walking to the mailbox, all you care about is a cold drink with bubbles. Does it need to taste good? Taste is likely no longer highest on your priority list, as long as it’s providing the required effect for body cooling. If this is your current situation, go ahead and purchase this box of beer as it’s quite cheap and will produce what you’re looking for.

But then, if you’re inviting friends over for a BBQ and want to impress the crowd with a well-paired combo of malt beverages and delicacies, you wouldn’t want to go with these cans. You’ll have a few people with an “I don’t care” profile, however, most guests will secretly judge you and will find excuses to avoid all future invites to your so-called “dinners”. Proceed with caution. Consider yourselves warned.

 

Bags of Frozen Fruits

Do you have children? If so, the answer here is simple: go ahead and buy it. Reason? You’re killing two birds with one stone: you’ll be providing your mutts with so-called “dessert”, knowing too well it’s just plain fruit but they won’t know any better. Simultaneously, you’ll be getting rid of this underlying parental guilt you are stricken with since the day of their birth. No artificial flavors, no added sugars, etc… WIN!

If you do not have children, we would recommend buying this only if you have enough freezer space and if you enjoy a daily smoothie fix.

Olive Oil

Credits: costco.com

Purists will have our heads for sure on this one: we’re big fans. There. We admitted it. That feels better. You definitely can’t deny the price is right.

Listen, we’re not saying you can forgo medical exams because of what this olive oil will do to your overall health. We’re just saying that for the price, the volume, and the taste, this is a great deal and sure bet. Bonus: you’ll finally be able to make all those fancy salad dressings you’ve been wanting to try for a while.

Spices

Credits: costco.com

We’re not too sure what’s going on here. We’ve tried the salt, the pepper and the oregano and most of these have been negative experiences. Too much of a good thing is, well, not always good.

If we start with the salt, the container constantly leaks. There’s basically no way to avoid a salt shower whenever you get the thing out of the pantry. The pepper seems to take a bodybuilding physique to crush and the taste is a bit drab. Finally, the oregano is so dry you could start a forest fire with it. We’re not saying the price isn’t compelling, we’re just saying: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!”

Fresh Fruits

Credits: costco.com

We love fresh fruits. Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, etc… We use them fresh, in smoothies, and in popsicles (yes you can freeze the crap out of these puppies).

But we’re picky: we like our fresh fruit firm, not too smooshy. We draw the line at a 3-day old mold beard growing on them, which we’ve witnessed more than a handful of times. So, if you buy fresh fruits at Costco, they may taste and look good, but only for about a day. Make sure you have a tribe of hungry “fruities” around so these don’t go to waste.

Books

The selection is quite small obviously but this is to be expected from what really is a “grocery” store, more than anything else. You won’t score huge discounts here anyway, so our recommendation is to skip the book section and go encourage your local bookstore instead. You’ll end up with way more choices at probably the exact same prices and your local book store owner can offer you personalized recommendations for other content that might blow your mind.

Frozen Desserts

Probably the easiest to answer: buy it all. The bulk ice cream, ready-to-bake cookies, cakes, pies, and of course, freezies, are the necessary list of items to add to your cart within mere minutes of entering Costco. If you do a trip without any of these, you’re doing something wrong… likely, life.

Tricks of the trade: if you’re tag-teaming Costco (as one should), bring one cart for the frozen stuff and one for the regular items. This highly researched strategy will help your items stay frozen for longer.

Maple Syrup

Credits: costco.com

The strength elixir from Canada is on such high demand, even the mafia is involved up there (look it up, it’s mind-blowingly true). Say you’re not criminally inclined and want to obtain the liquid in a legal manner, most Costco locations have your back.

It’s organic, tasty and really affordable compared to other brands. Our recommendation is to buy three units at a time in case you run out of cash and need a very liquid asset you can pawn off to escape the country.

Laundry Detergent

Credits: costco.com

By the looks of our now discolored vintage 1970 Black Sabbath shirt, we can tell you this soap is really not that effective. The detergent’s signature “used hockey bag” smell doesn’t ever really come out of clothes and, if you care, it barely makes any bubbles after you put it in, rendering your laundry time a very boring experience.

Don’t get us started on their dish soap. We’d be here all night. Bottom line: skip it.