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Grab Your Groceries and Run (How to Shop at COSTCO without losing your mind)

Save your time, money, and sanity! Use this practical guide to grocery shopping at COSTCO, everybody’s favorite warehouse store!

Today I did a big grocery haul from Costco, and I thought I would share what I bought, I’ve also got a few tips on how to stay practical while shopping at Costco. We all know just how easy it is to lose control and buy all the giant things!

I shop at Costco once a month or so, and I tend to stock up when I go.

At the same time, I try not to overspend or buy frivolous things we really won’t use. With prices increasing so much these days, it’s important to save our money for the things we really need!

It’s all about financial self-care, after all.

Here are the rules I follow to keep my time, money, and sanity in check:

  1. Bring Your Own Bags.
  2. Go to the grocery section only.
  3. Do not go to Costco when you are hungry.
  4. Shop Organic As Much As Possible.
  5. Buy Only What You Can Use Up.
  6. Buy the Costco Store Brand, Kirkland
  7. Get a Pizza to Go
  8. Grab Smoothie Ingredients for a Fast Snack When You Get Home
  9. Give Yourself One “Cheat” Purchase
Read All About Financial Self-Care for Women Over 50
grocery shopping at COSTCO - display of all types of groceries from tomatoes to chicken to pasta to beans

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9 Rules For Grocery Shopping at COSTCO

Rule #1: Bring your regular grocery bags in with you.

Plan to buy only what you can fit into your regular bags.

You only have so much space in your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry!

Plus, if you don’t bring bags, you have to load them up in whatever leftover boxes they provide you with – which you then have to dismantle and recycle at home.

If you haven’t started bringing your grocery bags when shopping, I highly recommend you try these. They hold a ton of groceries but are comfortable to carry and virtually indestructible.

Rule #2: Go to the grocery section only.

My second rule when grocery shopping at Costco is a tough but important one.

Do not let yourself be distracted by the other two-thirds of the store, unless you want to find yourself back home with bags of athletic socks, a new tv, matching beach chairs, a new couch, and more Christmas decorations than you can display, let alone store!

Ok, I’m joking (kinda), but you get the idea.

If you are going for groceries, stick to the groceries.

Don’t let the shiny stuff distract you.

Rule #3: Do not go to Costco when you are hungry.

That 4-pack of family-sized pizzas is going to look like lunch, so maybe you need two…no, no, no!

Have something to eat before you leave the house or you will overspend and come home with all kinds of crazy things you don’t need, I promise.

If you are coming to Costco at the end of a long morning of errands, at least grab a hot dog or one of those chicken wrap things at the food court before you start shopping.

Ok, I realize I’m pushing kinda hard – but these rules are important to preserve your sanity and your bank account!

Related: Amazon Prime Day: Save Money While You Shop in Your Jammies

Rule #4: Shop Organic As Much As Possible.

Costco does a really good job of sourcing – and labeling – the organic foods they sell.

I am particularly partial to the organic meats from Costco. Today I stocked up on chicken breasts and ground beef. I also like their organic ground bison but I didn’t have the bucks to shell out for bison this time around.

The bacon is not organic, but it is a nice, thickly sliced, and flavorful bacon. I like bacon, and I especially like Costco’s bacon.

I separate the meat packages when I get home and then freeze them all lying flat. They are easier to store that way, and much easier to grab a single package when you are ready to defrost and cook them.

Take the time to divide and freeze your meats shortly after you get home – don’t leave this for another day or you may forget!

Rule #5: Buy Only What You’ll Use Up

I was really tempted to grab some salmon – it was on a really good special. But it was farm-raised (which I avoid) and the cuts were so huge they would go bad before we could finish them – that’s wasted money.

Make sure you only buy quantities of food that you will finish!

I’ll buy a large bag of oranges because I like my juice fresh-squeezed. So much better than store-bought! (I use the same juicer as “The Barefoot Contessa” Ina Garten – it’s this one and it’s got some neat little features.)

The tomatoes came in a box of a dozen; we will have no trouble finishing them. They are organic and vine-ripened.

Mushrooms, blueberries, Kerrygold butter (that stuff is divine!). All these are things we go through a lot of, so I can buy them in quantity.

If you like Mexican food, grab a clamshell package of pre-made chicken street tacos. The only work involved in this meal is to heat the chicken and tortillas, so I save this for one of our busier nights. It beats take-out anytime!

Pantry items include good-quality organic pasta, Dave’s Bread (also organic), Coconut Clusters (my junk food fix), mixed nuts for my husband, and Kirkland’s Maple Syrup.

Rule #6: Buy Costco’s Store Brand, Kirkland

In case you are unfamiliar, Kirkland’s is the Costco store brand and the quality of their items is excellent.

I usually buy Kirkland’s whole bean coffee, but they only had the dark blend today and we prefer light/medium.

In addition to being organic, Kirkland’s coffee is fair trade (as are many other Kirkland’s brand items). Winning!

I also stocked up on canned tuna, because we are in earthquake country here and I always like to have an inventory of non-perishables, especially proteins.

Kirkland’s brand extends to alcohol. Today I grabbed a Prosecco, but they do make several red and white wines, and I’ve tried most of them. They are very good!

I’ve not tried Kirkland’s vodka before, but wow, it was inexpensive, and perfect for when I make this delicious recipe for homemade Kahlua from It’sMySustainableLife. So I grabbed an enormous bottle. Vodka lasts forever, right?

I plan to give the Kahlua as Christmas gifts (I’ll make a little extra for myself!) so I will need that gigantic bottle of vodka! (Edited to add that I have made the Kahlua several times now and it is delicious! Give it a try!)

Hot Tip: You can buy many of Kirkland’s products on Amazon as well!

Rule #7: Grab a Pizza from the Food Court as you Leave

It’s almost impossible to go grocery shopping at Costco without grabbing a pizza either at the food court or ready-to-bake.

Again, this is an easy dinner for a busy night, and they are not shy with toppings at the food court!

Rule #8: Grab Smoothie Ingredients for a Fast Snack When You Get Home

Next, we have my three favorite Costco products! Smoothie ingredients for the win.

Most mornings in our house start with homemade smoothies. Even my husband (who has the taste buds of a four-year-old – but don’t tell him I said that!) likes (most of) the smoothies I make.

Grab a bag of power greens, which can be found in the cold produce room. I toss them in the freezer as soon as I get home, as they seem to blend better when frozen.

I add frozen fruit, and alternate between the Daybreak Blend (peaches, strawberries, mango, and pineapple) and the Three Berry Blend. A little water, protein powder, collagen powder, and usually, a little beet powder.

As soon as I get home from a COSTCO trip, I whip up a fresh smoothie using the Daybreak Blend to drink while I put the groceries away.

Can I just say how much I love my Nutribullet? I think I use it more than any other small kitchen appliance. If you don’t have one – I highly recommend it! My smoothies blend so much better than those I made in my blender.

Rule #9: Give Yourself One “Cheat” Purchase

I got distracted by the book display and brought home a copy of “The Testaments” by Margaret Atwood.

Yes, I broke my own Rule #2. But Margaret Atwood is my all-time favorite author, and, hello! It’s the sequel to “The Handmaid’s Tale”. I had to have it!

One little cheat is not going to do any harm – just don’t go overboard!

Final Thoughts on Grocery Shopping at COSTCO: Tips and Tricks to Get In and Out Fast

I recognize that everyone shops according to what works best for them, and different families choose to eat, well – differently. And that is as it should be.

Use this guide as just that – a series of suggestions.

Let me know in the comments what rules you live by when shopping at COSTCO!

I hope you enjoyed following along on my trip to Costco today!

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grocery shopping at COSTCO - display of all types of groceries from tomatoes to chicken to pasta to beans
grocery shopping at COSTCO - display of all types of groceries from tomatoes to chicken to pasta to beans
grocery shopping at COSTCO - display of all types of groceries from tomatoes to chicken to pasta to beans

4 thoughts on “Grab Your Groceries and Run (How to Shop at COSTCO without losing your mind)”

    1. It’s amazing the variety in that store, isn’t it? Yes, very easy to just grab the same stuff every time. It’s much easier to explore if you are able to find a less crowded time (and if you do, let me know, ’cause it’s always packed when I go!!!)

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