7 Things I Would Never Buy at Costco

A person with a shopping cart looking at a refrigerated product in a grocery store.

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When it comes to Costco, everyone has their own list of favorites.


Important points

  • The items you buy from Costco are not only based on taste, but also on how much of something you need.
  • If I can’t use a product before it expires, I’d rather save money by buying a smaller quantity from another store.
  • It pays to know how long pantry items will last before they go bad.

The notion that one size fits all rarely, if ever, applies to real life. Costco is the perfect example. If you made a list of seven things you would never buy from Costco, it would probably be different than mine. This is because our needs can be different. Considering everyone has their favorite and least favorite products, here are the seven things I know better than buying at Costco.

1. Milk

Since there are only two of us at home, my husband and I buy a liter of milk every week or two. The giant containers sold at Costco might be perfect for a family with kids, but for us it’s a waste of money. I can guarantee even a gallon of Costco milk will spoil in our house before we’ve drunk it all.

2. Fresh fruits and vegetables

We’re both fans of fruits and (sometimes) veggies, but there’s no way we could eat a whole bag of avocados or a bushel of apples before they turn brown enough to use in a science experiment.

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Few things make me feel as guilty as throwing away fruit and veg, so I avoid this aisle at Costco.

3. Books

As a book lover, I have a habit of checking out what Costco has to offer. The problem is that I’ve been known to make impulse purchases. I’ve learned to decide in advance what I want to read next and treat it like any other consumer product through price buying. If I can get it at an old-school bookstore for a good price, it’s a win-win.

4. Bread

I think my husband and I consume bread even more slowly than milk. We’re not on a low-carb diet or anything; It’s just that I stopped making sandwiches after the kids left the house.

However, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to loving Costco pastries (croissants included). But when it comes to a loaf of bread, it takes us too long to reach the bottom of the bag.

5. Grain

We both love cereal, so you’d think I’d be happy to buy a Volkswagen Beetle-sized box at Costco. The problem is that as much as we like granola, we eat different types (he’s a bran guy, and I like anything with pecans). There’s no way two huge boxes wouldn’t have stale before we were halfway through. Cereal is another item we pick up at the grocery store.

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6. Spices

A jar of Costco mayonnaise the size of a newborn child would not only take up too much room in my house, but it would surely mold and rot before we were through with it. As pretty as the picture is, the same goes for all of the oversized Costco condiments. The only thing I can snatch in this aisle is ketchup because one of us (not me) likes it on everything.

7. Oil

Our adult children are great cooks and have a range of oils. Olive, avocado, pumpkin seed and truffle oils – you name it, they probably have it in their pantry. And that’s fine because they use oil in their daily lives. That is not the case with us. In fact, the last time I remember even using oil to make brownies was a month or two ago. It just doesn’t happen.

If I bought a single bottle of extra virgin olive oil from Costco, I’m pretty sure I’d be collecting social security before I managed to use it all. By the way: Olive oil has a shelf life of between 12 and 24 months, depending on the type and storage. After that it starts to go rancid.

If you want to take a moment to check out your pantry, I won’t blame you.

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You’ve probably noticed a pattern here. The items on my list are in quantities that are too large for two of us. Not only is it wasteful, but avoiding large amounts leaves a little more in our bank account. It is crucial that you only save money with large quantities if you can actually use the products you have bought. Otherwise, it often makes more financial sense to buy smaller quantities.

The funny thing about listing the things I don’t buy at Costco is that I can never leave the store without a cart full of groceries, fresh flowers, and a few unusual finds. Still, the fact that I avoid certain products helps me shave a few minutes off my trip — and probably saves a little money in the long run.

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