Selling in bulk is Costco's main schtick. And that can certainly be one way to save money on groceries while you're there. (Congrats on being the new, proud owner of four pounds of peanut butter!) But there are a few other ways to save. Try these tips — even if the resulting haul requires you to turn your coat closet into a bonus pantry.
1. Keep an eye out for coupon sales.
While it doesn't take manufacturers' coupons, Costco issues its own coupon book about once a month, says Josh Elledge, founder of SavingsAngel.com. "The sale will normally start on a Thursday and run for about two-and-a-half to three weeks." That means there is a week or two each month with no coupon deals — so plan your shopping trip accordingly.
The best part, though, is that you don't have to have the actual book with you to get the deal. "Coupons come off at the register automatically," Elledge says.
2. Stock up on butter, bananas, and pumpkin pie.
"Costco has great everyday prices on bottled water, butter, milk, cheese, bananas, and some other produce," says Elledge, who also adds granola bars and flour to the list.
And once pumpkin pie season rolls around (ahem, next month!), get thee to Costco. "You can get a huge pumpkin pie for $5.99," he says. "They are about the size of two pies sold in the normal grocery stores and cost less."
3. Don't be brand loyal.
More often than not, the store brand is the better deal, however, Elledge notes that doesn't mean you're sacrificing quiality. "The nice thing about the store brand is that it is usually produced by the name-brand company and then given the name Kirkland Signature or Kirkland Signature plus the brand name." Take, for example, the Kirkland Signature Stretch-Tite plastic wrap.
All that's to say that you should usually just buy the cheaper option — there's no huge need to be brand loyal.
4. Look for items with prices that end in 97.
You may see something for $4.97 and be quick to round that up do a cool five bucks, but don't. The Costco prices are rumored to give us an insight into the sales. If something ends in 97 cents, that means it's been marked down. "Those items don't usually last long because people buy them fast," Elledge says.
5. Make Costco your local liquor store.
In addition to its giant teddy bears, bulk foods, and $5-rotisserie chickens, Costco is also known for it's quality-yet-discounted booze. Kirkland brand vodka may as well have its own fan club.
Look for great bottles of wine for less than $12 and even decently old bottles of Scotch. Also, due to state laws, nonmembers are often allowed to buy alcohol from membership clubs.
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Do you have any other smart tips for saving money on groceries at Costco?