Shopping at a bulk store like Costco is a surefire way to find bargain prices on all kinds of goods — but the problem, I've found, is that you buy such large quantities to get the deal, that you often end up spending more money total than you would have at a typical grocery store. So while the price per ounce may be way cheaper, your out-of-pocket per trip is higher. (That $19 I just dropped on two liters of olive oil comes to mind.)
Of course, there are a bunch of things at Costco that are still only $5 or less. So with the help of my assistant (my mom, who's ready to come out of retirement to be a Kitchn reporter now), I dug deep to come up with this list.
If you're gonna spend just $5 (or less!) at Costco, you should do it on one of these seven groceries.
Note: Prices can vary by season and location; all were accurate at the time of reporting.
1. Kirkland Signature Seasoned Rotisserie Chicken, $4.99 for a three-pound bird
You knew the rotisserie chicken was going to be on this list. The price is actually consistent at every Costco — it's $4.99 and always will be. It's a real crowd-pleaser and a great option if you're in a rush to put dinner together.
More on Costco's Rotisserie Chicken
2. Earthbound Farms Organic Greens, $4.50 for one pound
Most of the greens in the refrigerated section are less than $5, for not-too-giant quantities. That includes an Asian chopped salad, a sweet kale gourmet salad, and various containers of lettuces, kale, and spinach. This mix of organic greens is a favorite among Kitchn staffers.
3. Del Monte Bananas, $1.99 for three pounds
We've seen this price as low as $1.39 for three pounds, which actually makes Costco's bananas cheaper than the 19-cent ones at Trader Joe's. Even at $1.99 for three pounds, this is a darn good deal.
4. Kirkland Signature Ground Saigon Cinnamon, $2.99 for 10.7 ounces
I know we've said that spices are one of the things that shouldn't be bought at Costco (see: 5 Things Kitchn Editors Never Buy at Costco), but cinnamon really is one of those things you can get through in a few months — especially with fall coming. Sprinkle some into oatmeal, shakes, smoothies, baked goods, and tomatoes (yes, really!).
5. Heinz All Natural Distilled White Vinegar, $2.89 for 1.32 gallons
Whether you're buying it for cooking or cleaning purposes (or both!), this is a great deal.
More on Cleaning with White Vinegar
6. Kirkland Signature Sharp Cheddar Cheese, $4.99 for two pounds
Cut the cheese yourself for savings; the pre-cut or shredded stuff is always way more expensive. Plus, this way you can control how it's eaten (think: cubed, shredded, sliced, etc.)!
7. Chicken Caesar Salad, $3.99 at the food court
You probably thought I was going to include that $1.50 food court hot dog. (Another item that is always the same price no matter which store you're in.) It's delicious and has a cult following, for sure, but I wanted to give some love to this salad, which four registered dietitians all suggested as the healthiest thing to eat at the Costco food court.
More on Costco
What are your favorite Costco groceries for $5 or less?