The Costco Hack That Helps Me Stick to My Grocery Budget

published Sep 20, 2022
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Since becoming a Costco member several years ago, I’ve learned a lot about shopping at the warehouse store. It’s one of my favorite places to stock up on frozen staples, breakfast finds, and dish soap. The number-one thing I discovered, though, is the importance of sticking to my grocery list. It’s the single best way for me to ensure I stick to my budget! 

While I always go to Costco with the best intentions, sometimes I leave with more items than I planned. Why? I didn’t know exactly what I’d find on the shelves until I entered the store. 

Luckily, I discovered a new feature on Costco’s website that makes making (and sticking to) my list a whole lot easier — from the comfort of my couch. You won’t find it easily, however, unless you know where to click. (I stumbled on it accidentally while updating my account info.) Allow me to explain.

Credit: Heather McClees

How to See What’s at Your Costco Location Before Entering the Store

I knew that Costco partners with Instacart for grocery delivery services and even has its own Same-Day Delivery service (also serviced by Instacart) that allows members to shop directly through the warehouse’s website. But what I didn’t realize was that even if you’re not looking to order groceries online, this service allows you to see what’s in stock — including the newest items to hit shelves — before you drive to your local store.

To find this info, go to Costco’s homepage and click on one of the “Same-Day” tabs at the top of the page (both tabs go to the same place). This will redirect you to Costco’s online delivery service hub where you can enter your address (or the location of the Costco you plan to visit). Then, you’ll be able to view the items that are currently available in that specific warehouse. (Be sure to double check that you’re looking at your store, as there may be more than one location near your address.)

Credit: Heather McClees

You can search for specific brands or products or browse by department, including Produce, Dairy & Egg, Frozen Foods, and, my personal favorite, What’s New. Speaking of What’s New, it’s worth noting that there’s a What’s New tab on Costco’s homepage, but this just shows what’s new to the website, not necessarily what’s new to your store.

I check the website twice a week and make a note if one of my staples is currently unavailable or I see something new that excites me (ahem, seasonal drops). With just a few clicks I’ve improved my meal planning, reduced my impulse buys, and saved time (no more wandering around in search of something that might not be in stock!). It’s also helped me budget better. That’s not to say I don’t occasionally still add something to my cart that’s not on my list. After all, I’m only human!

What are some of your Costco money-saving tips? Let us know in the comments.