We've compared Costco's bulk bargains to the store-brand deals at Trader Joe's before (See: We Compared Prices for 21 Items at Trader Joe's and Costco – A Clear Pattern Emerged), but this time we're putting Costco to a much bigger test: Walmart.
Walmart is known for its rock-bottom prices, and we just had to see how Costco measured up. So we made a list of the foods and household essentials we tend to buy on a regular basis, choosing store brands (not brand-name items) to find the best prices. And for the best comparison, we chose the biggest, bulk-sized options Walmart offers.
Turns out, in most cases Costco still offered a better deal on everything from yogurt to dishwashing detergent.
Of course, there's Costco's annual membership fee to consider, although you can usually make it back with an executive membership, which gives an annual 2 percent cash back reward on purchases. Plus there's the fact that shopping at Costco means buying mass quantities. But if you're going to get the membership anyway (say, for the discounts on gas, vacations, and car rentals), now you know how much you're saving. And if yearly fees and giant packages aren't your thing, at least you now know that Walmart's prices come pretty darn close to Costco's.
Here's how the stores' prices stack up.
Note: Costco prices vary by store. We shopped at a location in Portland, Oregon. Also, these prices don't account for the membership fee at Costco.
1. Greek Yogurt
Kirkland Signature Greek yogurt gets props from Consumer Reports, which scored it at fifth place. But Walmart's Great Value comes in just a smidge behind at number six. It earned an overall score of 76, tying with such notable brands as Stonyfield and Fage, and it's cheaper too.
- Costco's Kirkland Plain Nonfat: $5.89 for 48 ounces ($0.122 per ounce)
- WINNER! Walmart's Great Value Plain Nonfat: $3.78 for 32 ounces ($.118 per ounce)
2. Frozen berries
Both Costco and Walmart stock bags of frozen organic mixed berries perfect for smoothies, oatmeal, and baked goods. However, Costco's berries are far cheaper.
- WINNER! Costco's Kirkland organic three-berry blend: $9.59 for four pounds ($0.149 per ounce)
- Walmart's Great Value organic berry blend: $9.96 for 32 ounces ($0.311 per ounce)
3. 2% Milk
If you have some heavy milk-drinkers in your house, Costco is the way to go. You'll have to buy two gallon-sized jugs, but you'll save about 28 cents a gallon.
- WINNER! Costco's Kirkland milk: $4.59 for 2 gallons ($2.30 per gallon)
- Walmart's Great Value milk: $2.58 per gallon
If you're confused by the labels on eggs, you're not alone. For this experiment we looked for organic, certified humane, cage-free, and free-range eggs. Both stores offer good deals on cage-free organic eggs, but Costco is definitely cheaper.
- WINNER! Costco's organic, certified humane, and cage-free large eggs: $6.39 for 2-dozen ($0.266 per egg)
- Walmart's organic, cage-free (not certified humane) large eggs: $5.74 for 18 ($0.318 per egg)
Kirkland Signature bacon is another favorite of Consumer Reports' editors, earning the top spot in their bacon tasting. But Walmart's low-sodium bacon isn't far behind at number three. It earned an overall score of 73 alongside Oscar Mayer and Hormel, and it's cheaper too.
- Costco's Kirkland Signature Bacon: $16.99 for four pounds ($4.25 per pound)
- WINNER! Walmart's Great Value Lower Sodium Bacon: $3.94 per pound
Both stores sell Quaker oats by the bushel, but they're a bit cheaper at Costco. Just make sure you have room in your pantry because you'll have to buy a lot.
- WINNER! Costco's Quaker Old Fashioned Oats: $8.29 for 10 pounds ($0.051 per ounce)
- Walmart's Quaker Old Fashioned Oats: $3.98 for 42 ounces ($0.094 per ounce)
Raw honey, which hasn't been heated, has more nutrients than pasteurized honey, and both stores carry private-label raw honey that's organic too. Costco's honey is a bit cheaper, but you'll have to store three jars of it. If you can't use it up fast, don't worry — honey doesn't spoil. If it crystallizes, just gently heat it until it's liquid again.
- WINNER! Costco's Kirkland Signature Organic Raw Honey: $14.99 for three 24-ounce jars ($0.21 per ounce)
- Walmart's Great Value Organic Strained Raw Honey: $4.98 for 16 ounces ($0.31 per ounce)
8. Kerrygold Butter
Toast fanatics love this rich, bright-yellow salted butter from Ireland. Walmart sells it for a great price, but it's still more than a dollar cheaper at Costco. Just get ready to pop some in the freezer because you'll just have to buy eight times as much.
- WINNER! Costco: $10.99 for 4 pounds ($1.37 for 8 ounces)
- Walmart: $2.88 for 8 ounces
9. Frozen Waffles
Frozen toaster waffles are one of the most effective ways to get sleepy kids out of bed on school days. And they make Mondays a lot friendlier for adults, too. Both stores carry big boxes of the ubiquitous (and Stranger Things famous) Eggo Waffles for nearly the same price, although Costco is a tad cheaper. However, if you opt for Walmart's store brand instead (Great Value Homestyle waffles), they're a penny cheaper per waffle.
- WINNER! Costco's Kellogg's Homestyle Eggo Waffles: $9.99 for 72 ($0.14 per waffle)
- Walmart's Kellogg's Homestyle Eggo Waffles: $6.98 for 40 ($0.17 per waffle)
10. Maple Syrup
Real maple syrup is a lot more expensive than the faux stuff, but it's so worth it. Both Costco and Walmart sell it for a pretty good price, but Costco is about $3 cheaper — plus, it's organic.
- WINNER! Costco's Kirkland Organic Amber: $10.99 for 33.8 ounces ($0.33 per ounce)
- Walmart's Great Value Pure Maple Syrup (Dark and Robust): $13.98 for 32 oz ($0.43 per oz)
1. Pasta Sauce
Surprisingly, buying marinara sauce in bulk doesn't save you any money. Both stores sell private-label marinara sauce that's organic, but Costco's jars are about a cup bigger and come in packs of three for a few cents more per ounce than Walmart's.
- Costco's Kirkland Signature Organic Marinara Sauce: $9.99 for three 32-ounce jars ($3.33 per jar; $0.10 per oz)
- WINNER! Walmart's Great Value Organic Marinara: $1.98 for 23.5 ounces ($0.08 per ounce)
2. Ground Beef
Costco's organic ground beef is about a dollar cheaper than Walmart's, but Walmart's is organic and grass-fed. If you opt for Costco, you'll have to buy four pounds of it, but it thankfully it comes in 1.3-pound packages so you can just toss them in the freezer. If organic and grass-fed aren't important to you, both stores sell conventional ground beef for a couple dollars cheaper. Walmart's 3-pound rolls of 80 percent lean ground beef are $3.58 per pound, but Costco is still cheaper at $3.49 per pound.
- WINNER! Costco's Kirkland Signature Organic Ground Beef: $19.99 for four pounds ($5 per pound)
- Walmart's Marketside Organic Grass Fed Ground Beef: $5.98 per pound
3. Dried Penne
For those who eat lots of pasta (and have room to store it) both Costco and Walmart sell six-packs of it. Costco's pack offers a variety of shapes, but it's about 50 cents more per pound.
- Costco's Garofalo Organic Pasta: $10 for six 17.6-ounce packages: ($0.09 per ounce)
- WINNER! Walmart's Great Value Rigatoni: $5.88 for six 16-ounce packages ($0.06 per ounce)
Walmart's store brand of fresh whole chickens aren't organic, but they are labeled cage free, they're also about 20 cents cheaper per pound, and you don't have to buy two, as you do at Costco.
- Costco's Kirkland Signature Organic whole young chicken: $1.99 per pound
- WINNER! Walmart's Marketside cage-free no antibiotic whole fryer chicken: $1.76 per pound
Spinach and baby kale are notorious for cooking down from a huge pile to a wee handful. That's why it's great to stock up on big bags of the tender greens whenever you can. Costco's bag is half a pound larger than Walmart's, and cheaper by the ounce.
- WINNER! Costco's Earthbound Farm Organic Power Greens: $4.99 for 1.5 pounds ($.21 per ounce)
- Walmart's Earthbound Farm Organic Spinach: $4.76 for 16 ounces ($0.29 per ounce)
6. Olive Oil
Food pros love Costco's Kirkland-brand olive oil, which consistently gets applauded for its rich flavor and quality for a bargain price. On the other hand, Walmart's Great Value is even cheaper, but it only gets "fair" marks from Consumer Reports.
- Costco's Kirkland Signature Organic Extra-Virgin Olive Oil from Italy: $15.99 for 2 liters ($0.24 per ounce)
- WINNER! Walmart's Great Value Extra Virgin Olive Oil: $10.98 for 51 ounces ($0.22 per ounce)
You can find Wild Alaskan salmon at both Costco and Walmart, but you'll save about a dollar a pound at Costco.
- WINNER! Costco's Kirkland Signature Wild Alaskan sockeye salmon fillets $32.99 for 3 pounds ($11 per pound; $0.69 per ounce)
- Walmart's Fishpeople Wild Alaskan sockeye salmon fillets: $11.97 for 12 ounces ($0.99 per ounce)
Costco's 4-pound bag of quinoa is a screaming deal. It might seem enormous, but the versatile grain is packed with protein and essential amino acids, making it a great base for side dishes and even grain salads.
- WINNER! Costco's Kirkland Signature Organic White Quinoa: $9.99 for 4.5 pounds ($0.14 per ounce)
- Walmart's Great Value Organic White Quinoa: $6.97 for 32 ounces ($0.22 per ounce)
Lunch and Snack Items
1. Sandwich Bread
The loaves are bigger and cheaper at Costco. If you have a household of sandwich-eaters, tearing through two loaves in a week is no problem. Otherwise, tuck a loaf in the freezer.
- WINNER! Costco's Oroweat 100% whole wheat sandwich bread: $5.70 for two 32-ounce loaves ($.09 per ounce)
- Walmart's Oroweat 100% whole wheat sandwich bread: $3.18 for 24 ounces($0.13 per ounce)
2. Peanut Butter
Natural peanut butter requires stirring, but it doesn't have added sugar or palm oil. If that's your PB of choice, Costco offers the best deal. If you like your peanut butter on the sweet and creamy side, Walmart's Great Value Natural No-Stir Creamy Peanut Butter saves you 5 cents an ounce ($7.78/26.5oz; $0.13/oz)
- WINNER! Costco's Kirkland Signature Organic Peanut Butter: $9.99 for two 28-ounce jars ($0.18 per ounce)
- Walmart's Smuckers Organic Peanut Butter: $4.48 for 16 ounces ($0.28 per ounce)
Both stores carry organic strawberry jam, with Costco's big jars clocking in at about 6 cents cheaper per ounce. On the other hand, Walmart's three smaller jars are a lot easier to manage.
- WINNER! Costco's Kirkland Signature Organic Strawberry jam: $6.59 for 42 ounces ($0.16 per ounce)
- Walmart's Great Value Organic Strawberry Fruit Spread: $7.44 for three 11-ounce jars ($0.22 per ounce)
4. Sliced Turkey Breast
Walmart's prices on turkey lunch meat are an incredible deal. You can get a full pound of deli-sliced turkey meat for half the price you'd pay at Costco.
- Costco's Kirkland Signature Oven Roasted Sliced Turkey Breast: $6.89 per pound ($0.43 per ounce)
- WINNER! Walmart's Great Value Oven-Roasted Sliced Turkey Breast: $3.44 for16 ounces ($0.22 per ounce)
5. Cheddar Cheese
Costco's cheddar is sold in big 5-pound blocks, but it costs at least a dollar less than Walmart's biggest block. If you can't use it up fast, try freezing it.
- WINNER! Costco's Kirkland Signature Sharp Cheddar: $11.29 for 5 pounds ($2.26 per pound)
- Walmart's Great Value Sharp Cheddar: $6.97 for 2 pounds ($3.48 per pound)
6. Albacore Tuna
Both stores carry private-label solid albacore tuna that's labeled dolphin safe. The cans are 2 ounces bigger at Costco, and cheaper by the ounce.
- WINNER! Costco's Kirkland Signature Albacore Solid White Tuna in Water: $12.99 for eight 7-ounce cans ($0.23 per ounce)
- Walmart's Great Value Solid Albacore Tuna in Water: $1.37 for a 5-ounce can ($0.27 per ounce)
7. Kind Bars
Buy these ubiquitous snack bars in bulk at Costco and you'll pay up to 25 cents less per bar.
- WINNER! Costco's Kind Bars Variety Pack: $19.99 for 20 bars ($1.00 each)
- Walmart's Kind Bars, various flavors: $1.19 to $1.25 each
Nuts are an easy way to toss some high-protein nutrition into everything from granola to cookies to salads. If you're willing to stock up, you'll get a much better deal on them at Costco.
- WINNER! Costco's Kirkland Signature pecan halves: $15.99 for 2 pounds ($0.50 per ounce)
- Walmart's Nature's Eats: $9.14 for 16 ounces ($0.57 per ouce)
- WINNER! Costco's Kirkland Signature: $12.99 for 3 pounds ($0.27 per ounce)
- Walmart's Fisher walnut halves and pieces: $13.48 for 32 ounces ($0.42 per ounce)
- WINNER! Costco's Kirkland Signature raw almonds: $12.99 for 3 pounds ($0.27 per ounce)
- Great Value Whole Natural Almonds: $5.94 for 14 ounces ($0.42 per ounce)
1. Paper Towels
According to Consumer Reports, Walmart's Great Value paper towels are impressive for their strength and absorbency. They earned a 68 versus Kirkland's score of 61. Best of all, they're far cheaper too. Both brands offer big rolls — about 160 sheets per roll — so you won't have to replace them as often.
- Costco's Kirkland Signature Create-a-Size Paper Towels, $23.99 for 12 rolls ($2.30 per 100 square feet)
- WINNER! Walmart's Great Value Split Sheets Paper Towels, $14.97 for 12 rolls ($1.60 per 100 square feet)
2. Paper Napkins
Both brands offer napkins at a bargain price, but at Walmart's price per napkin, it would cost double to buy the same number of napkins as the Kirkland package.
- WINNER! Costco's Kirkland Signature 1-ply napkins, $8.49 for 1,040 napkins ($0.008 per napkin)
- Walmart's Great Value Premium Napkins, Soft & Strong: $4.92 for 300 napkins ($0.016 per napkin)
3. Kitchen Trash Bags
At Walmart's price, it would cost $28 to get the same amount of bags Costco sells for $14.99.
- WINNER! Costco's Kirkland Signature Flex-Tech 13-gallon trash bags, $14.99 for 200 ($0.074 per bag)
- Walmart's Great Value Strong Flex 13-gallon trash bags, $12.52 for 90 ($0.14 per bag)
4. Sandwich Bags
Since Costco's go-to for zip-top bags is Ziploc, offering no store brand alternative, we compared the prices for this brand at both stores. Rounding up both prices per bag, Costco is a penny cheaper. But if you opted for Walmart's Great Value brand (300 bags for $5.12), you'd ultimately pay a dollar less for the same amount of bags.
- WINNER! Costco's Ziploc Sandwich Bags, $10.99 for 580 ($0.02 per bag)
- Walmart's Ziploc Sandwich Bags, $14.09 for 500 ($0.03 per bag)
5. Liquid Dish Soap
We've had a good experience with Kirkland's dish soap (and so did Wirecutter) — plus, it's biodegradable and just a bit cheaper than Walmart's.
- WINNER! Costco's Kirkland Signature Environmentally Responsible Ultra Liquid Citrus Dish Soap: $7.89 for 135 ounces ($0.058 per ounce)
- Walmart's Great Value Dish Soap, $5.64 for 90 ounces ($0.062 per ounce)
6. Dishwasher Detergent (Packs)
Consumer Reports rated Kirkland dishwasher packs at the top of the pack, with a solid 85, saying they were "excellent at cleaning dishes." Great Value ranked a little further down the list with a still-good score of 79.
- WINNER! Costco's Kirkland Signature Premium Dishwasher Detergent Pacs, $9.99 for 115 ($0.087 per pack)
- Walmart's Great Value Automatic Dishwasher Pacs, Fresh Scent, $12.47 for 110 ($0.113 per pack)
7. All-Purpose Cleaner
Costco carries this cleaner in a multipack that includes a spray bottle and massive refill. You'll have to buy those separately at Walmart and pay 2 cents more per ounce, but at least you have the option of buying just one or the other.
- WINNER! Costco's Clorox Clean-Up All-Purpose Cleaner with Bleach, $11.64 for 32-ounces spray bottle with 180-ounce refill (212 total ounces; $0.0549 per ounce)
- Walmart's Clorox Clean-Up All Purpose Cleaner with Bleach: 64-ounce refill bottle, $4.47; 32-ounce spray bottle, $2.88 (96 total ounces. for $7.35; $0.0765 per ounce)
When it comes down to it, which store do you prefer?