I Went Shopping for Thanksgiving at Costco & This Is How Much It Cost

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(Image credit: Susanna Hopler)

If you ever need to buy an enormous teddy bear, a big-screen TV, and a case of Champagne, you are clearly leading a great life, and you’re probably also going to Costco.

In addition to the specialty items like diamonds and American Girl dolls, the big-box discount warehouse store sells fantastic products at shockingly low prices, as long as you are willing to buy a huge amount of them. A million rolls of paper towels? Sure! A vat of olive oil? Obviously!

But what would happen if a person tried to buy all the ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner at Costco? Would that even be possible? And how much would a person wind up paying for it if they did? Would they have to buy enough to feed an army?

I went to a Costco in Chicago on a Saturday afternoon and priced out all the ingredients necessary to make a complete Thanksgiving dinner to find out.

Here’s What Thanksgiving Costs at Costco

The Menu

I went shopping for the ingredients to prepare a classic Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, stuffing, potatoes, green bean casserole, and cranberry sauce, using these five recipes. The menu does not include drinks, desserts, or rolls. This menu serves eight people, and you’ll need an eight- to 10-pound turkey.

The Shopping List

  • 1 (10-pound) frozen turkey, $9.99
  • 2-pound bag of halved pecans, $15.69
  • 10-pound bag of onions, $6.49 for approximately 20 onions
  • 2.5-pound bag of celery, $4.49
  • 2-pound bag of garlic, $5.49
  • Baby portobello mushrooms, $5.99 for 24 ounces
  • White mushrooms, $3.99 for 24 ounces
  • Kirkland Signature Sonoma Valley Chardonnay, $6.99
  • Stella Artois Belgian lager, $25.99 for 24
  • Two-dozen eggs, $3.39
  • 6 (32-ounce) containers Kirkland organic chicken stock, $4.69
  • 10-pound bag of red potatoes, $5.99
  • 1 gallon Kirkland Signature whole milk, $2.65
  • 4 pounds Kirkland Signature unsalted butter, $11.89
  • 2 (3-quart) bottles Kirkland Signature canola oil, $7.69
  • 25 pounds all-purpose flour, $6.29
  • 10-pound bag Sweet Vidalia onions, $6.49 for approximately 20 onions
  • 2 pounds green beans, $4.99
  • 64 ounces Horizon organic heavy whipping cream, $9.69
  • 32 ounces Cabot Sharp White Cheddar, $7.99
  • 8 pounds Navel oranges, $9.99
  • 10 pounds Kirkland Signature granulated sugar, $4.49
  • 32 ounces fresh cranberries, $2.99

Total cost = $174.33 + tax

Shopping Notes

  • Costco sells conventional turkeys for $0.99 per pound, except in Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico, where they’re $1.19 per pound), and organic turkeys for $2.99 to $3.49. Shockingly, Costco’s turkeys are completely normal sized. Hens are available from 10 to 13 pounds, and Toms are 16 to 24 pounds. For the purposes of this experiment, I’ll count a 10-pound conventional turkey towards the total for $9.99.
  • You only need 1/2 cup pecans but a two-pound bag is all you’ll find. You could make about four pecan pies or two pounds of spiced pecans with the leftovers.
  • A 2-pound bag of garlic contains approximately 60 cloves of garlic (you only need 16). It’s way more than we need for Thanksgiving, but making very-garlicky garlic chicken once will use up the rest.
  • The beer is only used to make the batter on the crispy, fried onions that top the green bean casserole, so you could substitute seltzer if you aren’t planning on serving beer.
  • You’ll end up with eight times the amount of whipping cream you’ll actually need.

Ingredients I Could Not Find at Costco

  • Costco carries cornbread mix sometimes, but not all the time. A five-pound box of Krusteaz Cornbread and Muffin Mix is available on Costco’s business delivery site for $7.15, but it was not in the store when I visited.
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Fresh thyme
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Ground mustard powder

Final Thoughts on My Costco Thanksgiving Price Check

Unless you have a pantry the size of a barn, Costco is probably not going to be your go-to grocery store for every single thing on your Thanksgiving shopping list. This menu only calls for three onions, but if you bought everything from Costco you would wind up with 20 pounds of onions, or at least 37 more onions than you’d need.

A Costco trip would also leave you with five extra cartons of chicken stock, multiple bottles of cooking oil, 7.5 pounds of extra potatoes, and a 25-pound bag of flour. On a per-item basis, Costco is clearly the best value, but a lot of people don’t have space to store any of those things and would probably want to just buy them one at a time from another store.

That said, Costco is an excellent place to buy a lot of things for Thanksgiving, especially a turkey. Even Aldi doesn’t beat Costco’s prices for turkey! An Aldi turkey is $1.29 versus Costco’s 99 cents. (Although, Aldi will be offering fresh organic turkeys for $2.89 per pound, while Costco’s organic turkeys start at $2.99 per pound.)

Costco’s green bean packages are exactly the right size, and Costco is also an excellent place to buy milk, butter, and eggs for anyone planning on doing any holiday baking.

Costco might not be a one-stop place to buy every single thing for Thanksgiving dinner, but if you can go to two stores, one of them should probably be Costco.