How Much Can You Save On Whole Food at Costco? The Answer Might Surprise You.

How Much Can You Save on Whole Food at Costco?

{I've written about Costco's coconut oil and have mentioned their products in many posts such as my Sugar-free Lemonade, Homemade “JELLO”, and Luscious Lemon Bars, but I've never done a post about how much money you can save on whole foods at this big box giant.  Today, please welcome Annemarie Rossi from Real Food Real Deals as she shares about whole food at Costco and how much you can save on healthy deals at one of my favorite retailers.}

Eating a whole food diet can ring up some pretty expensive grocery bills.

Organic and specialty ingredients tend to be pricier than their conventional counterparts, but eating a healthy diet doesn’t have to drive you into debt. With careful shopping and meal planning, busy families can still afford to eat healthy. Two years ago, I transitioned my family of four from the standard American diet to a life less processed.

I started making most of our food from scratch, and I was surprised to see that our grocery bills didn’t actually change much. I swapped takeout and prepared foods for dinners cooked at home using whole food ingredients.

By keeping a close watch on my grocery spending and avoiding restaurant food, I was able to make this transition without disrupting our family budget. Living in the highly populated Boston area, I have easy access to dozens of grocery stores and warehouse clubs.

I’ve found that Costco is the best place to stock up on affordable whole food and organic ingredients.

They sell cheese and butter from grass-fed cows, organic canned tomatoes and tomato sauce, and giant tubs of organic coconut oil. High-quality nuts, seeds, and grains are plentiful in Costco’s aisles, and you can buy enough organic eggs, chicken, and beef to fill your protein quota indefinitely.

But for a small family of two adults and two children trying to eat a whole food diet, does it make sense to buy in bulk at Costco?

I recently did a detailed price analysis of the whole food groceries found on the shelves at Costco.

I surveyed my readers at Real Food Real Deals to find out what healthy food items they purchase at Costco around the country.

Based on their input as well as my own experience at multiple local stores, I compared the prices of over 50 real food items at Costco versus the best prices I could find at my local Trader Joe’s, Stop and Shop, or Whole Foods Market.

I discovered that over 90 percent of the items were less expensive at Costco, and in many cases, the price difference was dramatic.

I crunched the numbers and learned that my little family of four can save over $1,400 a year buying whole foods at Costco. The $55 membership fee seems inconsequential in the face of savings that big.

Even if you don’t have a large house with lots of pantry space and an extra freezer, you can still stock up on several items from my list to keep your savings account happy. Here are a few examples of the savings you can find at Costco.

Savings on Whole Food at Costco

Organic Eggs:

These cost $3.50 a dozen at Costco, compared to $4.29 a dozen at Stop and Shop. My family goes through about 18 eggs per week, for a savings of $61.62 per year.

Organic Canned Tomatoes (in BPA-free cans):

Organic diced tomatoes cost $.80 per pound at Costco, while they’re $2.40 a pound at Stop and Shop. A family that uses two 28-ounce cans of organic diced tomatoes each month will save $67.20 a year by buying the tomatoes at Costco.

Organic Chicken:

There are several varieties of organic chicken available at my Costco. Organic chicken breast, chicken thighs, and whole chickens are all more expensive at Trader Joe’s than at Costco. If a family eats two pounds of organic chicken breasts, two pounds of organic chicken thighs, and one whole organic chicken in a month, they’ll save $64.80 over the course of the year at Costco.

Organic Olive Oil:

Organic olive oil costs nearly twice as much at Stop and Shop as it costs at Costco. A 17-ounce container costs $6.63 at Stop and Shop, and this quantity costs $3.74 at Costco. Over the course of a year, this is a savings of $34.68.

Pure Maple Syrup:

A quart of maple syrup at Costco costs $12.79, compared to $16.99 at Trader Joe’s. If you go through a quart of syrup each month, you’ll save $50.40 by buying it at Costco instead of Trader Joe’s. Click here to download my complete Costco Real Food Savings Chart with over 50 items.

This list shows you how to save over $1,400 a year on healthy groceries.

Inventories and prices vary from one Costco to the next, and your store probably doesn’t carry all these items. You can put in a request at Costco’s Customer Service if there’s something you’d like to see on the shelf at your store.

{From Adrienne: Just like I asked you all to request those fab Coleman Hot Dogs in my post on “Is Costco's Coconut Oil Junk?” Even if you only buy half the things on my list, that’s still hundreds of dollars in your wallet instead of a grocery store cash register.

If you have other Costco favorites that aren’t on my list, please let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear what you’re buying!

Annemarie Rossi Bio - Real Food Real Deals at Whole New Mom Annemarie Rossi is the creator of Real Food Real Deals, a website about how to feed your family real food on a budget. Her site includes many easy, delicious recipes that are made with whole food ingredients. Annemarie’s recipes have been featured in many places, including the Non-GMO Cookbook, Edible Boston magazine, Fox News Online, Babble.com, and Greatist.com. Annemarie loves to travel and spend time outdoors with her family. You can find Annemarie on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Google +.

These comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Whole New Mom, LLC.

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  1. Is Costco worth a 45 min drive?

    • Hi Emily. I think it depends on how much shopping you are going to do. I love their salad, frozen green beans (they are out of them now), lemon juice bottled, almond flour, olive oil, frozen organic fruit, frozen OG chicken breasts, and more. Hope that helps!

  2. Hi,
    I am a COSTCO member for 7 years. For seven years, i could never find the Organic Whole Yogurt & Uncooked Raw Crab. When they can sell raw fish, raw shrimp and other such products why can’t they sell the Raw Crabs? Confused!

    Every time i go to Costco, i have to stop at Shop rite to get my Organic Whole Yogurt. That is how it has been for last seven years.

    Thanks for Listening.

    Ananth

  3. Thalia Miller says:

    I live in a rural community where you’d think farm fresh whole foods would be much more abundant but sadly they’re not. We’re limited to Walmart and Albertson’s for our closest stores where thankfully the organic demand is slowly starting to reach. We have one farmer’s market where we do most of our real meat shopping (a bit pricey when it’s the only option) but we do our BIG shopping at Costco even though it’s a 45 minute drive away. We do it for the real food benefits. We just went last week and discovered Costco sells real fermented sauerkraut! I”m needing to add probiotics to my diet for a health problem I have so I was delighted to find this and it tastes great!

  4. Raw honey in Phoenix Costco’s is about $2 cheaper than other places. IIRC, last time I paid $8.99 for a 48 ounce container. Every month I buy a 10 pound bag of organic carrots: $4.99. I found Nutiva organic coconut flour at one Costco for $6.99 for a four pound bag! I only shop once a month in the first week of the month. I used to buy my gasoline there, too. If you have the Costco AMEX card there is a 3% cash back on gasoline. For the amount of gas I use, that is enough to make the yearly membership worth it.

    • I get those carrots too, but ours are more money here :(. I think about $6.99. I haven’t looked for coconut flour…..I need to do that. Nice tips!!!

  5. The one thing I love getting cheap at Costco is coconut oil. I can get a 78 oz container for $22. Another item that is hard to find, as it comes and goes, is their GF veggie burgers by Don Lee Farms. Costco also sells organic Bananas for a responsible price — $1.79/bundle (I think, or maybe it’s $2). While not organic, I get my potatoes and oranges by the bulk. They do have organic avocados, kale, spinach, frozen berries.

    Oh, and their pure maple syrup is grade A unfortunately. 🙁

    I’d have to say that 40% of my groceries or other items come from Costco. The rest is King Soopers, Safeway, Sprouts, Vitamin Cottage, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Walmart, Amazon, Vitacost, and sometimes eBay.

  6. I’ve done the shop around Costco to see what real foods, fermented foods, pastured foods, wild foods, gluten free foods and organic foods I can fine. It is truly amazing.

    The grassfed or organic cheese selection is very good.
    I don’t buy much meat at Costco but I do buy the lamb from New Zealand as it is all pasture raised.
    I do buy wild caught fish both in IQF (individually quick frozen) and fresh depending on what’s in season.
    At our Costco they have a large package of grass fed steaks for 179.00 It is a decent deal per pound if you don’t have room in your freezer for a share of a grass fed steer. I may buy this package when I use up my steer.
    At our Costco they are starting to carry local artisinal sauerkraut (Farmhouse Culture brand) It is half the price of buying it at the coop.
    They also carry the Tru Roots brand organic ancient grains and gluten free pasta that I like to have on hand.
    When berries are in season it is cost effective to pick up the organic 3 packs. We go through them fast and they are very good quality.
    I do a fair amount of baking and I love the Costco organic butter. For eating we choose Kerrygold in 3 packs.
    Although I make most of my food from scratch I love to pick up gluten free snacks for parties and such.
    This list doesn’t cover all the organic dried fruits and nuts costco carries. Not to mention organic cane sugar we use in making jams and jellies. I’m amazed at how many good things I can fill my cart up with. It takes a little planning to cycle items in so that I don’t have too many big packs of things to find a place for but it is so great to find that Costco has so many things that fit into my real food lifestyle.

    • Laura, it sounds like you have some great options at your Costco that we don’t have here in Massachusetts. I’ll keep my eye out for the grass-fed steak and the sauerkraut. I enjoy the Tru Roots grains too, and we use both the Kirkland and the Kerrygold butter.

  7. Yes! We buy lots of great stuff at Costco, 99% vegan including: Organic Chia seeds, organic flax meal, dates (HUGE savings!!! and critical for raw “baking”), NUTS: pecans, organic walnuts, and up until Adrienne’s post on engine fuel – almonds (but this perplexes me because the raw almonds at Costco always sprouted for me when I soaked them, but they don’t from Just Almonds – any idea why?)…the pine nuts are a great deal but come from China which is another huge GMO Country, so I’ll pass…I also buy coconut oil, olive oil, oats, quinoa, basmati rice, sea salt, baking soda, Epsom salts, and Himalayan pink salt, and lots of organic veggies – fresh and frozen – huge saving on spinach and we go through more than 1 pound of spinach per week. Be careful of GMO veggies at Costco – always check the PLU’s to make sure they are not 5 digits that start with an 8. We have found GMO celery, grapes, cucumbers, and more at our Costco, the organic starts with 9 and is 5 digits, and regular is a 4 digit starting with a 4. And, sometimes they have switched sources on us – be super careful if you don’t want GMO produce! We also get organic tomato sauce and paste, and pasta…and Wild Planet tuna fish. These cans run $5/each at our local health food stores and it is the best tuna (well, canned) that I have had. We don’t eat much fish, but it is nice to have on hand and this is the highest quality I have found, they are a great price, especially when on sale, I think they come to about $2 per can.

  8. I buy most of what has been listed, but I don’t think I saw organic peanut butter. A comment about the apples…I can’t remember the price, but it was one time and only one kind at my Costco! I told my husband I HAD to buy them just to let them know people wanted to buy their organic apples 🙂

  9. I have trying to weigh out the cost of shopping at wholesale stores so thank you so much for sharing this. We are a family of just two so I was having a hard time justifing the cost of membership. This really helped. Thanks!

    • Thanks, Tracy. Even with my relatively small family, we get back that $55 membership fee over and over again. I’m glad this post was helpful for you.

  10. Oh, I am so happy that I popped on tonight to spend a little time here. LOVE this guest post! I have not been taking advantage of my Costco membership and this has really spurred me on to take a closer look at how I can save more money on our budget. Thank you so much! I’ll definitely be sharing this via social media so more people can be inspired. Blessings, Kelly

  11. Organic spinach, organic apples, unable ached organic flour, organic sugar, wild caught Alaskan salmon, organic frozen veggies, organic milk, organic yogurt organic orange juice.

  12. Love this! I was just at Costco today 🙂

  13. I read a lot about the great prices at Costco so I joined. I was surprised to find on my first trip that Kerrygold butter, Bragg’s ACV, organic apples, every type of fresh vegetable I priced, canned organic tomatoes, wild caught fish, Kerrygold cheese and frozen organic strawberries were all significantly more expensive than Whole Foods regular price and I can be assured of finding regular sales on all of those items at WF to get them even cheaper. I must have either the most expensive Costco or the cheapest Whole Foods around, in Los Angeles. I did get a great price on parchment paper, but I hardly saved enough to justify the $50 price to join. I didn’t look at the price for eggs or dairy because they don’t carry pastured products. I was kind of stunned to see an extremely long line at the Costco gas pumps when there’s a station a couple blocks away selling gas for 20 cents a gallon cheaper.

    • Hmmmm…I’ll let Hilary chime in but I have no Whole Foods here and have always found them to be very expensive.

    • Wow, that’s very interesting! Here in Massachusetts, the Costco prices are much better than Whole Foods’ prices. One exception is organic milk, which is less expensive at Whole Foods. I’m surprised to hear that the price variation is so different in LA. Things like fresh organic produce, organic canned tomatoes, and Kerrygold products are significantly less expensive at Costco.

  14. stopping by from Frugal days…. and love your post. I forever would love a database where current costco prices are listed compared to other sources.
    If Costco were to carry organic all purpose flour, I’d be in heaven. Costco is the closest ‘supermarket’ to my house so I shop there often. BTW if you’re spending that much there, you should get the executive membership which gives you a percentage back. Based on my family’s costco shopping habits, it’s a better deal. I also buy things like Speedo Bathing suits and stuff there, though.
    Lastly, I got my last flu shot there, and it was a very pleasant experience.

    • I buy more things too. I would personally avoid the flu shot though. Personal choice but they still have mercury in them and the data that they work is nebulous. You might want to look into it. Take care! And I think we have the Exec. Membership too :)!

  15. I agree 10,000%! We shop Costco so we are ABLE to purchase healthier foods. One thing I love to buy at my Costco that didn’t make your list is almond butter. The same brand/size is $5 more in the grocery store. I love this post and will be sharing on pinterest and FB. Stopping by from Frugal Days Sustainable Ways.

    • Thanks for the tip on almond butter. I’ll look for that the next time I’m at Costco. I typically walk right by almond butter because it tends to be so expensive. 🙂

  16. Some things I buy at Costco in Pittsburgh, PA:

    Organic frozen corn. My 9-year-old loves corn lately, and we found a delicious recipe for slow-cooker corn chowder, but most non-organic corn is GMO.

    Organic plain corn chips.

    Organic frozen berries. They used to have wild blueberries (I figure if they are wild, they haven’t been sprayed?) that were a really good deal, but those are missing the past few months, so we’ve been buying the mixed berries to eat with yogurt.

    Once in a while they have a 5-pound bag of organic carrots. If we have the freezer space, I’ll buy these, keep 1-2 pounds to use fresh, and grate and freeze the rest in handy portions for skizzled vegetables, muffins, or carrot cake.

    There are some foods, though, that are a better deal bought in bulk in reused containers at our local food co-op: organic spices, dried fruits, and coffee (our Costco has organic coffee only some of the time, and it’s a roast we don’t like) and local honey. Then there are some things I buy in reused containers mainly to avoid the packaging. I hate when Costco sells a bunch of small packages inside a larger wrapper or layers and layers of plastic!!