Warehouse clubs like Costco draw customers with wide aisles and...

Warehouse clubs like Costco draw customers with wide aisles and essentials in bulk. Credit: Getty Images/Fly View Productions

Traditional grocery store advice is to stay out of the aisles and shop the perimeter to spend less and eat healthier. That’s harder to do at Costco, said Addie McHale, a Denver-based certified financial planner.

Each visit is a treasure hunt. You get there, take it in and want to walk the whole store to “hunt down those values,” said McHale.

Jenny Martin, the writer behind coupon website SouthernSavers.com, said Costco knows what it’s doing. Tall ceilings, big open aisles and tons of products create a sense of awe as soon as you walk in.

At a minimum, you have to buy a $60 annual Costco membership (the lower of two membership tiers offered) to enjoy the grandeur. Big fans of the warehouse chain will say good buys justify the cost. Let this list of the best things to buy at Costco help you decide.

Organic frozen berries

McHale appreciates Costco’s selection of organic foods.

The big bags of frozen berries are an essential purchase for smoothie lovers, she said. “They’re significantly cheaper than buying those little bags at other stores,” she said.

Authentic Italian

McHale also believes the Italian offerings at Costco are on point. You can find good olive oil from Italy, she said, including store brand Kirkland Signature EVOO.

Some items are more elusive. McHale swears by the giant jar of organic Castelvetrano green olives she found.

Baking supplies

Martin finds treasure in the baking aisle. “Bulk flour, sugar, spices and baking chocolates — those are some of the best prices you will find in town,” she said.

Nuts

Almonds, walnuts and mixed nuts are among the more expensive items at a grocery store. But you can get nuts for less per pound at Costco.

Discounted gift cards

Costco offers discounted gift cards for many retail brands, restaurants and even airlines at times, said Martin. Gift card deals are generally $79.99 for $100 of value.

Over-the-counter meds

Martin buys the generic version of Zyrtec allergy medicine at Costco.

It just makes sense to buy 365 tablets at Costco for less than $20 instead of a bottle of 30 tablets in a drugstore, she said.

Tires and gasoline

McHale said the savings at Costco’s Tire Center are worth it. It had the same set of four new name-brand tires for a few hundred dollars less than at a retail tire chain, she said.

Martin’s advice is to top off your tank each time you hit Costco if your local store sells gas, which can be cheaper than the local competition.

Big-ticket items

With so many treasures under one giant roof, it’s easy to go over budget on a visit to Costco.

A great deal on a TV doesn’t mean you should impulsively add a several-hundred-dollar purchase. Take the time to ponder, research and compare prices on big-ticket items first, said Martin.

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