7 Things I Would Never Buy at Costco

A person with a shopping cart looking at a refrigerated item in a grocery store.

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When it comes to Costco, everyone has their own list of favorites.


Key points

  • The items you buy at Costco depend not only on taste but also on how much you need of something.
  • If I can’t use a product before it expires, I would rather save money by purchasing a smaller quantity at another store.
  • It pays to know how long pantry items last before going bad.

The notion that one size fits all rarely, if ever, applies to real life. Costco is the perfect example. If you made a list of seven things you would never buy at Costco, it would probably be different from mine. That’s because our needs may be different. Recognizing that everyone has their favorite and least favorite products, here are the seven things I know better than to buy at Costco.

1. Milk

With just two of us at home, my husband and I buy a quart of milk every week or two. The giant containers sold at Costco may be perfect for a family with children, but it’s a waste of money for us. I can guarantee that even one gallon of Costco milk would go bad in our house before we drank it all.

2. Fresh fruits and vegetables

We’re both fans of fruits and (some) veggies, but there’s no way on Earth we could eat an entire bag of avocados or a bushel of apples before they became so brown we could use them for a science experiment.

Few things make me feel as guilty as throwing away fruits and vegetables, so that’s an aisle I avoid at Costco.

3. Books

As a book lover, I have a habit of looking over what Costco has to offer. The problem is that I’ve been known to make impulse buys. I’ve learned to decide in advance what I want to read next and treat it like any other consumer product by price shopping. If I can get a good deal on it at an old-school bookstore, it’s a win-win.

4. Bread

I believe my husband and I go through bread even more slowly than we go through milk. We’re not on a low-carb diet or anything; it’s just that when the kids left home I stopped making sandwiches.

That said, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to loving Costco pastries (including croissants). But when it comes to a loaf of bread, it takes us too long to get to the bottom of the bag.

5. Cereal

We both love cereal, so you’d think I’d be excited to buy a box the size of a Volkswagen Beetle at Costco. The problem is, as much as we enjoy cereal, we eat different kinds (he’s a bran guy, and I like anything with pecans). There’s no way two massive boxes would not go stale before we got halfway through. Cereal is another item we pick up at the grocery store.

6. Conditions

A jar of Costco mayonnaise the size of a newborn child would not only take up too much room at my house, but it would surely mold and become putrid before we got through it. As pretty a picture as that is, the same holds true for any of the oversized Costco condiments. The only thing I can pick up on that aisle is ketchup because one of us (not me) likes it on everything.

7. Oil

Our grown children are great cooks and have an array of oils. Olive, avocado, pumpkin seed, and truffle oil — you name it, they probably have it in their pantry. And that’s fine because they use oil in their everyday lives. That’s not the case for us. In fact, the last time I recall using oil at all was to make brownies a month or two ago. It just doesn’t happen.

If I purchased a single bottle of virgin olive oil at Costco, I’m fairly certain I would be collecting Social Security before I managed to use it all. And fun fact: Olive oil lasts between 12 and 24 months, depending on the kind and how it’s stored. After that, it starts turning rancid.

If you want to take a moment to check your pantry, I won’t fault you.

You’ve probably noticed a pattern here. The items on my list involve quantities too large for two of us to consume. Not only is it wasteful, but avoiding huge quantities leaves a little more in our Bank account. The key here is that bulk quantities only save you money if you can use up the products you buy. Otherwise, it often makes more financial sense to purchase smaller quantities.

The funny thing about listing the things I don’t buy at Costco is that I never manage to get out of the store without a cart loaded with food, fresh flowers, and a few unusual finds. Still, the fact that I avoid certain products helps me shave a few minutes off my trip — and probably saves me a little money in the long run.

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