There is no denying it, Costco is a fun place to go!
But is it really the cheapest option for groceries?!
I would have to say yes... and no.
I won't leave you hanging, I'm going to explain in detail why my answer is clear as mud!
First, it all depends on your grocery habits and what you buy.
I understand why busy families like Costco. You can get a lot of groceries in a short period of time, and parents get a reprieve from the usual, "We're out of food again!"
But for couples with no kids, living in an apartment? I can't see Costco being worth the yearly fee. I also wouldn't want to haul massive groceries up the stairs or in the elevator!
Last year we didn't buy a Costco membership. I wanted to see if we actually needed to spend the money for the privilege of shopping there.
Here are a few questions that I asked myself over that year of no membership.
1) Are Costco prices that much cheaper then the sale prices at grocery stores?
2) Do I have the self control to resist all the other fun stuff at Costco when all I need is produce? How much money are those "extras" costing us?
3) Do we have room in our house for big packages of food? Will we use it all before it goes bad?
The two items that I knew without a doubt were the cheapest at Costco - popcorn kernels (yes, it has to be Orville!) and Parmesan cheese blocks.
That was really the only time I missed our membership.
It was wonderful to not have that temptation of clothes, books, and other kitchen gadgets when I just needed to pick up a few things.
While my husband was finishing his last year of university, it also helped us to keep a handle on the budget.
The other downside of Costco is big packages. While we do have 4 kids and can go through 12 litres of milk, and 6-8 loaves of bread in one week, our storage area is not huge.
I only have one fridge and I don't like pulling out a 2 kg container of peanut butter everyday, to make my kid's breakfast. I like smaller containers of food, that are easier to handle and give me more space in the kitchen.
I also found we were throwing away the last 25% of some items just because it was no longer fresh by the time we finished it.
Costco is also not the place to buy a new found item for your family to try. If you end up throwing half away, it's no longer a good deal!
We used to buy all our meat at Costco as well, but with price matching at Walmart and 15% Tuesday at Save On Foods - I haven't really missed that either.
I used to think that Costco had the monopoly on meat quality, but we have been very happy with the meat quality at other grocery stores.
I also don't miss dividing up mega packs of meat when I get home from Costco.
Now, this may sound like I hate Costco, but I don't. I believe there are some great deals to be had at Costco.
Our "no Costco" experiment taught me some valuable tools about per item pricing and how to spot great deals and know when I can do better at other stores.
We recently renewed our Costco membership and I now shop there a couple times a month.
Part Two - I go into detail about what I now buy at Costco and what I buy at other stores.