5 Items That Will Easily Cover Your Costco Membership Fee

Posted in Tips & Tricks
on December 22, 2019

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I finally joined Costco last year and I have been wondering just how much I’m saving on the stuff I’d buy anyway, and if that savings justifies the annual membership fee. 

The Costco membership fee starts at $60, so it is a significant amount to pay just to shop somewhere for most families.

In this post, you’ll find a cost comparison of five items I buy regularly: butter, salad, shredded cheese, frozen fruit, and coffee.

I’ve calculated how much I save by buying these items at Costco instead of my local grocery store.  Read on to find out just how much you’ll save… you might be surprised! 

You’ll definitely want to add these items to your Costco shopping list. And for a limited time, you can get a great deal on a Costco membership through Groupon.

#1 Butter


We use a fair amount of butter because I do a lot of cooking and baking at home. Four sticks of butter equal a pound, and I estimate that I use between 4 and 6 sticks per month, depending on how much I’m baking.

Store brand unsalted butter costs $3.99 per pound at my local grocery store. Costco’s Kirkland Signature Butter is $2.37 per pound.

When I buy a four-pound pack, I usually put one pound in the fridge and the other three in the freezer. Each month I save $2.43 on butter.

Total annual savings on butter: $29.16

#2 Salad Mix


I used to buy the little 6 oz. bags of Spring Mix in my local grocery for about $2.99 each. That works out to $7.97 per pound for conventional (non-organic) salad mix.

Now I buy the large 1-pound clamshells of Organic Spring Mix at Costco for $4.49 per pound. The quality is better, the salad is organic, and the mix lasts me through 2 weeks of a lot of salad eating!

I alternate between this Spring Mix and Costco’s Organic Baby Spinach. So each month I save around $6.96 on lettuce for salads and cooking.

Total annual savings on salad mix: $83.52

#3: Shredded Cheese


I use shredded cheese for some purpose almost daily. I had been buying 8 oz. bags of Cheddar, Mexican, and Mozzarella for around $2.50 each at Food Lion.

If I caught a good sale I could get them for $2, which works out to $4 per pound, so I’ll use that price for comparison.

At Costco, the Kirkland Brand shredded cheese is usually around $2.35 per pound. I rotate among the three varieties named above and 5 pounds lasts us about 2 months. I also freeze the cheese in smaller Ziploc bags and it thaws super fast.

I end up saving $4.12 each month on shredded cheese.

Total annual savings on shredded cheese: $49.50

#4: Frozen Fruit


We drink a LOT of smoothies in our house, so I feel like I am constantly buying bags of frozen fruit. I like to add pineapple as a natural sweetener, and put it in every smoothie I make.

I had previously been buying 16 oz. bags at Food Lion for $2.50 and we used about one each week. A four-pound bag at Costco is $6.59, which works out to $1.65 per pound. So we are saving $3.40 each month on frozen pineapple alone.

Total annual savings on frozen fruit: $40.80

#5 Ground Coffee


We make a pot of half-caff coffee each day in our house. I previously had been buying mostly Food Lion store brand ground coffee in 12 oz. bags for $5 each.

That works out to $6.66 per pound. Occasionally I would find a good deal on coffee on Amazon but rarely could I get it for much cheaper than that.

Costco’s Kirkland Signature Ground Coffee is $9.49 for 3 lbs, which works out to $3.16 per pound. I really like how this coffee tastes and think it is actually an improvement over the coffee we had been drinking!

I estimate that we go through about a pound of coffee every two weeks. Our savings per pound is $3.50, so we save about $7 each month just buying coffee at Costco.

Total annual savings: $84.00


It probably clear by now that if you buy any of these items in the quantity that we do, a Costco membership will definitely pay for itself!

Here is the total savings from these five items:

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These results totally surprised me, even though I suspected that the membership would pay for itself.

After you subtract the $60 membership fee, you’d save $226.86 just buying these five items at Costco as opposed to a local grocery store. That is a LOT of money to save on stuff I’d buy anyway!

I also need to add that I think the quality of the Kirkland Signature brand is excellent. I think Costco works really hard to make sure that the quality of its store brand surpasses that of any other store brands around.

Do you have a Costco Membership? If not, how do you save on groceries? Please share your money-saving tips for groceries below! I’d love to learn your tips and tricks. 

If you liked this post you’ll also like: 

Will these 5 items alone pay for your Costco membership? You\'ll be surprised to learn this money saving tip for Costco shopping. Saving money is easy if you know what to buy where. Get more ideas and tips to save money at The Frugal South. #costco #whattobuyatcostco #savingmoney #moneysavingtips #moneysavingideas #savemoneyin2019 #savemoneyatcostco


  • Karen C

    Yes! Gas is included. It gives you a 4% cash back rebate. We also charge our car insurance, homeowners ins., and cell phone bills to the Citi Costco card and get a 1% rebate on that and for most other purchases elsewhere. There’s 3% for restaurants & travel. Exec. membership gives you 2% on every Costco purchase. We pay down to -0- every month so we pay no interest. Our rebate from Costco runs $200-something every year, and the Citi Costco Visa rebate is another $600-$700/year. Worth it? You bet. A large rebate they won’t cash for you, so they write you a check. I don’t mind taking it to the bank instead of using the rebate check for more Costco purchases that may or may not count toward the next rebate. This way, it definitely does.

    October 28, 2019 at 2:25 am Reply
  • John H

    Big news Aldi beats all those prices with just as good quality with out all the quantity
    if purchased at COSTCO 1/2 would be thrown out so now that’s a net 50% $ loss for the
    equivalent items at ALDI. Yes ALDI doesn’t have gas and 3 other items I buy at Costco
    BTW Cotco’s pharmacy WalMart beats by between 25-1000% with co pays just saying.

    October 22, 2019 at 4:39 pm Reply
  • mini

    Great ideas! Kerrygold organic butter tastes way better and is a good price at Costco.
    I would recommend buying the blocks of cheddar and shred it at home. I cut the blocks in half or 4 pieces and shred them. Cheese blocks and shreds freeze very well

    April 30, 2019 at 4:53 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Great tips, Mini! Thanks for sharing.

      May 5, 2019 at 6:22 am Reply
  • Suzanne

    Great reminders! We get in a rut with what we buy at Costco and skip the other aisles. I never thought to price out butter or cheese. Thanks for the reminder. 😉

    January 29, 2019 at 1:21 pm Reply
  • Ann

    Costco hearing aids ! Hands down the best prices for highest quality hearing aids. And the customer service and warranty is the very best!

    January 24, 2019 at 10:22 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Great tip, Ann – thanks!

      January 25, 2019 at 6:08 am Reply
  • Standley

    There rewards back with their credit card is great deal and their gas prices. 4% back on all gas anywhere in USA & Puerto Rico, 3% all Reaurants and Travel, 2% Costco products in store or on the their website, 1% anything else.
    I am on parents plan just my purchases thru out the year I received $346 back just by using the credit card for my purchase

    January 21, 2019 at 9:29 am Reply
    • Leah

      That’s a great tip – thanks for sharing!

      January 21, 2019 at 5:22 pm Reply
  • Kay

    I save my grocery money by watching the flyers. Last week chicken leg quarters were 29 cents/lb, onions 5 lbs/99 cents, mexican gray squash 3 lbs/99 cents, avocados 5 for $1, organic Valencia oranges 4 lbs/$1.99, broccoli 77 cents/lb, 28oz cans crushed/diced tomatoes 79 cents (visited 3 stores). This week pork chops are 87 cents/lb, blueberries 3 lbs/$5, London broil/top round roast $1.87/lb, organic kale 77cents/lb, colossal shrimp (13 to 15 per lb) $5.99/lb, 10lb bag russet potatoes $1.49, green beans 79 cents/lb (visited 4 stores). I started pushing the flyers/sale prices on a couple coworkers that used to just go and buy what they needed on a daily basis, & I’m now picking up groceries for them as well.

    January 18, 2019 at 10:19 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Wow, you are a discount grocery master, Kay! Thanks for sharing your deals.

      January 19, 2019 at 6:27 am Reply
  • Suzette

    That’s the first thing that came to my mind. Affordable and a great variety of frames. You can even take non-Costco frames and have the lenses updated.

    Gas, luggage, and printer ink are also great buys

    February 11, 2018 at 9:03 pm Reply
    • Leah

      These are great ideas, Suzette! I’ll have to remember to check out Costco next time I need new glasses.

      February 12, 2018 at 6:51 am Reply
  • Patricia D

    I think gasoline would also be an item that helps pays for the membership. We usually save at least 15cents per gallon by purchasing gas at Costco.

    January 28, 2018 at 10:19 am Reply
    • Leah

      Thanks for the great tip, Patricia! I am too impatient to wait in the long lines for gas when I’m at Costco, but if you can visit during off-peak hours and aren’t in a hurry you can definitely save lots of money!

      January 29, 2018 at 7:48 am Reply
  • Melissa Vera

    Thank you for sharing these tips. I wish there was a Costco near me.

    November 9, 2016 at 9:41 pm Reply
  • Molly Stillman

    I realllllly want a Costco membership! This is such a helpful post and may be the deciding factor for me to get one!

    November 9, 2016 at 4:22 pm Reply
  • Sarah @ The Zinn Life

    I’ve heard of the magical CostCo land, but one isn’t close to us. We do BJs and I swear the meat and sugar (I bake and can) make the membership fee worth it! I love this list, though, and that you actually sat down and monetized it!

    November 9, 2016 at 11:32 am Reply
  • Rebecca Lately

    What a great comparison! I wish we had a Costco in our area.

    November 9, 2016 at 8:54 am Reply
  • Lee

    Wow this is so great!! We had a Costco membership but let is lapse when I changed jobs and it wasn’t close to drive to.
    xo, Lee

    November 8, 2016 at 2:31 pm Reply
    • Leah

      A membership only makes sense if you are close by, for sure. Thanks for stopping by, Lee! 🙂

      November 8, 2016 at 3:14 pm Reply
  • Nikki C

    I’ve often thought of getting a membership but it’s just been my husband and me for so long that it didn’t feel worth it. Now that we have a baby on the way, I could definitely see us using it more often. Thanks for sharing!

    NCsquared Life

    November 8, 2016 at 2:10 pm Reply
    • Leah

      I think a membership can work out to be a great deal depending on what you buy. It is hard to resist those impulse buys, though. Thanks for reading, Nikki!

      November 8, 2016 at 3:13 pm Reply
  • 5 Things To Do When You Go WAY Over Budget - The Frugal South

    […] of money in our monthly budget is by meal planning (check out my frugal dinner plans here) and buying a lot of our grocery staples at Costco. I estimate that this has saved us around $200/month over the course of the last year, and that can […]

    November 5, 2016 at 7:58 am Reply
  • My recent favorite easy dinner recipes - The Frugal South

    […] and (of course) frugal. I’ve been doing a a lot of grocery shopping at Costco (check out my recent post for five items that make a Costco membership worth the $55 fee) and been using what I get there to make some yummy and really cheap […]

    August 14, 2016 at 3:09 pm Reply
  • Amy

    I too am trying a Costco membership. I purchased beach chairs last week and I love them. They were about 15.00 cheaper there than others I found. Although I do not live near a costco, I am hoping I can do some online shopping to make it worth the fee. PS….I love your blog. I too am a teacher and I find your blog very genuine and helpful!!! Thanks for the research you do that we all benefit from. I can’t wait to go to Disney again and try your DVC points ideas!!!

    August 8, 2016 at 5:18 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Thanks so much, Amy! I’m glad you are finding something here that is helpful! 🙂 I haven’t used the Costco website yet so I will look into that. Thanks again for stopping by.

      August 9, 2016 at 6:21 am Reply
  • Tommy B.

    Something else to consider is the executive membership for $55 more as you receive a 2% rebate annually. It seems steep, sure, but on your 5 items over a year, you would potentially receive back $11.74. I’m sure you purchase more items at Costco other than those 5 so it adds up. There’s other perks also with the executive membership. I know there’s promotions throughout the year that offer $140 off tires, although you would only need that benefit every couple of years. Just something to think about.

    August 4, 2016 at 10:18 am Reply
    • Leah

      You are right Tommy and I actually have the executive membership myself! I’m curious to see if I earn enough back to cover the additional $55. But since I can get the $55 back if I don’t earn enough, I figured it was worth a shot. Do you happen to know if gas is included in the 2% back? I’ve been buying gas on and off there.

      August 4, 2016 at 2:23 pm Reply

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