5 Items That Will Easily Cover Your Costco Membership Fee

Posted in Tips & Tricks
on December 22, 2019

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5 costco items that will easily cover your membership fee Pinterest image
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

picture of butter at costco

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

salad mix at costco

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

cheese in bags at costco

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

chunks of pineapple at costco

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

ground coffee at costco

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:

summary of savings table

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. 

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  • 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
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    […] 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
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    […] 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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