Costco Goes Organic…But Will it Really Save you Money?

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On a recent trip to Costco, I found one woman struggling to navigate her cart up to the checkout line. As I helped her, I also took a quick peek and noticed that her entire cart was full of nothing but organic foods.

“Do they really carry that many organic items here?” I asked.

“Yes, isn’t it great? With a family of six we save so much money!”

First, I know I shouldn’t have peeked, but I’m kind of glad I did! (And frankly, I’m sure I’m not the only one who does).

Second, it prompted me to really look into Costco’s organic products that they carry and see if it was worth my time, effort and energy to start buying more organic products from them. As I started investigating, I came up with these useful tips that I’d like to share with you.

1. Consider the Cost:

Costco requires you to buy a membership each year. The yearly fee ranges in price from $40 and up depending on the type of membership you purchase. If you’re lucky and your company buys you a yearly membership, than it’s a great savings. However, if you’re going to have to be forking out the money out of your own pocket for the membership fee and you won’t use the membership on a regular basis, you might want to make sure that you’ll get your investment back in the products you’ll be purchasing before you fork over the $40.

2. What’s available?

Some of the organic and all natural items available at Costco are Earth’s Best baby food, Annie’s, Earthbound, Amy’s, S & W and even select Kirkland Signature (Costco brand) foods to name a few. You can find organic milk, tortilla chips and fruits and vegetables and Ecos detergent. (Going, 2006) Since Costco doesn’t always carry the same items, it’s best to periodically check with the manager or purchasing manager to see what organic items they are currently selling. They can usually print you off a list. Different stores and states will offer different products, so it’s best to ask a manager to see what is available at your specific store.

3. Drawbacks:

You might find an item one time you go there, and the next time it’s gone. Selection and availability changes at the store which can be frustrating to some people. You cannot use manufacturer coupons at Costco either, since they are already offering you bulk product pricing. However, Costco does periodically mail out coupon books to help you save money on select products. Another drawback? Some of their foods come in bulk and offer different flavors. But not always the flavors you want or need. For example, the Earth’s best baby food Costco offer’s comes in 3 different flavors–and my daughter was allergic to one type of flavor. So is it then really worth the price if you’re going to let part of what you buy go to waste?

Also consider studies done that prove we actually eat more when we consume products in bulk. If you’re paying more for a product and going through it as fast or faster than you did before, is the extra price you pay really worth it either?

4. Is it a Better Deal?

I’ll compare a few products and we’ll see if buying these products from Costco really saved us any money. Passionate Homemaking owner Lindsay states that her local Costco offers 24 jars of Earth’s Best Baby Food for $13.99–bringing the grand total per jar to .58 (Finds) At my local store it’s usually around .78 per jar regularly priced. However, when I was patient and waited for a sale, and used printable coupons available from the Earth’s Best Baby site, I got 24 jars for roughly .46 cents a jar. Yes, it’s a good deal, but great deals can be had by being patient.

I also love Annie’s crackers. My kid’s love them for after school. At Costco, they sell a 36 pack of assorted crackers for around $10. If I go to Amazon, the same equivalent would be around $12 a box. At the health food store, they cost me about $18 for the equivalent Costco amount. A deal? You bet.

However, when it comes to fruits and vegetables, our small family just can’t go through the bulk amounts. So while I spend more by going to my health food store, I save by not having as much go to waste every few weeks. I buy what I can from Costco and store it, but not everything can store long enough for my small family to eat it. Therefore, I’ve got to be careful about what we purchase and what we will actually use.

5. Just Because it’s Costco Doesn’t Mean it’s a Deal:

I see too many friends and family think that just because it’s sold at Costco it means it must be a great deal. No! Just because it’s sold there doesn’t automatically make it a great deal! Many argue that stores like Costco make the most money off of membership fees. MSN Money states that is true. They also state that some of the best deals you will find at Costco are on alcohol, milk, butter and eggs, electronics, meat and prescription medications. They site the worst deals at Costco are typically on clothing (stating that you can get the same price on clothing at stores like TJ Maxx and Marshall’s with a bigger selection), items that won’t get fully used by you, frozen foods, paper goods, and gasoline. Others like Amy of SavvyShopperDeals.com claim that often cereals are another not so great deal at Costco.

So before you head out and start stocking up make sure what you’re buying is a good deal and one that you feel comfortable with. Costco is a great place that can save you quite a bit of money if you’re careful. But discipline yourself and answer these simple questions when you go to purchase an item. Is it saving me money over what I’m currently spending? Will it get used? Will it end up costing me more in the end? If you can’t answer those questions comfortably, than the item probably isn’t that great of a deal to begin with.

Contributor Info:

Traci Wennerholm is the owner of HealthyDealsNSteals.com and is married with two children. She grew passionate about saving people money at health and natural food stores after having several friends have children with severe food allergies who complained about the high cost of organic foods. She knew there had to be a way to save a significant amount of money at health and natural food stores and make it more affordable for families. She now teaches classes in her local area, and has had several TV and radio appearances for her work with HealthyDealsNSteals, and her site DiabeticParents.org.

References:

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One Comment for “Costco Goes Organic…But Will it Really Save you Money?”

  • great blog thank you

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