Costco: Can You Really Save Money on Real Food?
Our family is conducting an experiment. Can we really save money and eat healthy at Costco? Can we keep our food stamp budget and continue eating organic, non-gmo, whole grains, and plenty of fresh produce? Let’s find out.
Recently, I asked the Cheapskate Cooks Facebook Group whether they actually saved money by shopping for healthy food at Costco.
The responses were mixed.
Some people claimed that they LOVE Costco and love the quality of their food. Since they were already buying organic everything from retail grocers, Costco saves them a lot of money. Some people said they could save money theoretically, but they don’t end up using it enough to make up the cost of the membership. Other said it really wasn’t worth it if you have an Aldi nearby.
If you have followed us for 13 seconds, you probably know how much we love Aldi. It regularly saves us 30-50% on our groceries. (Go here to see the real food we buy at Aldi and here to find out how we save the most money.)
However, there are some items it doesn’t carry: organic chicken, avocado oil, organic romaine hearts, gluten-free crackers with clean ingredients, etc. And some items it carries are much cheaper at Costco.
The Costco Experiment
Over the next few months, our family is conducting an experiment. Can we really save money and eat healthy at Costco?
Right now, we spend around the same amount on food that we would get if we were on food stamps – $140-160/week. This includes mostly organic, uncured meats, organic fruits and vegetables, non-GMO whole grains (low-gluten), local eggs and dairy, lots of plant-based meals, green smoothies, etc.
We are far from perfect because #LIFE. But in general, that’s what we eat.
There are some areas where we would like to eat better: grassfed dairy products (butter, cheese), organic chicken, more vegetables in general, etc. If we can do that without increasing our budget, that makes the Costco membership worth it in my book.
First Trip to Costco:
On our first trip to Costco, here’s what I found that beat what we can currently find at Aldi, Kroger, Sprouts, and Walmart.
(I know there’s a lot more, but this is what was on my list for this week.)
Organic whole wheat tortillas – $5.59/20 count
Organic celery – $3.49 for 4 large hearts
Organic chicken breast* – $4.89/lb
Kerrygold butter – $2.75 for an 8-oz block
Hebrew National Beef Franks – $2.37 for 7 franks
Organic romaine hearts – $2.25/3 hearts
Organic tortilla chips – $1.95/lb
Paprika (non-GMO) – $.35/oz
Organic olive oil – $.42/oz
Organic eggs – $2.50/doz
*My husband’s favorite cut of chicken, and since he doesn’t complain when I do this to his smoothies, I’ll make the most expensive chicken ever work.)
I’m not 100% sure if these are cheaper than what I can find at Aldi or another store.
- Kerrygold Dubliner Grassfed cheese (like cheddar) – $5.89/lb
- Uncured turkey bacon, (nitrate and nitrite-free) – $5.19/lb
- Organic unroasted cashews – $8.59/lb (I don’t usually buy these, but I use cashews to occasionally make dairy-free cheese and have been looking for a better price and quality. Jury’s still out.)
- Turkey lunchmeat (nitrate and nitrite-free)- $6.39/lb (I forgot to check the ingredients at the store – it’s loaded with soy and other questionable ingredients. Probably won’t buy it again.)
Real Food: No Right Answer
A note about healthy and real food eating: there are as many opinions as there are people.
Some of you might look at my list and feel like I’m from another planet – “like girl, you need to simmer down about the grassfed butter and cheese. Not the end of the world.”
Others might look at my list like, “Why do you have HOT DOGS and SOY-soaked lunchmeat in your house? I thought you weren’t an idiot.”
The truth is that everyone is at a different place in their real food journey. And sure, I know saying that makes it sound like a cult, but it’s reality.
Years ago, I was just trying not to starve and keep something not-packaged-Ramen-noodles on the table. Now, I’m ready to care about what the cow who lactated my butter ate.
We also have cereal I got on clearance in the pantry, so…. all I’m saying is, balance. We can’t do it all at once, so let’s choose our priorities in this season.
So that’s where we are at present. If this sounds like something that resonates with you, follow the #CheapHealthyCostco experiment on Instagram and Facebook. Definitely get the email updates so you don’t miss a thing. (Plus you get a free frugal real food menu plan every month, and an invitation to our Facebook Group!)
What about you? Do you shop at Costco? What is your favorite real food deal?