There are a lot of budget lovers who opt for places like Aldi or Walmart to help stay on budget. I’ve always been a little bit of an odd ball in the sense that I have found the best way to stay stocked on food and on budget is to grocery shop in bulk at places like Costco. How we manage this is a question I always get asked, so I decided to get really specific and share our actual organic, Costco grocery list with you!
*This list is based off the Costco prices in Minnesota.
There are definitely some keys things to follow if you are trying to shop at Costco and stay healthy on a budget. Here are my best tips.
Do you know those things that you eat at almost every meal? For breakfast, it might be oats, eggs or yogurt. Lunch maybe bread or salads. Dinner items like chicken, ground beef or beans.
Buying items like this in bulk make it really easy to plan out your meals all week.
Small toppings or sides like syrup, salsa, and cheese are better purchased separately if you need them. Instead of “stocking up” try to keep your meals simplified for 1 – 2 weeks at a time.
If you won’t work through 5 pounds of syrup (or whatever it might be) in one week, don’t purchase it.
Depending on your dietary preferences (or just how far you are hoping to stretch your budget,) Costco has a variety of bulk options for your eggs.
On average, they start at around $3 for 2 dozen generic white-shell eggs and range all the way up to around $13 for 5 dozen organic brown-shell eggs.
Our family chooses a happy medium of $6 for 2 dozen organic eggs. This is usually enough to get us through a week and helps keep our budget down while still eating healthy.
Another thing on our Costco shopping list is usually bananas. Because they are one of the clean 15, I’ll usually opt for the non-organic ones because they tend to be priced around $1.39 for 3 pounds.
We love using bananas to eat, in smoothies (so we often freeze some) or for our 3 ingredient waffles which brings me to our next staple food.
You can get a massive 5-pound box of Quaker Oats for less than $10 at Costco. I am a big believer in oats being one of the biggest blessings to a mama on a budget because they last forever, you can use them in a variety of ways and they are relatively inexpensive.
Some awesome oat recipes:
I will only buy apples at Costco if I can get the bag with around 10 for $5. There is a bigger variety of more expensive (and yummier) apples, but we usually don’t opt for those.
Instead, if we are wanting a different kind, I will usually make my way to Trader Joe’s for some less-expensive options.
As I said, we do our best to get our veggies in and since we are a homeschooling family, the kids and I usually have salads for lunch. That’s why we tend to opt for spinach or mixed greens to our Costco shopping list.
What about when they go bad?
Yes, greens tend to start wilting if we don’t eat them fast enough. As soon as I notice this happening, I will scoop out as much as I can to get one last salad serving(s) in and then I will freeze the rest.
When we freeze the rest of our greens, this makes for great, easy access to them when we are wanting to make healthy, green, smoothies.
PS kids rarely notice if you toss a handful of spinach into their smoothie. 😉
Yup, we get greens and lettuce. We are a huge taco family and a big lettuce wrap family as well so we like to make sure we are stocked on lettuce at all times.
I can’t even suggest the price range for regular (non-organic) ground turkey meat, so I apologize.
We are a lean-meat eating family and when it comes to meat, we opt for the higher price and better quality way of living as much as we can.
Little tips for turkey meat
Buy the cheapest one! Haha. Because there usually isn’t a huge difference in the amount of meat that comes in the packs of turkey, I just scour for the absolute cheapest package.
Because we would just freeze chicken breast anyway, we usually choose to add the frozen organic chicken breast to our Costco shopping list because it is cheaper than the non-frozen kind. (By about $2).
As a family, we try to eat as healthy as possible but what really stinks is buying a ton of veggies only to have them go bad because we wound up getting pizza or having tacos too many nights.
That’s why, as often as possible we go for the frozen veggies section. Frozen broccoli is one of our staples, but Costco also has cauliflower rice, stir fry vegetables and other veggie mixes that we love.
Like I said, we are a big taco family, which means we like to be stocked on avocados at all times. Plus, mashing up an avocado and making a quick, super easy guac is one of Tom and I’s favorite go-to snacks.
Are you seeing a pattern here? One way we avoid making trips to other stores (or over-doing it on our budget) is by adding tortilla chips to our Costco shopping list.
We then use tortilla chips during taco night in place of hard shell tacos. (I make my own soft-shell tacos with cassava flour).
You can get basic tortilla chips for around $3, however, we tend to climb the price list just to get our Late July lime tortilla chips. They are seriously addicting
We usually add peppers to our Costco shopping list so make easy stir-fries with chicken and so that Tom has quick, easy to prep meals for his lunches.
Costco has a big variety bag with red, orange and yellow that we usually snag.
One thing we have most recently started purchasing is instant rice mixes. I love having these on hand because they bulk up meals really quickly and are easy to pop in the microwave while I’m cooking the other parts of our dinner.
This brings our average Costco shopping list grand total to $101. Sometimes it’s more, some times it’s less.
The times we will spend more at Costco is during our “cleaning supply armageddon” as we like to call it. When we run out of toilet paper, dishwasher pellets, washing machine pods, and Dr. Bronner’s castile soap.
You can easily prep for this through the proper use of Sinking Funds or just by propery including it into your budget.
If you need a better budgeting method, check out the printouts in The Fun Sized Budget Bundle. There are printouts for regular budgeting, saving and debt payoff as well as smart meal prep and grocery planning.
Even when we do hit our cleaning supply armageddon, I don’t usually purchase dishwasher pellets at Costco anymore.
I have found that we don’t require as many that come in an average Costco pack and we can reduce our monthly budget costs by buying them somewhere else.
Although Costco has a huge variety of quality pet supplies, I prefer to have a pre-planned auto ship with Chewy.com. They have a bigger variety and offer discounts on all pet products. Plus they send it all to my door so I’m not hauling an 8,000 pound bag of dog food out of Costco with me.
When it comes to simple dips, sauces or marinades, I usually shop elsewhere since we don’t usually require these items in bulk.
Because, well, I would eat it all.
I try to keep our Costco shopping list full of things that will help fill up the bulk of our meals and then if there are smaller items that I need I will shop for those somewhere else in order to keep our costs down.
If you are on a very tight budget you can definitely save more (and have more) by not shopping organic. It all depends on your priorities for you and your family.
Another great option, if meal prep and grocery list planning isn’t your thing, take advantage of the $5 Meal Plan where you can get customized meal plans and grocery lists made for you. And yes, they are budget-friendly! Click here to learn more about the $5 Meal Plan.