Grocery

The 10 Best Costco Products That Aren't Food, According to a Budget Shopper

Deals for days.

April  1, 2019
Photo by James Ransom

Many of us head into a Costco and veer off to the right. That’s usually where the food offerings begin, starting with all of the shelf-stable items, like granola bars, canned goods, condiments, and cereals, lined up row after row. Then, once you get further back, you hit the refrigerated and frozen foods, with eggs, chicken tenders, yogurt, pigs in a blanket lined up behind the glass doors. In the way back: crackers, meat, cheese, produce, baked goods. By that time my cart is...well, “full” is putting it delicately.

Have you ever balanced a pork loin on top of a pyramid of groceries?

But it’s hardly a secret that maybe north of 50 percent of the store’s real estate is devoted to non-food items, from televisions to pup tents. Costco is a very savvy retailer, so they know what we want (sometimes even before we know it ourselves).

Here are 10 non-food items—many cooking-related, some just super useful—that are well worth considering next time you’re in the megastore.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“These are the non-food items I regularly look through at Costco: - women's clothing (dress pants, blouses, sweaters, jeans, etc). Affordable workwear. My Costco has nice business casual apparel that are often designer labels (eg. Calvin Klein). Bras and socks are also great deals. - carseats. We picked up a good little car seat for my toddler for $99 and later her booster seat for $49. These aren't flimsy questionable car seats either. - automotive items. Like shop towels, windshield wipers, seat covers, and window shades. - LED lighting - small kitchen appliances/equipment. Got our Zojirushi rice cooker which we LOVE, and an Oster convection toaster oven that I have used to bake breads and cakes in. - TurboTax”
— HalfPint
Comment

Editor's Note: Some of these offerings may differ from state to state, especially wine and liquor, so call your local Costco to confirm that they carry what you're looking for.

1. Dog (and Cat) Beds

Well, this has nothing to do with the kitchen, and if you don’t have a pet then you might be hard pressed to imagine why anyone would spend the money on a mattress for an animal. And I see your point. But if you’ve ever looked at a puppy snuggled up in a little bed of his own, then you know the true definition of cuteness. Grab one of the Kirkland Signature Tufted Pet Beds for $27.99 (you have several fabric choices—only you know which one will look best with your pet’s fur).

2. Luggage

Also outside of the culinary realm, but those of us who like to cook, usually also like to travel. There was quite a bit to choose from, including one pair of wheeled Samsonite Explore Eco suitcases for $99.99 and a Skyway Cascadia Hardside Spinner Carry-on for $39.99. If you’re like me, I only realize a suitcase has had its final hour as I get ready to pack, so it’s good to know a luggage bargain is but a Costco away.

3. Booze (Select States)

A few things to note here:

  1. On the name-brand bottles of wine and liquor, the prices are GREAT. Really great, when you compare ounce to ounce with the average wine and liquor store. A 1.75-liter bottle of Ketel One is $32.00 (that’s $18.85 per liter). A 750-milliliter bottle of Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio is $19.98.
  2. Costco has its own line of alcohol and wines, branded with their Kirkland label. Now, it’s true, showing up to a fancy party with a Kirkland bottle of Chardonnay might feel a little cheesy, but I did bring the $6.99 Kirkland Signature Rioja Reserva from Spain to our good friends’ house, explaining that this was an experiment—and we all loved it. $6.99! I’d happily glug this into a recipe as well, such as Spicy Braised Radicchio and Red Cabbage With Citrus or this sauce for Steak Diane, and then serve it with dinner. The Kirkland prosecco was fine, also $6.99, and certainly would be perfectly welcome in a cocktail such as a Cranberry Orange Shrub or this fizzy Peach Cocktail.
  3. In some states like Connecticut, you may not need a Costco card to shop in their liquor store, which is a freestanding business next to the main one. Government regulations require them to be separate entities, and apparently they cannot require membership to shop there.

4. Air Fryer

Do you have one yet? Do you, do you, do you? I resisted for a while, and then finally succumbed. While I can’t say that I use it as much as some other appliances, like my slow cooker and Instant Pot, it’s a pretty fun kitchen tool. Costco carries a 5-quart Gourmia Air Fryer for $54.99 (while Wal-Mart offers the same machine for $74.99). That’s big savings. And then you can join me and millions of others as we use it to justify dishes like Air-Fryer Mozzarella Sticks (and not just mozzarella—all of the cheese sticks).

5. Instant Pot

Speaking of Instant Pots, one of the latest models, “The Instant Pot Nova Plus 6 Quart 9-in-1 Multi Use Pressure Cooker,” is available for $109.99. As you must know by now, this machine is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, egg cooker, yogurt maker, saute(r), steamer, warmer and sterilizer—all in one. No big deal. If you haven’t bought one yet, then you can remedy that here. Then plug it in and start whipping up dishes like Instant Pot Mediterranean Lamb Stew and Instant Pot Ziti “Lasagna” With Bolognese Sauce in no time.

6. Charcoal Briquets

A massive two pack of 18-pound bags of Kingsford briquets is $19.99, and at the time I went into the store, they were offering an instant savings coupon of $6.00, bringing the total to $13.99. That is a LOT of briquets for way less than you’d probably spend on one party’s worth of burgers.

7. Bee Barn

Did you know you can buy your very own bee barn at Costco? For $21.99? Made of solid pine and bamboo, it’s designed to attract “super-pollinating, non-stinging, native bees,” intended to be placed near a garden to help propagate plants. Plus, you can feel good about doing you part to save the bees (and then be able to feel even better about making honeyed dishes like Sesame-Honey Quinoa and Carrot Salad and Honey-Hoisin Salmon. I mean, it’s just hard to resist.

8. Vitamix Blender

The version they had on my recent visit was on sale for $299.99, thanks to a $50 instant rebate savings. It’s not 100% clear which version this compares to at other retailers, but it looks pretty identical to one that’s being sold for $383.00 on Amazon (!). In general, Vitamix prices climb easily into the $400 and $500s. Are there cheaper blenders available at Costco, and elsewhere? Yes. But if you’ve had your heart set on a Vitamix and don’t mind being a little teased about splurging on the Mercedes of blenders (please google the SNL skit about Vitmaix blenders if you haven’t), then this might be your chance to make the leap.

9. OXO Pop Containers

I LOVE these containers and have decanted pretty much every dry ingredient I have into one of these. They’re the cleanest, most minimalist containers I’ve ever owned—and a collection of them all lined up really makes your pantry look shipshape. They have an airtight seal achieved with the press of a button, and a press of a button to release. This trio contains one 1.9-quart, one 3-quart and one 4.5-quart container for $19.99 (for context, Bed, Bath, and Beyond has the same assortment for twice the price). Needless to say, it’s perfect for storing everything from flour to granola.

10. Kirkland Foil and Plastic Wrap

Both of these items are indispensable in any kitchen, and a total must-buy at Costco. The quality of both products is great, having this volume of a staple on hand is reassuring to a kitchen-hoarder like myself, and the price cannot be beat. They both come in different configurations, widths and square footages per box, so you can choose the size that’s right for you. I grab the 3000–square foot box of plastic wrap for $12 and the signature heavy foil (750 square feet) for $25.48. I don’t know precisely how long these last in my high-traffic kitchen (but months and months for sure). You can line a lot of sheet pans with foil as you roast broccolini and salmon—and whomever handles clean up will be awash with gratitude.

What's your favorite thing to buy at Costco? Let us know in the comments below.

35 Comments

E. V. April 18, 2019
Food52 must be getting a BIG kick back. This is ridiculous to think by supporting big corporations we will get all of our needs met. Sad.
 
Lauren B. April 19, 2019
Hmm, this may be true. They are, though, a good place to shop when you do not have the $ to buy expensive stuff.
 
Lauren B. April 18, 2019
I like the LED shop lights. They seem to do a good job for staring seedlings. I got a foldable clothes dryer that has lasted many years. The towels are nice but the colors are not always the same after they get washed and no, I do not use chlorine bleach. I like the walnuts and almonds: great prices, but the cheese selection has deteriorated: no more gorgonzola or smoked gouda and the provolone they now carry has no flavor AT ALL and no more herring , capers, Kirkland chocolate chips, and no more chocolate frozen yogurt at the food court. ☹️ Some items are better priced elsewhere. ALDI beats them on the pound box of Spring Mix, for example. Lots of their stuff is made in China and I will not use anything from China that will touch food so you need to be careful. Bananas are usually the lowest price anywhere. OH! My Costco is in Nanuet, NY and it has a gas station and right now regular is $2.59.9 and nearby stations are selling it for $2.99.9 so that may be my favorite thing to buy there right now!
 
Stephanie P. April 18, 2019
Furniture! If you order online, free delivery and set up for some items. Best deals ever on mattresses. And Makeup.
 
Ron` April 18, 2019
I prefer the Cambro storage containers over the Oxo. America's Test Kitchen rates Cambro #1 while the Oxo Pop are only rated 5th place. And yes Costco sells Cambro.
 
cosmiccook April 12, 2019
New Orleans must be the C or D level then. Our store carries much less in the way of organics from when it first opened 4/5 years ago. According to the N.O. store manager, we are part of the Texas region and our products are based on what they get. While visiting friends in Deerfield (outside of Chicago) Ill. a few years back I was blown away by the items available there. They had Don Julio 1942 Tequila going for $95!
 
Mary T. April 12, 2019
We really like their cotton sheets, which are very smooth with a high thread count. I also found a beautiful Pendleton coat in the fall, which has a finish to repel rain. Gorgeous, with a lining that resembles the Hudson Bay blanket stripes. A find at $69.00! Food wise, we find their Muenster cheese superb, and their butter head lettuce lasts a long time in the frig. Thanks for the news about the CT liquor store being separate, we didn’t know that! Great website, thanks food 52.
 
Jenny C. April 11, 2019
Nuts! The Kirkland brand almond and other nuts are very reasonably priced
 
Jim W. April 11, 2019
i just checked costco. no such item as "bee barn".
 
Patricia S. April 11, 2019
question , is not that carry one that is ban from carry on and check in because of lithium batteries ?
 
Karen M. April 12, 2019
We travel a lot, and finding an open port to charge electronics at the airport was always a hassle, even in the lounges. The suitcases are made so that the battery ejects easily - when boarding, I pop it out and on landing it goes back in. I’m never without a way to charge at airports.
 
Stephen April 18, 2019
Ironically the suitcase in the photo is an Away brand case not available at Costco, but the previous reply is correct, the battery pops right out. Love my Away bag and recommend them all the time.
 
Chris M. April 18, 2019
I have that bag and it is awesome - the battery pops right out if it has to be checked. However, it is not available at Costco so not great placement in this blog. It is an Away Travel bag and available from the stores in San Francisco or NYC or online.
 
Patricia S. April 11, 2019
avocado mayo and honey ginger tea
 
Shirlee D. April 11, 2019
I get my prescriptions and all my vitamins - minerals supplements - first aid supplies - all otc medicines
 
Karen M. April 11, 2019
I love Costco, and agree that the store is so much more than food, but the picture you used to show the luggage is actually made by Away, and not carried by Costco. I own a couple of Away suitcases and they are fantastic and come with a lifetime warranty, and no I’m not employed by either company.
 
Jenica April 10, 2019
Reasonably priced eye exams (to take to Warby Parker) for new glasses!
 
sms April 10, 2019
We use Costco for car rentals...WOW, what a savings!!
 
Karen T. April 18, 2019
And, no charge on a second driver!
 
Margarita J. April 3, 2019
Besides foil and plastic wrap, they also have parchment paper.
 
Barbara G. April 2, 2019
I have bought and received some amazing jewelery from Costco. Their diamonds are excellent!quality!! My sister's tell me I should work for Costco as my house is filled with their beautiful quality furnishings.🤗
 
Gina April 19, 2019
They have a great set of pearl earrings for 50.00! beautiful!
 
Karin B. April 2, 2019
I still have the same roll of tin foil I bought 12 years ago. I use costco wash cloth for cleaning and then wash them at 165 degrees, they are as white as the day I bought them, some are a little frayed.
 
Bonnie N. April 1, 2019
Vit A Mix is great bought 2 weeks ago for 299.00 use it every day. Their towels and washcloths are big and thick. Windshield wiper blades got a good deal on those last month and they are the good ones. Love shopping there.
 
Mihiro S. April 2, 2019
We returned our Vitamix. It's ridiculously loud and aside from making puree soup and smoothies, we found it's a waste of money
 
paseo April 4, 2019
They are a loud machine. It's the nature of the beast but do the job better than any other blender. Never been in a commercial kitchen without one and there are good reasons why.
 
Shirlee D. April 11, 2019
My daughter was diagnosed with diverticulosis - it is an inability to eat anything with seeds... think abut the hundreds of items that are an everyday part of eating. The Vitamix will puree things such as: bananas, strawberries, figs, tomatoes, geenbeans, peas, corn ..etc.etc. etc. she could still have the flavors she loved - just in a different way. For her it saved the day with the soups - fruit dishes and more.
 
MG April 11, 2019
Vitamix is an absolute must ! Best way to make healthy dishes. It's loud, bit nothing out there can compare!
 
Joan -. April 18, 2019
You might check the modern guidelines for diverticulitis diet. Years ago the diet was a step above baby food. Six years ago when i was diagnosed a high fiber diet was recommended to keep material moving through the gut. A year later I had to educate my mom's doctor when she was diagnosed. He went to his office to do the research and came back to thank me for pointing him in the right direction. Your daughter's condition may warrant the soft diet, but if not her quality of life could take a turn for the better.
 
John H. April 20, 2019
No evidence that seeds cause a flare up. But have a Vitamix and love it. Had an issue with ours, called and they sent out an authorization for return and the machine was repaired like new. No need for receipt, the codes on the machine are all they need for warranty coverage. Expensive? Yea, customer service is 2nd to none.
 
HalfPint April 1, 2019
These are the non-food items I regularly look through at Costco:

- women's clothing (dress pants, blouses, sweaters, jeans, etc). Affordable workwear. My Costco has nice business casual apparel that are often designer labels (eg. Calvin Klein). Bras and socks are also great deals.

- carseats. We picked up a good little car seat for my toddler for $99 and later her booster seat for $49. These aren't flimsy questionable car seats either.

- automotive items. Like shop towels, windshield wipers, seat covers, and window shades.

- LED lighting

- small kitchen appliances/equipment. Got our Zojirushi rice cooker which we LOVE, and an Oster convection toaster oven that I have used to bake breads and cakes in.

- TurboTax
 
catalinalacruz April 1, 2019
Don't forget car batteries and tires. Quality and money saving.