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.
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).
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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