Come shopping with me as I show you some of my favorite things to buy at Costco on a budget while eating plant-based (and vegan), all while saving money too!
For a long time, I thought that shopping at Costco wasn’t for me. My reasons included the following arguments:
- I only buy for myself when it comes to groceries, so shopping in bulk didn’t really seem like it would be a worthwhile task.
- I also assumed I would spend more money upfront on groceries instead of buying items week-to-week like I used to.
- I can often save money by shopping online at stores like Vitacost for dry goods with added discounts and coupons without ever having to shop in store, plus I know how much I am spending before I check out.
- Then there’s the annual Costco membership fee. My mom has a membership card, but let’s face it: I would rather have my own and not have to pay her back or get cash out of the bank beforehand every time I go with her.
Then I went to our local Costco one day with my mom to browse around during a day of running errands together and saw just how many organic items that Costco offered, many of which I already love and pay twice as much for at other savings stores (Walmart, Target, etc.). So ever since, I’ve been a passionate Costco shopper who is always on the hunt for the latest savings at the massive bulk warehouse store.
That all being said, I wanted to share my favorite things to buy with you at Costco that I love, just for fun. Plus, if you have a local Costco near you and don’t currently shop there, perhaps this will give you some “food for thought” so to speak, that might help you save some money in the future too!
In no random order, here are most of my favorite Costco finds–all plant-based, oil-free, and vegan not to mention healthy and budget-friendly!
1. Bob’s Red Mill Organic Quick-Cook Oats
I start at the front of the store so dry goods are one of the first areas that I hit as far as food goes. I was delighted to find my favorite oats by Bob’s Red Mill at my local Costco in a HUGE 7 pound (112-ounce) bag for under $9.00. This bag will last me at least 6 months and I typically eat oatmeal every single day for its massive amount of health benefits (not to mention I love it). Plus, these are my favorite variety/cut of oats that Bob’s offers and I love how quick they cook up (3 minutes, tops!).
Don’t live near a local Costco? These oats are also sold on Amazon in bulk for a decent price (although not as cheap) where I used to order mine.
2. Organic Sunmaid Raisins
Organic Sunmaid Raisins are my favorite brand of raisins (no brand ties/partnerships here, just love them). I typically use raisins in oatmeal, healthy cookies, no-bake treats, or similar eats. Since raisins are dried grapes and grapes are one of the items coated heavily with pesticides, I always buy organic raisins when possible (plus, they’re cheap in both organic and conventional forms). Raisins are high in antioxidants, iron, potassium, and are great for digestive health. Four pounds of organic raisins for under $10? I quickly put one of these massive boxes in my cart! I also like that these raisins come in 2 resealable bags within a box so they keep very well and don’t spoil in the pantry, even up to a year.
These raisins are also available in bulk on Amazon, just not quite as cheap but still pretty cheap and in the same large bags as what’s included in this large box sold at Costco.
3. Made in Nature Organic Figs
Another dried fruit I love to buy at Costco? Made in Nature Organic Smyrna Figs. These figs are sweet, chewy, and delicious in oats just like raisins (I often mix the two). I cut a couple of these up into tiny pieces and love using them in oatmeal or using them in baked goods or no-bake recipes like these Fig and Almond Energy Bites. Costco carries a huge 4 pound (48-ounce bag) of these figs for under $11 which makes these a no-brainer for buying. Figs are a great source of fiber, minerals including magnesium, potassium, calcium, and iron, plus they’re even a good source of B vitamins and contain some vitamin C too.
This same huge bag of organic figs is also sold on Amazon, which I’ve ordered before finding them at Costco.
4. Medjool Dates
These were a great find at Costco for me but aren’t my favorite Medjool dates (these currently are). The Medjool dates at Costco are always fresh, come in a huge 2-pound package for just under $9, and they taste fantastic! I do wish they were organic, but since dates aren’t an item that is known for being high in pesticides and are more affordable in non-organic/conventional form, I often buy these Medjools at Costco anyway.
FYI: Medjool dates are sold in the produce section since they’re a fresh fruit–not a dried fruit–like other types of dates (Deglet Noor dates, for example). I typically use dates in smoothies, no-bake recipes like these Mini Lemon Coconut Cookies, and sometimes I’ll add chopped dates to recipes like healthy cookies as a natural sweetener.
I’m not always brand loyal when it comes to applesauce, but I do try to buy organic and always buy unsweetened. Even though this applesauce at Costco isn’t organic, I often buy it since it’s delicious, affordable (three 46-ounce bottles), is still unsweetened, and is just great to keep around to bake with, use in oatmeal, or to share with my family. Curious what my favorite brand of applesauce is? Easy: Vermont Village Applesauce which is organic and is sold online and in some stores near me, although it is more expensive.
6. Organic Stevia
My favorite brand of pure stevia is easily NuNaturals brand of pure stevia which I have used faithfully for years now, although it isn’t organic. However, the organic stevia sold in packets at Costco is one fabulous buy, even though it is cut with a tiny bit of organic turbinado (unrefined organic cane sugar with natural molasses still intact). Each packet of these only has 1 gram of naturally occurring sugar from the turbinado, which is 1/4 tsp. of sugar in measurements, it has zero artificial ingredients, and is only made with organic stevia (no chemicals, etc.). These little packets are handy and great for sharing with my family to help them lower their sugar content, plus, let’s be honest, a packet of these in coffee or tea isn’t going to hurt anyone–including me. For 600 packets, this Costco find is a steal!
7. Organic Maple Syrup
Costco’s organic maple syrup isn’t better than other organic brands but is still really good, I love that it’s organic, the container it comes in is BPA-free, and it’s sold at a great price for $10.79/liter. I use maple syrup on top of oatmeal/porridge most days, but I also like experimenting with it when it comes to liquid sweeteners and baking. Pure maple syrup is the only liquid sweetener that I find works for me on a daily basis and I love that it’s a great source of calcium, iron, and vitamin B5 (riboflavin).
8. Silk Unsweetened Almond Milk
If you’ve read my blog for awhile, you already know that this is my favorite brand/version of almond milk. I love that Silk almond milk is free of carrageenan, animal products, oil, and refined sugar. Their unsweetened almond milk has no sugar and Costco also has an organic version that has a touch of organic cane sugar. For $6.99 for a box of 3 cartons, I grab at least one of these boxes if not two! I also love Silk unsweetened and light soy milk, but Costco doesn’t carry Silk soy milk at my local store. :/
A pound of parsley (one of my favorite herbs) at Costco is only $3.99, cinnamon (favorite spice) is under $3, and other spices run in the same range of prices. Other good finds: the Italian blend, black pepper, paprika, cilantro, and salt are also sold at great prices. Are these as good as elite brands? Almost and they’re much more affordable if you use herbs and spices in foods daily as I do.
10. Frozen Veggies
Frozen veggies are a no-brainer to buy in bulk since you don’t have to worry about them going bad quickly. I admit I use frozen fruits and veggies much more than I do fresh. Frozen produce is just as healthy/nutritious if not more than fresh veggies are since they’re frozen at peak harvest and I find them easier and tastier to use for the most part.
My favorite frozen veggies to buy at Costco are frozen asparagus, frozen organic broccoli, and frozen mixed veggies (squash, cauliflower, carrots, broccoli). Prices vary for each one but are all a steal of a deal and so much cheaper per pound that at other stores like Walmart and Target.
10. Frozen Fruit
Frozen pineapple, tropical fruit (mango/papaya, pineapple/strawberries), organic berries (all kinds/mixes), wild blueberries, frozen cherries, and frozen mango are my favorite frozen fruits to buy at Costco. The only frozen fruit I worry about buying organic are berries (except wild blueberries) since they’re known for being high in pesticides in conventional form.
Thankfully, Costco has all fruits—organic or not—sold at a great price! My freezer is packed to the brim with these goodies!
11. Fresh Produce
Seedless cucumbers (technically a fruit), fresh greens, lemons, oranges, apples, bananas, and carrots are my favorite produce items to buy from Costco. Prices vary for each one but are all at least 1/3 cheaper than at my other local stores. If you don’t eat these daily, I would say they’re not worth it to buy fresh, but if you do or are trying to eat more fresh produce, Costco is great to turn to for these items.
I cut seedless cucumbers into cubes and freeze them to use them in smoothies just like bananas for extra nutrition, and frozen greens can also be frozen in the container they come in for smoothies (or entrées) or in individual baggies if you don’t think you’ll use the large containers in time. Carrots last for awhile in the crisper drawer so they’re great to keep around all month long for snacks, soups, stews, and even freshly made juice if you like.
As far as fresh fruit goes, I freeze bananas and use them in smoothies; they’re also good fresh in oatmeal. I also love to eat an orange and/or apple each day and use lemons liberally in the kitchen for almost anything where I want an extra pop of flavor. Lemons are also a staple in my tea and water. Fruit is a great price at Costco and is always fresh; many of the packages also contain a “packed/picked on ___” with the date they were packaged and sent to the store.
Other great finds I love at Costco and sometimes buy
Organic Vega protein for my family (a fun find since this is my favorite brand of plant-based protein!), canned pumpkin (because who doesn’t love Libby’s?!), K cups and sometimes I’ll splurge on organic coffee in bulk (which you can easily freeze long-term as its sealed in a freezer-safe container).
So what about the Costco membership fee(s)? Well, I am still considering buying a basic membership card of my own but don’t currently have one. I normally go with my mom once a month while running errands so she just uses her card and I pay with cash. Costco doesn’t currently let you use another person’s membership card and pay with credit or debit cards but they will technically let you pay with cash–or at least that’s how my local store works. If you shop there once a month and don’t know anyone with a card, I would still say it’s worth it to get a basic card for $60 a year due to how much money you can potentially save in the long run, granted you don’t still shop (heavily) at other stores. Or, do what I do and buy the good stuff you can save on at Costco and other necessities you can’t find there elsewhere like Walmart or Target.
Plant-based and vegan eating/living aren’t as complicated as they seem when it comes to shopping/cooking, and you can save money while doing it too. Costco has other great plant-based options like beans, lentils, rice, and so many more types of produce. Plus, their organic coffee selections and Kcups are also great ways to save on some java each day! 🙂
PIN FOR LATER!
Do you shop at Costco? If so, what are your favorite things to buy there?