Costco: 5 Food Items That Are a Waste of Money

Aerial view of Costco Wholesale store and parking lot in San Diego, USA.
Thomas De Wever / Getty Images

Costco is known for its excellent bulk purchases, but this can make customers doubt the value or quality of some food items. And while the store does offer incredible deals, it’s true that certain food products can be a worse value compared to other stores — and turn into money down the drain.

Here are five grocery items at Costco you might want to reconsider buying.

Fruits and Veggies

Fruits and veggies are an essential part of a balanced diet. However, at Costco, the affordability of large quantities can pose problems.

Christine Kingsley, health and wellness director of Lung Institute, said, “If you’re not feeding a lot of people, it’s best to avoid fresh fruits and vegetables from Costco. These can go bad easily as most produce can’t be stored at room temperature. You’re better off buying these things from a farmers market.”

In other words, even if Costco produce is affordable on a per-item basis, it often goes to waste in people’s homes, which negates any savings.

Aside from the inability to consume these quantities of food and veggies in time, Costco shoppers also have an issue with prices. According to Jake Hill, CEO of DebtHammer, “Canned fruits and vegetables have lower unit prices at regular supermarkets especially when they’re on sale. Even if the total price may seem like a steal, always check the unit prices on bulk items before purchasing to ensure you’re getting the best possible deal.”

Spices and Condiments

Spices and condiments don’t keep their flavor for eternity, so remember that the next time you want to buy a large jar of cinnamon or ketchup at Costco.

Make Your Money Work for You

“As a frequent Costco shopper and enthusiast, I’m wary of the large spice jars because spices lose their potency over time, [and] it’s likely they’ll degrade before you finish them. I prefer to buy smaller quantities more frequently elsewhere,” said David Cohen of Loverose.

Sarah Bridenstine, professional baker and chef at Baking Kneads, agrees that bulk-buying spices may not be the wisest choice unless you’re hosting a feast. “While sourcing ingredients for Baking Kneads, I’ve stumbled upon local supermarkets offering competitive, if not better, deals. So, while the prices might tempt, consider the quantity and your consumption habits,” she said.


Not everything is cheaper at Costco and soda is one of those things. Carter Seuthe, CEO of Credit Summit, said, “You can buy soda for either the same price or cheaper at another regular grocery store. There really aren’t any benefits to buying it in bulk at Costco.”

“The large containers can be problematic for your health,” Kingsley added. “Instead of just limiting yourself to a single treat of your choice, you’ll end up buying a large amount of it. It’s unnecessary and unhealthy.”


If you don’t enjoy the same cereal too many times in a row, reconsider buying the big boxes of cereals at Costco. Larry Snider, VP of operations at Casago, said, “I never buy cereal from Costco. It’s not only not necessary to have that much cereal, but you can get more normal amounts from regular stores and buy extra when they’re on sale.”

Bakery Products

Products such as bread, pastries and cakes can be found at attractive prices in the bakery section of Costco. However, unless you have a sizable family or intend to use all of these items in a relatively short amount of time, the numbers are probably going to be too much for a single household to use.   

Make Your Money Work for You

“Costco’s baked goods like cakes, pies and muffins are another area I usually pass on. They just don’t taste as fresh, and you can find better-quality goodies at local bakeries,” said Rosie Elliot, chef and owner of Kitchen Appliance Answer.

This can also include materials for baking like flour. According to Dan Bailey, president of WikiLawn, “In most places, you get a 5-pound bag of flour, but Costco sells 25 pounds and finding a place to store that in most homes is going to prove difficult. The difficulty of storing it makes it a waste of money.”

Final Note

Because the quantities at Costco are massive, it’s best to stick to nonperishables because it can be hard to eat certain things before they go bad. Eloisa Hife, CTO at BarkLikeMeow, concludes that, “While Costco offers fantastic bargains, not all products are created equal in terms of savings. As a Costco enthusiast, I’ve learned to be selective. Oversized items, especially if they can’t be used up promptly, end up costing more in the long run.”

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