5 Tips for Shopping at Costco as a Single Person

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There’s a reason Costco has nearly 117 million members. Its mega warehouse stores can provide families a bulk of savings. But this service doesn’t come free. The price of a Costco membership is $60 a year. There’s debate over whether the membership fee is worth it for single people, with some fiercely arguing that it’s a worthwhile expense, and others insisting that it’s not, citing issues of lack of storage space and food waste.

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If you’re a single person on the fence about whether the Costco membership fee is worth it for your shopping needs — or if you’ve already committed to a membership — consider these useful tips on how to shop at Costco as a single person and what to buy. 

Have a Plan — and Be Prepared To Freeze Everything 

“We already know Costco sells in bulk. Go in with a plan of what you are going to buy, how you are going to use it, and how you are going to store it,” said Greg Larkin, the managing editor of Costco Food Database. “A lot of Costco food options do great in the freezer, so don’t be shy about freezing any unused portions.” 

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Buy Fresh Chicken

“Costco’s fresh chicken is around the same price if not cheaper than the frozen chicken,” Larkin said. “In addition, the Kirkland Signature fresh chicken is divided into 6 easy tear pouches that are leak and tear-resistant. The chicken pouches can be thrown directly into the freezer as is. No additional freezer preparation is needed.”

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Opt For Frozen Fish 

“Go with Costco’s frozen fish over their fresh counterparts,” Larkin said. “Costco’s fresh fish (salmon, tilapia, etc.) are family-sized, and even with my small family I still have to freeze a portion of the package. The frozen fish is already individually wrapped for convenience and portion control.”

Avoid the Bakery

“The bakery is no exception to Costco’s bulk sizing, and it’s already hard for my family of 4 to finish a 12-pack of jumbo muffins or an extra large cheesecake before they go bad,” Larkin said. 

Products Worth Buying

In addition to knowing how to navigate the overwhelming aisles, it’s important to know which specific products at Costco are worth buying as a single person. We spoke with Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.com, to learn more about what single folks should purchase to get the best bang for their buck. 

Make Your Money Work for You

Kirkland Signature Burgers

“The Angus patties are one of the better deals as you can get a package of 18 for around $28,” Ramhold said. “That may sound expensive but it works out to about $1.55 per burger, which is a better unit price than what you’ll typically find at a standard grocery store. And buying a larger package means you can avoid having to shop more frequently.”

Kirkland Signature Three Berry Blend

“This is another frozen item that’s perfect for singles that especially like smoothies for quick meals,” Ramhold said. “A 4 lb bag mix of raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, it’ll set you back around $16.39 — that’s roughly $4 per pound, but at some standard grocery stores you can expect to pay as much as $6 per pound, and you’ll get less per package.”

San Francisco Bay Single Serve Coffee

“The SF Bay French Roast is a perfect coffee to keep on hand if you have a K-cup brewer,” Ramhold said. “A box of 100 pods is around $36 which works out to 36 cents each. Plus the pods are compostable, as are the bags they come in, so you can feel less guilty about the single use factor. The coffee is really excellent quality and cheaper than buying direct from the company, and a box of 100 pods should last a good bit.”

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Kirkland Signature Rotisserie Chicken

“An entire chicken for one person may sound like too much but what I love about these is that they’re around $5 and can be used for so many things,” Ramhold said. “Have the legs with some veggies for a quick meal and then shred the breasts to be used for something like chicken salad. The beauty of it is that you can turn the bulk of it into something simple you can eat on for the week with little effort. And a $5 chicken being used for multiple meals is a crazy good deal.” 

Tasty Bite Organic Madras Lentils

“These come in a box of 8 pouches for about $15 or just under $2 per pouch,” Ramhold said. “They pair really well with things like rice and pasta, so you can also make an easy and filling meal relatively cheap, and since they can be heated in the microwave or on the stove, you can prep them in whatever way is easiest for you.”

Nature’s Bakery Fig Bar Variety Pack 

“The box at Costco comes with 40 bars and is around $16.39, which works out to about 41 cents for each 2 oz bar,” Ramhold said. “They make a great light snack and since they’re individually wrapped, they’ll last a while.”

Sabatasso’s Pizza Singles Variety Pack

“A box of these frozen goodies comes with two flavors (cheese and pepperoni) and they’re all individually wrapped,” Ramhold said. “Even better, each individual pizza has cooking instructions on it so you don’t have to save the whole box or take a picture. They’re around $13 for 12 mini pizzas and since they can be cooked in an air fryer, these are perfect for when you don’t want to turn the oven on.” 

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.
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