Helpful Tips for First-Time Costco Members, According to Reddit

published Mar 23, 2023
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An anonymous Reddit user asked r/Costco for tips ahead of enrolling in a Costco membership, and the responses are pretty helpful whether you’re new shopping at the store or not. Between a reminder to carry a reusable bag and urging shoppers to not visit the store on a busy day like Sunday, this subreddit thread has some quality hacks to share.

One user suggested not to go to the store while hungry, which is good advice for shopping at any grocery store. But they mentioned that if you are craving a bite to eat, “grab a hot dog,” since they’re “not overhyped.” And they’re right — the line is usually long at the food court for a reason.

Due to the unusually large size of the shopping carts at Costco in comparison to other stores, one user suggested bringing a reusable tote bag or grabbing an empty box near the front of the register to carry your minimal amount of items. Not to mention, they said that “this also helps curb impulse buys.”

Before heading to the grocery store, one user shared that they pre-set a budget to avoid spending money on impulse purchases, which is quite easy in Costco. Did you see Costco’s new selection of plants or patio furniture perfect for this summer? This tip will help you anticipate your spending for the day while keeping you on your toes for the last-minute purchases. According to this user, “this will eliminate the sticker shock of going in for two items and spending $700.”

And a different commenter suggested a great tip for those who do their grocery shopping at multiple stores in one day. “Keep two separate shopping lists: one for Costco, one for your local grocery store. I get all of my day-to-day groceries at Kroger (coffee, creamer, milk, eggs, cold cuts, fruit, vegetables, etc). But for basically anything else, Costco rules.”

They recommended focusing on non-perishable items that will definitely go to use like cleaning supplies, toilet paper, paper towels, garbage bags, and hygiene products. Although they said the exception to their rule is raw meat, since you’re able to freeze and thaw it in bulk. There’s not even an exception to snacks, since it’s difficult to separate a big bag of chips or popcorn compared to buying individual snack-sized bags. “It’s a lot of trial and error of what you need in Costco portions, and what you like in normal quantities,” they said.

“I made an Excel sheet shopping list with different sections for different parts of the store,” they shared. “I also save a cell on each shopping page for “check for price match” for items I paid full price for (rare) with the date I purchased. Sometimes certain items will go on sale in your store completely unadvertised anywhere.” Don’t forget to keep an eye out for deals. They followed up their organized grocery list by adding a column to total the estimated or exact prices to “prioritize what’s really important each month.”

On another subreddit thread for new members, commenters suggested to never shop on Sundays. Although the weekend can be inevitable for busy workers or parents, weeknights (as long as they’re not before a grilling holiday) seem to be highly recommended by the majority.

With these tips, hopefully your Costco trip won’t be too chaotic, and you’ll end up with the week’s best picks and deals.