The Costco Frugal Hack

We had to go. We just had to. I had not been to CostCo since, well prior to the lock down and by my reckoning, at least since February. So, some eight months later, my daughter asked for a favor. Getting quite pregnant and slowly down a bit physically, she needed help with a major CostCo run to frugally feed her growing brood. No problem. Armed with masks and gloves we hit the CostCo closest to her home. Turns out, it was surprisingly well stocked. Because she lives in a more economically depressed area, way out in Central California, people are less apt to fill up three carts and splurge. First savings hack to frugal types: if you are out in the country or in a more isolated area, check out the local CostCo, it may be far more well stocked.

I didn’t really need anything of note but I knew that some items that I usually buy at my local grocery discount store were much cheaper at CostCo. This started with butter. When I buy it, one pound at a time at the local discount grocery store, it usually costs me $3.99. At CostCo, four pounds are just $8.09 so $2.02 a pound, a major savings. Because my well-organized freezer has the room, I bought a four-pack and stored it in my freezer so second savings hack: keep your freezer well stocked and use it to save whenever and wherever you can.

Another major savings was just a couple of aisles over. At least once a week my partner likes to eat pizza. Because take out is really expensive, we found a store-bought variety that he really likes which I thought saved us a lot of money but wait, there is more. I was pleased and thrilled to find that his favorite brand had a 12-pizza box offer for just $9.99 which means each pizza was only $0.83 each. I doubt I could make it for that price. There were six pepperoni and six cheese and I knew I could easily doctor up the cheese pizzas with leftover meats for him. Done. Also stored in my freezer, this was a great buy since the same pizzas are actually $3.99 for two at the grocery discount store. That’s about $1.99 each versus .$83 each so a huge savings. Frugal hack number three: it pays to know the price of all your commonly eaten foods when hitting CostCo.

My daughter knows I am a total cheese snob so she pointed out a huge block of organic white Irish cheddar for $12.99. OK, if I try and buy a little block of it elsewhere, I’d have to shell out at least $7.99 for a quarter of what I could buy at CostCo. I knew I could use it up and I know how to keep it from getting moldy so sold. Frugal hack number four: be sure you can use up the larger quantities usually found at big box stores like CostCo.

Going into this shopping effort, I knew it was approaching cooler fall weather and that means onion soup. I also needed to make a big batch of my famous onion dip so when I found a ten pound bag of onions, I snapped them up for just $6.49. Caramelizing onions means you use up a lot of onions and when I buy a big bag this way (see my next blog) I have a strategy for using up every scrap. Frugal hack number five: big bags of of cheap produce can pay off handsomely if you have a need and strategy.

My daughter and I split two bags of bagels for $5.99 because I honestly only wanted one bag of six and with three hungry kids and one more on the way, she knew she would use up an extra bag quickly. Six everything bagels for just under $3.00 means my bagels were just $.50 each. At the local coffee shop, a plain bagel can cost $2 and up the savings is substantial. Frugal hack number six: don’t fall prey to coffee shop snobbery and high prices, buy your own and save.

Because I am hosting a family only baby shower with Mexican themed food, I bought a giant bag of tortilla chips and a vegetable tray. Both cost much less than I’d pay elsewhere and will be find next week when the party happens. Frugal hack number seven: buy if you know the food will last until you need to use it.

The rest of my buys fall under the category of: I normally would not buy because of the price. This included Sweet potato crackers, pumpkin flax granola, macadamia nuts and some other crackers that are usually far too expensive. With savings on each of more than 65 percent on each item and knowing each would last and last, I splurged for the first time in many months. Frugal hack number eight: treat yourself once in awhile or you will feel deprived and find other ways to overspend.

Finally, I bought a large bag of dog treats that normally cost an arm and a leg. Chicken jerky treats are like puppy crack to my dogs, they can never get enough. The small pouches I occasionally find at my local grocery discount store cost $2.99 (or about $0.75 a serving) but the packages are very small and really, only have four meager servings. The bag I bought was a whopping $19.99 but it will last for weeks with at least 40 servings (or $.50 a serving), so the savings are substantial. Final frugal hack number nine: consider buying big when it pays off in cost per serving.

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