9 Things You Should Never Buy at Costco

Costco is known for its bulk deals, allowing shoppers to stock up on household essentials and groceries at discounted prices. However, not everything is a bargain at the warehouse club. Certain items at Costco may not be worth the bulk purchase due to potential spoilage, limited shelf life, or better deals elsewhere. Let’s explore 9 things you should avoid buying at Costco to save money and prevent waste.

Things You Should Never Buy at Costco

Key Takeaways

  • Condiments, pain relief pills, and sandwich bread have limited shelf lives and may spoil before you can use them.
  • Pre-cut fruit and bagged salad kits are convenience items that come at a premium price and may not stay fresh for long.
  • Bulk purchases of milk, raw chicken, herbs, and spices may not be cost-effective compared to smaller quantities from regular supermarkets.
  • Popular items like canned soup and cereal often go on sale at grocery stores, making bulk purchases at Costco less economical.

9 Things You Should Never Buy at Costco

While there are plenty of cheap items to be found in Costco, it’s essential to be discerning about what you buy. Below, we have explored items that might not offer the best value or quality at Costco, helping you make more informed purchasing decisions.


Condiments like ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise are staples in many households, but they can spoil quickly once opened. While it may seem tempting to buy these items in bulk at Costco, the larger quantities may go bad before you can use them up. Condiments, by nature, tend to sit out at room temperature, whether on your dinner table for 30 minutes or at a picnic for hours on end. This exposure to air and warm temperatures can accelerate spoilage.

Moreover, many supermarkets offer competitive condiment prices, especially when they go on sale or when purchasing store brands. Unless you have a large family or cater events regularly, it’s best to stick to smaller bottles and jars to avoid waste.

Reasons to avoid buying condiments in bulk at Costco

  • Tend to spoil quickly once opened
  • Sit out at room temperature, accelerating spoilage
  • Smaller quantities from supermarkets may be more cost-effective

Pain Relief Pills

We all suffer from aches and pains from time to time, and it’s always a good idea to have pain relief pills on hand. However, unless you have a chronic condition that requires daily medication, buying pain relief pills in bulk at Costco may not be the best option.

Pain medication has an expiration date, and taking expired pills can render them ineffective or even harmful. At Costco, you can find deals like 1,000 acetaminophen caplets for $7.99, which translates to just $0.01 per pill. While this may seem like a great deal, the pills’ potency can diminish over time, and you may end up wasting money on expired or ineffective medication.

Instead, consider purchasing pain relief pills in smaller quantities from drugstores or supermarkets, where you can find decent prices on generic brands or take advantage of sales and coupons.

Reasons to avoid buying pain relief pills in bulk at Costco

  • Medication has an expiration date and can lose potency
  • Bulk purchases may lead to waste if not consumed regularly
  • Better deals on smaller quantities at drugstores or with coupons

Sandwich Bread

Pre-sliced sandwich bread is a staple in many households, but it has a limited shelf life. Even if you’re packing a sandwich for lunch every day, you may not be able to consume an entire bulk package before it starts to go stale or develop mold.

While the cost of sandwich bread at Costco may seem reasonable at first glance, paying $5 to $7 for two loaves, you could be overpaying compared to regular supermarket prices. Older bread not only tastes less fresh but can also be a waste of money if it spoils before you can consume it.

Instead of buying in bulk, consider purchasing smaller quantities of sandwich bread more frequently from your local grocery store. This way, you’ll always have fresh, delicious bread for your sandwiches without the risk of waste.

Reasons to avoid buying sandwich bread in bulk at Costco

  • Limited shelf life, can go stale or moldy quickly
  • Potential to overpay compared to regular supermarket prices
  • Smaller, more frequent purchases ensure freshness

Pre-cut Fruit

Pre-cut fruit bowls from Costco may seem like a convenient and relatively inexpensive option, but they come with a shorter shelf life than whole fruit. Once fruit is cut or cubed, it starts to oxidize and spoil more quickly, even when stored in the refrigerator.

Additionally, you’re paying a premium for the convenience of having the fruit pre-cut. While the price per pound may seem reasonable, you could save money by purchasing whole fruit and slicing or cubing it yourself as needed.

Unless you’re in a pinch and need a quick dessert or fruit tray for a party, it’s generally more cost-effective and less wasteful to buy whole fruit and prepare it yourself.

Reasons to avoid buying pre-cut fruit at Costco

  • Shorter shelf life than whole fruit due to oxidation
  • Premium price for convenience of pre-cutting
  • More cost-effective to buy whole fruit and cut it yourself


Milk is a staple in many households, but buying it in bulk at Costco may not be the best idea. Depending on your location, the price per gallon of milk at Costco could be higher than what you’d pay at your local supermarket.

A quick comparison shows that you can often save nearly half a dollar per gallon by purchasing milk at a regular grocery store. While the bulk purchase at Costco may seem convenient, it’s essential to consider the potential for waste if you can’t consume the milk before it spoils.

Unless you have a large family or go through milk quickly, buying smaller quantities from your local supermarket or convenience store is generally more economical.

Reasons to avoid buying milk in bulk at Costco

  • Higher price per gallon compared to regular supermarkets
  • Potential for waste if not consumed quickly
  • More economical to buy smaller quantities for most households

Bagged Salad Kits

Bagged salad kits are undeniably convenient, but they’re not always cheaper when purchased in family sizes at Costco. While the larger kits may seem like a good deal at $7 to $9, the price per serving can sometimes be the same as buying smaller bags at the grocery store.

Moreover, dressed salads don’t keep well, and you risk wasting a significant portion of the kit if you can’t consume it in one sitting. Unless you have a large household or plan to serve the salad at a gathering, the potential for waste may outweigh the perceived savings of a bulk purchase.

Instead, consider buying individual salad ingredients and dressing them yourself as needed. This approach not only allows for more variety but also ensures that your salads stay fresher for longer.

Reasons to avoid buying bagged salad kits in bulk at Costco

  • Price per serving may not be cheaper than smaller bags
  • Dressed salads don’t keep well, leading to potential waste
  • Buying individual ingredients allows for more variety and freshness

Raw Chicken

While Costco is known for offering high-quality meat at discounted prices, raw chicken may not be the best item to buy in bulk. Although the neatly vacuum-sealed bundles of chicken breasts or thighs may seem tempting at around $3 per pound, you can often find better deals at regular supermarkets.

Many grocery stores offer family packs of chicken breasts for as low as $1.79 per pound, and chicken leg quarters can be found for as little as $0.59 per pound. By purchasing smaller quantities more frequently, you can save money while ensuring that your chicken stays fresh and safe to consume.

Reasons to avoid buying raw chicken in bulk at Costco

  • Better deals on chicken at regular supermarkets
  • Smaller, more frequent purchases ensure freshness
  • Potential savings of $1 or more per pound at grocery stores

Herbs and Spices

Dried herbs and spices are essential for adding flavor to your dishes, but they lose their potency and coloring over time. Unless you’re a professional chef or operate a commercial kitchen, the odds of finishing one of those enormous tubs of crushed red pepper, granulated garlic, or Old Bay seasoning before its flavor dulls are slim to none.

Ground spices are best used within …one year, so buying in bulk at Costco may not be the most practical choice for home cooks. Instead, opt for smaller quantities from your local grocery store, where you can purchase just the amounts you need and replace them more frequently to ensure optimal flavor.

Reasons to avoid buying herbs and spices in bulk at Costco

  • Ground spices lose potency and flavor over time
  • Large quantities may go stale before being used up
  • Smaller quantities from grocery stores allow for fresher spices

Canned Soup and Cereal

While having a well-stocked pantry with canned soup and cereal can be convenient, buying these items in bulk at Costco may not always be the most cost-effective option. Popular canned soups and cereals often go on sale at regular supermarkets, and manufacturers frequently offer digital coupons for additional savings.

For example, while a name-brand condensed soup may cost around $1 per can at Costco, you can often find it on sale for as low as $0.75 or even less at your local grocery store. Similarly, cereal brands like General Mills, Kellogg’s, and Post frequently rotate their promotional offers, allowing you to stock up during sales and save more than you would at Costco.

By being strategic and taking advantage of sales and coupons at regular supermarkets, you can save money on canned soup and cereal without committing to bulk purchases that may go stale before you can consume them.

Reasons to avoid buying canned soup and cereal in bulk at Costco

  • Regular supermarkets often have better sales and coupon offers
  • Bulk purchases may go stale before consumption
  • Potential savings by taking advantage of rotating promotions


While Costco offers fantastic deals on a wide range of products, it’s essential to approach bulk purchases with caution. Items like condiments, pain relief pills, sandwich bread, pre-cut fruit, milk, bagged salad kits, raw chicken, herbs and spices, and canned soup and cereal may not be the best choices for bulk buying.


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