Ever since working for two years in college as a grocery-store cashier, I’ve loved peeking into other people’s shopping carts. There’s no better place for this than membership-only warehouse chain Costco.
Idly watching from afar, you never know why someone is stocking up on a particular product. Recently, I saw a two women in Costco loading up two carts with humongous bags of Skinny Pop popcorn. My imagination went wild. Were they teachers planning a school movie night? Or did they just really, really love the stuff?
That inspired me to share a peek into my own shopping cart. I’m a veteran of more than two decades of shopping there, after all.
Below are some of my favorite items to buy at Costco. Where possible, I’ve included links to the products. Take note, though: Prices online can differ from Costco’s in-store charge for the same item.
1. Gift cards
Need one to tuck into a birthday card? Or to tape to a teacher’s end-of-year gift basket? You’ll find them at plenty of stores but rarely at a discount.
Costco has them. Granted, you won’t find the selection you might see elsewhere, but the prices are great. For example, I recently picked up a two-pack of $25 gift cards for See’s Candies for $38.99 –- a savings of about $11.
2. Rotisserie chicken
It’s almost cliche now, but unless you’re a vegetarian, it’s a no-brainer to pick up a fresh, hot rotisserie chicken on every Costco trip you make.
Costco’s rotisserie chickens have their own fan page on Facebook, where loyalists share recipes and tips. The whole cooked bird costs just $4.99.
If five people get dinner out of it, that’s just $1 a meal. Shred the remaining meat for everything from soup to tacos, and use the carcass to cook up a batch of homemade stock.
3. Flavored sparkling water
At home we’ve cut back drastically on soda and now lean heavily on water. We love lightly flavored sparkling waters — coconut is my favorite — and Costco is the place to stock up.
A 24-pack of La Croix sparkling water is $6.99 — about 30 cents a can — though it can cost more online. That’s cheaper than my local grocery store, Target or even Walmart.
Also, Costco is the only place where I’ve seen La Croix sold in 24-packs that combine three different flavors. Costco carries a variety of other sparkling water brands, too, including my husband’s new favorite, Spindrift — made with real squeezed fruit.
4. Sandwich platters
Every December, I host a cookie swap for 60 guests. Every Easter, a dozen or more kids and their parents come by to dye eggs and hunt for candy.
On the morning of these parties I send my husband on a Costco mission. The main goal: Bring back a croissant sandwich platter.
These freshly made sandwiches have such fillings as roasted chicken, ham and roast beef. There’s cheese, lettuce, mustard and mayonnaise on the side.
Each platter serves about 20 and costs $32.99. They’re so popular, we’re lucky if we have a sandwich or two left for lunch the next day.
Just note that you might have to pre-order Costco sandwich platters — check with your store.