With my toddler in tow and membership card in hand, I’m braving Costco’s lineups once again to save cash on everything from batteries to bathroom tissue. As a financial author, blogger and speaker, I’m known to sleuth savings and find deals for Canadian families living on tight budgets. And time and time again, I’ve found that there are some unbeatable deals at Costco that can save families a lot of cash. Here are some items that make the crowds and queues (not to mention the annual membership fee) worth it.
1. (Some) fresh produce
On a recent Costco visit, I found a package of white mushrooms that cost a whopping 93 percent less than at Loblaws and a four-pound bag of carrots that was 82 percent cheaper. On the other hand, the bell peppers represented just a three percent savings, which, factoring in the membership cost and long lineups, doesn’t feel like a huge win. Apple prices differ depending on season and type, so don’t pick a bunch without checking other flyers first.
Are the batteries in all those holiday toys now dying or long dead? Replacing them here is smart. You can save a whopping 60 percent over Shoppers Drug Mart.
3. Most groceries
Staples like eggs, meat, bread and cheese can be anywhere from 30 to 60 percent cheaper than many major grocery stores. Frozen fruits and vegetables are a big win here, too: The Kirkland Signature brand is often not only organic but can save you a cool 25 percent over the non-organic frozen strawberries, broccoli and peas at Loblaws.
4. Toilet paper
No one loves spending money on toilet paper—and calculating the square-metre cost of rolls isn’t super fun, either. But it’s worth it to find out that Costco’s Kirkland 30-roll pack with 425 sheets per roll is a 42 percent savings over Loblaws’ President’s Choice 40-roll pack (with the difference in the number of rolls factored in).
5. Movie tickets
Rainy day? Slow weekend? Head to Costco and grab a Cineplex Child Movie Package gift card. For $10.79, you get admission and snacks for one person, which is cheaper than paying the regular $9 kid ticket price at the door plus buying overpriced concession snacks.
6. Sleepers and pyjamas
Spending a ton on PJs can hurt since no one ever really sees them. You can’t beat Costco’s prices on sleepwear. Pekkle brand infant sleepers, which are 100 percent cotton and rock adorable patterns, run $7.99 a set—a savings of $22 over comparable cotton PJs at BabyGap. Kirkland kids’ pyjamas (2T to 8T) are 100 percent organic and cost $14.99—a 62 percent savings over similar two-piece sets at the Gap.
Costco’s prescription dispensing fee is just under $5, while many drugstores charge around $12. But you may be able to save on the cost of meds, too. Depending on the drug, Costco beats many pharmacy prices by at least 10 percent—a savings of hundreds, even thousands, if a family member needs pricey medication.
8. Baby formula
The price of baby formula is a bomb that can blow up any new parent’s budget. At some drugstores, brand-name formula can cost more than $5 per 100 grams. By contrast, Kirkland Omega+ baby formula costs $24 for a 1.3-kilogram container, a savings of up to 67 percent.
A version of this article appeared in our March 2016 issue, titled “58 ways to save money on everything,” pp. 62-67.