A Costco Shopping Guide for Small-Homes Dwellers

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Think Small

Even when there's not an urgent need to stock up on food and household goods, there's no doubt shopping at Costco makes sense for a large family with a large home that can store all the bulk items. It can save tons of money every year. But what if you are single, or live in a small apartment, or even call an RV your home? How is Costco worth the membership fee if you don't have ample storage space? We turned to Costco itself and Costco shoppers living in small spaces for some tips to help you decide if a membership makes sense for you. 

Related: I Shopped at Costco for the First Time and This Is What I Learned

Store Things Outside

Store Things Outside

When it comes to storing bulk items, have you thought outside the box — literally? Water, sports drinks, and the like can be stored in an outdoor space such as a garage, carport, small deck, or patio. In the colder months, they will stay chilled and ready to drink. 

Related: 50 Ways to Save Money Shopping in Bulk

Costco Produce

Buy Produce

Not all items at Costco come in huge containers. Fresh fruit and veggies, for example, are only slightly larger than the supermarket variety and yield big savings. Storage for produce such as blueberries and strawberries or a six-pack of bell peppers shouldn't be too hard to manage. They'll likely get eaten or used up rather fast, and if not, many fruits and vegetables can be frozen easily

Glass of red wine

Grab the Boxed Wine

It's widely known that Costco offers some of the lowest prices around on wine, and it's good wine. Wine shops mark up bottles as much as 50% over wholesale, while Costco's markups are less than 15%, according to Delish — yet it's widely known that the makers behind the Kirkland label are some of the biggest, best names in the business.

Related: 15 Best House Wines From Costco, Aldi, and Trader Joe's

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Get Cheaper Gas

For many people, the low gas prices at Costco are one huge perk of membership, and those Costco fans are on to something. Costco is the reigning king of cheap gas, beating out competitors by up to 30 cents per gallon, according to various studies by business pros and bloggers. Even if you live in a small space, if you drive a gas-powered car at all, the gas prices can make a membership worth it.

Related: Ways Costco Can Save You Money on Your Car

Baking Goods Are Cheap

Baking Supplies Are Cheap

If you bake often, Costco is a good bet for cheap supplies that generally don't take up a lot of storage space. For example, Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Premium Brownie Mix is a way better deal at Costco, at $17 for six pouches of mix, than at Walmart, where it sells for $38 for a six-pack, and those pouches don't take up much room in the pantry. If you use nuts for baking or snacking, those are also cheaper at Costco and don't take up much space at all.

Get Spices for Less

Get Spices for Less

Spices are another thing that don't require a lot of space and can cost a pretty penny at the grocery store. Costco is your place for excellent quality spices at lower prices. For example, at Walmart you can get 18 ounces of black pepper for 76 cents per ounce. By comparison, Costco sells black pepper for just 47 cents per ounce.

Take Things Out of Their Boxes

Take Things Out of Their Boxes

One great tip for storing bulk items is to make them smaller by taking them out of the box. Instead of storing something such as olive oil in its huge original container, try storing it in smaller jars to save space. Take items such as rice and separate that also into smaller mason jars for storage. You can keep extra jars on a remote shelf you don't need to access often, while keeping smaller quantities close at hand.

Costco Pharmacy
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Check Out the Pharmacy

Medications can get pricey, but according to a Consumer Reports study, Costco is one of the cheapest places to get prescriptions filled. You can also find cheap over-the-counter medications and other toiletries that take up little extra storage space but will save you good money. Things such as razors and contact-lens solution can be a good value. Take Clear Care contact solution: It goes for $25 at Costco and you get two 16-ounce bottles. At Kroger, you would spend $13 for just one 12-ounce container.

Related: The Cheapest Pharmacy: Walmart vs. Walgreens vs. CVS and More

Consider Buying Clothing Items

Consider Buying Clothing

Kids' pajamas, socks, underwear, workout gear, coats, and pretty much any clothing item you can think of can be bought at Costco for a steal. While it's always smart to compare prices, we've found items such as Puma no-show athletic socks for less than $10 for an eight-pack at Costco, while they cost nearly $12 at other places.

Stay Caffeinated

Stay Caffeinated

Coffee is a steal at Costco and, unlike other bulk items, takes up little storage space. Take Starbucks French Roast coffee, for example. It costs $25 for a 2.5-pound bag from Costco, retaining an edge over the smaller, 1.25-pound bag of the same coffee for $18 at Walmart. The products have about the same footprint for storage, but you get much more bang for your buck at Costco.

Keep a Food Diary

Keep a Food Diary

One final tip when it comes to buying in bulk and living in a small space: Keep a food diary. This will help you determine what you are truly using and what is worth buying in bulk and giving up precious space to store. Likewise, it will help you determine what you actually aren't using enough of to make buying in bulk worthwhile. 

Related: How to Live on $500 a Month at Costco