18 Things You Should Never Buy at Costco

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Find out which surprising items could be draining your wallet at Costco.
Updated Feb. 21, 2024
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Even though Costco is known for its amazing prices and bulk items, sometimes it’s less cost-effective to buy certain products here.

While many of these are better for large families, some households can’t go through these items before they expire, costing even more money down the line.

Here are some items that may not help you save money shopping if you pick them up on your next Costco run.

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Fresh Fruit

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz costco fresh seedless grapes

When you buy fresh fruit, like grapes and apples, from Costco, you risk losing money.

These items will likely spoil quickly before you and your family can enjoy them. It’s best to save these bulk items for parties or even freeze them for frozen snacks throughout the year.

Eggs

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz costco kirkland signature eggs

Chances are, you won’t be going through dozens of eggs before they can expire.

While this might seem like a good deal, hold off on these unless you have to make a ton of deviled eggs or cookies for an event. This pack of five dozen eggs will spoil within weeks.

Lotion

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz costco lubriderm lotion

Did you know that opened lotion should be tossed after six months?

Lotion past its best-by date won’t moisturize or keep your skin hydrated as well. That’s why this is another item not to buy in bulk.

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Milk

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz costco kirkland signature low fat milk

Most households know that milk can spoil pretty fast.

This pack comes with three half-gallons, which is too much for many families. You can buy regular milk sizes from Costco without worrying it’ll go bad before you use it.

Soda

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz costco soda cartons

Though you might want to stock up on soda for parties, these high-sugar drinks aren’t good for everyday use.

Most soda has over half the recommended daily sugar intake, and you might be tempted to drink a few cans when you’ve got this value pack.

If you’re going to grab drinks during your Costco trip, then consider their flavored seltzer waters or zero-sugar alternatives.

Candy

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz costco ghirardelli chocolate squares

This is another sugary option that you should save for Halloween and other holidays.

Bulk bags of candy are good for birthday party piñatas, but too much of these sweets can damage your teeth and body.

Costco has plenty of healthier desserts and even smaller candy bags for your events.

Bread

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz costco nature's own honey wheat bread

Bread is another risky item to buy at Costco.

These loaves might go to waste, meaning you’re throwing money down the drain. Consider shopping around the bakery for fresh bread in smaller sizes.

Shampoo/Conditioner

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz costco kirkland signature moisture shampoo

Even haircare items can lose their effectiveness.

Consider buying your shampoo and conditioner elsewhere so you don’t waste money. This might be an economical purchase, however, if multiple family members use the same bottle.

Coffee

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz costco kirkland signature roasted coffee

Ground coffee doesn’t last as long as whole-bean coffee, unfortunately.

Once opened, you should consume ground coffee within one to two weeks. However, given this bulk size, it might be hard for most households to do.

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Seasoning

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz costco grill mates montreal steak seasoning

Are you cleaning out your spices and seasonings regularly?

Even these ingredients have best-by dates, and buying in bulk risks them going bad. Consider variety packs of smaller sizes rather than the bigger containers when you shop at Costco.

Flour

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz costco kirkland signature all purpose flour

Even if you’re storing flour in an airtight container, it won’t last forever.

This is another ingredient that requires checking the expiration date. The bulk sizes might be better for professional bakers and cooks.

Cooking Oil

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz costco kirkland signature canola oil

Cooking oils don’t last forever, so you should consider how long you’ve had them.

Buying these in value sizes is only recommended for longer shelf-life varieties or high-volume cooking.

Fresh Vegetables

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz costco fresh avocados

Any produce from Costco can go bad before you finish it. You need to eat fresh vegetables like these avocados once they’re ripe.

Some of these veggies might be convenient for meal planning, but make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

Toothpaste

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz costco colgate toothpaste packs

Toothpaste becomes less effective after two years, which is harmful to your teeth.

You should also replace your tube of toothpaste if you or a family member has been sick. Buying this in bulk is fine for large families, so long as everyone has their own.

Sugar

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz costco dixie crystals pure cane sugar

Many pantry staples, like sugar, can wane in quality over time.

Be mindful of expiration dates and how you store these items in your kitchen. And too much sugar in your cooking can also be harmful.

Condiments

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz costco hellmann's real mayonnaise

Sure, bulk condiments are great for grilling out and throwing parties.

However, you are unlikely to go through a whole jar or bottle on your own. These items are best for larger events rather than everyday use.

Cereal

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz costco kellogg's red berries cereals

Your cereal can go stale before you’re able to finish it.

Value sizes, like this Special K, won’t go as quickly as you might think. Consider buying Costco’s multi-packs of single-serve boxes so you get multiple flavors that’ll last longer.

Detergent

Courtesy of FinanceBuzz costco tide detergents

Even detergent can lose effectiveness over time.

Opened bottles are best for six months, including liquid laundry and dishwasher detergent. These giant bottles can separate, leaving your clothes and fabrics not nearly as clean.

Bottom line

Andy/Adobe costco kirkland signature whole milk

Since Costco has such a wide range of products, you can easily score some deals and save on everyday essentials.

Just make sure you consider which items will serve your family best to avoid wasting any money.

Most of these are great for holidays, parties, and other large gatherings when you want to save time and cash.

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Author Details

Ariel Taranski Ariel Taranski is a writer for FinanceBuzz. She has worked as a content marketer for CPAs and financial advisors, and she enjoys being frugal and money-savvy in her day-to-day life. Ariel has also worked with clients such as The Knot, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Alpha Prime, and many more in her time as a freelance writer.

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