15 Popular Costco Buys That Cost Less at Other Stores

Some of Costco's competitors beat the warehouse retailer on these popular foods.
Updated Nov. 27, 2023
entrance gate of getafe costco wholesale store on sunny day

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There’s no question that you can get great deals at Costco on everything from food and toiletries to clothing and medicines and beyond.

The retailer can help you beat the rising cost of groceries by selling nearly everything in bulk and has a hard limit on how much it marks items up.

But that doesn’t mean that everything is cheaper at Costco, as many savvy shoppers have figured out. Note that prices may vary at your location.

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Penne: Walmart

Viktor/Adobe penne pasta in white saucer with green garnishing on top

Unless you’re adept enough in the kitchen to make pasta from scratch, grabbing a box of the dry stuff is the way to go.

And while some pasta may be cheaper at Costco, you can score six 16-ounce packages of penne for $5.99 at Walmart. That’s compared to Costco's 17.6-ounce box for $10 which shakes out to 6 cents to 9 cents per ounce.

Milk: Aldi, Trader Joe's, and Walmart

alter_photo/Adobe pouring milk into glass on table

Cow’s milk is a staple in many households thanks to its versatility and calcium content. But if you go through a lot of it at yours, Costco will set you back around $3.50 per gallon. However, one shopper found better deals on milk at Aldi, Trader Joe’s, and Walmart.

Frozen mixed veggies: Kroger

uckyo/Adobe frozen vegetable slices on white background

Kroger is a grocery store chain with headquarters in Ohio, but it’s also popular in the southeast region of the U.S. and beyond.

Most of the items you find there will cost you more than at Costco, but a few products stand out.

For example, frozen mixed vegetables are $7.49 for a five-pound bag at Costco, but $5.69 at Kroger for the same amount.

Chicken thighs: Trader Joe's

FomaA/Adobe tamarind quarter leg chicken with lime in frying pan

Trader Joe’s has a cult following thanks to items they sell that no one else does, like certain sweet treats and unique packaged salads.

But they also sell a few foods at a better price than Costco, including boneless skinless chicken thighs for $1.99 per pound. That’s compared to $2.29 at Costco, which is 30 cents more expensive.

White bread: Aldi

StockPhotosArt/Adobe slices of fresh loaf of bread

Aldi may be a no-frills shopping experience with no free samples, but if you’re just in it for the savings then head there for sliced white bread.

This household staple isn’t super expensive at Costco and will only set you back $2.84 for a loaf. But at Aldi, it’s markedly cheaper at $1.39 for the same size.

Chicken breasts: Walmart

Moving Moment/Adobe slices of grilled chicken with salt and black pepper

One of the most popular cuts of meat in the U.S. is without question boneless skinless chicken breasts.

One shopper found this high-protein, low-fat option for $2.99 per pound at Costco, arguably a much better deal than you’ll find at a place like Publix. However, the same shopper noted that you’ll shell out 50 cents less at Walmart and Aldi.

Tomatoes: Kroger

joli17/Adobe three fresh ripe red tomatoes on wooden cutting board

Whether you like them sliced in sandwiches, pureed into a soup, or as a base for your sauce of choice, tomatoes on the vine are versatile fruit.

But if you’re planning to make some marinara for Sunday night dinner, you may do better buying them at Kroger for $1.59 a pound.

That’s because you’ll pay $5.00 for two pounds at Kroger, saving you 36.5%.

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Pineapples: Aldi

Viktar Malyshchyts/Adobe pineapple slices along with whole pineapple

Pineapple prices can fluctuate pretty widely depending on your location, especially if you don’t live in a tropical area. So note that this intel comes from a shopper based in Rochester, NY.

They found this exotic fruit for $1.99 at Aldi and $2.14 at Walmart. As for the Costco price, they documented it at $2.49 – notably more expensive.

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Extra virgin olive oil: Walmart

Africa Studio/Adobe olive oil in bowl with black olives

If you’re especially picky about your olive oil, you can’t go wrong with Costco’s extra virgin option, which is $15.99 for a two-liter bottle. High-profile chefs like Samin Noosrat have personally endorsed this product, so you know it’s good.

If you’re not too concerned about taste and quality, Walmart’s store brand is cheaper at $10.98 for 51 ounces, though.

Peanut butter: Whole Foods

Studio mars/Adobe bread with peanut butter along with butter knife and raw peanuts on cutting board

With a nickname like Whole Paycheck, it’s surprising that they sell anything for less than Costco — but they do!

One stealthy Seattle journalist found one item while doing price comparisons: peanut butter.

At Costco, you have to plunk down 14 cents per ounce for an 80-ounce jar. But at Whole Foods, you can get a 36-ounce jar for 11 cents an ounce.

Greek yogurt: Walmart

juliasudnitskaya/Adobe greek yogurt in blue bowl with white spoon

Unlike extra virgin olive oil, Walmart’s house brand of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt stands up fairly well to the competition, according to reviews. It’s also cheaper than the same option at Costco, albeit by just a hair.

At Costco, it costs 12.2 cents per ounce (for a 48-ounce container), and at Walmart, it’s 11.8 cents per ounce (for a 32-ounce container).

Ground beef: Grocery Outlet

Joshua Resnick/Adobe iron cast skillet with fry ground beef

Any way to save on ground beef is a game-changer since inflation has increased the price of this staple meat across the board.

So if you have a Grocery Outlet nearby (as they do in Seattle), that’s the best option; there they sell all-natural ground beef for $4.33 per pound (three-pound package).

That’s compared to $4.79 per pound (six-pound package) of the Kirkland Signature brand at Costco.

Pasta sauce: Kroger

chachamp/Adobe jar filled with tomato sauce

If there’s anything that makes a weeknight dinner a breeze, it’s pasta sauce; warm it up, throw it over pasta, and voilà.

And while there’s a vast selection of the stuff at every grocery store out there, Kroger beats out Costco when it comes to the price of organic house brands.

Costco’s 32-ounce jar costs $9.59, and Kroger’s is $2.29 for a 25-ounce jar. That’s a savings of 7.1%.

Rice: Grocery Outlet

lcrribeiro33@gmail/Adobe boiled rice with green garnishing in cast iron skillet

Healthy, versatile, and a crucial ingredient in cuisines from around the world, rice is guaranteed to get you the best bang for your buck.

As for who sells the cheapest rice, one Seattle journalist notes it’s not Costco, even though it’s only 54 cents per pound (25-pound bag).

Instead, Grocery Outlet edged the big box juggernaut out at 50 cents per pound (10-pound bag).

Bacon: Walmart

Viktor/Adobe fried bacon strips

Kirkland Signature bacon is pretty well-known in grocery circles for being a top-notch product.

However, it’s not the cheapest out there, as Walmart’s low-sodium bacon is slightly more affordable. It costs $3.94 for a pound, while Costco’s is $4.25 per pound (four-pound package).

As for how Walmart’s bacon fared on the review front, it lagged behind Costco’s, though not by much.

Bottom line

Piman Khrutmuang/Adobe empty shopping cart at grocery store with fruits and vegetables

There’s a reason Costco is so popular with a wide variety of shoppers: They sell high-quality products for less than most of the competition.

Still, not everything the retailer offers is less expensive than other stores. Prices can vary by location and may change depending on inflation, sales, and supply chain issues.

So your best bet is to always check prices at your local outlets before you grab your Costco credit card and hit the bulk retailer.

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Author Details

Cat Lafuente Cat Lafuente is a Florida-based writer and editor with extensive experience in digital and print content spaces. Her own personal finance journey — particularly consolidating debt and paying it off, in turn boosting her credit score and becoming a homeowner — inspired her to join the FinanceBuzz team; she hopes she can help others do the same.

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