The Pantry Staples You Save The Most Money On At Costco

Costco is plenty of folks' favorite place to grocery shop. It's got bulk buys for wholesale costs and generally offers high-quality grocery items. And, while the 50-pack of flour tortillas, eight jars of peanut butter, and giant olive oil jug may seem like must-have items at the time, the resulting cost can be astronomical. Because, even with those wholesale costs and supposed savings, checking out at Costco can leave you with a staggeringly large bill. The problem is that it's sometimes hard to know whether buying in bulk ends up actually saving you money in the long term, or if you're buying too much of something you don't need and won't use, which means wasted money. 

There are three shelf-stable grocery items that are absolutely worth the Costco hype, though. At Costco, take advantage of bulk pricing on cereal, canned food, and dry beans. These keep well and are sold at a fantastic per-item cost that most grocery stores couldn't imagine, even on their best sale day. 

Cereal is a solid buy

Walking down the cereal aisle of a regular grocery store will quickly show you just how expensive a typical box of breakfast cereal is, which is why many of us grew up eating the generic, off-brand bagged alternatives. But, Costco manages to have the major brands for a fraction of the cost on a per-ounce scale. For instance, it offers a two-pack of 27.5-ounce boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios for $10.99, with a per-ounce cost of roughly 19 cents. On the other hand, Walmart offers a 18.8-ounce box of the same cereal for $4.93, which means it costs nearly 7 cents more per ounce than Costco's. And, the cost per ounce is almost an identical comparison for Cinnamon Toast Crunch. So, if you love having cereal for breakfast (or lunch, dinner, or dessert), then you should definitely keep it on your Costco shopping list. 

These are big boxes and bags of cereal, which means they run the risk of going stale. To avoid any food waste or spoilage, be sure to only open one box at a time. You can also pour the cereal into air-tight storage containers once opened to extend its life, or properly seal the bag down with a chip clip.

Stock up on canned food

Canned food is typically much more affordable than frozen or fresh options, but also totally underrated. That's a shame because there aren't generally major nutritional or flavor discrepancies between canned food and fresh. Don't sleep on these goods at Costco — which makes the already pretty affordable food type even more affordable. Canned beans, tomato sauce, and corn are solid buys that can be added as extra veggies to an endless list of dishes. But, don't stop at canned vegetables. Costco also offers great deals on canned proteins like chicken, tuna, and even salmon. All of these are great for weeknight dinners when you need to make something quickly and affordably. 

For example, Costco's Del Monte canned corn 12-pack of 15.25-ounce cans is offered for just $12.99, or around $0.08 per ounce, whereas at Kroger, a single 15.25-ounce can is sold for $1.50, about $0.10 per ounce. That might not seem like a huge difference, but when you consider the per ounce cost of Costco's on a bulk scale, the savings quickly stack up. Cotsco's Kirkland brand tuna is not only decently priced ($2.49 per can), but it also offers our top-rated tuna brand. Wild Planet's Albacore Wilda Tuna in a 6-pack of 5-ounce cans for $19.99, or roughly $3.33 per can, while a single can of the stuff is $4.00 at Kroger. 

Beans don't just come in a can

Did you know that nearly all legumes are available dried? Usually sold in plastic bags, you can easily find black and pinto beans, chickpeas, and lentils in dried form, and they are extremely cheap. While both canned and dried beans are affordable options, dried beans win out on cost per serving. Costco's 25-pound bags of Heartland dried beans only appear available through Costco's Business Center. Luckily, a regular membership will give you access to the business center. However, these locations are extremely limited and Costco Business Shipping will only deliver to commercial addresses, not residential ones. But, keep an eye out for other specials on dried beans during your regular Costco shops, as their inventory is known to change and it doesn't list all of its offerings online.

While these dried beans are slightly less convenient than their canned alternative, they are excellent for the bulk buyer on a budget. And, though it does take a long time for these beans to spoil, they will lose flavor over time, so be sure to transfer them to an airtight jar or storage container once you get them home.