Why you should never buy spices at Costco

Those who shop Costco know the joy of discovering new things the warehouse has to offer, or the (greater) excitement tracking down a favorite product that the store, for one reason or another, discontinued but decided to bring back. And while we may be tempted to stock up just in case the powers that be decide that the restock was a mistake, there are a few things veteran Costco shoppers advise against buying in bulk.

Among those things, USA Today advises Costco shoppers should stay away from produce (who needs a 30-pound sack of spuds or a giant pack of salad greens?), detergent (which appears to have a shorter shelf life than we thought), and spices (which come in ginormous bottles that range from 18 ounces of granulated garlic to 5 pounds of fancy paprika).

Costco spices are cheap, but might still be a waste of money

If you were to calculate the price of a Costco-packaged spice in ounces, no one would disagree that the prices make the purchase well worth the money. Unfortunately, as with buying bulk produce, it is difficult to imagine needing 2 pounds of dried oregano or 2 pounds of dried parsley, especially since, as McCormick points out, the shelf life for dried herbs, either in ground or whole leaf form, is anywhere between one to three years. Think about how much oregano you might have used out of the small jar you picked up at the supermarket the last time... unless you are consistently cooking for a crowd, it will likely be difficult for you to go through a 2 pound jar of herbs before its best by date comes around. We've all picked up that old bottle of dried basil that was brown and odorless, right? That's where your Costco herbs are headed.

Epicurious says ground spices start to lose their potency after six months. And while whole spices may have a slightly longer shelf life (Epicurious gives whole spices a year, McCormick says they could be good for up to four), no matter what, it's still better to buy and use fresh spices in your cooking. After all, those herbs and spices are what you're leaning on for tons of flavor, and two-year old anything just isn't going to taste as good.