These Costco shopping tips will save you tons of money

Who doesn’t love saving money? I’m pretty sure it’s a quintessential part of the human experience. People pride themselves on finding the best deals out there and even use it as a topic of small talk. And soon, with these Costco shopping tips, you’ll be asking your friends the following: Guess how much I saved at Costco yesterday?

Costco can be a magical dreamland when it comes to deals, but only if you know where to look for them. Although buying in bulk at a store like Costco does save you money, there are still many tricks to learn that will save you more. Especially when it comes to the pricey items—like meat or even alcohol.

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Costco tips will save you so much money
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Costco tips will save you so much money

Yes, buy the store-brand products

At Costco, look for products with the label Kirkland. It’s actually a Costco label, and will save you lots of money! Sure store-brand products can be a huge hit or miss, but Kirkland is known for creating high-quality products that will make you completely forget those popular mainstream brands.

The farther the walk, the better the price

That’s right—the farther you walk into the store, the better deals you are going to find. Especially at the center of the store, also known as “center court.” The tip is to start at the back of the store and work your way up, for the best deals. And avoid the front of the store at all costs! This part of the store is known as “action alley” which tends to have the highest prices since it will get the most foot traffic.

Buy bulk meat to freeze

Even if you only need a pound of beef for that recipe over the weekend, buy a few pounds to store for later. You’ll get a better price per pound when you buy in bulk, and you’ll end up with a stocked fridge ready for easy weeknight dinners. It’s a win-win!

Team up with a buddy for deals

You probably don’t need that many paper towels or bottles of water, so why not split it up with a friend? Save at least half of your grocery bill by splitting up the bulk items with your other Costco-loving buddies. But fair warning: The two of you should never bother with these Costco items. They aren’t worth the deals.

Understand the price codes

Ever wonder why some prices end in .99, while others end in .97? It’s not just a coincidence, it’s actually on purpose! It’s a secret pricing code that Costco has in order to show you where the deals are or aren’t. For example, if you find an item with .99 at the end, that’s a wholesale price. But if you find something with a .97, that’s the best discount you’ll be able to find. Find out more of these secret codes here.

Shop seasonal at the end of the season

This may seem counterintuitive, but trust me on this one. Just like any other store, you’re going to find your best deals for Christmas decorations or Halloween costumes after the holiday is over. At Costco, the same applies. Grab grilling supplies after summer is over to get the best prices possible on stuff you’ll need nine months down the road.

Try shopping online

The Costco app actually shows you the great deals and offers to take advantage of, which will help you in the long run. Almost out of toilet paper? Take a look at the Costco app to see if any deals are happening for your needs before even hitting up the store.

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So before making your bi-weekly or monthly trip to the land of bulk items and extremely cheap jumbo hot dog and drink deals (they’re only $1.50—can you believe that?), be sure to take note of these tips to get more bang for your buck.

Oh, and if you don’t have a Costco membership, that’s OK. Here’s how to shop at Costco without a membership.

Related: Costco food secrets 

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Shocking Costco food court secrets
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Shocking Costco food court secrets

The most popular item on the menu? The legendary Costco hot dog.

"There's something about a buck fifty that people really love," said the employee. 

But at 552 calories and 32 g of fat, you may want save this food court staple for special occasions. 

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Another discontinued item that Costco often receives questions about? The chocolate-dipped ice cream bar with almonds. We hate to break it to you, but it's probably never coming back.

"I think it might have been too expensive for the amount we give. That's what happened with gelato anyway," the employee said.

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Everyone knows that the best churro is one that is hot and freshly made. If customers don't think they're getting the best churro their money can buy, don't be afraid to ask for a new one!

The employee said, "I learn to check when we're running low on churros and wait for a new pan to come out," adding, "I recommend checking on them right before you shop and seeing the changes when you come back. My favorite is when they run out of churros and you wait for five minutes or so, then when they pull them off the pan, it is a hundred percent brand new."

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The beloved berry smoothie was recently replaced by a different fruit smoothie -- and there's a perfectly logical (and healthy!) explanation for it. 

"Corporate thought the benefits outweighed the negatives in this situation. The new smoothie has a lot of better benefits in it -- less sugar, less calories, nothing but real fruit and fruit juice, and four servings of fruit in each smoothie." the employee said.

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Have you ever found yourself blotting away all the excess oil on your incredibly cheesy Costco pizza? There's a reason for that. 

The anonymous employee revealed that the amount of oil used in making the pizza is "too much." In fact, upper management monitors employees to make sure they're using enough oil. 

"When you don't use the corporate requested amount because you think it's too much and corporate notices? You use more oil to avoid being in trouble. Some managers overcompensate and use a quarter cup of oil+ when making them."

Yikes! Talk about a heart attack on a plate. 

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And of course we're dying to know what the pizza is made out of!

"It's made with love," the employee jokingly said.

Another Reddit user who claims to be a former employee also chimed in: "I don't know what's in the sauce, it came to us prepared, as did the cheese mix . . . I know it was like 85 percent mozzarella and 15 percent provolone when I worked there."

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There's no denying that Costco's chicken bake has a massive cult following. Surprisingly, the food court hit is pretty simple to make! After flattening out a lot of pizza dough, employees mix in chicken breast strips, mozzarella cheese, bacon and caesar dressing. All these ingredients are rolled up into the dough.

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And if you prefer no bacon in your chicken bake, you'll have to come in earlier in the day when employees are making it. 

"Sometimes the employees are running little bit late and they'll make them during the day, but you'd have to catch them before they mix the cheese and bacon. Which is hard to do," the employee said. "You could always call ahead a day and ask. I'm sure they'd oblige."

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Surprisingly, employees don't get a discount at the food court. However, they do receive a free executive membership ($120 a year), which is also a pretty impressive perk!

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