Costco is certainly a magical fairytale when it comes to successful grocery shopping, given that their prices (and food) are almost incomparable to some of those other larger supermarket brands. There are tons of Costco shopping tips that can help save you money, and we just found another that you’re going to love: Buy your cakes at Costco.
It’s as simple as that, given that Costco’s cake prices are significantly cheaper compared to brands like Walmart and BJ’s. Turns out, you can actually buy a half-sheet cake at Costco for $18.99, which can serve up to 48 people per cake! This is cheap already, but it’s even cheaper when you look at the prices for other brands. At Walmart and BJ’s, you can the same amount of cake for $25, or half the amount for around $17. That’s right—a quarter-sheet cake will cost you almost the same as a half-sheet cake at Costco, and even more if you want to feed the same amount of people.
15 secrets Costco employees won't tell you
15 secrets Costco employees won't tell you
We move items on purpose
Our stores constantly move their stock around, so you won’t necessarily find the peanut butter in the same spot it was last time. The company touts it as a “treasure hunt,” but it also knows the more time you spend scanning the shelves, the more likely you are to notice (and buy) other items. Check out these tips for saving money at Costco.
We'll keep in item in one spot if it's selling
As we move items around, we pay attention to how they’re selling. If they do particularly well in one spot, we’ll keep them there.
Pretty much everything goes on sale
Wondering if you should stock up or wait? Most items will go on special eventually, so it’s worth holding off if you can be patient. Check out these things you should never buy at Costco.
You can hunt us down
Got a meat question but don’t see a deli employee on the floor? Just knock on the door to the department, and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.
Don't sweat on missing a sale
While Costco doesn’t price match with other retailers, it will honor its own sale prices on earlier returns. If you notice a costco.com item you bought had a price cut within 30 days of purchase, put in a request online to get the difference refunded. Some warehouses offer the same perk for in-store purchases, so stop by the membership counter to see if we can help.
Our rotisserie chickens are as good a deal as you hoped
We aren’t downsizing our birds or adding weird fillers to keep our famous $4.99 rotisserie chickens at their low price. In fact, our chickens can weigh twice as much as our competitors’. We do add seasonings like sugar, salt, and modified corn starch (like many other store-bought rotisserie chickens), but there are no preservatives, MSG, or artificial colors and flavors. Learn more secrets behind Costco’s $4.99 rotisserie chicken.
Our price tags warn you if we aren't restocking
An asterisk in the upper right corner of a price tag signals our location isn’t reordering the item. It might come back at a later time, like if it’s seasonal, but stock up now if it’s one of your favorites. Learn more about what asterisks on Costco price tags mean.
What you see is what we've got
Costco is a “warehouse” store in a literal sense—we don’t have any additional storage from what you see on the shelves. If it’s not there, don’t ask us to check the “back.” The “back” doesn’t exist. Every now and then, the items will be out of reach on the high pallets, but most stores won’t bring the forklift out for just for one item. Come back tomorrow; it will probably be restocked.
You can't use manufacturer coupons
We know you’d love to get an even better deal on the items in your cart, but we don’t accept manufacturers’ coupons, and we won’t negotiate for a lower price. If you want to save extra money, check our warehouse savings books.
On a busy Friday, you might have to wait 20 to 25 minutes for a fresh pizza. Make the most of your time by giving us your order before you start shopping so it’s finished cooking by the time you want to leave.
Our price tags have a special code
Most prices end with .09 (.89, .99, etc.), but a couple price tags signal you’re getting a particularly good deal. A price ending in .97 means the item is on clearance, so you’re getting an even better deal than usual. Meanwhile, a .00 or .88 price tag signals the manager decided to cut the price, sometimes because it’s the last one in stock, doesn’t have a box, or has pieces missing. Learn more about the secret codes behind Costco’s prices.
You can get your non-member friends in
It’s no big secret that you can bring two guests with you to shop, but you can set up your friends who refuse to buy a membership with their own access cards. Only members can buy and refill a Costco Cash Card, but whoever you give it to has access to the store to spend the store credit whether they have an annual membership or not. Check out these other things you can do at Costco without a membership.
You don't pay much more than the store does
To make a profit, stores mark up their prices from what they pay the supplier. For instance, most grocery stores jack up meat prices by at least 30 percent. But at Costco, you won’t pay more than 15 percent more than the store does, and the prices average just a 10.6 percent markup.
We appreciate when you order ahead
We normally have enough party platters in stock, but we appreciate the heads-up the day before if you know you’ll be loading up so we can prepare. We don’t mind making extra, but we hate telling customers we’re sold out because one person wiped out our stock.
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The Costco sheet cake can come with nearly 30 designs, along with a selection of seasonal ones. You can keep it classic with balloons and roses, or order something a bit more festive. Looking for a dinosaur, race car, or a party owl for that Harry Potter lover? There’s a cake for that. You can either order a vanilla sheet cake filled with a vanilla cheesecake mousse topped with white buttercream, or a chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filling and chocolate buttercream.
Walmart, however, does have a few more selections when it comes to the cake flavors, but the filling choices are limited. They offer five flavors (white, chocolate, yellow, marble, and Tres Leches) and even give an option for you to suggest a different flavor. For filling, they offer strawberry or Bavarian.
So for a cheaper price, and potentially a better cake all around, Costco seems like your best stop. They are a much better deal for a birthday cake, kind of like the incredibly low prices of their rotisserie chickens. Speaking of, have you heard the secrets behind Costco’s famous $4.99 rotisserie chickens?
Shocking Costco food court secrets
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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."
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.
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."
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!