5 of the Best Products to Buy at Costco

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  • No two shopping lists look the same, but sharing ideas may inspire us to try something new.
  • The fact that Costco inventory rotates makes shopping a more interesting experience.
  • Compared to "regular" grocery stores, Costco does not carry many items, so that may be why we tend to notice what they have on display.

There's no way I can suggest the "best" products to buy at Costco without acknowledging that the list will differ for each of us. Still, as someone who recently switched from Sam's Club to Costco after years away from the latter, I'm still in that honeymoon phase. I'm excited all over again by the things I can pick up at a discount.

I don't need another TV, washer, or refrigerator, but there are plenty of other deals to be found and plenty of other ways to save money. In no particular order, here are five of the best products (I believe) you can buy at your local Costco.

1. Coffee

It's shocking that I've been married for so long because I have a dangerously low threshold for boredom. It may not apply to human company, but I do grow weary of drinking the same coffee every day. Luckily, Costco makes it easy for me to switch things up.

I can try all different types of pods in my Keurig machine, from Kirkland Signature to Peet's and Tim Horton's. When I first got into pour-over coffee, I could experiment with Cuban, Rwandan, and American blends. And recently, when I began making all different types of fancy espresso-based coffee drinks to entertain myself, I could afford to do it because Costco's coffee prices are fair.

For example, our neighborhood Walmart sells a 10.5-ounce bag of Peet's Coffee for $9.98. At Costco, I can pick up six 10.5-ounce bags for $42.99. That's a little more than 28% less per ounce. If I can enjoy my morning cup of coffee without draining my checking account, I feel pretty good about my decisions.

2. Plants

My husband and I visited Costco last weekend for a few things and were surprised by the number of truly gorgeous rhododendron bushes that were on sale for less than $28. I made the mistake of thinking about it instead of making the purchase, and by the time I went back to buy a few yesterday, they were sold out.

I initially didn't pick them up because I was afraid we were in for one more frost. I also wanted to make sure that I couldn't find a better price elsewhere. While I did find comparable prices around town, none of the other plants looked as healthy.

Tomorrow, I'm heading back for the hibiscus tree I should have picked up yesterday. Wish me luck.

3. Dessert

It's funny; after all these years, I still feel a thrill when I find a dessert I haven't tried. For example, the Death by Chocolate dessert jars were life-altering. Okay, maybe not life-altering, but they were so decadent that I made six jars last for weeks.

Sometimes it's Pain Au Chocolat (croissants stuffed with rich chocolate), and sometimes it's crème brulee or chocolate mousse cake. Occasionally, I don't find anything that speaks to me. But it's the hunt that makes it special.

4. Salad kits

Given the affection with which I described Costco desserts, it may come as a shock to you, but I have to force myself to be an adult and get enough vegetables into my diet. The problem with vegetables (at least in my kitchen) is that I run out of ways to make them exciting. I'll get on a spinach or roasted cauliflower kick for a while until one day, the idea of preparing it again for dinner sounds revolting.

If that's an issue you deal with, give the Costco salad kits a shot. Like most desserts, I find that they don't always carry the same salad kits, but that's okay. It's forced me to try different combinations that have been surprisingly good. It was by trying salad kits that I realized how much I enjoy spinach and also started fooling myself into eating more vegetables.

5. Frozen berries

I've never been much of a breakfast eater, but have found that a fruit smoothie in the morning accomplishes two things: It gives me energy (who knew?) and meets my daily requirement of fruit.

And you want to know a trick? If you (or your kids) don't absolutely adore vegetables, you can slip them into a fruit smoothie and never even taste them. A few years ago, I read about how fruits mask the flavor of vegetables and gave it a try. It works surprisingly well. As an added bonus, it cuts down on the amount of food I throw away.

For example, bananas and strawberries mask the taste of beets, and fresh spinach and kale are virtually tasteless when I've added pineapple or grapefruit. And let's face it, blueberries just make everything taste better.

Tip: Using the top speed on your blender will help break down everything, including the vegetables. And once it's all blended together, the fruit overpowers the vegetables by a mile.

I'm sure if you were to share your list of Costco favorites, it would be different from mine, and maybe that's what makes warehouse stores so cool. Costco warehouses carry "only" about 4,000 different products. When you compare that to the 30,000 or so carried by your average grocery store, it doesn't seem like many. Having fewer items to choose from allows us to better concentrate on what we're seeing and, perhaps, to try things we would not normally notice.

Like yours, my list of favorites may change over time, but for today, these are the five things I can't imagine leaving the store without.

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