Costco doesn't always mean cheap.

By Meghan Overdeep
February 16, 2019
Credit: Brooks Kraft/Getty Images

Listen, we know how easy it can be to get carried away amongst the aisles of a Costco store. Trust us. But despite how many shoppers treat the bulk retailer as a replacement for a supermarket trip, experts advise against thinking of it as a one-stop-shop.

Speaking with CNBC, Charlene Haugsven, founder of, revealed which items you're better off buying at a local grocery store or a big box store like Walmart and Target, to get the most value out of your money.

Simply put, to get the most out of a bulk purchase from Costco, you need to be able to consume it all before it goes bad. As Haugsven pointed out, that can be a high bar to clear for ordinary families.

"A normal family is just never going to get through the quantity you have to purchase," she told CNBC. "Just because Costco has it doesn't mean it's a bargain."

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To avoid wasting your money (and food), here are the eight types of groceries she suggests the average shopper reconsider buying in bulk at Costco:

  1. Breakfast cereal
  2. Ground coffee
  3. Condiments and sauces, such as soy sauce
  4. Flour
  5. Milk
  6. Eggs
  7. Fresh fruits and vegetables
  8. Spices

For items like cereal, milk and eggs, Haugsven said you can find normal quantities of these items at similar prices at the grocery store during a sale. And grocery stores often have big sales on cereal.

"I think everyone is getting super competitive with Costco and I don't think, in order to save money on your groceries, you necessarily have to shop there," Haugsven concludes.