On average, Americans spend $550 a month on groceries, or $6,600 a year. If you can cut your grocery budget by buying in bulk at Winco or Costco, you can save significantly more money each year.
2020 taught us many lessons, including the value of stocking up on toilet paper. Both Winco and Costco are great stores for stocking up in bulk. Buying things in bulk is typically cheaper than purchasing smaller quantities. Although you may have a higher upfront cost, you won’t have to replace things as often.
Winco facilities are as big as Costco, but they are different types of stores. Winco is considered a Retail grocer, whereas Costco is considered a warehouse wholesale. Their price comparison shows different stores are cheaper than the other based on the types of products.
Costco is cheaper than Winco for meat and poultry prices. Costco rotisserie chicken is $4.99 and Winco’s is $5.48. Costco is also cheaper for bulk nonperishable items like toilet paper, which is $24.99 for 30 rolls. Winco is cheaper for produce and Winco allows customers to pay by weight for many items like oats, flour, and spices.
|Toilet Paper (30 Rolls)||$24.99||$26.93|
|Large Navel Oranges||$1.25 lb||$0.58 lb|
|Braeburn Apples||$1.62 lb||$0.78 lb|
|Fuji Apples||$1.62 lb||$0.78 lb|
|Pineapples||$3.49 each||$2.78 each|
Costco has about 800 locations across the United States in suburban areas, and Winco has about 100 stores mainly in the Pacific Northwest, California, Arizona, and Texas.
To shop at Costco you must have a Costco membership card. Their membership comes in three tiers ranging from $60 to $120, but they offer a satisfaction guarantee. Although they require a membership fee, you can save more money in the long run if you shop there more often.
Costco offers great prices on bulk items and varieties of services including many types of insurances, but if you’re not satisfied with Costco’s products or membership benefits, you can get a refund.
|Costco God Star||$60/year||-Includes a free household card|
-Valid at all Costco’s worldwide
-Includes membership for two people
|Costco Business||$60/year||-Includes a free household card|
-Valid at all Costco’s worldwide
-Add additional cardholders for $60 each
-Can purchase items for resale (need resale info)
|Costco Executive||$120/year||-Includes a free household card|
-Valid at all Costco’s worldwide
-Additional 2% back on qualified Costco purchases
-Extra benefits on Costco Travel
-Greater savings and benefits on Costco Services
Additionally, Costco does offer some discounts for their memberships. College students can get a membership for $20, military members and their families can get a Costco card for $30 if you set up auto-renewal, and medical professionals also get a Costco membership discount.
Deciding if a Costco membership is worth it depends on if you will shop there enough to save over $60 a year, to at least cover the cost of the membership.
On the other hand, Winco does not require membership. Anyone can walk in like regular grocery stores or supermarkets. You do not need a membership to get in Winco or checkout at the register.
However, Winco does not accept credit cards because they want to avoid credit card transaction fees. Their prices stay so low because they only take cash or debit cards, avoiding credit card fees.
Winco is also able to pass on savings to customers by having you bag your own groceries and keeping a simple-style interior.
Costo will not price match against their competitors. However, they do offer a price adjustment on their promotional prices. Costco will issue a credit for the difference between what you paid and the promotional price.
This price adjustment is for purchases made within 30 days before the price change, and they will issue a credit within 3-5 business days.
- If your purchase was made at a Costco location, go up to the membership counter and request a price adjustment.
- If your purchase was made on the Costco.com website, click here to request a price adjustment.
Even though Winco generally does not price match, to compete with stores like Costco and Walmart the decision will be different depending on the particular location.
Here is a reply to an inquiry about whether or not they’ll price match like Walmart:
Hi Diann, that is a great question! We do not price match, at least not in the traditional way that you described; meaning we wouldn’t be able to match a price at the register. But we do something similar behind the scenes. We first set a price for every item each store carries, but then we encourage each employee-owned store to better serve each community we call home. Your local store does this by constantly going to other stores and checking their prices on select items; then coming back and lowering ours if needed. While we can’t do it on every item, we do it throughout the whole store to make sure we offer you the best overall value possible. We feel that this saves our customers time and money. You can see the results on price comparison signs throughout the store. Hope this helps answer your questions. Thank you for supporting our employee-owned store, it’s an honor working for you!Source: Winco
People Who Prefer Costco Over Winco
According to Consumer Reports, Costco is one of the top 13 cheapest grocery stores in America. They are especially known for their low-riced quality meats and poultry (rotisserie chicken anyone?).
Costco was able to price their rotisserie chicken at under $5.00 while their competitors’ price went up over the years. See this video on how Costco is able to keep their price so low:
Costco also has great bulk non-perishable items. Almost all of Costco’s products come in bulk, which does require a higher upfront grocery cost. However, their products also tend to last longer and so the price for quantity is better than buying non-bulk.
Many shoppers choose Costco over Winco for the following:
- Toilet paper
- Paper towels
- Canned goods
- Frozen foods
- Meat (the $4.99 Rotisserie chicken is especially popular)
- Cleaning products like Clorox wipes
- Vitamins and minerals
- Toiletries (makeup wipes, toothpaste, shampoo and razors)
- Over the counter medicines (Tylenol, allergy meds, ibuprofen)
Related: How Much is Costco Pizza
Winco’s rotisserie chicken quality is also great. I went to the WinCo in Santa Clarita, and I was pleasantly surprised by their prices and quality. As much as I love Costco, it is nice to have an option that is just as good and at a great price.
You are probably wondering whether or not the rotisserie chicken is any good? The answer is a resounding yes! The rotisserie chicken tasted fantastic.
I have used a few different rotisseries, but my opinion of them all depends on the meat quality. All of them were great in some ways, but none of them had meat that was comparable to what I got at WinCo.
It was organically raised grass-fed beef without hormones or antibiotics and no added grains or sugars. The chickens were also organic with no added water or oils.
WinCo rotisserie chicken costs $5.48. You can also try their roasted turkey breast which is around the same price in most stores.
For those not near a WinCo, many other grocery stores offer a rotisserie chicken for about the same price, including Costco (about $5), Sprouts (around $4 to $6) Safeway ($4 to$8), and Market Street ($6) among others.
People Who Prefer Winco Over Costco
Winco consistently has better prices than most grocery stores like Walmart. Winco also made Consumer Reports list of top 13 cheapest grocery stores in America. However, according to some recent surveys, Winco is ranked even cheaper than Costco.
Compared to Costco, which sells bulk items in a set quantity, Winco allows you to purchase bulk items by weight.
The store usually has large bins of goods like rice, flour, dried fruit, cereal, and coffee and you pour your desired amount into a small bag or container.
I personally love Winco’s peanut butter because they have a machine that crushes the peanuts on the spot, and you control how much you buy. Also, in my experience Winco produce is much cheaper than other grocery stores.
Winco’s produce comes in smaller quantities than Costco’s so it is less likely to spoil and end up wasting your money.
Cheap items to check out at Winco:
- Dry beans
- Peanut butter
- Chia seeds
- Baking essentials (baking powder, baking soda, chocolate chips)
Benefits of Buying in Bulk
Buying items in bulk at Costco or Winco is a great way to save money and stock up. Bulk items are great for cooking crockpot or freezer meals which can save you money, especially compared to eating out.
However, if you’re shopping for one or two people then buying in bulk might not be the best idea since food can spoil before you use it. You should only buy perishable food in bulk that you plan to use relatively quickly unless they are frozen or canned. If it goes bad before you use it, then you’re actually wasting money on bulk foods.
You’ll also need space to store bulk products. But, if there’s ever another toilet paper shortage, you won’t have to stress about getting essential items when the shelves are empty.
That’s why buying in bulk is ideal for families feeding more people, or nonperishable items that won’t spoil if you hang on to them for a year.
- Both Winco and Costco are among the cheapest grocery stores in America
- Costco is a great store for buying non-perishables in bulk
- Winco’s produce is cheaper and comes in smaller quantities, so it’s less likely to go bad
- Winco lets you decide the amount you want for many products, and you pay by weight
- Winco does not accept credit cards – cash or debit only
- You need a membership to shop at Costco which costs at least $60 a year
Benjamin is a certified financial advisor, with over 10 years of experience in the industry. He is knowledgeable about various business and financial topics, such as retirement planning and investment management. Ben has been recognized for his work in the financial planning industry. He has also been featured in various publications.