We're DINKs who make $190k a year and work from home. Here's what our typical Costco haul looks like.

  • We're DINKs who make $190k a year. We stick to a budget because we're in a high-cost-of-living area.

  • When shopping at Costco we look for versatile items we can get good value out of.

  • We buy Kirkland Signature bagels, lots of salad kits for quick meals, protein shakes, and produce.

My partner and I relocated from the Bay Area to the Central Coast, near Monterey, a few years ago.

We love our new home just five minutes from the beach, but our new neighborhood means a higher cost of living, especially when it comes to groceries.

Though we plan to have children in the next few years, for now, we're DINKs (double income, no kids) who only worry about feeding ourselves.

We make about $190,000 a year, and both work from home. I work in marketing and do freelance writing, and my partner is an accountant.

We try to keep our monthly food budget — including going out to eat about once a week — under $500. Thankfully, our Costco membership has helped us stay on track.

Here's what my partner and I usually get for $350 in our high-cost-of-living California city.

We make sure we're getting enough protein with shakes and Greek yogurt

Chocolate premier protein shakes at Costco
Premier Protein shakes help my partner make it to dinner time. Jacqueline Gualtieri

Although I typically make myself breakfast and lunch, my partner tends to throw himself into his work and gets too distracted to remember to eat.

These Premier Protein shakes are the only thing I can get him to consume before dinner. We often get chocolate, but my favorite is Café Latte. We buy packs of 18 at Costco for around $30.

They also help me stay on track with my protein goals. If we're not in the mood for shakes, Dannon Oikos Triple Zero yogurts are another great source of protein.

Oikos Greek yogurt variety packs at Costco
Dannon Oikos Triple Zero yogurts help me add protein to my diet. Jacqueline Gualtieri

Each yogurt container contains a whopping 15 grams of protein.

We buy packs of 18 at Costco for around $30.

A few fun drink options are always on our list

poppi on display at Costco
Poppi prebiotic sodas come in a few flavors. Jacqueline Gualtieri

I stopped drinking most sodas around a decade ago, but sometimes I want a break from water.

We usually pick up variety packs of Poppi, which contain prebiotics for gut health and have fewer calories and added sugars than most sodas.

A pack of 18 cans retails for about $20 at our Costco.

We also grab a variety pack of Health-Ade kombucha for another gut-health-friendly drink option. A pack of six typically costs around $10 at Costco.

Sweet snacks are always on our list

Skinny dipped cups in bags at Costco
SkinnyDipped peanut-butter cups are one of the few snacks I let myself buy. Jacqueline Gualtieri

I have a sweet tooth and a sedentary job, so I try to keep most candies, cakes, and sweets out of the house. Otherwise, I'd be snacking a lot.

However, I love ending the day with a SkinnyDipped dark-chocolate peanut-butter cup. SkinnyDipped dark-chocolate peanut-butter cups come in packs of 30 and retail for around $15 in our Costco.

My partner prefers the Happy Village gently dried strawberries as his sweet treat.

Dried strawberry packages at Costco
Dried fruit may not be my favorite, but my partner always needs his Happy Village dried strawberries in the house.Jacqueline Gualtieri

Lastly, I bake sweets to have during the week.

I try to avoid using sugar, and my partner despises most low-calorie sugar replacements, but we both like Natural Delights Medjool dates.

Plus, at $0.50 per ounce, they're a relatively inexpensive way to satiate my sweet tooth. The dates are also a great snack if you pop them in the freezer for a bit.

Salad kits encourage us to add greens to our dinners, and Costco has tons of options

Chopped salad kits at Costco
Salad kits are a staple for us on every Costco trip. Jacqueline Gualtieri

My partner and I stock up on salad kits whenever we go to Costco. I try to serve a salad with every dinner to get more nutrients.

Some of our go-to picks include the Taylor Farms Mediterranean Crunch chopped-salad kit or the Ready Pac Bistro Queso Crunch kit.

The Mediterranean Crunch gives us the best bang for our buck, though, with a pack of two coming in at around $9.

If we're in a rush, we also grab Costco's premade Caesar salad, which retails for around $5. We usually get at least two meals each out of it.

We also stock up on a lot of produce at Costco

broccoli bag at costco
Bonipak broccoli florets are great in pasta dishes. Jacqueline Gualtieri

We always add Bonipak broccoli florets to our cart, which are filling and versatile. We steam them or just toss them into pasta or stir-fries.

When it comes to versatility, though, spinach is the best. We use it for cooking, baking, making smoothies, and prepping salads.

Large packs of blueberries at Costco
I freeze most of my blueberries for smoothies. Jacqueline Gualtieri

Blueberries are also great for baking and smoothie making — we usually get 18 ounces for $9. We freeze most of them to keep them fresh longer.

We also keep a lot of bananas in the house because I eat about one a day. At Costco, bananas are a good deal at $0.66 a pound.

Bunches of Bananas at Costco
I have a banana just about every day. Jacqueline Gualtieri

We splurge a bit on Linda-Vista avocados, which are usually about $9 for a pack of five. It's worth it to me because I eat at least half of one a day, and they're very filling.

Lastly, we grab a bag of six bell peppers to stuff or add to stir-fries for dinner throughout the week.

Costco is also our go-to place for meal staples

Healthy Noodle boxes at Costco
Boxes of Healthy Noodles are essential for low-calorie meals. Jacqueline Gualtieri

Healthy Noodle packs are a meal staple for us. We pay about $15 for six 8-ounce packs, which are just 30 calories per serving.

These noodles are virtually flavorless, so they work in many different ways. We've used them for pasta dishes, pad thai, and just about anywhere else we'd use noodles.

Pupusa boxes on display  at Costco
Del Real pupusas are easy to heat up in an air fryer. Jacqueline Gualtieri

We also treat ourselves to at least one "fun" meal item per trip. These tend to be higher-calorie frozen items.

On this trip, we grabbed the pupusas from Del Real Foods. These pupusas are 240 calories each and cost us about $15 for a pack of 10.

We always pick up quiches, too. Growing up, my mom always bought a quiche at the end of our grocery trips, and we'd have it for dinner that night.

I continue that tradition with La Terra Fina's quiche variety pack, which retails for about $13 for two quiches.

The Kirkland Signature bagels are a no-brainer

Display of bags of bagels at costco
Kirkland Signature bagels are good with Laughing Cow cheese. Jacqueline Gualtieri

As a native New Jerseyan, I have strong opinions about bagels as I grew up around so many great bagel places.

There are few places to grab bagels around my home now, so the bagels at Costco are a decent replacement. For two packs of six bagels, we pay around $8.

Instead of using cream cheese, I put Laughing Cow spreadable cheese on my bagel, preferably the light option if Costco has it.

Laughing Cow cheese display at Cotstco
The Laughing Cow cheese is the only thing that goes on my bagel.Jacqueline Gualtieri

At just 25 calories per wedge, it's a much lighter tradeoff. Plus, 32 wedges are only about $6.50 at Costco.

We also pick up a few kinds of cheese

parmesan cheese at costco
I prefer my pasta with Parmigiano Reggiano. Jacqueline Gualtieri

Growing up in an Italian-American family, we typically had pasta several times a week, and I wouldn't eat it without grated Parmesan.

Now, I always keep Kirkland's grated Parmigiano-Reggiano on hand, and a pound of it retails for about $14.

We also always have cottage cheese in our fridge, which is incredibly versatile.

cottage cheese at costco
Cottage cheese is one of the most adaptable things we have in our fridge. Jacqueline Gualtieri

I bake with it, put it in my eggs and other dishes for a protein boost, or eat it as a snack with berries. Knudsen cottage cheese costs us about $5 for a 3-pound container.

We also pick up Galbani string cheese, one of my partner's favorite snacks. It's a good substitute for unhealthier snacks, and a pack of 60 only costs us about $10 at Costco.

Although we cut down on meat purchases to save money, we pick up some chicken

Chicken sausage at Costco
Aidells chicken and apple sausage have a good amount of protein.Jacqueline Gualtieri

To save money, my partner and I cut back on purchasing meat. Still, we love Aidells chicken and apple sausage.

They're another versatile find as they can be put in buns or sliced up for pasta dishes. A 3-pound pack is around $15.

We also pick up Kirkland Signature organic chicken breasts for about $6 per pound.

Kirkland Signature organic chicken breasts
Chicken breast is super versatile. Jacqueline Gualtieri

I usually cook a bunch of breasts over the weekend so I can eat them for lunch throughout the week.

Overall, we spent over $350 on this Costco trip

Cart full of items at Costco
Fortunately, this haul will last us quite a while. Jacqueline Gualtieri

On this trip, we spent $352.97. This haul will likely last us about three weeks.

In addition to the items above, we picked up bulk packs of Kirkland Signature chicken tortilla soup, Skippy peanut butter, Dave's Killer Bread, and black beans.

We also couldn't resist grabbing Costco hot dogs and sodas for $1.50 a pop on the way out.

Our two highest-cost items were the Premier Protein shakes ($30) and Kirkland Signature organic chicken breast ($31.21), but both will go a long way for us.

Click to keep reading Costco diaries like this one.

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