Consumer Reports: Best buys at Costco

CONSUMER REPORTS -- Costco is the largest national warehouse chain with a great reputation for delivering quality goods at great prices. But you need to shop strategically or that oversized shopping cart can fill up with things that might not be a good value.

Joining Costco can lead to big savings in your household budget, but it's important to know what to get - and what to forget - when you're filling your cart.

"Here in the Consumer Reports' labs, we have tested a slew of Costco products and we have found plenty that did really well," said Dan DiClerico.

Definitely bring home the bacon. Kirkland brand is top-rated and crisps up nicely.

Kirkland Signature Olive Oil is another good pick-up. It has a distinct flavor and is a Consumer Reports Best Buy.

But, there are things to skip. Don't bother with the Kirkland facial tissues. When Consumer Reports tested for strength, they rated just so-so.

Do grab the Kirkland paper towel. Testers found it has excellent absorbency.

A check-in to the dishwasher labs at Consumer Reports found Kirkland Signature Gel struggles to clean dishes, so, instead, get the Kirkland Dishwasher Pacs, which do much better.

If you're entertaining, Consumer Reports says several good choices include Cuisine Adventures Spanakopita, Hannah Classic Hommus, Kirkland cooked tail-on shrimp and Kirkland Signature Vanilla Ice Cream - which beat out Breyers in Consumer Reports' taste tests.

And, when the party's over, break out the Kirkland Signature Trashbags. Consumer Reports says they're strong enough to handle most messes.

When you're calculating your savings, don't forget to factor in the cost of the membership fee to shop there.

Be aware that Costco has a generous return policy. It accepts virtually everything except electronics any time. With electronics, you typically have 90 days to return what you bought.