Where else is a flimsy paper thimble of frozen beans and rice entrée, a cracker, three fruit snacks, mini lunch meat sandwich, sip of energy drink, chocolate-covered pretzel, grape, dumpling, and a hair-skin-nails supplement gummy a meal?
The Costco sample lunch is real. Weekday Costco lunches are popular amongst retirees. If you are like me and work during weekdays, there’s the weekend sample lunches, too.
I never remained we’d have purchase a Costco membership until someday when we have kids. “Why on earth would I pay $55 to shop in a store?” I wondered.
This all changed after my parents snuck me into Costco to experience the Costco lunch. I purchased a case of kombucha, big bag of coffee, and jug of maple syrup. It seemed like I saved about $20 with that purchase alone. I brought Jake and we signed up for our membership.
The first rule of Costco is that you try to shop there in a hurry, lest you completely lose your mind.
You must purchase things by the case or the multi-pack and so there are no baskets or mini carts. There are also no grocery bags or totes. You pile things into your cart and place them in your car, or ask the cashier if they have an empty box.
Costco’s grocery carts are huge. Everyone seems to intuitively know you aren’t supposed to shop here in a hurry, so shoppers leisurely cruise between the aisles. The aisles are so stacked high that you can’t see over or around each corner. You must treat the end of each aisle like a four-way stop to avoid collisions..
“Sorry!” we holler as we taken turns skidding to a stop, inches from someone else’s cart peeking out from a pyramid of puzzles or a mountain of potato chip pallets.
For people like us who have never bought anything in bulk, it feels strange. Sometimes shopping here is mostly awesome and slightly annoying. Let’s say I want pita chips, but I don’t need a giant bag of pita chips. At least I can make it work by sealing the bag really well. On the other hand, there are times where I just want a small jar of mayonnaise and can’t bring myself to buy the giant tub, necessitating a second grocery stop.
Despite these inconveniences, the benefits keep me coming back for more stuff:
First and foremost, the prices are really good. A giant jug of maple syrup is $10. Large bags of coffee cost between $9-14. A big brick of sharp cheddar cost $5. For the same price I use to pay for a large pack of toilet paper at other stores, I can buy one that will last months. The same goes for laundry detergent, sandwich bread, butter, and frozen fruit. If you prefer to buy organic products, Costco has those too.
Having a Costco membership isn’t completely nonsensical for a household of two. We divide and freeze things. Meat, extra coffee beans, and that extra bag of bagels I have to buy because you can only purchase two. I’m not convinced we’re actually saving money, though, because we’re always bringing home something new.
A few of my favorites (so far):
- The huge $5 rotisserie chickens. I often pull all of the meat right away and freeze it in portions for future meals.
- Pantry staples: Olive oil, Kerrygold butter, maple syrup, coffee, big blocks of cheese
- Toiletry staples: Laundry detergent, paper towels, toilet paper, dental products
- Chopped salad mixes
- Hagan Daaz ice cream bars
- Jonny Pops
- Baked pita chips
- Individual hummus packs
- Rana organic four cheese ravioli (these have delicate wrappers and outstanding filling).
A few of Jake’s favorites:
- Figgy bars
- Frozen organic chicken burritos
- Frozen blueberries
- Tubs of soup (barley vegetable & squash) in the refrigerated section.
- Frozen cauliflower crust pizza with veggie topping
Really good household buys:
- Toilet paper
- Paper Towels
- Laundry detergent
There’s a small rack of random gift cards. If you enjoy going to the movies, Costco sells discounted ticket packages. This summer, they offered Renaissance Fair tickets + two turkey legs for $39.
And the liquor store. We haven’t made our way to the liquor store next door but hear good things from friends. Our neighborhood liquor store is a gem. One of these days we’ll wander over there.
If you have the time and patience, you can wait in line for cheaper gas.
Finally, the food court; the crown jewel of the Costco store. I know the menu by heart. You can order anything at 9:30 in the morning. The pepperoni pizza is pretty tasty. The giant hot dog that comes with a soft drink for $1.25 is not the best hot dog you’ve ever eaten, but it’s literally a dollar. Everything is cheap and perfect for an after-shopping snack.
This all being said, we don’t only shop a Costco. We still visit our farmers markets, Amazon Prime, Target, the local neighborhood shop, Trader Joe’s, and occasional Coborn’s delivery. But, I guess you could call us Costco enthusiasts.
At the end of a busy day smack dab in the middle of a busy stretch of weeks, it’s nice to know we won’t need to run out and buy toilet paper or toothpaste or tubs of vegetable barley soup.
Feel free to share any thoughts on Costco below. What do you love? What do you find annoying? What’s the best food court item?
We have always had a Sam’s Club membership because Carlton worked there but same idea. Aaron just signed us up for a basically free Costco membership today ( through NFCU) so I will be checking it out for sure. Love shopping in bulk and the samples are always a fun thing!
I’ve never considered having a membership like this since it’s just me and my boyfriend but you pointed out a few really great things about it! We may have to consider it sometime!
if you want to wander around to see if it would be a good fit, they will let you wander the store.
Knew you’d love the rotisserie chicken! Best deal there.
I love Costco.
Things I love: rotisserie chickens, salads, nuts (walnuts, almonds, macadamias, cashews), trail mix, dairy (milk, eggs, butter), and meat department (lobster tails, shrimp, scallops, salmon fillets, tilapia, brisket, pork tenderloin), gift cards (esp. the one for Nickelodeon Universe at MOA).
Annoying: sample days, especially on weekends. I swear, people act like they haven’t eaten a meal before–ever!
Best food court item? Pepperoni pizza, although it can be hit-or-miss. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it sat under the lights too long, and sometimes they tell you it will 10-20 minutes until it’s available.
Thanks for sharing all of your favorites! Sample day on weekends is nuts. You have to be so patient. People go crazy.
Update: I recommended their Avocado oil to you on twitter, but then when I went back it was GONE! I was so sad but I’m hoping they bring it back 🙁
I know I *can* make something similar myself, but their take-and-bake chicken pot pie is huge, delicious, and 100% worth the price. The berries are superior quality in winter months but are a tasty treat any time of year. I have no shame about gorging on berries. What keeps me going back to Costco somewhat regularly is actually their pet food! MN Pitbull Rescue fed my pup their food before we adopted him, so I continued the tradition and transitioned my cats to their food as well. The kitties had a little bit of dander as we worked on switching them over, but that cleared up after they got used to the new food.
I’ve never tried avocado oil! Hopefully it’ll come back. Thanks for your suggestions. I keep hearing the dog food is great. So happy your pup is doing well.
The only thing I’d say is a hard pass is the sushi. Terrible.
Thanks for the heads up! We will certainly pass on it.
Freeze the soups! They are awesome but some flavors are seasonal. You can also freeze the guac that comes in the 3 pack. Emily is a huge fan of the pesto sauce. My mom’s best recipe is cook penne noodles, add rotisserie chicken, pesto sauce, and some sautéed peppers/onions and you have the best pasta dish ever.
Thanks for the soup tips. We will have to try the pesto too. Will be making this dish.
We got a membership for the dog food alone (our vet highly recommended it and we get 40 lbs for the same price of the 20 lb stuff we had before), but I literally can’t go there without spending $100.
The last time I was there I perused the clothing section for the first time. Ended up buying a Sherpa-lined flannel shirt that is frankly hideous but SO warm I don’t even care.
The total adds up quick when everything starts at $7! Will have to stock up on winter clothes.
We don’t have a Costco close, but Sam’s Clubs are about an hour and I wish they were closer! Very handy for a family of 4 who’s boys are eating me out of house and home!
I read that they have a first rate fish program, track the fish origins & sourced from sustainable sources, as well.