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?