Costco!! On behalf of suburban wives everywhere, insert the eye roll and grunt response here. You love it or you hate it … or if you are like me a little bit of both. We are surely a house divided on this subject. For my husband, Costco is his happy place. The man loves shopping there. Costco is truly his beer goggles. As he walks though the big rollup doors and flashes his membership card, the goggles go on. Everything is in play, deals must be uncovered, considered and (in all likelihood) acquired.
Their business model must be to hypnotize the men first with the Super Gigantic TVs the moment you walk in. But if the men are not too careful and they linger too long at the TV, it is safe to say the women will find their way to the jewelry counter (equipped with special lights to hypnotize the women into remembering diamonds really are a girl’s best friend). After you decide that an impulse purchase of a ginormous TV and a blood diamond does, in fact, say something about you and you conclude that you should move on, you’re too late: you’ve already been conditioned and fallen into their trap. You feel perfectly ok with yourself about splurging on office supplies packaged in quantities meant for an office-office (not your home business). Food items intended for the Octomom. Toiletries that ought to be sent via Operation Christmas Child to care for a small village, not clutter every closet in your house. Did you say cleaning supplies? Where to stash them all? Weeell, let’s just make a quick detour over to the hardware section and hey! wire racks (I like the ones with casters). I wonder how many of those Costco sells … specifically to hold your Costco stuff? And while we’re there, let’s not forget the all-important sheets, towels (yes our kids have been known to make running leaps into the bins of pillows when we aren’t looking) and home appliances.
The very common occurrence in our house: I send my husband with a list to the Harris Teeter or WholeFoods and he does not veer from the list – he has amazing restraint, only buying exactly what is spelled out. Even if there was a realization that we were almost out of olive oil … if it is not on the list, it does not get purchased. However, if the list is for Costco, we magically get gigantic boxes of cereal, jugs of juice, laundry soap, sponges, three-packs of huge bottles of mouth wash. The people giving out the samples are absolutely on Lucifer’s pay roll. The fact that Costco has the best return policy on the planet is the clincher. “It’s ok if turns out it tastes like dirt, we can just return it!” Then the item sits on the stairs for a few weeks, goes in and out of the car a few times, until one of us finally remembers to return it.
This conversation really did happen about 8 years ago, when the kids were babies and I was trying to streamline meal prep:
Me: “Honey, I have heard that crock pots are great for making meals a lot easier once in a while.”
Tim: “No, gross … they make gross food and we should not spend the money”
Me: “I saw one at Costco for $39.99 that comes with a mini crock and ladle.”
Tim: “Ok, let’s get it.”
I cannot tell you how many times that conversation has happened in different forms. You know how Facebook sends you little “your post, three years ago today” prompts with pictures of your kids doing cute little kid things? Yeah, in our house we can walk around and have those trips down memory lane solely based on Tim’s spontaneous Costco purchases (more than one of which remain unboxed).
But I have learned my lesson too. I used to go through Costco and see house items I thought were pretty cool, send Tim a picture and minutes later it would be loaded into my car. That’s how I have a chicken coop (yes, still in the box) in my garage. And we had actual pause about building our house in our neighborhood because of the rules precluding chickens … exactly because we already owned said unused, unassembled coop. (Did I mention neither of us has as much as pulled a single fresh egg from a nest before ourselves? Doesn’t matter, Costco was going to make us Free Range.) Thankfully the laundry sink we carted around for 5 years and two moves (in and out of storage) finally got installed – we had no choice but to install it because it was well past the two-year return policy.
During those moves I did find an overabundance of kitchen sponges still in the package (the ones they always put on sale, but your husband has no idea how quickly you use them up) … just one example of our family Costco moratorium list. Also included: bottles of Downy fabric softener, the 12 packs of toothbrushes (floss is okay, because somehow kids can tear through even Costco quantities … without actually cleaning all of their teeth), and frozen goods. Thank goodness we have the standalone freezer chest (from Costco) in the garage, or those 24 packs of in the coconut shell fruit sorbets would literally take up 2/3rds of the freezer space in my actual kitchen freezer.
But lest you think I am totally against Costco, I am not. Here is my Top 10 List of things to buy at Costco:
10) Laundry Soap (Tide Pods): even though the containers are gigantic, I don’t have to think about buying Laundry soap for three months (unless you are Tim and you see that they go on sale in the flier and you decide to stock pile for when the Koreans launch at San Francisco and “the world gets nutty for a few weeks”). Side note on this, I am trying to find a nontoxic laundry soap that works, but until I find one I like, Tide Pods it is.
9) Mattresses: they are good quality, less expensive than the competition, and if you order them online they will deliver (otherwise you’re roping it to the top of your car – ahh, a story from my youth for another day).
8) Carr’s Water Crackers: buy a gigantic multi pack at the beginning of the holiday season and you are good to go until January. Then when guests pop by or you are invited somewhere, you bring cheese and crackers. Bonus: you also look fancy, because they are classy crackers.
7) Wine: good prices for the more expensive wines and sometimes they have them on sale. The Kirkland brand is actually a good at-home wine for when you’re not trying to show off to your friends.
6) Tires: yes they have good Michelin tires and often they run a deal with $80 off their already reasonable price for four, and they come with warranty (which they actually honor in a non-ripoff way) and tire rotation. The only challenge: either scheduling it days in advance (maybe many days) or waiting 2+ hours (sometimes more) if you try to pull it off as a walk-in. Even if you schedule it in advance and by some motherhood miracle you are on time, they’re going to take at least an hour to a) pull your old tires off, b) put the new ones on, c) inflate them and d) balance them. It’s a great deal, but you will have no delusions about these guys challenging the pit crews of NASCAR, who do the same thing in under twelve seconds.
5) Glasses: call you eye doctor and have them send you a copy of your current prescription. You can get the backup pair from Costco: not as stylish or cool, but a pair on the cheap. Save the $700 pair for when you’re out and about. Parenting pro-tip: proactively buy these for elementary schoolers, who are 99% likely to “forget” their nice glasses in a way that lands them under a pile of other kids’ old sweats and gym clothes in the bottom of the school lost and found barrel (which is so cringe-worthy it must be at risk of being designated an EPA superfund site).
4) Coconut Oil (Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Organic): Enough said, this is the real deal. Although in its Costco sizing it does take up a lot of space. Doesn’t matter, just buy it.
3) Diapers and Wipes: when my kids were little Costco only carried the standard, but now they have the no bleach, organic cotton blah di blah blah holy grail of the ultimate money suck.
2) French Bread: this is a more recent find in the otherwise-prohibited freezer section. It has grand total of four ingredients (!!), is made in France, and is partially cooked .. so you just pop it in the oven for 8 minutes and voila! Your kids and guests are wowed by your French bread making ability!
1) Kerry Gold grass fed Irish butter: The best butter, period. And if you are Keto or Paleo, stock up!
Tim insists that my Top 10 is wrong (“dead wrong,” he says) if I don’t at least include Costco’s spices. Yes, honey, you are right: we are so much better off with the $4 Costco bottle of taco seasoning than getting a gazillion equivalents at $1+ per pack from the grocery store.
Thanks for reading! Please subscribe below. In the coming days and weeks, I will cover my DIY projects (laundry room; Pantry-to-Office conversion), Burger Bootcamp for the kids, Fall Fashion Must Haves and … “Don’t even think about it!”