Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Selling Out

I sucked it up and went to Costco today. I didn't want to, but I share my job with a partner and he suggested that if so many people found it to be more economical, especially those with big families and one income (like us), then it must be worth trying. I was against it for a few reasons (like, really? You only accept one credit card?), but can overlook some of those things if it means saving.

So, we will try it out for a year, and see. After our mortgage, we spend the most on groceries (barring any surprise house costs), so we do what we can to balance eating quality food with keeping costs low.
Eggs brought to me from my friend's own harem of hens!
Every month I do a big grocery haul and then fill in produce/dairy the subsequent weeks, and usually this helps me stay on budget. I did the big haul at Costco this time, and here is what I observed:

- Everything felt excessive. Who needs a half kilogram of paprika? But then, we do go through garbage bags eventually, why not buy 100 at a time? I'm sure over a year I'll notice savings when one giant tub of coconut oil lasts a few months instead of a few weeks.
- The produce was disappointing. I didn't find a third of what I needed (I meal plan ahead and make a grocery list, rather than wander aimlessly looking for meal inspiration at the store). No butternut squash, no onions, no ginger root, and a handful of other things. What I did find was well-priced, and I did not see any options for organic fresh produce.
- Little to no selection. If you need spaghetti noodles, Costco carries one kind, in bulk. I had one choice of salsa, one choice of peanut butter. I suppose this is the territory of shopping in bulk at a warehouse store.
- It was sensory over load. I felt like a small fish in a very big pond! People were generally harried and cranky, it was very busy (even on a Wednesday morning), it was noisy, bright and rushed. Not my jam, so maybe next time I'll smoke a reefer first (just kidding ... I'll have to listen to some Bob Marley on my iPod though!).
-Waste. Many things came in unnecessarily cumbersome packaging that ends up in the garbage. My banana surely don't need to come in a bag, and in a pack of razors, must they all be individually ensconced in plastic? 

All said, I bought a year's membership, so we'll give it a chance to test the savings. There are a few things I will get elsewhere, as long as I can: We'll continue buying our meat in bulk annually, because it comes from ethical, local farms and are guaranteed hormone-free. I will keep visiting the farmer's stall down the street first, because their produce is so much cheaper/local/delicious! And when it comes to home decor stuff, (I don't spend a lot of money anyway but when I do), I would rather get a bath mat or shower curtain that is locally-made (in Canada) or that at least has some joie de vivre to it. I take pride in having carefully-selected 'things' that often have back stories (yes, even bath mats can have stories!) as opposed to assembly-line things everyone else has, too. 

Bought this hand-warming mug in Skagway, Alaska on a very memorable girls road trip. 




11 comments:

  1. My husband should have read this before he went for chicken breasts and came home with a leather toddler recliner....

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    1. Ha! Does your gigantic baby boy even fit in the toddler recliner anymore?

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    2. Yup! Fits up to 80-ish pounds, if memory serves.

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  2. Based on your buying habits, Costco is so not for the Nimans! If you're not buying meat, nor sugary cereals and granola bars (and your kids are not picky eaters who's fresh produce staples can be named on one hand), you've wasted your membership! The only light I can offer is that at Christmas they offer helluva deals on toys. AND there's the giant pack of ice-cream drumsticks....

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    1. We'll give it a year, and I'll shop there to see if it's a good match for us or not, because it was important to my husband that we give it a try. So, in that light, even if after a year we don't go back, it'll be worth it to know we tried it out whole-heartedly.

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    2. Best of luck - I'm sure you'll find good use of it :) My family of 9 is into it, but then again, I limit food choices for my own sanity, and have some pretty picky eaters!

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  3. For baking supplies and standard things like tinned tomatoes (organic) it can help for sure.
    They have good coconut oil, good olive oil, choco chips (huge bag!) and other items.

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    1. I did get a giant bottle of vanilla, but it'll all be used, so much more efficient than buying a new bottle every few months!

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  4. I'm trying to think what our Costco staples are.... eggs, for sure, almond milk, vanilla, olive oil, coffee beans

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  5. We debated a membership, but instead I make bargains with the grandparents to use their membership and have them pick up a handful of large volume needs...no one needs that much salsa ;>

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  6. I never did see the appeal of the $100 store. I kind of detest shopping in a bleak warehouse. Loved them for infant pj's though

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