Costco rules!

costcI have a love/hate relationship with Costco. Definitely more love than hate since I like to save money, but we live in a small house with very little storage, so finding room for 20 bags of chips or 40 rolls of toilet paper presents a challenge. Though storage logistics can make me crazy, the good deals and quality products keep me coming back.

Before this year, I only shopped at Costco for meat, cheese and bread. Since my kids were fed at school, it made more sense to buy snacks and produce at the regular grocery store, otherwise things would go bad before we got around to eating them. Since Clay started preschool we are going through more food, so I’m shopping at Costco more.

I have a few rules that help me save time and money when shopping there, which I thought I’d share:

1. Don’t buy anything that only one person in your family will eat.
Chase and Clay are picky eaters, Avery will eat anything and I’m somewhere in between. When shopping at Costco, I only buy food that we all eat. That’s the only way we’ll actually use all of it before it goes bad. If that happens, not only did we waste money, but I wasted space storing it and time shopping for it.

2. Split, then freeze or share.
The Oroweat wheat bread we like comes in a pack of two. We eat a lot of sandwiches, but still don’t go through two large loaves a week. I immediately put one in the pantry and the other in the freezer. I do the same with tortillas, ground turkey, ground beef and chicken breasts. I leave one of each out, then freeze the rest. Another option is to share with a friend or family member. My mom and brother live near each other, so they often split items. She can’t eat 20 avocados, but between her putting them on her sandwiches and he and his wife feeding their friends guacamole while they watch sports, they all get eaten.

3. Don’t test out a new food for your kids.
I’ve made this mistake a few times. Oh the kids will love this, I think. Then they don’t and I have 47 waffles taking up half my freezer and I feel guilty wasting money by throwing them away. Buy smaller quantities at the grocery store and do a taste test first.

4. When you can, shop alone.
Husbands wander off to look at huge TVs when they already have one (or more) at home. Toddler girls talk you into buying tutu dresses. Four-year-old boys want to cruise the toy aisle, then beg you to buy something. If you’re alone, it’s easier to manuever the giant cart, you can park away from the crowds and you might even have time to browse the gossip magazines (they are 30 percent off retail price!) for a few minutes.

5. Time your visit wisely.
I work full time, so I can’t go going during the day on a weekday. When I worked from home I would run over at lunch sometimes and that’s not a great time either (retired people like to make a lunch out of the samples and working folks go to the food court on their lunch breaks). I’ve found that the best times are Monday or Tuesdays after work or Sunday mornings when they first open. I went right as the Super Bowl started this year and that wasn’t bad either – lots of TVs to watch the pregame festivities and everyone else was already home getting ready for their parties.

How about you? Any tips for saving time and money at Costco?

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