7 first impressions of Costco and wholesale memberships

I made my first trip to Costco this past week and thought I’d share my initial impressions and thoughts. I went as a guest with my cousin after asking to tag along primarily for the purpose of stocking up on items for our vacation in a few weeks. We’ll be road tripping it to Myrtle Beach, so car snacks are crucial and even good snacks for the week at the beach are important.

I was obviously overwhelmed and had to rein myself in, but it definitely got me thinking about whether or not I want to get a membership here or somewhere similar. For the record, Costco is 90 minutes away, so weekly trips probably aren’t in the cards. Here are some initial considerations about shopping at Costco.

google.com Costco-Logo

Shop with a purpose

I’d advise not shopping here without a list or a goal, unless you have gotten super familiar with it. (If you’ve been frequenting one for a few years, you probably know the ropes, prices, what you use, and what is worth it, etc.) I was regularly reminding myself of focusing on vacation snacks (or things that I knew we’d use immediately/quickly–like taco chips!)

It’s not the place to experiment with too much “new”

It’s exciting to find new foods that seem like will feed your family well or will be big hits, but keep in mind the amount of something you are buying–even if the underlying price is a good deal. It’s great when the taste-testers are out and you can actually try something before buying a box of 36 and hope for the best! Example: I saw several veggie burger varieties that sounded good, but it wasn’t worth buying a bulk amount on the chance no one would really like them.

Eating healthy can be easy

While there is plenty of “junk” food available in bulk, I was impressed with how readily available the healthy and organic options were. Given, I was drawn toward things I buy or look for anyway, but I was shocked when I’d pull something off and then check and find it was organic–and that the price was still so good!

Keep in mind what you have room to store

You can buy giant boxes of things at great prices, but you have to have a place for it! This is another reason to shop with a list or focus in mind. You’ll find a little bit of everything in your cart, and then you’re trying to figure out where in the world you’ll put it all.

Fresh Produce–If you’re close!

I didn’t price out all of the produce, but I definitely picked up some blueberries and strawberries because the prices were incredible. If I had a Costco close, I’d be regularly buying my fruits here for that kind of savings.

Comparison to Sam’s Club?

I haven’t been to Sam’s in quite awhile and I have never done a real family shopping trip there, so I won’t try to give an opinion on one compared to the other. If I decide to get a bulk membership, though, I will definitely feel out Sam’s as well (and see how healthy their options are–the healthy options at Costco are a huge plus in my book). One perk in my particular situation is that there is a Sam’s Club closer than Costco. Costco is opening in Louisville, which is nice, but it’s still not closer than the Lexington option.

Membership? Yay or nay?

I honestly see us getting a membership to a wholesale store like this at some point. We already buy several items through a food co-op. (Rice, oatmeal, etc.) As you may know, frequent grocery trips can damage the budget–too many impulse or unnecessary buys–and this would help that much more. We already do a lot of dry goods through the co-op. What meat we use we tend to get through sources other than traditional groceries. Many months our vegetables are sourced through our garden. A resource like Costco could help us keep better/longer stocked on staples like snacks, cereal, frozen foods, baking and cooking needs. Not to mention… We know I love to host friends a family and buying bulk for such occasions would be a plus!

Your feedback?

Tell me your experiences with Costco or a similar store in the comments:

  • How frequently do you shop there?
  • What was your primary motivation for the membership?
  • What are you favorite things to buy at stores like this?
  • What are you Costco vs. Sam’s Club thoughts?
  • How close to your home is the store?
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