I’m not sure what I was thinking when I got my Costco membership. I mean, what’s a single guy going to do with a 72 pack of toilet paper or a 10 pack of Brita filters? But you would be surprised, my friend! Once I learned the in’s and out’s of being a Costco member and navigating the parking lot, you realize there is definitely some value for even a single person with a membership. Especially if you’re into food and cooking, go figure. And the more times I visit Costco, the more I find to enjoy and eat. Let’s go for a quick tour!
Let’s start with Costco’s kitchen goods. While they don’t have a huge selection, what they do have for kitchen brands is pretty strong. I’ve been thinking about trying out sous vide cooking so I’m sort of in the market for a vacuum food sealer. And while Costco doesn’t have more than 2 or 3 choices of any particular item, the 4880 Food Saver they have for $119, retails for over $175 elsewhere. BIG savings!
And then I see a set of 4 KitchenAid ceramic knives for $25 which is typically $28 – $35 elsewhere. KitchenAid mixers? They’ve got them here and a LOT cheaper then Williams-Sonoma where I used to work. If you’re in the market for kitchen tools, I think you’d do pretty well here. Costco usually also has a great selection of cookingware sets along with decent quality knives.
Moving on to the wine, baked goods and meats section, they’ve got a very nice selection of bottles here and from what I’ve been told, the wine-buyers at Costco are SUPER picky. They are the 7th largest wine retailer in the world which means huge buying power. I have yet to buy a bottle yet but will take some time to research their selection a bit. Just past the wines are the baked goods, and I recently bought a 1/2 chocolate sheet-cake for $18! You can choose from 20 or so decorations and choose from 2 types of cake and have a custom message on it. And it was a decent cake with light butter cream, another great deal!
Just past the cakes there’s the bulk meat section where Costco sells vacuum-sealed USDA Prime and Choice meats, all at a good price. I’ve done a couple of delicious prime rib roasts from Costco beef and you’ll know I’ll be back here sometime soon. Just be aware you will need some hungry mouths to take advantage of the family packs here.
Further in past the frozen goods, there are tons of foodstuffs with the in-house brand, Kirkland. And while I may not want a bottle of Kirkland wine on my table, who cares when it comes to spices and other bulk cooking items? I grab a 64 oz. container of organic extra virgin olive oil for $14, it goes for 50% more on Amazon. A huge 160 oz. container of canola oil for $14 probably goes for at least $18. And the best thing is that Costco usually stocks items that are above average in quality so you’re getting a great deal on really good food items! I have yet to cost shop other items but I’d expect the same sort of discounts. Costco employees are scattered through-out the warehouse demo’ing food items and handing out samples. Some people say you can put together a lunch here just by grazing on the food samples.
In addition to the food, you’ve obviously also got some great deals on electronics, basic clothes items, vitamins and more. About the only thing they have that doesn’t seem to be a good deal are the movies, DVD’s and blu-ray discs. Right before you check out, Costco has a great fresh flower stand which is well worth whatever price you pay. Head on off to the cash register, make sure you grab a box to take your stuff out in and square up with cash, debit or the Costco AMEX card. The lines can get long here but most Costco employees I’ve run into are well-trained and quick, phew!
But the food fun doesn’t stop here because right past the cash registers, you’ve got the Costco food stand. Like many big-box stores, the experience can be so lengthy they need to provide you with some food (see my IKEA review). And you can eat really on the cheap here. Hard to believe, but the food here is all pretty darn good, order your food at the self-serve kiosk and they’ve got a pick-up area for efficiency Costco has their classic 1/4 lb. beef hot dog and drink for $1.50, a chicken bake for $3 and a slice of pizza for $2. The beef hot dog is an 10″ long, filling beastie and you self-serve your soft drink. Where else could you eat for under $2?!
The pizza is a medium crust with plenty of cheese and toppings, and of course, the slices are big. If you want the whole pie, we’re talking only $9.95. The chicken bake is a thin, well-browned Parmesan crust filled with chicken chunks and a bit of sauce, tasty stuff. So AFTER you buy all that great food inside Costco, you get some more on the way out to fill yourself. I’ve even heard of the Costco food challenge where you have to consume $10 worth of eats in under an hour. Don’t think it’s impossible but I’ll pass for now.
Overall I’m really impressed by what I’ve found so far in my first month of membership and I’d highly recommend you check ’em out if you’ve got one in the area. The newest Costco for the Triangle is coming to Apex in March 2016. Once you park, it’s not too painful outside of paying up at the cash register. With their ridiculous buying power, Costco dishes out some great deals and eats for food lovers and aficionados. Don’t let Costco’s big box presence scare you off from the great values inside, it’s totally worth the trouble…