B and I have been Costco members for a long time. It started when I needed a window air conditioning unit for my apartment and the prices at Costco were just that much better than everywhere else. For a long time we would go to Costco every 3-6 months, wander the aisles while giggling at the 72 pack of pasta noodles, pick up two specific things we needed (booze and more booze and maybe something from the electronics section) and scoff at people whose carts resembled Supermarket Sweep.
It didn’t help that in Chicago proper there was only one Costco, in Lincoln Park, and it was always a zoo. Imagine your Costco/Sams Club/Grocery on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and then imagine that was always your Costco. It was painful. Small children darted in front of your cart. Checking out took 35 minutes. Finding a parking spot ate up at least half an hour. But then the people at Costco became wise and built a second Costco in the city (14th & Ashland) and it helped to spread the crowds out. Now as I push my cart (feeling like I’m a mother to quintuplets because those carts are so damn big you could just sit them all across the front bench area) I have some breathing room. Some space.
Over time I’ve slowly been sucked into Costco. I’m one part happy about it (I mean, their pots and pans are the bees knees) and two parts ashamed. I might as well move to the suburbs and get a cat and some suburban lawn decor and a minivan. And the other part of me is like, YEAH BUT DID YOU SEE THE DEAL ON K-CUPS THIS WEEK? So I present to you the things I love from Costco. In case you were thinking about upgrading the executive membership. Not that we did. (Ok fine, we did.) (We had to pay for it with our last remaining cool points & our urban living credit.)
Also I offer you my handy Warehouse Shopping cost formula: everything costs $10 unless you are stocking up on booze so you spend approximately $100 to $120 per 10 items in your cart. Don’t get that shocked face when you are checking out and your total is $340. You just bought enough produce to feed your entire office!
If you are like me you drool over the
monthly weekly Williams-Sonoma catalog and imagine spending $4,000 on cookware. Then reality sets in and you think better of it. But if you’ve ever wanted a full set of All-Clad pots and pans but thought that a few thousand dollars was over your spending limit, let me introduce you to these beautiful pans. America’s Test Kitchen rated them as highly as All-Clad, and as someone who owns one All-Clad pan, I agree. They are fantastic. They are workhorses. I cook in them nightly and they’ve held up through macaroni and cheese and 5 hour Julia Child cooking extravaganzas. If you are thinking about getting a set of stainless steel pots & pans, these are the ones for everyone.
Kirkland Men’s Undershirts (not available online)
Maybe your significant other needs new white undershirts, maybe you like to sleep in plain white t-shirts, maybe you need a bunch of white t-shirts for an art project. Either way these package are way better quality than Hanes or Jockey, you get more in the package and they are thicker and softer after a few washings.
I prefer to sleep on old-school foam pillows (anyone who has ever used my pillow or touched it is like WHAT IS THIS MAGIC) but if you are a memory foam kind of person (like B) I endorse the Costco pillow. It doesn’t cost $90 and it is nice quality. Bonus for the “stay cool” gel if you tend to get warm in your sleep. And by warm I mean B turns into a personal inferno.
Shelled Pistachios (not available online)
Do you know how much pistachios cost? Typically upwards of $10 for a small bag, with shells, at the regular grocery store. Growing up my Dad went to Turkey a lot (yay military) and used to bring pistachios home in 5 and 10 pound bags. He paid the equivalent of two US dollars for these pistachios. I like to have pistachios out for guests and I have a few holiday baking recipes that require copious amounts of pre-shelled pistachios. I could go bankrupt buying them (and lose my thumbs in a sodium-related accident if I shelled them for hours on end for baking) or I could just buy a huge jar at Costco for about $16, pre-shelled. I kiss the container when I get it home, it makes me that happy.
Razor blades (not available online)
I’ve outlined how angry purchasing razor blades makes me. It makes me very angry. I don’t understand how they cost so much. I don’t understand why they keep adding more blades onto razors while increasing the price. At some point they are going to find the breaking point of America and we will all wander around like hairy lumberjacks because we refuse to spend $12 on a 7-blade-razor-blade. Until then I grit my teeth and buy huge packages of razor blades at Costco. Yes, the package costs almost $50 and I gripe about it for no less than three days, but at least said package lasts a solid 4-6 months and I can stretch out my purchasing of the things. That and when you do the math, it is cheaper than buying them at Target or Walgreens. I still don’t like it but I accept what it is.
If you are planning on buying a new television, computer or other electronic and they carry what you want at Costco, then by all means buy it there. The reason is two fold: you will probably save money and their warranty is way better than anything you can get at a typical retail store. You could show up with a broken flat screen television 2 years later and as long as you didn’t break it by putting a remote control through the screen, they are going to give you a gift card with the amount you spent on said television on it. Then you can buy a new one and you will not cry in your pillow at night. They don’t always have the varied selection but what they lack in choices they make up for in prices and warranty.
Other fantastic Costco finds that family and friends swear about: the floral department (perfect to stock up for centerpieces for a party or bridal shower or what have you), their turkey lunch meat (like a fresh carved turkey, not that molded deli meat junk), their pharmacy and eyeglasses department and the booze section where you can often get a great deal on really nice bottles of wine. Also the Kirkland brand liquor is wonderful- it is typically a mid to high level brand of booze repackaged in a Kirkland bottle. We also buy our gasoline at Costco because it is fifty cents a gallon cheaper than most Chicago filling stations and they put air in your tires for free if you ask.
A note about their diapers: I have heard that some people love buying their diapers and wipes at Costco. I have heard that some people hate buying diapers or wipes at Costco. I am not sure how I feel about their diapers (the selection is a little…odd) but we have a case of their wipes on hand for when the baby comes and I’m going to give them the old college try. Basically everything I’ve learned about diapers comes down to some serious, serious personal preference. I plan on starting with newborn sized Pamper’s Swaddlers (not available at Costco) and then ordering this sampler pack of size one diapers and trying out all the brands and going from there. I’m hopeful that we like the Honest Co. diapers since I like their whole “order by mail/less chemical filled” stance, but I’m practical- I’m going to go with what works best.
Warehouse shopping: just do it. And don’t forget to get an executive membership so you can earn cash baaaack. But don’t hate yourself when you buy a 20 pound bag of potatoes 3 days before Thanksgiving because damn it, you like potatoes! (Accepting all potato recipes please.)
(This post is not a paid review. I just really like Costco.)