Grocery Geek Reporting: Making Costco My Pantry

One night last week I headed out with two children and a fistful of coupons. Surely, an outing to the grocery store would provide alone time with my four year old while the baby slept in her carseat and I could get an important errand accomplished simultaneously. Hmmm…yeah…

Well, the baby fussed the entire outing so I carried her, pushed the cart, and kept an eye on FishBoy4. I only lost him once.

OK, he wasn’t really lost, but he did take a wrong turn and make my heart race for a few seconds.

And, he proceeded to pitch a fit over my refusal to buy him Batman fruit snacks for his “birt-day”.

Which is in May.

Two hours later after not scoring all the deals that I had hoped for, we headed home to unload groceries and make dinner! I think we ate around 8:00. I was exhausted and frustrated because it felt like I was “spinning my wheels,” not really doing right by my family.

It prompted FishPapa and I to have a great conversation about it all. We did some problem solving and thinking through how to achieve the “good life” for our family. This does not include late dinners and frazzled mothers.

In the midst of our talk, I remembered how Amy bought the bulk of her stuff at Aldi. Well, I don’t have Aldi, but I do have Costco as my go-to store for good deals on the basics. We talked about this one-stop shopping idea. Since our family loves an outing to Costco we decided to make this club store “our pantry.”

Our plan is to go once or twice a month, take the whole family, eat dinner there, and gather the basics that will get us through the month. Our hope is that I will have a more peaceful time of shopping with the Head Man on board and I won’t be making 50 trips to a grocery store every month.

Oh, I’m not dumping my coupons. Oh no. But, I’ll be able to make quick little jaunts on my Saturday Mornings Off and just run in for really good deals. And the pressure to get the deal will be relieved a little. I know that I might get better prices hunting down the sales, but that is a stress that still costs me something.

I know from experience that I need to be savvy at Costco. Not all that glitters is gold. And not all that appears to be a deal, is. But, I keep track of prices, and Costco does have the best prices on milk, butter, cheese, bread, some produce, and some meats. I’m still going to embellish by getting great deals on produce at Sprouts and by stocking up on loss leaders at my local grocers’. (Albertsons is still my favorite.)

Our hope is that what we “pay” in possibly slightly higher prices, we will gain in peace, family organization, and more of “the good life.”

Wednesday night we put our experiment into practice. First some nourishment. We devoured three hot dogs, a large pizza, and unlimited drinks. Then FishPapa strolled the store with six kids in tow, and they feasted on samples and examined all the- really-cool-stuff-that-we-don’t-need. In their wanderings, they only threw one superfluous item into the cart: boysenberry jam for the Head Man. Small price to pay for shopping solo.

In the end, here’s what $228 got me:
— 2 large jugs of olive oil to last a lifetime, I’m sure
— 1 large jug vegetable oil
— 4 pounds butter
— 1 large box corn dogs, great for no brainer lunches
— 6 mini baguettes
— 2 loaves bread
— 1 dozen bagels
— 1 dozen energy bars
— 1 jumbo loaf sourdough bread
— 2 large bottles lemon juice
— 1 round Brie
— 1 large container Feta crumbles
— 12 cans solid white tuna
— large bag potstickers
— large bag frozen berries
— 4 pounds frozen french fries
— 6 heads romaine
— 3 pounds organic spring mix
— 6 cans frozen orange juice
— 5 pounds Italian sausage
— 2 pounds bacon
— 4 pounds cheddar cheese
— 2 pounds jack cheese
— 3 pounds cream cheese
— 2 large jars boysenberry jam
— 4 cans salt
— 1 large jar garlic powder
— 3 pounds cheese sticks

Come back Monday to see what I’m going to do with it. Thanks to internet inspiration, I’ve designed a Whole Month O’ Meals!

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  1. I told my husband about the conversation you had with your husband….and explained to him how the joy is gone for me, with the coupons and sale chasing. At least for right now, anyway. How it feels like more of a chore. He wasn’t too keen on the idea of changing things. Sam’s Club is an hour away, so he feels like it’s not really worth the gasoline to get there. I told him that for the per-pound price we get on meat, it is DEFINITELY worth it. ESPECIALLY if I do what you’re doing…and start getting more than just meat. We already go once a month (although he vetoed it this week). I’d love to REALLY stock up, but our fridge/frezer is miniscule. I mean, I’ve had bigger ones in apartments!! Oh well….I’m going to keep talking to him about it. Because I have really started dreading the whole coupon clipping, sale ad scouring thing.

  2. Tiffany, do they have Aldi in Jaw-juh? (Took me FOREVER to figure out where you lived!;)) I think Aldi would work for this.

    Another idea that I’ve batted around is just choosing one grocery store to go to per week (or whatever size period you choose). Choose the one with the biggest bang for the buck and then resist all other sales.

    Doing several weeks at a time still saves money and time in the long run. I had good success with doing that a few years ago at SuperWalmart.

    But, overall, it’s just good to keep talking to hubby and to problem solve what will work best for your family. And even if we don’t have the same joy in coupons that we have had in the past, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do it — IF that is what’s best for our families. I don’t always have joy in changing diapers, but I can’t decide not to do it. (Not telling you you gotta coupon, but just offering another way to look at it.)

  3. We do Costco every two weeks too, and fill in at Safeway/Trader Joes. I rotate what we buy per pay day. The staples for us include: milk (every time we go), cheese, butter, organic whole bean coffee, real maple syrup, (see the food snobs in us?? LOL), a big bag of tortilla chips, salsa, dishwasher soap, bananas, lemon juice, spices as needed (like Taco seasoning), hamburger buns (we use them for some sandwhiches too) organic peanut butter, and apricot jam when I run out of our homemade stuff, pork roasts occasionally, oh and dog food. I resent the dog everytime I have to buy him food. Ok I resent him almost daily since he has eaten his worth in shoes and toys, and he was by no means a cheap dog! That was a rabbit trail sorry. Anyhow I do love Costco! We too keep track and make sure we can't get it cheaper elsewhere. For instance, we used to get our chicken breast there, but we found out that my dad can get them straight from the factory cheaper so he picks it up for us now. And we too eat when we go, a swirl frozen yogurt is our treat! I love going w/ my hubs, even if he throws stuff into my cart. The sanity is worth it. Oh and if you really want to score deals, sign up to get the Coscto coupons in the mail! I scored a HUGE bag of Nestle morsels and M&M's last time we went. I plan on stocking up now for holiday baking.

  4. Crystal DuBois says:

    I LOVE COSTCO!! And I have this awesome cookbook called Fix, Freeze, Feast which has some great recipies to show you how to use all that from the bulk store! Its amazing!

  5. JessieLeigh says:

    I’ll be over for brie on baguettes.;)

  6. I am glad to hear that I am not the only one to take the whole crew into Sams! Oh do people look at us funny going through the store! LOL!

    I have Sam’s and Costco both near by along with Aldis. I like Sam’s over either of the other two.

    I just went yesterday and did my monthly Sam’s trip and got a whole lot of stuff for $237, so now I just have to do deal shopping(if I want to) the rest of the month. If I run out of something from Sam’s before the month is done, hubby can get it for me by running in as drives by coming home from work or it will wait til I go next month.

    I’ll be back to see what your month o’ meals are!! I am working at getting at least two weeks of menus done from my shopping yesterday. 🙂

  7. Love Costco. We have to drive almost 2 hrs each way but it is worth it once a month to feed a family of 9. One thing we always buy are the uncooked tortillas (in the fridge area). They cook up in 30 seconds in a hot pan and are a super quick lunch/dinner. Great way to make quesidillas and use up leftover meat. They are about $4 for a double package and keep great in the fridge. Also they are a dream if we are out of bread and too short on time to make our own.

  8. Michelle H. says:

    Deals are great, but your sanity is better! Sometimes it’s worth a little extra $$ to keep mama happy.

    I stopped chasing the deals when my son was born 2 years ago. I still clip coupons and bargain shop, but I limited myself to shopping at one store (Kroger) and watching for good deals there. I started hitting CVS about 6 months ago for the toothpaste, shampoo and diapers.

    We had a Costco card last year, but I always walked out spending more than I had planned, and after crunching the numbers realized I did just as well combining my coupons with sales at Kroger. But, if I had a big family I would definitely go back to Costco.

    Can’t wait to see the menu you have planned for all that food.

  9. This is the way we do it too. Bulk the items you mentioned were cheap, and when I get a window of freedom, take coupons to loss-lead sales. Hope this method works at bring the peace you need, Holly

  10. Lots of giveaways at this site.

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