Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Costco Cruising

No matter how large the megastore, one-stop grocery shopping is not possible for any self-respecting cook. My list includes eight Southern California shops. Yes, I said eight. The list includes Vons, Ralphs, Costco, Trader Joes, Produce World, Whole Foods, Bristol Farms, and the Wine Exchange. I’ve also added a farmer’s market on Thursdays. Vons earns most of our weekly business. I take out a loan whenever I shop at Whole Foods or Bristol Farms.

Costco is a monthly experience. If you don’t have a Costco in your zip code, think Sam’s Club, both of which are the size of zip codes.

I usually plan my Costco trips close to noon. That way I can do lunch. Not at their fast food concession, but sampling their samples.

For the uninformed or people who don’t get out much, Costco is like shopping at a warehouse. The aisles are wide, the carts are large, and the packages are daunting. Once I needed salt, but the only offering was something in a burlap bag weighing in at twenty-five pounds. I e-mailed Costco the next day explaining that I wasn’t planning on feeding the Third Army. No doubt this will shock you, but Costco did not reduce their salt packaging after receiving my e-mail.

I’m wondering how long it will be before you just drive your F-150 down the aisles and pile on provisions the way I used to stack alfalfa bales on the hay wagon back in Indiana. I find hay a bit over the top on the roughage daily requirement chart, so we limit our hay consumption to alfalfa sprouts.

Pound per pound, Costco offers the best value beef in the country day in and day out. All beef is minimally USDA Choice.

If you use the Costco’s of the world for most of your perishables, and you have a large family, you will need four refrigerators or a separate refrigerated public storage facility. Fortunately, as empty nesters, our freezer can handle at least a month of stored proteins.

If you use Costco for non-perishables, you will need space the size a car would occupy in your garage. But if your halfway house junk is already occupying that space (if it’s there, it is half way out of the house), then you need to kick one of your kids out of the house and stock the non-perishables in their bedroom.

It will be okay—builds character, and reduces your monthly household expenses. Tough call though—Costco versus children. I would at least wait until they’ve reached eighteen. I’m a softie when it comes to children.

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