I have an unhealthy obsession with Costco. Why unhealthy? Well, for one, I am single, and certainly don’t have a Duggar-sized family to feed with industrial ten-pound blocks of cheese. Also, I go to Costco easily once or twice a week. And before the store opened in Mishawaka, I used to drive out to one in the Chicago `burbs.
I can’t really explain why I like going so often. I do throw a fair number of parties and work dinners at my house. I have flirted with doomsday prepping as a hobby. But I think the biggest part is—Costco’s stuff is really good. And something about walking the expansive factory floor, getting lost in the pallets, just feels… strangely relaxing to me. Anyways, I’m the exception—a lot of my friends get stressed by the sheer size of Costco. So if you are a first timer at Mishawaka’s premier wholesale store, I have compiled my Expert Guide to a Costco Shopping Run to guide you on your journey.
Expert Guide to a Costco Shopping Run:
- Park as close to the front door as you can—you may be hauling out a heavy cart.
- Grab your cart at the entrance and have that membership card ready to flash.
- Unless you are in the market for a billion inch big screen, skip over the electronics section. But don’t forget to take a quick look at the center “bullpen” area, where they have their seasonal offerings. My last trip, I scored a four pack of really comfy wool socks when they decided to stock their winter gear. Winter is coming…
- After electronics and the bullpen, you hit household electronics and cooking tools. This is also skippable, and I advise it if, like me, you have a hard time resisting purchasing gadgets that are on sale. That said I use my rice cooker and immersion blender all the time. No really…
- You’ll hit car stuff next (skip). But DON’T skip the wine section, which comes after that.
Costco has a fantastic selection from day-to-day reds and whites to some nice bottles that will make your dinner party guests stop and take notice. I stock up on a good variety of reds every few weeks, and their selection is always evolving. If you are feeling spendy, they also run good deals on “middle-shelf” scotches and whiskeys.
- After the booze, you’ll find yourself in the produce section. It is heresy to buy apples at Costco when we have such fantastic specimens at the Farmer’s Market now. But, what can I say, I am a heretic who loves apples. This past week, I grabbed a case of their honey crisps, which were particularly delicious. In the cold room, you’ll find great salad greens, beets, carrots and the like. I grab whatever vegetable I can find creative uses for the rest of the week.
- I usually skip the bakery and make a hard left into the meat and cheese section. Costco’s butchers are phenomenal. I regularly buy flank steaks and lamb legs there. (Freeze what you don’t use. Heck, if you head back to the kitchen electronics aisle, they will sell you a new freezer…) There is always a good deal on chicken. And periodically a great deal on lobster tails. For a really fancy dinner a few months ago I even splurged and got a beef tenderloin, in Costco’s “extreme” meat category. It was amazing. And like I said, I don’t have a Duggar-size family. But I do have a Duggar-sized appetite for cheese. So I will often spring for a block of whatever looks interesting in their nearby cheese section.
- After the meat counter, keep heading straight and you are in household goods. This is where you can unleash your inner doomsday prepper. I always buy a case (or four) of Lacroix fizzy water. (And honestly, I drink them all in a week, precipitating another trip to Costco.) You can also buy enough toilet paper, tin foil and saran wrap to get you through the apocalypse. Or at the very least February in the Bend.
- I usually skip the frozen foods, though it is a great place to stock up on fish. In the remaining grocery area, you can buy high quality olive oil in bulk for a great price as well as walnuts, almonds and pistachios. Their salsa is fantastic, especially if you are throwing a party. And I wouldn’t miss the chocolate covered almonds (milk not dark chocolate…)
- Finally you can pick up enough toiletries to run a small hotel or enough vitamins to run a small health-oriented spa. I also tend to skip by this section, though once a year or so I will stock up on bathroom necessities.
- Checkout is the trickiest part. Ask for a box for all those wine bottles, otherwise they’ll be rattling around in your trunk! Costco only accepts cash, debit card and American Express for payment, so make sure you remember your bank pin number. The cashiers are fantastically kind. Hold onto your receipt to show the lady at the door. She’ll also be very kind, unless you are smuggling out one of those billion inch TVs… in which case you’ll be glad you parked so close…