Last week I promised I would take the kids to Costco, in an attempt to fill the fridge and pantry with enough food to stave off 3rd world hunger in our house, at least for a short time, and keep the men-children temporarily sated. So off we went on Sunday, to the land of the giants as my daughter described it. I actually thought “Bunnings/Ikea for food” was pretty accurate once we arrived.
The first thing I noticed - everything about Costco is super-sized. The trolleys (so you can fit all the stuff you don’t need in it), the shelves (they really do go up to the roof), the size of the aisles (to allow for the big trolleys), the produce on the shelves (you either buy massive sizes of everything or multiples), even some of the customers.
Our first task was to work out the layout and get ourselves oriented – no easy task at Costco. Hats off to Bunnings with their numbered and labelled aisles and knowledgeable staff – you can always find your way to what you want. Unlike Ikea – similarly well planned (by the Swedish masterminds), although in such a way that you just meander forward (or occasionally in circles), passing every item on the way so that you will invariably buy countless useless things for home. A very different strategy, but equally effective.
Costco however, wasn’t quite so obvious. It was a big open space, with the most amazing variety of stuff – I am told they even sell diamond rings! – and no obvious layout when we first arrived. Apart from electronics we noticed the mounds of clothing in the middle (expensive over-runs), and eventually found our way to the general food area. So we headed to one “end” and worked our way down the first set of aisles, the boys picking up lots of stuff they thought they wanted, then putting half back when they realised they probably wouldn’t consume that much American mustard in a year.
Naturally half way through, they got hungry, so they had a pit stop at the “food court” (surprisingly small compared to everything else at Costco), and rejoined me and Sister of a Man-Child at the Deli and Bakery end where we shopped the fresh food.
So what did we buy you ask, and would I recommend a trip to Costco? Well, we were pretty clever, and really only bought stuff we know we already use a lot of – pastas, cheese slices, cereals, sports drinks, deodorant (with 3 men in the house, a 6 pack was a no-brainer), muesli bars, muffins and croissants (supersized of course). And then mega bulk packs of washing powder (you don’t want to know how many loads a week we do). The fresh deli, cheese and meat section had some very nice produce too – even Father of a Man-Child was happy with his Boscastle pies!
I kept reminding the boys it was only useful if we would eventually eat it, or use it, or could store it somewhere in the house. Apparently my $385 bill was NOTHING compared to some of my friends, but hey we were Costco virgins after all. I do plan on going back on a regular basis – the boys have been delighting in the overly full fridge all week. And it would definitely be handy if you were entertaining a lot of teenagers. Either way, it has saved me some money in the battle to feed hungry hordes (as does Aldi versus the other two supermarket giants). BTW, if you are expecting super-cheap, it’s not. You do need to know your prices, and then you will save money.
Next time I plan on going alone – just me and my supersized trolley. I will take time to explore every aisle, and really see what’s there, and find the hidden gems and real bargains (oh and the diamonds).
It’s a shame it’s in Docklands, but I hear they are opening one in Ringwood which would suit me better. Anyone who wants to come for a trial run, please let me know. I am happy to take you on a guided tour.