I approach trips to Costco much like I would an inevitable walk through a shady back alley: make sure you bring a friend/witness, create a strategy, and run through as fast as possible without making eye contact with anyone. If there is a hell on earth, mine would be a Costco full of absent minded mothers with their brood of children and retirees with free sample tunnel vision (they will be the first to be snacked on come the zombie apocalypse).
Let me just say that Mr. Costco is not to blame here…in fact, the employees are always super friendly despite the raging chaos around them. But there has to be some kind of fumes they pump through the vents to cause the shoppers to forget all manners, such as just allowing your cart to float perpendicular mid-isle while you are searching for the freshest vat of three-bean salad. (P.S. – Target pumps similar fumes that temporarily stun your brain into thinking you need shit you don’t. Last week, I went for cotton balls and came home with a yoga mat, decorative measuring cups, new towels, three pairs of flannel pants, and The Prisoner of Azkaban on Blu-ray. And no cotton balls.)
To save you from making some rookie mistakes at Costco, here are a few lessons of how to shop healthy and efficiently at Costco.
BEFORE YOU ENTER: Park far away, check for your member card, and hold it on your person at all times
This first piece of advice is torture on me because I’m one of those people you love to hate that will drive around for 30 minutes to find a close spot. But it only takes one experience of trying to navigate your way to a thoroughfare against road rage inflicted Costco shoppers to learn that, much like the scary alley, having a solid escape route is critical. Part two is super important because, not only do you not want to be the asshole who holds up the line while you search for your member card, you REALLY don’t want to go stand in the customer service line because you forgot your member card. The only advice more important then this is “wear a condom” and “if it’s yellow, let it mellow.”
NAVIGATING TRAFFIC: Make a list and designate rolls
Once you shop a few times, you realize that most of the stuff you really don’t need – so unless you’re a widow in her mid-seventies searching for a husband in the tire section, this is NOT a store to browse. You may also think that splitting up will make things more efficient. This is false. This means that you may miss your one window to make an uninterrupted fast break from frozen foods to paper products while waiting on your teammate. Think of it like Supermarket sweep – one person mans the cart at an designated area while the other runs to grab the items.
ORGANIC OR NOT ORGANIC: That is the question
We go organic on most everything, so that really narrows your options for produce. The following are our key staples for every trip:
- FROZEN PRODUCE: Pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, cherries
- FRESH PRODUCE: Spinach, carrots, lemons (sometimes they will carry other organic fruits and the ‘cart man’ will do a walk around to check)
- PACKAGED: Dried dates, mango salsa (for real BEST salsa eva – we go through one a week), pico de gallo, Don Lee veggie burgers (da bomb & gluten-free), black olives, V8, drinks (usually Perrier or Vitamin Water), Gardin crumbles
- HOUSEHOLD: Baggies, paper towels, toilet paper, dishwasher Cascade, ‘lady’ products
- ON OCCASION: Wine, Spirits, Dave’s Killer bread, trail mix
CHECKING OUT: Treat it like you’re at an airport
We talk a lot about inclusion at EPL because we believe that everyone should be loved and seen equally – but sometimes stereotypes just save time. Your best bet for speedy checkout? Make sure the checkout person is young and focused (the more apathetic and disengaged, the better). Avoid getting in lines with people with children, anyone fumbling around with stuff in their hands, two or more retired-aged women, anyone in a motarized vessel, or anyone that is squirraling around and not committing to the line. The ideal line is single white men between 30 – 60, asians couples, or indian men – they usually know how to handle a crowd without B.S.
Avoid gawking at the long lines of people ordering questionable deli food
Eww. Oh, and what the hell is a Chicken Bake?
Good luck friends! Please share your stories of taming the beast that is Costco. If you happen to be ‘between churches’ I recommend shopping during church hours…just prepare to be judged (it’s a good thing you are avoiding eye contact right! Taking advice already.)
Check out this great post on Super Healthy Foods to buy at Costco for more info