Big Family Food: My Big Costco Experiment

Slowing but surely, I’m figuring out more time and money-saving grocery shopping methods. Check out my big Costco experiment! I’m learning so much!

In this post, I shared that I had tried ordering all of my non-perishable Costco products online and letting them ship it all to me for free. Sounds so smart, right??? Yes. What a great way to avoid having to fill so many carts at Costco, right??? Yes. And this way, all of my non-perishables would land on my porch (with free shipping) and all I’d have to do in-store is buy fresh and frozen food. Maybe I could even get away with just one heaping cart, right??? Yes.


One of you left a comment here to share that when ordering online, the prices are slightly higher than when purchasing in-store. I had no idea! And then I decided that I wanted to know how much more. Because if it wasn’t significant, I figured that my newly-discovered online-ordering method might be a huge time-saving help even if it did cost a couple of bucks more overall.

My Big Costco Experiment

The next time I was able to go back to Costco, I bought everything (and I do mean everything, as you will see in the pictures below) perishable and non-perishable. I filled an orange cart (you know the ones?) and I thought I was going to have a disaster in which everything on that orange cart would topple over onto the aisle as I turned. The stress – it was too much! WHO CARES if it costs more online, thought I. I can’t even fit everything I need onto this huge orange cart! I decided that I would go back to ordering online just to save the headache!

Hmmm. But then later, I pulled out my receipts for in-store purchases and compared several items to the online prices. Well, would you look at that??

Almost every online item costs around $1.50 more than the same item when purchased in the store. Some cost over $2.00 extra. This really adds up since I buy so many items!! I didn’t price check every single product from my past online order, but last time I shopped online I ordered 19 things. If I paid $1.50 more per item, that added up to $28.50 more compared to when I buy them in the store. Yikes, no thank you. I’d rather buy food with that $28.50!

So, now what?

Well, I think I figured out something that might work!

See, I can only make it to Costco about once each month if that. So when I go, I have a really long list of items that I need. If I’m by myself, there’s no way I can fit everything I need into one cart, or even onto one big orange cart. But here’s a plan that will be less stressful, I believe, than trying to Tetris everything onto an orange cart before it topples over.

I’m going to need to fill a cart, check out, unload into our van, then go back into Costco for round two. Ha! Sound like a ridiculous plan? Of course it’s ridiculous. But I think that’s where I’m at.

My New Costco Plan

  1. Walk into the store, take a deep breath, and shop for all non-perishables. Clothing, paper products, canned goods, boxed snacks and chips, baking products, applesauce, and whatever else doesn’t require refrigeration or extra care.
  2. Check-out, load the van, then go back in.
  3. Take a bathroom break.
  4. Eat a hotdog and drink a big cup of water.
  5. I’m not even kidding. This job makes a person need some major sustenance and $1.50 for the big dog/drink combo is pretty rockin’.
  6. Grab an empty cart again and fill it with all the fresh produce, frozen foods, refrigerated foods, and bread products that we need.
  7. Check out again, load the van again, open the box of Kombucha I just bought, and drink a bottle for refreshment and survival.

When packing our van, I usually fill a cooler bag full of meat and cheese, and a second cooler bag full of perishable produce.

This particular Costco trip, pictured above, filled the back of our Ford Transit! This was an exceptionally large shopping trip because we had a lot of events I needed to prepare for, as well as the need to fill our fridge/freezer/pantry at home for normal use. I got:

  • Cheeses and crackers to serve for refreshments after Justus’ senior vocal recital
  • Oat milk, Nature Valley snacks, olive oil, and a few other items for Kelsey (Justus’ fiance) and her roommates
  • Chips, bottles of water, and paper products for Malachi’s Homeschool Melodrama performance nights (each parent signed up to provide items for concessions)
  • Pork butt to make a pulled pork meal to feed the Melodrama group during a dress rehearsal
  • Apples, grapes, mixed greens, spinach, blueberries, and raspberries
  • Shredded cheese, kombucha, and Naked drinks to share with our college kids in apartments
  • Oats and bagged granola
  • Frozen pizza, chicken nuggets, and tilapia
  • Hamburger meat and chicken thighs
  • A few other odds and ends that I’ve forgotten and these:

These are for our 6yo and 2yo for Justus and Kelsey’s wedding this summer! What an amazing find at Costco!

(Also, if you go to your Costco and find any of the blue/flowered dress pictured on the right in a 2T, grab it for me will ya? We can’t find any more anywhere and would love to alter and outfit our other two baby girls in the same dress for the wedding. I think they are last year’s dresses and it was a fluke that I found the one I did. So maybe if you don’t find one at your Costco, do you have one in your daughter’s closet? Ha! But seriously.)

Am I the only one?

So, what do you think about my Costco experiment? Have you ever had to go in twice in order to successfully make all of your purchases without items falling out of your cart?


Stay tuned for more Big Family Food posts, where I share all about how I make food for our big family! And read here to catch up on other posts in this series you may have missed. :)

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