Shopping at Costco: adhere to mom’s plan or stay out of her way

This morning I announced that we can no longer put off a trip to Costco.

I’m out of everything I normally purchase there, but more importantly, I’m out of patience to keep running to smaller stores to pick up this and that every couple of days. It takes a certain mental focus to feed a sports family, even during the lull of summer vacation. They may not be in the depth of hockey season right now, but they’re in baseball, and lifeguard club, not as heavy but still, enough to constantly have to feed them something more sustainable than a sandwich they make themselves…

This morning, I had my list, my membership card, and both my debit and credit card ready. Typically I’m pretty good at estimating the cost of the contents in my shopping cart.

My partner said he’d stay home this time, to go ahead with the kids. At the last minute he decided to join us. This is good in the way that a) he can drive and battle the parking lot, and b) he will remember items he likes that he didn’t tell me to put on the list. Nothing worse than coming home from a long, bulky trip to the words “did you remember the almond butter?”.

I wish people would remember this stuff when I compose my list…

So we get there, the parking lot is relatively empty, and I’m hoping this trip will be painless and, dare I say it, enjoyable.

Turns out, this was not meant to be (for me).

Look, I shop there semi-regularly, like I do all the other places, and I have a system. The system allows for the perishable food to spend the least amount of time in the buggy, which means I purchase food items last. It also means I group stuff together in such a way that I can unload it painlessly at home and lug it off to its various locations. We now have a fridge and freezer in the garage, which is not attached to the house, so I keep a cooler handy for those items that do not go into the kitchen.

My system works well and I’ve ironed out all the hiccups months ago.

Anyway, the family and I enter the store and the three of them immediately push the cart over to the electronics. They want to try out tablets and phones and blah di blah…whatever.

Fine. I’ll head to the bathroom first. I figured they’ll still be there when I get back.

On the way to the bathroom I notice several items I know I want to put in the buggy, so on the return I start picking up boxes.

Carrying several boxes in my arms, I get to the end of the first aisle which is adjacent to the electronics department, and look for them.

No family.

No shopping cart.


I sense my irritation increasing, so I drop my load on the floor, fish my phone out of my bag and start dialing him. I don’t actually want to talk to him, I just want him to know that I’m looking for him so he can bring the cart.

I wait.

I wait some more.

It’s beginning to dawn on me that they will wander around the store in a completely non-systematic fashion, so I make a new plan: take the cart, and let them go where they want.

I will shop alone.

He finally arrives without the cart and the kids are missing.

He sees me standing there in a pile of boxes. I point to another stack of boxes we need, and he says “oh, I’ll get the kids, they have the cart”.


I think I may have been a little short and impatient with them once I started walking. I could feel a few people giving me a look. Like when I hissed at my 12yo who was sitting IN the cart like a toddler to GET OUT so I could put my five boxes in.

Or when she started screeching because he kicked her (or the other way around, what do I know what happened) and I pulled them apart physically and told them to separate for the remainder of the shopping trip.

Anyway we manage to go up and down the aisles with me focusing on my thing and keeping an eye on the stuff they’re dropping into the cart.

Every time someone does that, my mental calculations are messed up. Note: math is not may strong suit. Especially not in-your-head arithmetic.

But, I grin and bear it, see the partner off at the next aisle chatting up some guy who is probably a pilot from previous employments, and continue on with my shopping.

What seems like an eternity later, my 9yo and I arrive in the book and school supply section. Her brother is thankfully not with us, but he’s the one who needs a new backpack, so I start texting my partner again.

Then dialing him again.

Finally my daughter offers to call him and just then, they arrive from the other end. In his hand is a large jug of maple syrup.

“I’m not shopping for food yet”, I said, but put the jug in the cart.

“I saw it, so I grabbed it”, he responded.

Fine, whatever. Maple syrup is on my list, I’m just anal enough to want to do the food supplies after the non-food items…

(Yes I know, women like me are weird.)

So they arrive and I point to the backpack and lunch bags, and after some negotiating, my son is willing to try one on, select a few other items, and we move on toward the food department.

“What are all those pictures you sent me?”, my partner wants to know just as I notice the meat section on my left.

“Cutlery, and an office chair for your home office”, I replied, and he wants to detour pack to go look at the stuff.

I hate backtracking. I am not a fan of shopping to begin with, but going BACK to an aisle I already covered isn’t something I enjoy. This just keeps me in the store longer.

But he checks out the cutlery, we stick the box in the cart, then try out the office chair, leave it behind, and continue on to the meat section.

I manage to get the food shopping done without any other irritating incidents, and I swallow my inevitably snarky remarks when I get questions like “do we need eggs” and the cart has four dozen eggs right on top of all the other crap we picked up…

By the time we get to the checkout, I feel very stressed out. The cart is extra full, probably because I’ve avoided going to Costco for at least four months. To keep costs manageable, I have to pace those trips and keep a very close eye on the budget. We needed a lot of stuff, and I didn’t even pick up some items due to the budget constraints. The kids assured me they’ll pay for their school supplies with the money grandma gave them, and yes, the giant box of freezies would come out of their wallets too, but still, I anticipated a huge bill.

Which is why I left them to deal with the unloading and reloading at the checkout. I knew they would not pack the items in such a way that we’d have an easier time at home, but I also knew I would have an anxiety attack at the amount on the screen, so I left them to it.

They never noticed I was gone. I sat nearby in the food court, watched them leave, and not once did they even look for me.

How my family takes me for granted…they probably assumed I left the noisy environment, and went to the van in the parking lot.

Or they didn’t, what do I know they think.

Needless to say the unpacking at home went a little less smoothly than I preferred but that’s ok, there won’t be any more Costco trips until probably October, which I will handle during school hours, so I left them to it.

In the meantime, I’m sitting here blogging instead of unpacking the non-perishables, because Costco trips take longer than just the actual trip in the store. The unpacking and dividing and, in some cases, hiding (or the extra large bag of kettle chips will be gone before the sun sets tonight) need places to be stowed away in, and I’m just not in the mood. Which will back back to bite me when, in a couple of hours, people need dinner prior to practice and swim club, so I guess I’m off to it.

Costco in October will be a piece of cake. I’m almost looking forward to it.





7 thoughts on “Shopping at Costco: adhere to mom’s plan or stay out of her way

  1. The best Costco trip I ever made was with a colleague who needed a few things. I had my list and he pushed the cart. I was in and out in 30 minutes. Nothing extra was added to the cart and the cart was always within arms reach. If I take my kids, it take forever because they need all the samples, and my husband always wants to browse at things we don’t necessarily need.

    Too bad Costco doesn’t offer a driver service for the carts 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I totally laughed at just the title of this piece. YES.

    We are new to the world of Costco, so we have strict guidelines. No kids come with us; my husband and I have an agreed on list before we go and we stick to it. But the whole thing is still a huge stress-fest, to the point where I am now actively avoiding it until desperation kicks in. Ugh!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We joined more than a year but less than two years ago. I avoid it as much and as long as possible, but I do appreciate it when I’m sick of shopping 3x+ a week and it’s hockey school work etc chaos…I can get my stuff (like eggs, certain granola bars or snack crackers for school) and really load up and not have to worry for a while about that stuff.

      But…like I said, I will go alone with my list from now on. 🙂


  3. I have avoided Costco since the summer started. I can’t go with all of them.My significant other and I have an agreement that we don’t go to Costco together. It’s a marriage saver. I’ll take my girls with me but that requires more time because they are sample obsessed and want to look at everything. He’s always shocked and mad at the checkout. He always wanders away with the cart while I have to look for him with my arms full. He always needs stuff that’s not on the list or even my radar and then is still annoyed at the cost. But I do send him after work because it’s beside the go station. And I write out a list in order of appearance so he can start and the front and loop around ending at the cash avoiding all inner aisles. I even include an estimated price for each item and a total. I describe things IN DETAIL because otherwise I get numerous texts generally while I’m cooking dinner. I have also found it beneficial to go the day before recycling gets picked up so I can unpackage bulk purchases down to individual items.
    All of this to say: I feel your pain and shopping at Costco alone is one of the few things I’m looking forward to when school starts. Making lunches and snacks…missing my girls…not so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m still stressed. 🙂
      But today is recycling pickup so I did the same as you…also, the gigantic bag of chips is half gone. SIGH. (the kid, not me…)


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