- I got a Costco membership at the end of 2021 but quickly realized the warehouse wasn’t for me.
- I joined Costco to save money but the bulk-buy structure enabled my worst shopping habits.
- Eventually, the cost and amount of items I was bringing home overwhelmed me.
The first time I tagged along on a friend’s Costco run, I was so enchanted that I signed up for a membership right after checkout.
Not long after, I realized that the bulk retailer wasn’t for my two-person household. It’s not that I hated Costco’s quality or options — I actually really like the products and have few complaints.
Instead, I realized that the membership program and structure enabled some of my worst shopping habits.
I became a very impulsive shopper at Costco
At first, being able to buy in bulk helped me plan ahead and stock up on supplies and personal-care items, like toilet paper.
But if I ever wanted to try a new product, satisfying that curiosity involved a commitment. Exploring new products, which Costco sells in large quantities or big sizes, had a more significant financial and spatial cost than purchases at regular grocery stores.
I’d often grab something because I thought it was good to have on hand only never to use it. I still haven’t used the big pack of canned Pomodoro tomatoes I bought in 2022, and a jar of capers from the warehouse I got is still about three-quarters full.
I still have large cans of tomatoes from early 2022.
It became really easy to waste food and money, too
If I can’t see an item when I open my fridge or pantry, I completely forget it’s there. This was bad news for buying in bulk at Costco.
Though this wasn’t as much of an issue with shelf-stable items, it was still frustrating to realize that I’d buy the same trail-mix bundles, trash bags, or Lysol wipes we already had at home.
Meanwhile, my refrigerated or frozen items, like salad greens or massive bags of chicken thighs, would often spoil or get freezer-burned before I could go through them.
Obviously, this wasn’t Costco’s fault, but I hadn’t wasted this much food or money before I had my membership.
Buying snacks in bulk also led me to become a pretty bad snacker
Large quantities of snacks, like trail-mix packets, were an asset to my fiancé, whose job involves intense physical labor. But I work from home and found large portions and boredom often made a perfect combination for mindless snacking.
The two of us could easily wipe out a bulk box of Simple Mills crackers within a week of purchasing it, and special sweets like Thin Mints pretzels didn’t stand a chance. Because we’d go through snacks so quickly, I found myself doubling up on items at the warehouse to save myself an extra trip.
My worst offense was having to replace a massive bag of Halloween candy that I picked up in September because we whittled the whole thing down before the holiday even came around.
Buying in bulk wasn’t great for my lifestyle but Costco had a lot of tempting items.
Business Insider/Hayley Peterson
My house also became overridden with large items
I live in an older home with a shallow pantry so storing large food items is already challenging. To combat the lack of space, I had to put my Costco buys wherever they would fit.
I ended up storing food among my kitchen supplies and equipment, which took up valuable counter and cabinet space. When I ran out of room there, I stored boxes of snacks and tea on top of my refrigerator, even though they routinely fell onto the floor.
Costco didn’t save me much time, either
Although Costco is a great place to stock up on basic staples from cleaning supplies to salt, I couldn’t always find everything I needed at my local warehouse. After shopping there, I’d still have to supplement with trips to other supermarkets, specialty stores, and farmers markets to grab herbs or spices.
I’ve since let my Costco membership lapse and found that my pantry and kitchen have become better organized and less overrun with stuff. I still find bulk buys I’ve never opened.
My new shopping habits better fit our lifestyle and, although I enjoyed shopping at Costco, I don’t think I’ll ever get a membership again.