One of my family’s secret pleasures is a trip to Costco. We all run around the store putting as much stuff in our cart as we can. We start with a regular shopping cart. When that one is too heavy to move, we hide it in one of the aisles (to come back for later) and get a second shopping cart. Then, we graduate to a industrial-sized pallet dolly. It reminds me of the old TV game show Supermarket Sweep from the mid-60’s (except they don’t give you the stuff you collect as a prize).

Everything at Costco looks like a great deal, so we tend to get a bit carried away. My purchase of several super-sized packages of Kraft American Cheese required a return trip for a corresponding investment in super-sized packages of Ex-Lax. We never seem to eat as much of Frank’s Original Red Hot Cayenne Pepper Sauce as I anticipate. So if you visit me just after a Costco run, you should plan on eating a lot of buffalo chicken wings. And you have no idea how long it takes for us to consume a 41 lb. pail of pinto beans, but at $49.99 for 371 servings, it looked like too good a deal to pass up. Fortunately, pinto beans go very well with Raspberry Chipotle Sauce and I’ve still got 6 15.75 oz. bottles left.

Of course, not everything we buy at Costco is something we knew we really needed. I am still working my way through a 5 pound bag of chocolate-covered pomegranates from last summer. And I’m still looking forward to watching my PBS DVD series on the life of Thomas Jefferson.  My Kirkland navy blue blazer hasn’t gotten a lot of wear. And I am still waiting for a monster hurricane to knock out the power for a few days so I can begin dipping into my 275 packets of Vegetarian Emergency Food Supply. But that came in a weather-proof bucket and has a 20 year shelf life, so I’m in no rush.

But the real secret reason we love to go to Costco is (of course) to eat. We graze Costco like a Barcelona tapas bar or a Bar Mitzvah cocktail hour looking for the best free samples. We send our daughter out as a scout to gather intelligence and identify high priority targets. Timing is very important as we do not want to waste time waiting at an empty sample station while a new round is being prepared or to arrive too late and miss completely.  So it is important to keep multiple stations in sight so that we can move quickly. But we must be cautious because there are generally others lurking (particularly short hunched gray-haired people in house slippers) that will insist that they were there first and fight us for priority. If for some reason we fail to eat a complete dinner of samples, we don’t despair. There is always the pizza on the way out.

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