A Family of 9 Living on Costco for a Year

Over a year ago, I began a little project for the blog which I labeled “Costco”. It consisted of saving our weekly receipts and tallying all our food purchases. The project began the first week of October, 2017. So after our last grocery shopping trip in September, 2018, I enlisted a helper and a couple of calculators. Thirty minutes later, we had the grand totals of what a family of 9 spends at Costco for groceries and non-food items in a year.

For some of you our expenditures will seem like an exuberant amount, and for some it will appear to be ridiculously low. The point of this little project was not to point out the frugality or over-spending of anyone, but to sincerely reveal to you and myself what we tracked in a year for either reference or curiosity.

Here are a couple of things that have jumped to my mind as I’ve pondered on our trends in purchasing at Costco and about what we could do to be more efficient:

1. Natural Foods

If I look for patterns in the food we eat, I’m sure that eating healthy is cheaper. Eating healthy can be harder, though, because it usually means more non-processed foods with shorter shelf life. This means that it only helps our budget if I plan ahead. We always plan our meals at least a week in advance. Knowing what we’ll be cooking ahead of time means we can take one weekly trip to the store (which also saves on gas). But most importantly, we can plan ahead for how to use up any leftover ingredients to ensure nothing goes to waste.

2. Food Storage

We have a small chest freezer, and we use it to stock up on cheap meats and sale items. We also take time to cook and freeze in bulk, or simply make extra whenever we prepare a meal and then freeze the leftovers.

3. Eating Out

Since we are a homeschooling family, all of our meals are done at home. Nathan always takes leftovers, which he actually prefers to a sandwich. We never eat at a restaurant, but we do pick up 2 Little Caesar’s pizza ($5 for a large) or doughnuts on the weekend for a special treat sometimes.

4. Feeding the Troops

During this past year, we did some traveling and packed all the meals to take with us. The receipts saved throughout this year reflect our trip out east to Boston last fall, a ski trip in January, camping in late spring, and our end of summer visit to Washington DC.

5. Stuff Costco doesn’t Carry

We shop at Costco once a week. On some occasions, we stop at a smaller grocery store for herbs, ice cream, and random items that Costco doesn’t carry plus we rarely need. This could be candles, cosmetics for me, or a specialty ingredient before hosting a meal. We probably spend about $50 a month at the local market or Trader Joe’s.

6. Hospitality

Our family makes meals for friends or has friends over often which we needed to consider as additional food from Costco. On average we extend hospitality (hosted a meal) once a week throughout the year.

So….drumroll….from October 2017 to September 2018, we spent $6,090 on groceries!

For non-food items, we spent $1,714 at Costco. This total refers to:

pajamas

underwear

paper goods

ziplock bags

athletic shoes

shorts

athletic sweatshirts

batteries

socks

dish soap

laundry detergent

diapers

baby wipes

hand soap

flannel shirts

razors

shaving cream

deodorants

toothpaste

toothbrushes

cold medicine

band-aids

jeans

vitamins

probiotics

protein drinks

indoor and outdoor plants and bulbs

Do you shop at a bulk warehouse?

If you have any questions, suggestions, or comments, I’d love to hear your opinion!

With love, Damaris

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