I hate shopping. I hate the mental gymnastics of figuring out how much I have in checking (this would be less problematic, I realize, if I were more responsible with money, but here we are). I hate trying on clothes in the harsh lighting of the tiny fitting room, which is perhaps why I’ve been wearing essentially the same three outfits for literally years (my wardrobe can be recombined in endless permutations, and by endless, I mean maybe like five). I really hate grocery shopping, because I resent that I should have to spend money on something so boring and basic, and also because I despise cooking, so it’s like salt in the wound. Shopping is the worst.
There’s an exception, though: I look forward to planning an expedition almost as much as I do the trip itself. My heart races at the thought of poring over maps and dog-earing pages in guidebooks. And the menu planning—oh, the menu planning! I am starry-eyed over the notion of buying in bulk; I can’t wait to get those peanut butter-filled pretzels home to weigh and repackage them.
It’s my commitment to calorie density that led me to this startling revelation: I love Costco. I don’t want to love it; I am filled with existential dread at the thought that I’m just like everyone else, pushing my giant shopping cart (or, for a really big trip, a pallet—eek!) up and down the aisles of this monument to excess.
And yet, when I show my Costco card to the attendant at the door, I’m part of a secret club. I don’t care about the samples. Who do I think I am, you’re probably asking, some kind of food critic? Do I think I’m too good for frozen taquitos? No way. Look, I’ll prove it. Here’s my standard pre-trip Costco list:
- (1) 3-lb bag coffee, not the spendiest kind but not Folgers, either, thank you very much
- (1) 3-lb block sharp cheddar cheese
- (2) 16-oz jars Skippy peanut butter
- (2) 24-oz packages dry salami (or cheapest cured meat available)
- (1) gigantic 52-oz jar peanut butter-filled pretzels
- (1) Mars variety pack, which includes 30 Snickers, Peanut M&Ms, Milky Way, and, if you’re lucky, Twix
- Largest possible package of almonds or, if shopping on someone else’s dime, pre-shelled pistachios
It’s adjusted depending on the season, of course—in winter, the list also includes at least four sticks of butter and a package of Smucker’s Uncrustables because they are unbelievably calorically dense and also don’t judge me. See? I’m not pretentious, I just can’t eat taquitos unless I’m trying really hard to have my own tent. (Farts. It’s because of farts.)
It feels awfully suburban to love Costco, but I can take comfort in this one small detail: rarely in my dirtbag career have I actually been able to afford my own membership.
…does anyone have a Costco card I can borrow?