Wrote a recipe book. Here it is, in its entirety:
Chapter 2: Lunch/Dinner
Season meat & vegetables with salt/pepper/garlic. Put meat & vegetables in oven. Heat up until cooked. Eat them.
Thanks for reading.
We make food in bulk — like 12 pounds of chicken at a time — so we buy food in bulk. I was a Costco member for years. It’s 40 miles from my house, but when I joined it was on my way to & from my job, so it was convenient. I loved it. Eventually I got a different job, & Costco was just sitting there, 40 miles away, in a direction I have no reason to drive in. Still, I loved it, so we dealt with it.
This got to be irritating when we had our daughter. Costco trips became a 2-hour chunk of the day, part of which more often than not saw my girl strapped into a car seat screaming her head off while I banged my forehead on the steering wheel white-knuckled, flooring it at +90mph, preparing an excuse for the cops if they pulled me over for speeding, which would begin & end with a thumb pointed at the shrieking kid in the back.
This fall, Sam’s Club opened about 3 miles from my house. Seven minutes with traffic. I got a free year of membership through my office. So we switched.
I wish I could love it, but I am disappoint. I could go on & on about why.
So I will.
Per-unit prices: I am a scrounging cheap bastard, mainly because I work in journalism & therefore have no money & no future. So I’ve noticed that for most things Costco seems to be consistently a few cents cheaper than Sam’s per unit — per pound, gallon, whatever. It adds up after a while. A big reason why I shop in bulk is for the savings.
Everything’s slightly smaller: The bulk stuff at Sam’s Club somehow isn’t as bulky as the stuff at Costco. You get 4 pomegranates per box at Sam’s. Costco has 6. Sam’s Club sells bacon in 3-pound packages. Costco has 4-pound packages. Sam’s has blueberries in 1-pound packages. Costco blueberries are in 2-pound packages. You may be wondering who in the hell can eat 6 pomegranates, 4 pounds of bacon, & 2 pounds of blueberries. We can. We do. All the time.
Chicken: I live on chicken thighs. They’re one of the cheapest meats commonly available & taste awesome. Costco sells them in 12-pound packages for 99 cents a pound. Sam’s has 6.5-pound packages for $1.29/pound. This is basically stealing money from my daughter’s college fund.
Avocados: I live on avocados. I eat about 1 per day. Nik eats at least half of one. Costco avocados consistently are fucking massive, ripen evenly, & keep for a really long time in the fridge once they’re ready. You get 6 to a bag. Sam’s Club avocados tend to be slightly smaller (like I said, everything’s smaller). They always seem to have bruises & brown spots, mushier, & in some cases are moldy. You get only 5 to a bag. It’s like that old joke: “The food here is terrible — and such small portions.”
Salad: Anybody who’s even glanced at this website before knows I eat massive quantities of salad. Costco has packages of fancy-schmancy lettuce for 99 cents a pound. Sam’s Club has iceberg or romaine, which is all ribs. And it’s more expensive. They have fancy-schmancy lettuce, but it’s “organic,” so they charge up the ass for it to give it a premium flavor. So I’m down to iceberg lettuce.
Sweeties: Otherwise known as pomelos. Big round fruit thingys that look like green grapefruits. Because that’s basically what they are. They’re pretty awesome. Costco carries them every winter. So far my local Sam’s does not.
Bacon: I go through a lot of bacon. Costco bacon, Kirkland Farms brand, comes 4 pounds to a package, & it’s one of the few bacon brands not made with sugar. Sam’s carries bacon 3 pounds to a package, & it has sugar in it. It’s not a deal-breaker — I’m obviously still going to eat bacon — but I don’t want to eat extra sugar if I don’t have to.
Beef jerky: I sometimes used beef jerky as a way to get my protein macro numbers up without affecting my carb & fat macros too much. Costco has Pacific Gold beef jerky, which came in massive packages & wasn’t made with too much crap in it. It was nice quality beef jerky. Sam’s carries the far more common Jack’s Links beef jerky, which has several kinds of sugar & other nasties in it, & is basically just meat-flavored candy. They also carry something called the Yard-O-Beef (see below). In keeping with the Sam’s tradition of being pretty damn big but not as big as you’d think, the Yard-O-Beef is not actually 3 feet long.
Eggs: I eat a lot of eggs. A lot of eggs. We buy the 90-egg extra-diddly-dong-doodly-normous carton of eggs & go through it in a little under 2 weeks. The other day, I was at Sam’s (doesn’t matter what day, I’m always at Sam’s). A dad & his teenage son were standing by the eggs. They were trying to decide which carton to buy, doing math aloud. Dad goes: “Hmm, I don’t know, this one is two 18-egg cartons,” like he didn’t think they’d ever eat that many eggs. I rolled by them & took one of those 90-egg things. The dad goes: “I guess if you’re a restaurant…” That’s right. Two short people & a baby eat eggs at restaurant quantities. Anyway. The price fluctuates at both Sam’s & Costco, but Sam’s is always ever so slightly higher than at Costco — by just a few cents per dozen. Still, again, I’m a fucking tightwad so that matters to me.
Dog stuff: Costco had a small selection of stuffed-rope dog toys that were really strong & last a long time. It also sells ginormous dog beds, which comes in handy because Stanley tends to chew his bed open to pull out the stuffing around twice a year. The only dog toy Sam’s sells is a tennis ball gun. My dogs are the worst fetchers I’ve ever seen. A tennis ball gun would be useless. They’d try to chew it.
Kids’ toys: Costco has a pretty decent selection of stuff for kids year-round. The Sam’s selection is just OK, & seems to have thinned out dramatically after Christmas. They do carry Marshmallow Fluff in 5-pound tubs, though. I guess that’s like a toy. I would’ve loved it as a kid.
Free samples: There was free food at Costco all the time when I went. Pretty good stuff, too. And it was always just sitting out there in bite-size pieces in little paper cups ready for you, so you could swipe one & move along while making minimal eye-contact with the workers. Nothing against these lovely people. I don’t want to talk to them though. I don’t want to get into a conversation when I’m stuffing a slab of free cheesecake into my face & making a beeline for the mini tacos. I get it that some people don’t mind talking. You see them at Costco, standing at the little food carts like bar-flies, scarfing meatball after meatball & going on about the weather or their grandchildren or whatever as a pretense to hang around. Me, I snag a sample & F.O. At my local Sam’s Club, there aren’t as many samples. Some days all they have are orange slices. As if I need to try an orange to find out what it tastes like. Get out of here with that crap. I went on a Sunday & there were literally zero free samples out anywhere. I was hungry, motherfuckers, I worked out that morning. When the sample folks are out, the stuff isn’t always prepared — they make it for you. On demand. Maybe that makes it fresher, but it also means you actually have to speak to these people. They’ll say, “Care to try some ravioli?” Trying to reach me as a human being. Stop that! And if you say yes, you have to stand there waiting for them to finish cooking it & make you a plate. Begging for table scraps. So I don’t. Goddammit. Just leave the stuff out.
Getting pestered: Both Costco & Sam’s Club occasionally pester regular cheapskate members like me to upgrayedd upgrade to the fancy-schmancy membership. Costco seemed to limit this to weekends mostly. So I stopped going on weekends. Fuck em. Sam’s seems to do this every time I go. And they really want me to open a special credit card, very badly. Especially this one guy who I think is the manager. The guy followed me the other day, past the door, over to the cameras, waving a pamphlet & saying, “It’s for the baby! Think of the baby!” So I tend to keep my head down, collar up, & go through the self-checkout. That way I can come & go undetected, like a ninja.
General quality: Costco wasn’t perfect, but close enough. Every so often I’d get a bag of pears where every pear was inexplicably slashed open. I’d get annoyed, then drive back 40 miles to return it, got new pears without a fuss, drive 40 miles back home. Otherwise, I’ve been quite happy. At Sam’s, it’s like every other time we buy fruits & vegetables they’re bruised or on the verge of spoiling. I had to throw away an entire 2-pound bag of broccoli because it stank like vinegar. I’ve already talked shit about their substandard avos. Apples & pears aren’t great. Peppers have occasionally been wrinkly. French beans have gone moist & slimy. This isn’t every time, but often enough so it’s annoying. I haven’t yet tried the Sam’s “200% guarantee” on fresh food, where they give you either double your money back or your money back plus a replacement (because I didn’t know about it until just now). Now that I’m aware of it, I will next time — because if they’d like to give me money every time I buy shitty produce that’s fine by me. And no, I have no shame bringing back a bag of apples for a refund. Remember: Journalist. No money.
Corporate policy: Because I’m a liberal fruitcake, it’s important to me that Costco workers get decent pay. Not necessarily true at Sam’s.
There are a few arguments to be made in favor of Sam’s Club over Costco, though:
- It’s much closer to my house.
Could’ve sworn there were more, but I guess that’s all.
I’m giving it a year. Right now I can’t deny the convenience of having a nearly unlimited supply of 90-egg cartons about 3 miles from my house. Maybe I’ll settle in after a while. Maybe I’m just remembering Costco better than it was.
I don’t know though. Costco was really nice.¶