One of the best thing about taking a trip to Costco—besides the chance to shop in bulk—are the unlimited free samples. You heard me—unlimited.
Now, if you’re no Costco newbie, then you likely already knew that you could feel free to go back for seconds or even thirds of those adorable, yummy little samples, but even with that knowledge, there’s still a strategy for navigating the free sample situation at Costco.
Each shopper is different, but if you really want to make the most out of your taste-testing experience, I’ve got a few tips for you. Once you’ve got these steps down, your Costco trips will be even better. I know, I know, you didn’t think that was possible—but hear me out.
1. Go In With A Buddy
Much like you’d never swim alone—don’t go to Costco alone. Those samples are just too precious. If you’ve got a friend, or even better a couple of kids with you, you’ll be able to maximize on the snacks. I mean—no one’s going to say “no” to a cute kid going back for seconds, after all.
You and your buddy take turns being the designated snack-graber, and that way, no one has to feel bad about taking a few handfuls of free goodies. Yeah, I know about the unlimited policy—but especially if you have a hard time taking advantage of that without feeling awkward, this is really the way to go.
2. Have A Plan
When I go to any regular grocery store, I go in with a list. I search out specific items, grab them and I’m on my way. This may sound organized, but I’m not organized enough to have the items on the list in any particular order. For instance, it would be smart to write down the dairy items in a consecutive order so that I could grab them all in one fail swoop. But instead, I’m running around the store, grabbing lettuce and thinking “Oh, I should have gotten some yogurt while I was over by the milk.” Maybe one of these days I’ll get it down. I digress….
I said that to point out that when I go grocery shopping with my partner, it’s a very different experience. He likes to go down each and every aisle, one by one, just to make sure we haven’t missed anything. And when you shop at Costco—you really need to use his shopping approach. That way, you’ll hit every single sample station. Because you wouldn’t want to miss out, you know? Strategy is key.
3. Consider Timing
The day of the week and the time of day you choose to shop are crucial. Do you want to be fighting crowds while pushing your cart around? If not, you should definitely avoid going as soon as you get off of work or even during the weekends, if at all possible.
According to a Reddit post where Costco employees spilled the beans on what it’s really like to work at the store, Sundays are the worst in terms of crowds. But, it’s also important to note that the sample selection (which is all anyone really cars about) is also the best when it’s busiest.
“Saturdays and Sundays will always have the most [samples]. If you want unlimited amounts of samples and no lines go on a Monday or Tuesday, but there are less to choose from. On the weekends go right around 1 or 2 p.m. because all shifts are out at that time. If you don’t feel like you have eaten a full meal through sampling, you’re not doing it right.” Amen to that!
I love how I walk into Costco hungry..then walk out full from all the FREE samles….:)
— Mariah Davis-Scaife (@goRIAHgetbusy) November 9, 2012
4. Listen And Ask Questions
If you’re going to go back for multiple samples at one station, you might as well listen to the sales pitch. Even if you’re not at all interested in what the worker has to say, the longer you stand around talking about the product, the more socially acceptable it is to reach down and grab another. Fake it ’til you make it!
But, who knows—you might even learn something and be inclined to buy the food so you can eat it at home without any judgement!
5. Say “Thank You”
Always remember to be courteous. One Costco employee wrote on Reddit, “There’s nothing nicer you can do than say ‘thank you.’ You’d be surprised how many people just waddle over to us, shove things in their mouth, and stumble away. We thrive on the rare times people treat us like human beings and not human vending machines.”
Besides, people are less likely to mind you taking advantage of those free snack foods if you smile and are polite. So, muster up everything you’ve got and be nice. For free food—it’s totally worth it.