This 1 Costco Perk Could Help You Avoid Food Waste

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  • Costco offers a number of member benefits.
  • Shopping there could save you money on food not just due to bulk discounts, but due to throwing out food less frequently.
  • Trying before you buy is a great Costco perk.

It's a fun one, too.

As a parent of three young kids, stocking my fridge and pantry on a budget can be a struggle. That's where Costco tends to come to my rescue.

I've been a Costco member since before having kids, but in recent years, I've really managed to make the most of my membership. Thanks to Costco, I'm able to buy a lot of dairy products and produce in bulk. In recent months especially, that's resulted in a lower credit card tab on the grocery front. And one specific Costco perk has definitely helped my family waste less money by eliminating the extent to which we buy food we don't end up eating.

When you get to try before you buy

Talk to anyone who visits Costco on a regular basis, and you'll probably hear that getting to enjoy free samples is one of the best parts of shopping there. But those free samples aren't just a nice treat -- they can also be a money-saver. Or at least that's the experience I've had.

See, my kids are what you might call picky eaters. My son won't eat bread or anything related to it, which means pancakes, waffles, and the like are off the table. One of my daughters, meanwhile, is extremely picky with dairy products and cheese. And my other daughter -- well, let's just say most nights she eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner in the absence of being willing to try anything else I cook.

Because my kids are so picky, I've often run into the situation of taking a chance on a new food item only to end up throwing it away when they decide they hate it. But shopping at Costco makes that less likely. That's because my local Costco tends to be very generous with the quantity of products it lets customers sample. And so what I'll do is make sure my kids get a taste of any given product, whether it's a snack or a side dish, before committing to a bulk supply of it. That way, if I get their approval, there's a good chance I won't end up tossing that item away.

Now to be fair, this isn't a perfect system. Kids can change their minds overnight when it comes to food products in particular. Case in point: I recently stocked up on specific granola bars because my daughter declared they were the best ones she'd ever tasted. The following week, she declared them disgusting. So it goes.

But for the most part, sampling food before buying it saves me money by limiting waste. And there are few stores that make that as easy as Costco does.

What can a Costco membership do for you?

Getting to try free samples is really only one of many benefits of joining Costco. If you have a family to feed, it pays to see if getting a membership makes financial sense. To be clear, it won't always -- but it's worth seeing if a membership is worth it, especially if your kids are picky like mine.

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