Costco – Our Necessities

Shopping at Costco can be an overwhelming experience. There is just so much to see! And so many foods to sample! (Seriously…sample everything). Honestly, the only time that we were in and out of Costco in less than an hour was when we were ordering tires. Yep. You can order tires. (Seriously….they have everything!).

When shopping at Costco, keep in mind the following tips:

  1. Make a list. Do your best to stick to that list but be willing to purchase the yummy new food that you just sampled.
  2. Remember that not everything that you want will be there. Sometimes, they stop carrying items for a short time. Sometimes, they stop carrying items for a very long time.
  3. Understand that it will seem as though 90% of the suburbs are in Costco with you. Everyone is frustrated. Try to keep calm.
  4. Park your cart as far over to the side as you can. (See number 3).

We have several things that we always buy while there. Feel free to use this list as a starting point if you are new to the wonderful world of Costco. 🙂

Paper products: toilet paper, paper towels. You know that you will need these items so if you have the means to store them, stock up.

Beauty products: We buy deodorant, body wash, and razors! And there are frequently Oil of Olay products if you use any of those.

Baby products: I love the baby wipes! They are very soft and are so cheap! We never really purchased diapers because they never carried the brand that we liked for our girls. However, if you are in the diaper-buying stage, check what they are currently carrying.

Snack foods: We buy a lot of the lunchbox ready snacks like popcorn, veggie straws, string cheese, crackers, etc. They have it all.

Dairy: Cheese! We go through a lot of cheese in our house. And if you go through a lot of yogurt or Danimals, you can find those here too. Honestly, I am not a fan of the milk but give it a try because you might like it.

Grains: Buying cereal can be a great deal if you go through a lot of cereal. Not a great deal if you aren’t – the cereal will be stale before you get to the end of the box. Bread can be a good deal but you might need to freeze some.

Fruits and veggies: There can be great deals to be had, if you have the ability to freeze the fruits or veggies. The produce, in our experience, tends to go bad pretty quickly and there’s a lot of of it. So, buy it and throw it in the freezer. However, if you are planning a party, the large bags of salad are a great buy!

Freezer foods: This is so much better now that we have a chest freezer. Frozen pizzas? Throw them in the freezer. Frozen treats or desserts? Yep. In the freezer. If you do not have a chest freezer, I recommend being careful how much you buy. Remember, it will all have to fit somewhere.

Canned foods: You will almost always find cans of chicken stock and chickpeas and jars of peaches in our cart.

Bakery goods: The muffins are some of my favorites. I like them even more than muffins from the grocery stores that we buy from. They also have great croissants. Although we’ve never purchased a cake, you can get sheet cakes of almost any size if you need that.

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Throughout, you may seem us stocking up on seasonal items as well. It’s back-to-school so I purchased a new set of Sharpie markers. 🙂 You can also frequently pick up construction paper or pens. Right now, you can purchase Christmas decorations. (Yes, it’s a little early and there will probably be more selection in the coming weeks so you don’t need to rush in for this one.)

After all of that shopping, you’re hungry, right? Time to pick up a super cheap hot dog or a slice of pizza. You can also pick up a whole pizza  but that takes some time to prepare (so, start at the counter, place an order for your pizza, do your shopping, and pick up your pizza!).

So now I want to know, what are your Costco necessities?

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Some Not-So-Fancy Food

Some of my girls’ favorite foods are the very simplest foods possible. Peanut butter and jelly. Buttered noodles. Grilled cheese.

Some of their favorite foods to cook (in which they do most of, if not all of, the work) are also pretty simple.

They like to make cookies – the break-and-bake ones are amazing if you are trying to do this with kids. Yes, it is important to teach fractions and how to measure ingredients and all of that. But, seriously, these cookies are fine! And it means that you can have cookies whenever you want with very little effort (or mess to clean up!).

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Every summer, the girls put making banana pudding on the list of things to do. This summer, we learned that Lily doesn’t like banana pudding anymore…..So, although that might change in the future (she also decided that she doesn’t like string cheese, so who knows what she’s going to like or not like) making banana pudding probably won’t happen very often in the future. However, when we make pudding of any type, I like to make it in plastic cups. It’s easy to portion out that way and you don’t have a giant bowl taking up a lot of space in the fridge.

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The final food that the girls request to make every summer. Lemonade. And, not just any lemonade. The powdered stuff that takes all of two minutes to make. Well, it sure makes it easier to knock things off of the list.

Our summer list thus far:

Only at the hotel….

There are some things that I only do while staying at a hotel….

1. I watch tv in bed.

We don’t have a tv in our bedroom at home and haven’t had one in our bedroom for years. So watching tv in bed is really kind of a treat! Watching Food Network while wearing my jammies, well, that’s not anything new. But watching Food Network while wearing my jammies AND in bed?! Now, that’s something special.

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Also, aren’t those pajama pants the cutest?! Stitch! I got them from Wal-Mart but can’t seem to find them online (or else I would link to them…..).

2. I eat food in bed.

The very thought of eating in bed at home makes me cringe. Crumbs! Crumbs in the bed! Crumbs! And that leads to fears of…..Ants! Ugh! Ants in bed! Ahhh!

But when I’m staying at a hotel, my distaste for crumbs in a bed goes right out the window because one of my favorite things to do is eat cookies in a hotel bed. The easiest way to make a super cozy hotel bed even more cozy is by the addition of cookies.  And, in my opinion, the best kind of cookies to eat in a hotel bed are Chips Ahoy chewy chocolate chip cookies. (You have to get the chewy kind. They are superior.) I basically only buy them if we are staying in a hotel. Sure there might be crumbs in the bed….but I don’t have to wash the sheets!

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3. If there’s a gym on site, I will use it. And I will use it frequently.

It’s fun to be able to use equipment that I don’t regularly have access to. Since my regular routine consists of running outside or using the treadmill inside, it’s nice to be able to change that up. The last hotel that we stayed in had an elliptical, treadmill, and a bike. There was also a nice assortment of free weights. It’s nice to change it up but it’s also important to give your muscles a chance to work in a different way.

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Plus, there’s a pool! So, chances are really good, if I didn’t work out in the gym facility, I’m probably going to be taking the girls to the pool at some point. And if I did go to the gym AND hit the pool, well, that’s two workouts in one day! Yes!

 

What do you do while staying in a hotel that you only do while staying in a hotel?

 

 

Cookies for Dinner

I was recently sent a copy of Holly Nichole Zarcone’s book, Cookies for Dinner, to read and review. This is such a lovely book for storytime with young children. The story really resonated with me, as well. And, I’m certain, that it will resonate with many other moms, too!

The mom in this story is a mom who is feeling overwhelmed by all of the stuff that she has to get done in her life. What mom doesn’t know what that feels like? And when she takes a moment to take a step back, she remembers that sometimes it’s the little things in life that are the most important. The laundry can wait. The dishes will still be in the sink. But, sometimes the little things, like having cookies for dinner, are the things that mean the most to our kids. Those are the things that we need to hold in our hearts because those are the things that are kids will remember.

Not only is the story lovely, there is a recipe for chocolate chip cookies at the end of the book. And after reading the book, my girls and I made cookies…..and we did in fact have cookies for dinner!

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What have you done recently to celebrate the simple joys in life? Although we can’t do it every night…..I’m thinking we might need to add cookies for dinner into our meal rotation. 🙂

Winter Checklist Update #3

Traditionally, on past Christmas Eve’s, the girls and I have made cookies on Christmas Eve to leave out for Santa (and for us to eat since Santa doesn’t really need two dozen cookies). I usually just buy some cookie dough and we use the sprinkles that I already have on hand to decorate the cookies. This year, however, we changed it up a bit.

When I went to the Wilton Outlet Sale (seriously…check this sale out if you are able), I picked up a gingerbread house kit. I thought that this would be a fun project for the girls and I to conquer during our Christmas break. (The first time that I attempted a gingerbread house on my own, the walls were held up with cans of soup on the inside of the house……)

Was it the prettiest gingerbread house ever built? Um. Of course not. But, we had a lot of fun putting it together and adding our own touches (so many marshmallows!!!!). And, it was actually really easy to put together so a great project to do with kiddos.

It’s not our typical “making cookies” adventure. But, it was fun and then we got to eat it.

Bonus: the house stayed up until we tore it apart to eat it! That’s a victory right there. 🙂

The list thus far:

Eating our way through the checklist

Throughout the last couple weeks, we were able to mark a few more things off of our summer to-do list. We ate at one of big girl’s favorite restaurants: Labriola Cafe. Their mac-n-cheese is her all-time favorite mac-n-cheese. I like their burgers.

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We also made lemonade. Now, this wasn’t fancy homemade lemonade. I wasn’t really in the mood to juice a pile of lemons. But, thankfully, big girl didn’t have a problem with that because she likes to help make lemonade the easy way.

 

 

Yep. Good ol’ Country Time lemonade. Dump the mix, add the water, and stir. Easy and the girls love it.

We also took the easy way out with some cookie baking.

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Cookie dough – already made and already portioned into perfect cookie sizes. Yep. Is it cheating? Maybe. Do I care? Nope. When you’ve had one of those weeks…..and you want cookies…..but you don’t want to have do find ingredients and do dishes……these give you a perfectly yummy cookie. And, that’s one more thing that we can mark off of the summer to-do list.

 

 

The checklist thus far:

  • Make lemonade.
  • Eat at Big Bowl.
  • Go to Millennium Park.
  • Go to Adler Planetarium.
  • Get space ice cream.
  • Go to zoo.
  • Go to Shedd Aquarium.
  • Go bowling.
  • Make banana pudding.
  • Go to the splash pads downtown.
  • Play at Maggie Daley playground.
  • Go to Field Museum.
  • Go to Art Institute and do a JourneyMaker tour.
  • Go swimming.
  • Go to the Children’s Museum.
  • Play at playground.
  • Have a pajama day (with daddy.)
  • See a movie at the movie theater.
  • See a movie outside.
  • Go to the library.
  • Go to the Family Festival downtown Chicago.
  • Make cookies.
  • Read books at home.
  • Ride the train at the mall.
  • Go to the beach.
  • Have a picnic.
  • Go to American Girl Place.
  • Draw pictures and cut them out.
  • Play with legos.
  • Make muffins.
  • Make pasta salad.
  • Play with toys.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Try to go to a water park.
  • Go to the Disney store downtown Chicago.
  • Eat at Rainforest Cafe.
  • Eat at Labriola Cafe.
  • Bake an apple pie.
  • Play games on the iPad.
  • Play Mario game with daddy.
  • Go to the Morton Arboretum.
  • Go to Mimi and Pa’s house.
  • Go to Granny and Pa’s house.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Go to the Museum of Science and Industry.

Peeps Taste Test – Number 1

Spring is arriving and that means – Peeps! Peeps in every flavor!

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Every possible flavor!

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The girls were very excited to find Peeps that had been dipped in chocolate and Oreos that were Peeps flavored. Big girl was especially excited to see how many different flavors of Peeps there were this year. (That’s my kid alright!) So, we’ve decided to make this a year when we try to taste as many flavors as we can. I am not nearly as excited as the girls because I am a bigger fan of the regular ones, not necessarily the flavored ones. But, we shall see. I might just find one that I really like……and while we’re at it, the girls will eat a ton of sugar…..so that’ll be interesting too…..

We ate the chocolate covered ones and Peeps Oreos.

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I will say, not all of my girls were that interested. Buddy only wanted to check them out for a few seconds and then was officially done with Peeps.

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The verdict: Every loved the chocolate covered Peeps. This is actually one of my favorite non-plain Peeps. Mmmmm. Sugar with more sugar.

The Oreos?

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They are pink. Really really pink. Really, really, really pink. There were reports that the Peeps Oreos had some, um, colorful side effects. (Thankfully, that wasn’t an issue in our house.)

They are sweet. Really, really, really sweet. As pink as they are? That’s how sweet they are. And, they don’t necessarily have a Peeps or marshmallow flavor, more like a generically sweet flavor. But, they are good. And we quickly finished off that package.

First Peeps Flavor Testing Experiment: Good stuff. 🙂

Stayed tuned for taste test #2…….