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January 21, 2009


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My girlfriend and I have been doing this for several months already at Sams club. It's something we do together every saturday, it's bonding time, and a free lunch.

Darn, I must be going to the wrong costcos. I never get that many free samples.

Unfortunately, although I'm sure the samples are quite tasty, rare is it that they are healthy for you which is why I don't partake of them.

There's nothing dishonest about it, but I usually don't find enough samples (of things I would like to try) to fill me up, so I have to eat lunch/dinner anyway. In addition, the areas around the samples often get very crowded, especially because of idiots who see free food and run off to get it while leaving their carts to block traffic.

And of course the gas expenditure of getting to your Costco. I'd also be concerned with being tempted by the store and buying something you wouldn't otherwise get. It's not a bad idea, but I don't think it's a good enough reason to ante up for a membership.

Are you really considering using this as a 'money- saving technique'? Really? Employing a scavanger strategy to gorge yourself on free samples once each month enough to maybe save $60/yr in groceries? Eating enough cheese whiz and cocktail weenies so you can skip lunch?

Yes, this is over the top. I can't believe you are all even debating the merits of this. I'm all for avoiding unecessary spending but consciously making this part of your budgeting and spending plan is miserly to the point of delusional behavior. Is this what life is about? Hyenas? Jackals anyone?

We go to Costco once per month, and yes, the samples are lunch for the kids (not by design). They LOVE the samples and by the time we are finished shopping, they are full and do not want lunch (we compensate with a healthy snack and healthy supper). Our monthly Costco excursion is a couple of hours, so the samples help to keep the kids occupied while we shop.

Our local Costco (in Canada)doesn't sell gas, but the annual savings in the optical department pays for our membership and so does the Amex Costco card which pays us $500 per year for shopping there.

I think JC is on the right track on this one...

I'm all for frugality, but this seems lame! What about the gas it costs to drive you to Costco? What about the time it takes you to search the store for samples that you may or may not even like? What about the fact that you may not have spent any money at all that day, if it wasn't for the fact that you went to Costco to try samples to begin with, and were enticed to purchase an item or two?

I don't think viewing this as a money-saving technique is very productive. I'd consider it more of a "bonus"; relatively cheaper prices on goods, and free samples to boot.

Go to costco for the hot dog or pizza deals. Very cheap meal out. Eating samples to skip meals is unbelievably inefficient, unless you have a Costco that gives out a heck of a lot more samples than mine and is very very close to where you live.

Given I'd pay good money to not have to stand in a store to eat lunch (hate shopping), and the time it takes me to drive to the store and back is worth something, this seems a bit crazy. I'd have to be on my last few dollars for this to sound like a good idea to do regularly.

If someone actually enjoys (or maybe I should say doesn't mind) doing this, go for it as often as you want. If someone there thinks you're going overboard, they'll eventually tell you.

I don't think it would work for me. I love costco but often have to work to hard not to overspend. I think if I went once a week I would certainly buy more than I needed.

I am such a costco sample girl! I love this post!

It would not work for me either. If I was down to my last nickel - yes. But if I can afford to feed myself and my family I feel its important to do so. Nice out of the costco-box thinking though..

I used to do this in college. I volunteered one a week for the local Red Cross. My first task was to swing by Sams to purchase supplies (toilet paper, etc). I would fill up on samples for less meal to buy.

This whole argument hinges on how much you value your "free" time. If you have much time and no money, go for it.

I love samples as much as the next hungry dude, but seriously... is this blogworthy? Most of can make more money rounding up pocket-change without leaving the house.

As an observation, how often do other posters here eat out or pick up to-go orders? For the cost of two or three restaurant meals - or four or five take-outs - you can eat for a week.

This is a fun activity and usually the foods are tasty so don't discount the entertainment factor (an indoor European market, n'est pas?. No, it's not usually organic or free of all things bad for you but it is recreational so I chalk it up to the same status as a hot dog and a soda at the ball park.

My costco is right near my job, next to the rest of the fast food I normally do for lunch. Yes I know I shouldn't be doing that either for lunch, but that's another story

They don't often have enough samples at lunchtime anymore to fill me up (they used to more often, if I went around twice), but it is an appetizer and I then only spend $1.60 on a big kosher dog/soda, rather than the usual ~$4 that I spend at their food court (or ~$6-8 elsewhere). Usually 1-2 times a week, so it pays for it on top of the other savings. Plus the food court itself is worth it versus other fast food places... mmmm chicken bake... Future medical bills may offset the savings, however as it is I'm going to eat like that anyways. You can get a decent salad, etc at the food court.

Since it's during work, I don't have time to buy any of the cold stuff which I might normally impulse buy there. If I do shopping it's only for what I need and would have gone in for another time anyways. If you don't *need* a lot or anything big, I usually skip the cart so I have to carry everything (try it if you are so able), and thus don't buy tons of extra stuff

You need to know how to shop at costco. Somtimes you buy something and then you have a lot of it. My wife bought perogies and the only one likeing them were her and she needed to eat all of them. That was a waste. As for gas the wife fills up her car whenever she needs gas becasue it is a five minute off the express way experience and saves us more than the yearly fee. A definite plus. You really need to know your prices on things because yes they may not be a deal but if you know what is then you really can make out.

I live too far away from a Costco, but Sams Club did it one weekend and we ate two fre meals there. I think it would sustain you and if you need more filling, eat a bowl of cereal too.

Somtimes you can find stores that offer samples and don't have membership fees. In college we had a Whole Foods between campus and the house. My roomates would stop there a couple of times a week and eat the samples. Sometimes they bought stuff. Sometimes they didn't.

I have to agree with JC. Saving and being frugal are good but I would definitely draw the line at having a "meal" of free samples. There comes a time when you have to decide which is more important - being a scrooge or having moral principles. The samples are there for you to try something new, NOT to pig out. I'm horrified that any normal person would even consider this

Hmm, that's a point I haven't considered about costco yet. But at our Costco they don't always seem to have a lot of samples. We haven't gotten a membership yet, and I think at this point we're going to stick with getting my mom to let us in when we need to buy in bulk ;)

I'm a vegetarian and most of the samples at our costco are meat, so it wouldn't work for me. I don't think it's a money saving tip, more of a "free" perk for being a costco member. I once saw advice on cheap dates suggest going to costco for free samples, I don't know how I'd feel about someone taking me out to costco!

Yeah, for me unfortunately it's just a snack. I agree with others about the junkiness of some of the samples. These "meals" aren't much better nutritionally than fast food.

I can't believe people do this at a store that sells quarter pound hot dogs AND a drink for $1.50

Samples are a bonus but to intentionally do this seems wrong

Maybe you folks should also bring a change of clothes, a pair of sunglasses and disguise
your voice just to make sure you can go back 2 or 3 times over.

This is ridiculous. Why not just crash a wedding reception every week-end?
At least you'll get better food and better entertainment.

I don't care if I can pay for my membership with samples or not, I personally very rarely partake in the samples. Even if I'm hungry, I'm just too germ phobic, all those people breathing and sneezing around the food, YUK!
What I do notice is that there an awful lot of seniors that are crowding around the sample servers. It gives me pause; either we have a lot of freeloading senior citizens, or these poor people have been reduced to eating bits and pieces from strangers. It seems to also fill a social need, as they all just stand around and chat instead of shop. There are times when I just want to shop and not dodge around the people having "happy hour". Maybe Costco can make a designated area for the samples, oh wait they already have it, it's called the snack bar!

In response to "freeloading senior citizens" Or "poor people reduced to eating bits and pieces from strangers", I'm wondering if you might have noticed carts full of groceries along with those suggested "freeloaders"? I'm a senior citizen, always stop to eat snacks that aren't pork because I like to try different things and because I feel that I've more than paid for any snack that I might be enjoying. I rarely spend less than a hundred each time I visit Cosco. I have had just the opposite experience, seeing younger persons, not having the decency to get the snack and move off where anyone else might get to them, but will bring hubby, kids, friends and etc. there conversing and eating the samples and clearly noticing there are others that might like to approach. I have patiently waited while moms wheeled babies around,walking with a group of friends or kids, never bothering to move over that anyone might get through to another area, nor indicating to their small children to allow anyone else to pass by. But I see this as just a leisurly shopping experience for the families and patiently wait.
My suggestion is if you Just want to shop and get it over with, and don't like to "dodge the social groups" to not shop on Sat. or go just before closing. That way you can spin right through.
I don't think I have seen enough snacks in my Cosco to fill anyone up. I'm quite sure that what the people do get, they have more than earned for what they spend there. And I would get too thirsty having snacks with nothing to drink. But it is appreciated to tide me over until I get to the snack bar.
One last thought: A senior citizen is only a youth of tomorrow..everyone who lives..gets to be one!

Be sure and also listen to radio stations that have remote broadcasts on weekends for free hot dogs or pizzas and soft drinks.
If you see a big family reunion at a park with a buffet on a picnic table, we are all family, right.
In the Fall of the year, many churches have Homecoming dinners, and they almost always invite visitors to stay and eat.
If these ideas seem over the top, I am a cheapskate who will rinse off the ice I had in my soft drink and put it back in the freezer for next time to save water and the planet and money.

You can eat out of a dumpster closer to home and get a healthier meal than you would eating free samples at Costco.

Free samples are usually going to be highly processed, high fat, low fiber foods. Penny wise, pound foolish.

OVER THE TOP??? That is the most ridiculous comment I have ever read in my life!!!

Free?? Did anyone think about the fuel burned and wear and tear on your car. This is a joke. It would only work if you lived across the street and did'nt mind eating unhealthy food.

John --

Or if you were already there doing something like, say, shopping...

This is absurd and stupid. I know times are hard but bonding time with a loved one and samples being considered a free meal? What you're receiving is not equivalent to a Buffet meal. The people that say they get full must have a super slow metabolism or very small stomachs where they can only process the single samples you receive. Or maybe they ate before they went.

I have two Warehouse Memberships, Sam’s and BJ's. I have each one for different reasons. But samples is no where in the mix. There is no way that I eat (annually) the $40 Sam's or $45 BJ's charges for Membership in samples. I usually have my two kids and my mother with me as well and even as a group, we don't get our money's worth.

The memberships pay for themselves with the savings (usually in just one or two trips) on items that you’d buy in a grocery, drug or department store. I feel bad for the people that can call these samples the equivalent of a decent meal. Hell a PB& J sandwich (pre-Salmonella outbreak) and a bag a chips is more appetizing than some of the food served at Warehouses because at least with the PB&J you know what you’re getting.

In fact the last time my son had a sample at Sam’s a month ago he immediately threw it up on the floor and he’s 9! That did not bode well for the lady at the end of the aisle pushing her samples. Give me a break.

There is a sort of homeless scavenger mentality to this that I find a bit unsettling. Are you people in such dire financial circumstances that this is really a windfall for you?


My wife and I go to Costco about 3 times a month with our 3 teenagers. Our son goes off by himself and indulges in the samples while our two daughters like to get some magazines and hang out in the furniture area and read. Our schedules are so hectic that my wife and I actually consider this quality time together. We walk the aisles and drink the free coffee. We know the food servers by name and have had many conversations, even debated politics, with several of them. This may sound quirky but everyone looks forward to our Saturday trip to Costco.

LOL! This has long been one of my secret wonderments that is so ridiculous i dare not suggest it. Sometimes, though, when you watch people on the weekends (that's when the sample hawkers are out in force), it sure LOOKS like people are cadging a meal by grazing the handouts.

That said, what several folks have said about the freebies is true in our parts, too: by and large the stuff is processed gunk that I don't care for. But sometimes they have some real food. The traveling cheese show hands out free samples, and sometimes you can get coffee or actual juice (as opposed to juice-water-sugar-preservative mixes). You just have to be a discriminating mooch.

Being a demostrator at Costco, let me give you a few tips. We are like sales people at the mall.............we have to make goals. Each day we work, we have to sell so many items. Certain days, we have to sell 50 or more items for the day. They keep track of it at the cash registers. Each item scanned, is one sell. When you have people continuously eating all the samples, that usually leaves an empty tray. And no samples for someone who might have bought our product if they had been able to get a taste. When we don't meet our goals, that means less hours or possibly losing our jobs. On the average, we only get about 18-24 hours a week if we do makes our goals.

So, the next time, you are eating away, think about the peoples' job at risk. And another thing, just think of what you look like when you are stuffing your faces silly. Not a pretty sight. Yes, people talk and yes, you do look like a bunch of hogs.

If you think it is seniors and poor people pigging out, think again. You have people with carts loaded up with electronics, clothes, dishes, etc. People will fight over food, they will literally take it out of another person's hand, they will cut in line. And some will take five samples at once. People will go around and around, taking 15 to 20 samples from each demo. They just keep coming back. And these same people come five times a week. Believe me, we notice and we keep track. The demostrators talk about you. Yes, we will have pleasant conversations with you, greet you when you come by, but behind your back, oh, not so nice.

You can't even get something out of the oven without someone having their hands in it. And yes, think about those germs. People eating over these samples, dropping their crumbs on your sample. Those people who just came out of the bathroom who didn't wash their hand and wiped off number 2.

You can't imagine all the germs on the food, all the things that go on over those samples. And us, the demo people can only laugh to ourselves at you hogs stuffing your face.

Betty --

You can get 15 to 20 samples? Wow, I never knew this! Thanks for the info!!!! ;-)

Ha, why are people overreating. Seriously, who hasn't thought of this before. Almost everyone I know has had fun getting full on Costco samples. I'm not endorsing doing this all the time, but have people really not had Costco samples before or don't do it once in a while. I actually haven't gotten free samples from Costco myself for probably 3 years, but I still see nothing wrong with it. It's very fun.

Wow! Funny, I typed overreating. How ironic.
I meant to type overreacting.

FMF --

I love your response to Betty!!!! ::Classic::

I like how Betty openly admits to and is proud of her gossiping and maliciousness.

and the fact that the samples are germ-ridden and touched by poopoo hands. Way to advocate for the case there, Betty.

You CAN do a pretty decent meal with samples at Costco. When I go to Costco, I'm definitely going to zoom the food samples even if I don't need anything from that side of the store. Sometimes, I skip the stuff (wierd mushy tata grunge mix, or boring ham loaf.) But othertimes - really tasty stuff. And rarely (I'm so embarrased) it's so good I might zoom the same stand again. But never a third time. That would be TOTALLY desperate.

A former adult student - who worked at a limited job - made Costco her regular lunch feedbag. Apparently, she just kept swooping the sample stands until she wasn't hungry. Too bad they don't have any Costco's in Appalachia. HAHA

Of course, you have to take into account the AUTO EXPENSE incurred to get to Costco when calculating your "free" food and discounts. You have to take auto expense - every expense, including your time - into every trip to the store you take, Costco or not.

By the way, if you are a multiple zoomer at Costco, the people DO know who you are - wyhat, are they stupid? Do the have a 30 second attention span? They see you once, and three minutes later they see you again, and then every three minutes until you fill your belly? Fortunately, Costco realizes the number of multiple zoomers is very small, and they probably look the other way rather than saying "HEY !! You fat PIG !! YOU'VE had enough samples today !!" and calling security to drag them out and revoke their membership.

This is America, after all.

Oh, and as far as the "germ covered food" - please. All the demo operators wear gloves, and the food is under sneeze guards. But they DO laugh at you when you are stuffing your HOG FACE. Even at me.


Costco is a nice place to shop while being FED.My wife and I enjoy shopping and muching on differnt foods that are provided during our shopping trips.They are not only friendly (it's okay to have more than one taste-if your not sure).But they WANT you to!!Also they always offer something differnt.I LOVE the bakery dept goodies!!! #1

If you were to only buy almonds and pecans you can easily pay for a Costco Membership, and check it out, they are even healthy.

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