Sometimes you just need a meal out.
Maybe you’re running errands. Or you’re on vacation. Or you just plain need a break from cooking. One of the great things I learned in the Saving to Disney course is how to balance the need to have an occasional meal out and preparing most of your meals at home. The course takes you through budgeting for groceries and entertainment. Now with the cost of those trips planned into my budget, there is no need to feel guilty. But I am still looking for the best bang for my buck, the place where my dollar stretches the most. Which is why, in the past few months, my family’s favorite spot for a meal has become Costco.
Hear me out! I know what you’re thinking, because I once thought it too. “Isn’t that just like, hot dogs and a soda?” No, friend! Costco is so much more. The Costco food court might just be the best fast meal, at the best value, you didn’t know you were missing.
With that in mind, here are my top 5 reasons Costco is the best budget friendly family meal.
5. Anyone can eat there. While you do need a membership to shop wholesale, you do NOT, repeat do NOT, need a membership to eat at the food court. But most people don’t know that, so you won’t have to wait by a table hoping a family will leave and your smallest child will stop crying. Not that I know from experience or anything…
4. You can watch pizza being made. Dinner and show, folks! At most Costcos you can see into the kitchen area. At many, there is a glass pane between the kitchen area and the seating. So there are four tables where you are looking into the food prep area, watching the pizza being made. My three year old could watch Costco employees make pizza for hours. Sometimes they’ll smile or wink. This may seem small, but my parents out there know, keeping a child entertained is half the battle at meal time.
3. So many locations. Last year we did a road trip to Disney and, instead of stopping at fast food places, we stopped at Costcos. They are clean, quick and they have gas stations! Also, the bathrooms are always in good condition. I’ve been in many a Costco and I’ve never had a complaint about their bathrooms. We noticed that Costcos tend to be in the same location as a lot of fast food joints: off major highway exits, so they are just as accessible as your favorite burger place.
2. The food is good. The menu is surprisingly varied. Our family has special dietary needs, and Costco is very upfront about their calorie counts, as well as ingredients. Those of you who are low/no carb, the Chicken Caesar salad outclasses any other fast food salad. The full menu includes pizza (plain, pepperoni, everything), brats, hot dogs, the aforementioned salads, and sandwiches. They’ve got smoothies, soft drinks, and churros as well. I know ya’ll love some churros.
1. The prices are better. A soft drink is 69 cents. A (giant) slice of pizza is $1.99. That delicious salad I mentioned above? $4! Our family of four has a meal for $25. That’s a pretty hard price tag to beat. You could get an entire pizza for $10. If you’re looking for a budget conscious family friendly meal, look no further.
Have you been to the Costco food court? Willing to give it a try? Love it already? Tell me about it in the comments!
Kristen B. is wife to the best Prince around, mama to the spunkiest little princesses, and lover of all things Disney. She started her savings journey three years ago and is now dedicated to making her family’s wishes come true one coupon at a time. She is so excited to take her love of saving to the next level and share her journey with you! Click here to catch up on Kristen’s Savings and join in on your own savings adventure!