Yes, it's true. I lasted approximately one month without Costco before breaking down and joining Sam's Club. You have to understand I'm a dyed in the wool, Walmart-disliking liberal who's lived the majority of my life in extremely liberal areas (SF Bay Area, Boston, Chapel Hill, and now Ithaca) It's not cool to shop at Walmart or Sam's Club, when you can get the same stuff for similar prices at places where they pay much better wages, like Costco, Target, or Trader Joe's. Sadly, I'm in a new town and need to fill up my larder/supply the house/get all those things that they only seem to sell at warehouse stores. I resisted for a while, until it became clear that I was starting to eat like a grad student again and spending way too much to do so. It didn't help that my metabolism has sped up and I am hungry all the time.
Don't get me wrong. Wegman's is great and prices on some stuff (milk, ice cream, junk food, soda, beer, and blueberries) are better than I'd get in CA. The produce is reasonably priced, although sometimes it's pretty picked over by the time I get there. And the bulk candy bins are to die for. But Wegman's does cater to people who want pre-prepared foods, either of the cheap grad student variety (massive subs! microwave burritos! peirogies!) or the more upscale varieties (rotisserie chickens! $6 meat and two sides dinners! premarinated grill ready pieces of meat! Asian and Indian food bars!) This was fine when I didn't have a fridge, but it gets old quickly. For instance, I found a whole row of frozen chicken in various forms (nuggets in various shapes, pregrilled chicken breasts with different marinades, etc) but no plain uncooked frozen chicken breasts.* Cheese costs more than twice what it did at Costco/Trader Joe's. Clearly it was time to sell my soul and get my warehouse shopping fix at Sam's Club.
Oh, what a fix it was! It was well worth the $40 membership fee, 1 hour drive, and the world's ugliest picture. I should've done it a few weeks ago before I started trying to stock my house. I won't bore you with the details, but I am now amply supplied with cottage cheese, cat supplies, vanilla, chicken sausage, 100 calorie ice cream bars, frozen chicken breasts, and more.
I tried to learn from the no-shopping experiment and not buy the stuff that I use rarely, like pancake mix or marinara sauce. I'm not going to go there that often, but at least now I can go stock up when I need to.
It's not really about the frozen chicken breast, or even the big tubs of cottage cheese. It's about having some continuity with my old routine back in CA. I didn't even realize this when I first posted this. But then I remembered that when I first moved to Boston, I used to really like going to the mall because it reminded me of CA. I wasn't unhappy there, and was settling in very well, but going to the mall was kind of soothing. Now that I'm n old biddy, I haven't had any mall cravings yet, but the warehouse store fulfills the same role.
*I don't know if this is an Ithaca thing, I only found a few freezer-burned bags at the other grocery store too. So I did the obvious and bought a bulk pack of the fresh ones and froze them.