The Costco Food Court Hack To Keep Your Groceries Fresh On The Way Home

When it comes to grocery shopping, great products and reasonable prices have a huge impact on customer loyalty. This winning formula may explain why so many consumers swear by Costco and its high-quality, sensibly priced bulk goods. As illustrated by CNBC, lovers of Costco are "addicted to the experience," as well as the amazing deals that buying in bulk can afford. Bulk purchases are naturally less expensive than buying items in smaller amounts and enhance convenience at home since you're less likely to run out of essentials.

Additionally, the act of becoming a member can influence shopping habits in other ways. Unlike other stores, where any old person can wander in unannounced, being a member of a retail warehouse evokes a feeling of exclusivity. And because membership costs money ($60 annually for the basic level and $120 for executive membership), members are invested in getting the most out of theirs (per RetailMeNot). Of course, the appeal of Costco is much more than psychological. The store also provides many benefits that you simply can't find anywhere else.

Not your typical grocery store experience

Kiplinger highlights a few of the many ways that Costco is not like other grocery stores. For example, the warehouse retailer is known for its magnanimous return policy, which only imposes time limits on high-value items like laptops and smartphones. Otherwise, you're usually free to return an item and request a refund or exchange. The store is also known for carrying a variety of private-label products from its Kirkland Signature brand, which helps keep costs low for shoppers.

Costco also strives to reduce prices in other ways. Per the Costco website, the chain does not provide shopping bags at the checkout to keep their operational expenses manageable and to reduce the level of waste generated by the store. The lack of bags is definitely a good thing when it comes to your household budget, as well as supporting environmental preservation. However, it can make purchasing perishable and frozen items a bit more complicated. Fortunately, Costco offers an effective solution to that conundrum.

Costco food court: Your home for free ice

Among a list of Costco shopping tips shared by Reader's Digest, one focuses on the issue of freshness when it comes to perishable items. The tip recommends taking a bag, heading to the food court, and filling the bag with ice from the soda fountain machines. You can then take your perishable food and frozen goods and place them into the bag for safekeeping until you reach home. Of course, this simple solution seems almost too good to be true. And some shoppers might experience trepidation at the thought of abusing the holy Costco soda fountain in such a manner.

So, is this frugal practice really allowed at Costco stores? Unfortunately, there is no mention of it on the Costco website, which could mean that each location develops its own policies. However, there is some anecdotal evidence on social media that the practice is common, if not accepted. One Reddit user shared a post featuring a man in the act of procuring free ice and claimed in the comments "I've seen people do this all the time and see multiple employees just watching." In another Reddit post, a user shares a similar picture of a man filling bags with ice and states that the bags were given to him by the store's meat department. If you do feel tempted to try this hack on your next shopping excursion, be sure to check with store management first.