My food spending spiked when I moved near Costco, and it took me a while to figure out why

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  • When we moved near a Costco, I was excited to save money on food — but it didn't end up working out that way.
  • My husband and I recently moved from an apartment to a house, so we're the only ones of our friends with a large outdoor space where we can spend time with friends six feet apart during the pandemic.
  • We've spent $164 more on food from restaurants than last month, and $206 more at grocery stores, partly because we provide food and drinks when we have a friend to the house.
  • I could beat myself up and set a rigorous budget, but I'm choosing to let myself enjoy the small pleasure of having friends to my home during the pandemic — even if it means increasing my food expenses.
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Last month, my husband and I switched from renting an apartment in East Nashville, Tennessee, to renting a house on the other side of town. The main motivation for moving was to have a big backyard for our two dogs, Tuna and Gumbo.

After moving in, we found more and more reasons to be happy we'd moved into this house and this neighborhood. One big check in the "win" column was that my husband was finally living near a Costco for the first time since he was a kid.

I was more than willing to become a "Costco family," just like his family has always been. (I come from a Kroger family, but we make the marriage work.)

Costco's claim to fame is selling food and goods in bulk. I expected to save a good chunk of money by buying a bunch of food at once, then meal prepping for each week. First, because buying food in bulk is usually cheaper than buying a bunch of small portions of food separately. Second, because having preprepared meals in the fridge would help us fight the temptation to order takeout when we didn't feel like cooking.

On our one-month anniversary of becoming a Costco family, I crunched the numbers. How much did we save by joining Costco compared to the month before?

The answer: We saved nothing. In fact, we spent more.

In the month after joining Costco, we spent around $206 more at grocery stores and $164 more on food from restaurants than the previous month.

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