Monday, March 2, 2009

Saving on Food Expenses with Costco

The other day, I visited Costco for the first time ever. Seeing a number of food items that I will almost certainly need on the PCT, I figured I might be able to save quite a bit of money if I could have these sent to me on the trail in bulk. These items include:
  • olive oil (poured into 16 oz bottles or smaller)
  • Nature Valley "Sweet & Salty Nut" bars
  • whole grain poptarts
  • Nut Goodies
  • king-size Snickers
At the U.S. Postal Service website, you can calculate how much sending a package would cost. The podcasts I've listened to recommend using priority mail because of its greater reliability, and because unopened packages can be forwarded for free. Priority mail has something called flat-rate boxes, which are boxes of a certain size that cost the same no matter where in the U.S. they are sent from, or how much they weigh. This makes them ideal for sending high-density, high-calorie foodstuffs such as those I've listed above. 

Flat-rate boxes come in three sizes:

1. 8-5/8'' x 5-3/8'' x 1-5/8'' = $4.95
2. 13-5/8'' x 11-7/8'' x 3-3/8'' OR 11'' x 8.5'' x 5.5'' = $10.35
3. 12'' x 12'' x 6'' = $13.95

Oatmeal bars bought in bulk at Costco may cost half as much than the same bars purchased separately at a trailside supermarket. The total expense of sending a variety of the food listed at top in the 2nd box shown above should come to roughly $35, compared to $50 on the trail.  

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