Beyond the discounted luxury sheets, megapacks of toilet paper, gallon buckets of laundry detergent and deals on tires and paperbacks, Costco draws people in droves to devour its deals: a $1.50 hot dog or Polish sausage and soda; 18-inch pizzas for $9.95; a $1.55 frozen yogurt sundae topped with berries.

It‚s still not a free lunch, but to many shoppers it‚s a consistently good, cheap meal that sends them away satisfied- an essential in an era when eating on the run has grown more commonplace.

That consistency drives some to visit the store even when they have no shopping to do.

Longtime relationships with suppliers have enabled Costco to keep the hot dog-and-soda combo price steady for more than 20 years, even as wages and other costs increase, says Chief Executive Jim Sinegal.

Despite the low price, he says, Costco‚s food courts manage to turn a profit. The trick is keeping things simple. Costco menus are limited to around a dozen items at a time, most easy to cook.

While all that food may be easy on the wallet, many in the health community recommend eating in moderation at Costco and other stores with megaportions to take it easy on your health.