Best bargain at Costco (or Sam's Club)?
- ipsedixit Oct 27, 2006 05:26 PM
Of the regularly stocked items, what do you consider to be the best bargain at Costco? Or Sam's Club?
I think for me, when I'm about to do alot of baking, it's the 18 ct. eggs.
Sometimes, there are good bargains in the wine bin as well.
You didn' specify "food only", so here goes for Costco:
Kirkland diapers and baby wipes
Food-wise, it has to be the big bag of roasted almonds. Compare that with the price of a small can at the grocery store.
besides the $1.50 hot dog and soda?
At least here in Phoenix two pounds of fresh mozzerella(alas cow's milk not buffalo though) for $5.99 is a pretty good deal.
Actually in general most of the cheeses are a great value but in our case iwth only two the pieces are cut much too large so we don't buy much. We do regularly buy the 1lb white cheddar block which is also a great deal(can't rememebr the price off the top of my head but a considerable savings over other places in town).
frozen chicken tenders. Those suckers are a nice and easy start of a meal paired with a foreman grill. 5lbs for like 10 bucks.
Rostissere chicken: have to eat 1st or 2nd day or it isn't as good.
Pinwheels: love those things.
Salmon: good stuff....also the LOX (or smoked salmon) is 10bucks a pound.
Salad in A Bag
Everything @ the food court
Agree on the Rotisserie Chicken being very tasty, but not sure if it is all that great of a bargain.
That being said, I really wish Costco would sell the chicken at the food court.
Sometimes all I want will be the chicken, and having to go through the whole check-in, check-out process for one lone chicken is generally too big a deterrent.
The chickens at Costco are much bigger than the chickens at any supermarket I've been to, including Ralph's. They are easily 3 1/2 to 4 (or more) lb. birds. The rotisserie chickens at most supermarkets are 2 - 2 1/2 lbs. Costco gives you a real deal -- and the chickens taste good, too. Julia Child, by the way, was a fan of these cooked chickens and also of Costco's beef roasts and steaks.
I don't understand all the raves about Costco roast chicken--it's just a Foster Farms bird, iirc, which is nothing special in my book. My Bristol Farms has nice, fresh plump organic Rocky and free range Rosie, which I think has much better flavor and aren't fed feed with growth hormones and pesticides--I'd take those any day, even though they are more expensive.
I have found two new tasty things at Costco recently:
1. Cuisine Solutions New Zealand Lamb Shanks slowly cooked in Rosemary and Mint Sauce. Package of 4, individually packged and very good, meat falls right off the bone.
2. Pasta Prima Spinach & Mozzarella Ravioli. Very homemade, fresh tasting triangular ravioli with grated herbed cheese to sprinkle on top.
The Bristol Farms Chickens are $14.99, aren't they? I've seen those, they usually sit underneath a heat lamp for a while. At costco, you see the chickens being cooked and they seem to have a really high turnover rate. They are brined pretty heavily and they are a big bird...sometimes they can get a bit dry, but for the price they're hard to beat.
And foster farms doesn't use hormones and pesticides IIRC.
Are costco chickens the absolute penultimate of rotissere chickens? No. But for $5 a pop, they're a fantastic deal.
Xericx, our Bristol Farms stores may be different. The Rocky roast chicken at my BF are roasted in the store's kitchen and they're visible cooking from the counter, too. They sell for $4.99/lb., the sizes vary slightly, so the cost of them are all different according to size. They are the best-tasting and best-textured roast chicken I've eaten of all the supermarket roast chicken in my area, and then they are organic. They look good and sell fast. In fact, if I wait too long in the day to buy one, they are all sold out.
Foster Farms birds taste too salty to me and there's a "chemical" flavor in the background that I don't like. They do say "no added hormones", though I guess it depends on how strictly they interpret the word "added".
So, if you like the taste, the $5 Costco birds certainly are a great value for you, but they're not a great value for me.
The bristol (westchester) I go to just has them under a heat lamp in aluminum wrapped up. I've never tried them. This BF is probably one of the worst I've been to, but its just down the street. I like the MB locatation better.
And the problem with the costco chicken as far as the taste goes is the brine they use to flavor the chicken before cooking it. It seems like its unaturally "plump" for who knows whatever reason, but I doubt Costco is the type of operation that lends itself to creative interpretation on addition of hormones.
For my uses, its a great value. I often eat them in wraps, make into chicken salad or sandwhiches, so the salinity is quite muted.
I don't blame you for passing on the BF foil-wrapped roast chickens--who'd want to buy that? The store needs a heads up!
Costco's (Foster Farms) birds are factory-injected with a solution of salt and sodium phosphate, plus binders that trap moisture in the meat. This "enhancement" explains why the birds look so plump to you and why I get so thirsty after eating them. Using the meat mixed with other foods, like you do, is a great idea to get around that issue.
I meant that it's Foster Farms interpretation of the "no added hormones", not Costco's. Afaik, Costco just roasts the birds. If there's no hormones, that's great, but it's a sad fact that mass-produced birds like these are raised in unhealthy "feedlot" conditions. Their chicken feed contains FDA-approved drugs which kill microbes and fatten the birds (some of which contain arsenic), antibiotics (even if they say they aren't using them routinely in the feed, they're using them), corn and soy that are grown with pesticides and most probably are genetically-modified, and other additives that consumers aren't told about.
On the bright side, organicly-raised birds don't have those concerns, which I love--and they taste better. Now, if we could just get Costco to start roasting Rockys at a good price, that would really be a good value, at least for me.
The other day, just for kicks, I looked up the prices on the same big fat chickens Costco sells roasted for $4.99, fresh off the rotisserie. The raw ones were in packages of two, each of which went for around $15.50. That's almost $8 for a raw bird that you can buy freshly roasted for $4.99. This is in Hawaii ... raw-chicken prices here may or may not resemble those at mainland U.S. Costcos. But still, for shoppers out here at least, the roasted birds are a HUGE bargain.
Vitamins - just vitamins and supplements alone justify the cost of yearly dues.
Food items - I always buy their brand canned salmon, Tonnino yellowfin tuna in olive oil and King Oscar sardines <= nice to have around for a quick lunch. They have best prices in town for Manchego, comte and picorino romano. they have best prices on australian leg of lamb -$4/lb (boneless). I generally find their meats a good value for the quality you get.
The rotisserie chickens, hands down. I bought one today. We have it for dinner, then use it in another dish or two, take some for lunches, and then I roast and boil the carcass for chicken stock. We get a lot of mileage out of that $5 chicken, and it makes our lives easier.
And cases of Pellegrino water. My DH says it makes him "feel rich" to have it in the house.
Laundry detergent, soap, plastic wrap - all winners
Halloween candy prices rock
Meats high quality, consistent prices
prepared foods-bargain if your hosting a crowd
vitamins and the pharmacy are cheapest around
Our site doesn't carry wine/liquor..so I travel a few towns over to stock up 2 times a year.
For all my b**chin about membership fees...I have to admit its a savings to shop at Costco.
Not many Costco carry this egg; Omega3 egg, 18 cts for about $3.00. Brand varied depending on the store. Fremont, CA Costco carry it in 3 or 4 dozen case for about $5
My wife won't shop anywhere else but Costco for paper goods (napkins, toilet paper, etc.) and detergent because they're such bargains compared to the local supermarkets. The meat is almost always great, from steak to roasts, but you have to be prepared to freeze or shrink wrap some of it because they sell in big quantities. Their roasts, steaks, pork, chicken all are great values and quality; aslthough if you shop carefully at local ethnic markets, you can often beat their prices. I am not a fan of their fish, such as salmon or halibut, because it sometimes doesn't seem as fresh or tasteful as I expect it to be coming from Costco. In terms of produce, you again have to buy quantity, but generally it's good, not as fresh as a farmers market, but quality is usually consistent (cherry tomatoes, for example). The rotisserie chicken is very good; so are their hot dogs and pizza at the front counter outside.
Although Costco and Sam's offer a wide variety of choices for both food and non-food that may be of interest to all of our readers, we ask that Chowhounds please keep any responses focused on the food.
With a household of two, and limited freezer and pantry space, I have to be selective on food items from Sams.
A must item is Silk Soy, which comes in a box of 12 1 liter cartons. On the other hand I get Rice Dream in 2 liter cartons from Traders.
Red bell peppers in packs of 6 are a good deal, if you can reasonably expect to use them in time.
Frozen Minute Maid orange juice - pack of 6.
Restaurant size carton of black peppercorns.
I used to get their salmon, but now I get that at 99 Ranch.
Braising meats are a good deal - pork country ribs, beef chuck.
I find that being single and living alone, I really can't buy much in the way of perishables from Costco anymore, too much goes to waste when I do so (same thing goes for freezer items, they take too much space.) There are some good deals in the meat department though. In particular, I frequently pick up the pork tenderloins there, which are reasonably priced, freeze well in the cryo-vac, and are minimally processed (I have had a hard time finding non overprocessed tenderloin in the stores here.) I also find the take-and-bake pizza (as opposed to the food court pizza, which is also good, but ridiculously loaded with calories) to be a good bargain, if a bit large to be practical for me (I bake only half of it and save the rest in the fridge for later.) If there's one item from Costco I can't live without though, it's the Tillamook cheese. Costco has the best price on the 5-pound blocks of Medium Cheddar by far around here.
Outside of the perishable items, I'll usually pick up one of the big boxes of Otter Pops and it'll last me the summer. They also have good prices on some of the local soda brands (Jones Soda and Thomas Kemper) although I'm trying to cut back on that. The big bags of tortilla chips are good too.
Costco is good for some things, but I find that for most things (like steaks and roasts) If I watch the grocery store ads I can generally pick them up cheaper from a supermarket.
San Diego Costco has a twin pack of organic extra virgin olive oil that is a great bargain. I bought it while shopping with a friend. Even after giving one of the bottles to her, I still saved over buying at other local stores. The oil makes delicious and fresh tasting mayonaisse.
I second the hummus. Sabra is good. It just returned to my Costco, thankfully.
Bruce Aidells mango sausage, another good deal, even if I can't remember the price.
And for those of you who have to provide treats to lots of little kids, the huge bags of organic baby carrots are a good deal as well.
To keep with the Moderators riles of food-engagement:
- Poland Springs Water - over the top cheaper than anywhere else
- Kirkland Coffee, $14 for 2.5 pounds
- Tropicana OJ, not over the top cheaper than at the grocers when on sale
- Turkey Bacon (let's not get into whether this is bacon at all, or any other comment on turkey bacon pleeze)
- cheese sticks
- Snacks for parties, chips, pretzels, etc.
- Gatorade and sports drinks
- Believe it or not their shrimp (U15's) for $11 per pound. Outstanding
- Barilla pasta ($0.50 per box)
- Yes, Strip steaks
Best advice is SELF-CONTROL
Costco sells some brand of fresh tortellini that is far better than most supermarket tortellini. I love the chickens too, and Nancy is right--they are much bigger than your standard chicken, and you get them immediately out of the rotisserie. We eat what we can and then I make stock with the rest.
Here's one no one has mentioned but I suspect is quite popular:
The four-pound jar of Jelly Bellys, regularly $13.99, is a ridiculous bargain with the $4 coupon, which appears often in the Costco mailers.
We're firmly in the $5 rotisserie chicken camp. If you like to make chicken salad these birds are perfect.
Another goody, esp. now that the holiday season is upon is, is the gigantic pies -- such as apple and pumpkin -- for absurdly low prices.
They have fresh edamame too........that's the best deal in town!
Real Maple syrup for the same price as 1/4 size containers at the supermarket.
Fresh Pesto sauce is also good.
Haas avocados are so pricey in the stores. Can you believe 6 for $5 is a deal?
Tillamook cheddar and nuts of all kinds.
My guilty pleasure is the precooked BBQ Babyback ribs for 1/2 the $$ of the store.
I love the large bags of Stacy's baked Pita Chips. I use them instead of croutons and crackers in salads and soups.
Boy, now that I look at it.......is there anything healthy in the things I choose from Costco??
Lastly, maybe it's because we are in N. CAL but it blows me away that they have $95-$300 wines in the bulk wooden bins intended for mass purchase......not in the "special selection wine case." I guess the fact that they sell $20,000 diamonds from a case shouldn't surprise me either. Along with a "caskets and Funeral urns" section on Costco.com but we're getting off the food topic here.
I totally agree with lots of these, but will chime in with a new one -- POMEGRANATE JUICE! It's so good for you, and so expensive. CostCo's got the best price I've found, but quite a bit. We buy it by the case...
As another poster pointed out, it's hard shopping at Costco for a household of two, but there are some items that are indespensable. I just discovered the pot stickers which are habit forming. In the same cold case they have two types of ravioli, chicken & cheese and prosciutto & cheese - both are excellent. We love the big bags of Perdue chicken Short Cuts. There's no end of different ways to use them.
Niman Ranch Sweet Italian Sausage... Perfect for any pasta and any pasta sauce... Great stuff, about $14 for a package of around 12....
The carnitas in the refrigerated section is amazingly good. IIRC it's about 2 lbs so not a huge amount. Comes in a couple big chunks that you can shred. Very tender, little fat and just the right authentic flavor. Husband and I couldn't believe it was as good as the Mexican market take-out kind. Wish I could remember the price but thought it's a great bargain if you're having a taco night.
Attention cheese lovers!
Last night I stopped at Costco to pick up some photos, and of course did a quick sweep through the store. In the cheese section I saw a sheep's milk cheese called Petit Basque ($10.99/lb) and thought I'd give it a try. It comes in little 1.5 lb. waxed wheels.
This stuff is delicious and the price is amazing! I just did a quick Google search. The exact same wheels generally go for $35-40. One place had them for $27.99. In other words, Costco's price is outstanding.
Cooking Oil, Costco's Canola Oil, very good price. Hard to find similar price outside.
Rice, Japanese Rice, beats Ranch 99 or other Asian groceries.
Their price on cereal sometimes cheaper than Safeway or other supermarket.
Smucker's Natural style peanut butter, the flash-frozen vacuum packed ahi tuna steaks, the mini-carrots (I eat a LOT of carrots!), the $20 dog beds (whoops, sorry non-food item), the polar seltzer in cans, the Tillamook cheese, and the frozen salmon burgers (low-fat, low-calorie, five-minute cookng time meal for a quick dinner for two).
We just got a Costco memebership this weekend, my thoughts/bargains:
Jumbo King Crab Legs for $9.99 a pound. I was skeptical, they looked great, and tasted even better. I was paying close to $16.99 per pound
The meat department was large, and had some interesting items, but I still prefer my local butcher, and his prime cuts of beef to what I saw @ Costco. I purchased some babyback ribs, and threw them on the smoker yesterday, and they turned out great, however it is more my rub, and cooking method over the meat used. I prefer my local butcher for his ribs/pork as well.
A good deal in frozen Mahi filets , around $4.60 per pound for the bag.,
Avocados, I was able to get a bag of 5 of the freshest avocados I have ever seen for around $5.00 per bag. They made an excellent guacomole. Other produce looked good, and would come in handy for my annual BBQ later this summer.
Canned goods and other items are a little bit cheaper than Super-Wal-Mart, but sometimes not worth it because of the packaging size.
Enfamil baby formula was cheaper here, a larger package for $29.
I think I like Costco, too bad it is almost 50 miles away. It will probably be a once a month stop for my wife, baby, and I.
Costco, Morelia, Mexico:
Contadina canned pizza sauce in a # 10 can, under $3 USD here.
A 6 bottle case of Concha y Toro "Selecta" wine (Cab-Merlot blend) for about $26 USD.
Another vote for the percorino-romano. Not only is it a great price, the quality and taste are excellent! Also in the cheese aisle - the fresh goat cheese. Less than $5 a pound!
Non-food - they have the best price in the US, I think, for Q-10.
At Sam's Club, I find that one quart of heavy cream at around $2, costs at least half as much than at the local supermarkets. Also, the 32 bottles of half-liter Deer Park waters are a bargain at just over $4.
Nuts! Walnuts, pecans, almonds and pine nuts can be bought at a GREAT price! Pine nuts in particular are about 1/4 the cost they can be found at my local supermarket.
Full cases of good beer can be found in the $19-$22 range.
They have very good estate bottled olive oil for $12-$16 for 750ml (I think that is the volume)
I've never found Costco to be much of a bargain, especiallly since the sizes just keep getting bigger and bigger.
Trader Joe's and the local Mexican supermarket (Superior) work just fine for me.
When I had a membership, the few things I would buy were milk (half of which got thrown out but still cheaper), coffee, farmed salmon (which I don't buy anymore), and dried fruit.
Costco milk and butter are priced very well. In fact, most of their dairy is great.
Meat is well priced, but also of very high quality. Their Seafood Roadshow is wonderful for crab legs and giant shrimp (I think someone else mentioned this). Again, very high quality and fair prices. I third (fourth??) the maple syrup as well.
I'm a fan of their 6 pack of canned chicken (super for chicken salad in a hurry) and their 3 pack of organic marinara. Both are a bargain compared to the local grocery options in TX. Also, I buy the salmon from the fish case, then bring home and cut into portions for two and freeze. I've found that by doing this I shave at least $1-$2 off the grocery store price for single portions. Their large packs of chicken breasts that are seperated two to a pack are also great for smaller households.
Seafood road show
Every once in a while they'll bring in Einstein bagels, which I freeze and tastes better than the groccery store bought ones.
Apart from household goods and Brita filters (with a coupon!), I think the prices are good on some of the wine, Tillamook cheddar--block or slices, bottled water if we're traveling, fair trade coffee, Jif peanut butter 2 pak, and A1 sauce. Recently I've been buying 3 lb packs of organic ground beef which are frozen in individual 1 lb packages, $11.99.
They might not be offered at all stores but the frozen crab cakes are pretty darn good, and I'm from Maryland. Not sure of the brand, but they come in a red box - Handee's maybe? Also, for feeding a group, their croissant sandwich platter feeds 15-20 for $27.00, which is unheard of, and in some stores they have locally roasted coffee - Mayorga in the DC area, which is great.
Okay, where do I start. Fresh Artisan breads, sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, marinated artichokes, milk prices are probably the lowest around, any of the food court items. Their own brand vodka....best next to grey goose.
Wow, Costco is 1 block from my workplace...For the convenience of buying the following occasionally instead of weekly at the supermarket I really really like...
-Kitchen trash bags, hundreds for the cost of 30 retail.
-Kirkland Paper towels, we have pets and go through many rolls.
-Kirkland Free laundry detergent.
-6 pack of frozen OJ, best tasting ever.
-(4) 1-lb. packs of butter, freeze great
And strictly for indulgence...
- Their meat dept. rolled flank steak stuffed with portabellos and bacon
- Almost anything from their meat department except atlantic salmon
- Rotis. chicken
- Frozen cream puffs
- Discount cookbooks
- Huge bag of soft floury rolls from their bakery
- Raspberry Chipolte barbecue sauce
- Kirkland cranberry juice, no high fructose corn syrup, only sugar.
- Odwalla Super Food Green Juice, what a bargain.
Costco- Prime meat and Petit Basque cheese, costs me $ 11.40/lb wholsale and they sell it for $ 10.99
$100 restaurant gift cards for $80. I've purchased and used the ones for Rosemary's (Las Vegas), Taps & Lucille's BBQ (both in Brea).
Prime grade ribeye steaks
Australian rack of lamb
Proscuitto di Parma imported from Italy
Kirkland olive oil
Kirkland balsamic vinegar
Poland Spring bottled water
Oh my god people, how can you miss the best deal!
2 vanilla beans from McCormick's evil ripoff empire at the local Shoprite. $26
A pack of 10 vanilla beans from Costco. $12.50
I rest my case. I now am free to make super lucious vanilla panna cotta whenever I feel like it and I no longer cringe when I scrape out the seeds.....
I'm single too, in a one-bedroom apartment, and I've figured out how to deal with Costco quantities. My fridge has a pretty large freezer compartment, but I have a very small (5 cubic foot) chest freezer as well. A lot of large Costco packages of perishables get broken down into one- or two-serving portions, each of which is repackaged in a quart zip bag (also a bargain at Costco), labeled and frozen. This mostly applies to meats and sausages. Some fresh-veggie buys get blanched, cooled and repackaged similarly for freezing. Short answer: Get a chest freezer, small or large. It gives you a lot more food-purchase versatility.
I'm a one person household and I shop Costco.
Frozen chicken thighs
Kirkland (2 loaves) mulit grain bread ~~ 100% whole grain less than $4 for 2 loaves; freeze great
2 jar pkg peanut butter
Kirkland spiral ham in red foil. bought one at TGiving w/$2.50 off at counter and again Saturday
4 pack of butter
Food Items I find a good buy
Pignolias – large bag and FRESH, less enthused about their other nuts.
Arborio rice – Vacumn packed and fresh, very good quality and cheap.
Kirkland EVOO – Best olive oil for the price World Markets comes close.
Kirkland Balsamic Vinegar – For your everyday Balsamic one of the best out there and cheap.
Odwalla Super Food Green Juice
Real Maple syrup - yum
Cut Salad – if you buy it precut they can’t be beat in price
Frozen Chicken Pot-Stickers
Hebrew National Hot Dogs – best price ever
Pretzel Style hot dog buns that show up on random occasions are the bomb.
Percorino-Romano – it’s pretty mild but decent price
Gorgonzola cheese – usually the cheapest you can find
Most of the cheeses are good in price but not usually the best in quality.
Maple bacon – not cheap but one of the best bacon’s on the market.
Lean Frozen ground beef – excellent quality good beef flavor.
Some things I am wary of
Their store made bagels – usually within 24-48 hours they are covered in mold.
Fresh Meat – I can almost always find the same or better quality cheaper elsewhere (exception seafood and lamb)
Kirkland Take and Bake Pizza - Not very good.
Their heat and serve food and soups – I have been served some of them at parties / pot-lucks and have not been impressed.
Kirkland Pesto Sauce – not bad tasting but I’ve bought two jars and each time within 1 week of opening and many weeks away from expiration date it will be full of mold.
The best strategy to save money is to know the items that you can get cheaper elsewhere. In almost every case I can find fresh meat (not lamb or seafood), fruits and veges and staples will be cheaper at my local restaurant supply bulk store.
I’m lucky where I live, right across the street is a cash and carry and just a little farther is a WinCo.