Best Costco buys for cottage? [moved from Ontario board]
So I went out and bought a Costco membership because I was told it's a great place to stock up on staples (and more) when you're cottage bound. I have to admit to being a bit overwhelmed by the gargantuan containers and industrial size packages of meats etc. But I know there must be some great options there - plus I just forked over $55 and I have to justify this memership. So do CHers have some favourite Costco buys worth picking up? Thanks!
The hummus is an amazing deal. For just over five bucks you get two huge containers of that really good stuff in the yellow tubs.... I totally forget what it's called. But it's awesome. Especially if you eat it at the rate I do...
oh also. the cheese is a good deal.
and the fresh salmon and trout.
the fresh salsa in the cooler section is amazing.
Stock up on plastic wrap, ziplocs and just portion out those big packages of hamburger, pork tenderloins, sausages, etc. Most warehouses sell a $20 bag of frozen shrimp that's a true bargain. Do some unit/comparison pricing and you'll quickly see the savings. Quality and savings--what's not to like?
I always go through the cookware aisles. There are always one or two clearance buys (something they can't send back to a distributor) . Two Staub casseroles for $129; sets of mixing bowls $10 to $20.; large maple chopping board $20. rice cooker $20. and so on. The Staubs easily covered my membership, and I'd buy it again if it came back in.
The clearance things end in $.97 and have an asterisk on the price sign.
As for food, stock up on essentials on your way: 20lb bag of russets (they are steak house size); mussels for a Sat. meal; strip loins; rice, flour, canned goods; dairy products; cheese especially Reggiano; frozen dry pack scallops, ( get some free ice from their seafood kiosk, or the Coke machine in the food court, take a cooler, which they probably sell); knockwurst; roast chicken; fresh chicken; thick cut steaks and chops etc.
Good prices for paper plates etc.; batteries, whether for flashlights or a boat; outdoor equipment including camping and gardening...
Their seasonal things are always one full season ahead, so at this time they may start to clear summer clothing, bicycles, outdoor items. I always set aside an hour to browse, early in the week if possible, and I'm always amazed at how much I spend. I don't worry too much because the return policy is longlasting and flexible.
Go check out the meat section. The large quantities are perfect for feeding the masses at the cottage. The baby back ribs are excellent and incredibly well priced. And the 6-packs of good quality striploins or ribeyes are perfect for the grill.
As mentioned above, the Kirkland products are very good. The nuts, in particular, I find a spectacular value. The big tubs of cashews are full of large, fresh, salted cashews for about 1/3 the price of buying them elsewhere, and for baking, the unsalted almond, pecans and walnuts are great. The bakery section is another good area to explore for cottage staples. Breads, muffins, sweets. Ace Bakery breads, as well.
Ahhh! Please no meat from Costco for me.
They have a caesar salad that should be able to feed 6 at least. Chips and junk food comes in huge "feed 6-8" bags too. Other than that, I really wouldn't venture too far into their food catalogue... I foolishly decided to try their sushi once and it was a miserable, disgusting experience that left me writhing to this day. If you are thinking about a huge BBQ, think twice about the meat from Costco... cheap always comes at a steep price.
However, like everyone here has said, the nuts are a bargain.
I asked about the sushi trays one day. They are made the day before in Q.C.
They use smoked salmon, and pre-cooked shellfish rather than fresh. They rarely have tuna, though it's on the card. Quality about the same as Loblaws, so I take a pass, when there is good takeout near me at Aoyama if I call ahead.
But what is your complaint about meat, abscissa? The quality level is Canada AAA from Alberta or Ontario, and they demand the best from the suppliers, with enormous buying power and ability to pay. As Kagemusha says, the Q.C. is exceptional for a large organization, possibly due to morale and pay rates.
Obviously I am in the minority on this one. It may be the paranoid in me wondering how meat can possibly be raised to pander to the masses... considering a flank steak at Whole Foods can go for $30. Maybe I am just spoiled by Bruno's.
But one thing is for certain... the meat isn't even in the same league as No Frills etc. I always thought that the meat at No Frills was for decoration... people actually buy it?
Hey abscissa, I'm a big Bruno's fan myself and get most of my meat there (I think we probably even go to the same one at Avenue and Joicey). But have you tried a steak from Costco? They really are very good -- well marbled and well trimmed. And for cottaging or a big bbq party, you can't beat the quality to price ratio.
I'm in Mi and over the last several months meat quality at Costco here has been sinking like a rock and their prices have steadilly gone up. I've seen strip loins more than a few times recently as much as $2 a pound more than the other local butchers. I've seen flank steak at Costco more than NY strip and rib eyes and other shops. The Costco butchers here are complete hacks. They also cut the steaks here in mongo portions.
Things I do buy;
Columbus brand sliced turkey breast
Zip Lock bags
Coleman natural hot dogs
Kowalski stadium dogs
The ribeye steaks, whole pork roasts and the burgers are my favorites from the meat dept. always good quality and fairly priced but I agree, pick up some ziplocs for the freezer. Stay away from the sausages, I've found them to be really dry and have a sawdust texture to them. They carry a decent selection of cheeses and they are generally a fair bit cheaper than the grocery store, the St. Andre's and the old chedder (in the black box) are recommended IMHO. I agree that the frozen shrimps and scallops are a good bet as well.
Jarlsberg(block), Danish blue, Reggiano(best prices I've ever seen), and Woolwich goat cheese are "best buys." We usually hold a "Costco Dumb-ass Bargain" contest for non-food items. This quarter's winner was a $20 RC helicopter that put a friend's cat into therapy. Life's short...
I don't cook much but when I go to Costco with my girlfriend who has a membership I always get some fresh mozzarella (other than steak and ribs). It's $7 for a big chunk and I also get a package of tomatoes as well. Comes in handy when I'm watching Top Chef or Hell's Kitchen and I'm craving something decent to eat that I can actually make! Tomatoes, mozzarella, basil (if there's any), salt, fresh pepper, olive oil... doesn't get any easier than that.
You do need to careful and price match. Sometimes the deals aren't really deals.
I've found that they have good prices on cheese (esp. goat cheese) and books. Look for great deals on new cookbooks they usually always have the new releases. I picked up the Cooks Illustrated cookbook for under $15.00.
I've also found that all Costco's are the same. The one at 400 & Weston has great seafood and italian deli items. I think it depend on the neighbourhood they're in. The meat is always excellent quality.
I don't have a membership - but when I go visit my family, I stock up on good value items. We are very conscious of not overspending at Costco - which is soo easy to do. There are some really great buys - and some crazy items that don't make sense for everybody. Unfortunately, we can't buy too much that's perishable (and there are only 2 of us so most of it doesn't make sense), however, my sister swears by their cheese (they love edam), meats and cold cuts for the kid's lunches.
Here are my consistent great buys:
I'm with TorontoJo regarding the nuts. Pine nuts are an especially good deal, as are almonds. (Although the almonds are raw - so I just roast them myself)
The rest aren't food related:
Sun screen - so cheap!
Paper products like toilet paper and the like
their fresh salsa is a fabulous deal....huge container for $6...it's $5 at whole foods or loblaws for a container 1/3 of the size...can't remember the brand name.
tilapia & rainbow trout (fresh) are good...wouldn't buy the salmon as they only carry atlantic salmon (poison me now!)...i once saw sockeye salmon and then never again.
I shop at Costco for their desserts, I cannot resist their strawberry cheesecake,their 3 kinds of jumbo muffins 12pk.Some of the items that I find are a bargain are:
Bananas(For some reason they don't have bananas anymore)
Strawberries(I find their berries to be really sweet and not sour)
Best thing about Costco is that you can return just about anything you bought without being hassled.
Bonus if you have an AMEX card you get 2% everything you purchase in any store,4% if you have a business membership ^_^
I live 7 minutes away from a costco, and it almost replaces my grocery store, but not my farm store.
Things I love at Costco:
off season tomatoes
occasional appliances but my aquisition days are almost over
stacy's pita chips
rack of lamb
wild Alaska salmon
random wild fish fillets
bags of limes
bag of lemons
bags of romaine [when having lots of folks to dinner]
hydroponic boston lettuce [out of season]
random fruits and vegs when they are cheap and look good
aged Cabot cheddar cheese
Greek feta cheese
Emanthaler [though has been missing lately]
Italian buffalo mozzarella
ARizona ice tea
frozen wild alaska cod [haven't seen in a while]
pacific chicken stock
canned Italian tomatoes
all OTC meds
raw nuts: pecans, almonds, walnuts, pine
tires and tire rotation
Somehow this list doesn't encompass all that I buy there, but it is a start.
Their roasts and ribs are amazing, def. buy your fruit there, grapes are awesome, same with strawberries/blueberries. Maple syrup is the cheapest there, really, I'm not sure if you knew this, but Costco has the highest rate of purchase satisfaction. Just enough choice, confidant prices, I was raised by a Mom who lives and dies by Costco, so I've been indoctrinated. The only single thing I wouldn't buy there are DVD's, just because if you really want a specific DVD, it's generally cheaper to buy it at Best Buy the day it's released.
But other than that everything is great there. You can buy a sweet fishing rod there for $48!!!, C'mon...... you can't beat that. Also check out Sam's Club, not the same stuff, but similar, really good deals on Nuts, those prices are really close to wholesale, if not better on walnuts.
Dubliner Cheese $5.00lb (Irish cheddar)
Boxed pkg of paper plates 500, for $5.99
Bounty paper towels
Scott 30 pack toilet paper ($12.99, I believe)
Frozen Tiramisu $9.99
Flash Frozen Perdue Chicken Breasts
Flash Frozen Salmon
Kirkland Brand 3 Cheese, Pre-cooked Ravioli (like homemade)
Rotissarie Chicken, yum, yum. $5.49 for 2lbs, amazing!
Tons of other stuff people have mentioned.
Their bakery stuff is pretty darn good, cakes, pies, etc.
Oh, and they send out coupon books to members. Have fun at Costco!
The Quebec brie (Chevalier?) is fine but they sometimes have a French brie or camembaert in the $15 range. These usually benefit by opening around the 'best before' date.
The smaller rounds are worth sampling; most in the $5 range. Portneuf, Morgon, St. Andre, all need two to four weeks aging.
Kirkland evoo is a staple too; good quality Tuscan around $13/l
Costco is wonderful! It has many food and household items that are great and inexpensive.
My favorite item: the rotisserie chicken. It use to be 4.99 and now it's 6.59 (I think) due to its popularity and cost to prepare.
There are so many items that I purchase:
Ribeye steaks (they taste the best cooked that day. If you only need 1 or 2 steaks, double package and freeze)
Rosemary and olive oil bread (again, best tasting the day or within hours after its made)
Cheeses...there are many imported cheeses and regular sliced cheese
Sun dried tomatoes packed in EVOO...over a quart's worth for $8
Organic prepacked chicken breasts
They have lots of seasonal furniture and sporting good products like coolers, sleeping bags, lawn furniture, beds that are good quality and great prices except for they fly off of the shelves
Costco also has a great wine selection.
The pizza in the "deli" is good.
I would say everything at Costco is good except for the produce. The produce goes bad very quickly.
Not really about food but I used to get my diabetes pills at regular drug stores, and paid between $20-$24 for 90 pills.Then I got my latest refill at Costco. $13.05! Since 90 pills lasts me about 2 weeks, that's over $200 in savings in a year.
And I don't get Abscissa's complaints about the meat. It isn't cheap - I can get a NY strip loin for about 1/3 the price at Price Chopper - but it's definitely better quality, better trimmed, etc.
doubt you need more ideas but...
rotisserie chicken (LOVE it, brined and so tender)
honey smoked turkey
grated/shredded parmesan cheese (great for making frico parmesan cups)
frozen chicken breasts or tenders
a phenomenal cinnamon swirl bread
the crumble muffins
books, movies, cd's
i got all my cookware here
develop pictures here and fill eye prescriptions
When I think back to stocking our cabin I think about putting a few things in the pantry to make it through all the possible guest and weather combinations. So when I added costco to the mix, I would say these are the things I would get:
- the big bag of pancake mix, the one that doesn't need milk or eggs
- the trio of syrups - maple, blueberry and mixed berry
- the big boxes of juice
- Kirkland low salt bacon is the best low salt bacon on the planet and it comes in a 3 or 4 package bag
- the mango jam from malaysia. not too sweet and good on ice cream
- the big bottles of barbeque sauce
- house brand coffee beans roasted by starbucks
- the paper plates and cutlery (my mother always said that washing dishes for the all the guests meant it wasn't really a holiday for her)
- various drink mixes, particularly the strawberry margarita mix
- steaks and pork chops for the grill
- the house brand brats and italian sausage for the grill
- housebrand toilet paper
- the 10 packs of dish clothes and tea towels
Enjoy the summer.
These have been really great suggestions and I've got my go-to list now! I can tell from many of your posts that mention wine that we're a mixed bunch of Canadian and US CHers - as we can't get wine in Canadian Costos. I wonder how much the offerings differ at Costo Canada.
For Canadian posters, a friend told me last night that you can get a Lesley Stowe raincoast crisp knock-off in the bakery department. I hate to not give business to a small Canadian company that makes a delicious product, but at $7 a box maybe, just maybe, I'll try those Costco ones next time.