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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!

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  1. 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.

    1. 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?

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

          14 Replies
          1. re: TorontoJo

            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.

            1. re: abscissa

              Odd, I've always found their meat to be excellent, well trimmed and Choice Grade,

                1. re: abscissa

                  Come on, abscissa. Reverse snobbery not your thing? Costco meat has vastly better QC than Loblaws or any other chain grocer. YMMV but I've never gotten a bum steer(pun intentional)from Costco--ever.

                  1. re: abscissa

                    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.

                    1. re: jayt90

                      The meat quality at Costco is great, way better than no frills and pricechopper (of course!), loblaws and even dominion.

                      1. re: cakesncookies

                        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?

                        1. re: abscissa

                          Have to agree witht he masses Ab.
                          I buy my meat at Costco whenever possible.


                          1. re: abscissa

                            Yes, quite a few people city can't afford to shop at Whole Foods and actually buy their meat at No Frills.

                            1. re: abscissa

                              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.

                              1. re: abscissa

                                Did it ever occur to you that the reason flank steak at Whole Foods is $30 is because you are being ripped off by huge markups? You can pay full price for a book at Barnes and Noble or get it for 40% less at Amazon, but it is still the same book.

                            2. re: jayt90

                              The sushi was a mistake as evidenced by its short stay in the Mississauga/Brampton warehouses. The fact it was swiftly dropped and never returned told me management was wide awake. Contrast that with Loblaws awful sushi stands that crank out stuff no one buys.

                            3. re: abscissa

                              abs, you must have had some very very bad luck in the meat you got, Most Costco shoppers rave about the meat, and by the way it is in no way that cheap compared to meat sales elsewhere.

                              1. re: malibumike

                                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;

                                Lamb Chops
                                Lamb Roast
                                Trail MIx
                                Paper Towels
                                Bottled water
                                Columbus brand sliced turkey breast
                                Cottage Cheese
                                Organic Eggs
                                Zip Lock bags
                                Coleman natural hot dogs
                                Kowalski stadium dogs
                                Boudin Sourdough

                          2. 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.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: cheezy1

                              These are great - thanks. Would like to hear which other cheeses people find good. Also all those enormous sacks of pita and bagel chips and any cracker-like things you'd recommend? Many thanks,

                              1. re: sochow

                                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...

                                1. re: sochow

                                  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.

                                2. re: cheezy1

                                  Depends on what brand of sausage it is. Precooked ones, I find Aidell's to be excellent - very juicy. But the Amy Lu sausages are not as juicy and are in fact pretty dry.

                                3. 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.

                                  1. 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)
                                    Balderson's cheddar

                                    The rest aren't food related:
                                    Sun screen - so cheap!
                                    bug spray
                                    Contact solution
                                    Paper products like toilet paper and the like

                                    1. 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.

                                      1. The one and Only Worlds Best Dill Pickle of love. Moishes. Buy two jars. They wont last long!
                                        Food guy 905

                                        1. I LOVE the taziki (comes in a green container) from Costco. We always get a big container of salad and mix in the taziki and sour cream .... yummy.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: ManitoulinCoffeeCompany

                                            Oh yeah, the tziki is really good. Reggiano is amazing and the cheapest around. Those Moishes pickles rock and so does the vinegar based cole-slaw.

                                            Remember, the OP is in Ontario. The US based costco's get a lot of stuff we in Canada dont.

                                          2. 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)
                                            Chicken wings
                                            Nuts(Almonds,pistachios,walnuts,pecans,pine nuts)
                                            Bottled water
                                            Smoked salmon

                                            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 ^_^

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: chunkeymonkey

                                              In fact, if you have the business amex you get back 5% on gasoline (anywhere) if you use the card. 20cents a gallon !

                                            2. 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
                                              itune cards
                                              movie tickets
                                              occasional appliances but my aquisition days are almost over
                                              stacy's pita chips
                                              flank steak
                                              lamp chops
                                              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]
                                              Sabra hummus
                                              English cucumbers
                                              random fruits and vegs when they are cheap and look good
                                              aged Cabot cheddar cheese
                                              goat cheese
                                              Greek feta cheese
                                              Emanthaler [though has been missing lately]
                                              Italian buffalo mozzarella
                                              ARizona ice tea
                                              frozen shrimp
                                              frozen wild alaska cod [haven't seen in a while]
                                              pine nuts
                                              olive oil
                                              pacific chicken stock
                                              tomato paste
                                              canned Italian tomatoes
                                              ground cinnamon
                                              sea salt
                                              raw oatmeal
                                              ziplock bags
                                              reusable containers
                                              swiffer refills
                                              all OTC meds
                                              all RX
                                              roasted almonds
                                              raw nuts: pecans, almonds, walnuts, pine
                                              Glad wrap
                                              tires and tire rotation

                                              Somehow this list doesn't encompass all that I buy there, but it is a start.

                                              1. 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.

                                                1. 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!

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: mcel215

                                                    This is a great list - thanks everyone. One other question. Any recommendations on which brie is the best - they seem to carry quite a few different brands.

                                                    1. re: sochow

                                                      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

                                                      1. re: jayt90

                                                        When a few of you mention burgers do you mean pre-fab? or ground hamburger meat? Sorry if that's a stunned question!

                                                        1. re: sochow

                                                          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)
                                                          Ground beef
                                                          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.

                                                    2. re: mcel215

                                                      These items and prices are for the US. The OP is in Ontario, Canada.

                                                    3. 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.

                                                      1. doubt you need more ideas but...

                                                        frozen spanokopita
                                                        frozen profiteroles
                                                        rotisserie chicken (LOVE it, brined and so tender)
                                                        honey smoked turkey
                                                        grated/shredded parmesan cheese (great for making frico parmesan cups)
                                                        protein bars
                                                        dried fruit
                                                        grape tomatoes
                                                        frozen chicken breasts or tenders
                                                        a phenomenal cinnamon swirl bread
                                                        the crumble muffins
                                                        gum, mints
                                                        books, movies, cd's
                                                        i got all my cookware here
                                                        vacuum cleaner
                                                        develop pictures here and fill eye prescriptions

                                                        1. 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.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: pengcast

                                                            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.