Best food/prepared food buys at Costco ?
As a fairly recent member of COSTCO, where I buy a lot of bulk foods for our church's homeless feeding programme, I have been really impressed by both price and standards of everyday products such as Dempster's bread, Schneider's hot dogs, deli meats, big jars of Maille dijon (at $4.89 today, for a jar more than twice as large as you'd get at that price at a grocery chain) and other condiments, and fresh vegetable bags and cartons. Great chunks of cheese, salamis and the like also are terrific buys.
However, I have no experience with their very attractively displayed meats (such as tenderloin, also at an amazing price), cakes, pastries, pizzas, salads and other prepared foods. These look good and are certainly priced attreactively. Does anyone have experience and recommendations to share ? Thanks !
the Cosco's in my area make great rotiserre chicken and ribs. We like to get the chicken right before dinner and serve it ASAP. The chicken can easily cost you $200, if you are not careful and you decide to pick up a couple of other items. I try, but I am not always succesful, to stare straight ahead and get the chicen and go right to the register with cash.
The meats are of surprisingly good quality. Those massive beef tenderloins are a great deal if you don't mind doing a bit of butchering at home. You can get several very nice filets and a big tenderloin roast out of one of those. The ribeye and the strip loins are great for a big family bbq.
And don't neglect the nuts -- they are of the best quality and lowest prices by far of any other place I've found.
If you are buying for the church: ground beef, pork chops, fresh chicken (whole or trays), fresh or frozen tilapia, frozen haddock, mussels, trout, baking potatoes, frozen: fries, peas, mixed vegs; Trio gravy mix, corn oil, rice, pancake mix, canned: tomato sauce, corn, tuna (they have huge cans),
salad dressings and mayo, domestic cheddar, margarine, yogurt, and feta.
Avoid the fresh baked goods, fresh entrees, fresh fruits and vegs except russets, and all of the frozen prepared entrees (except those ending in $.97 with an asterisk, the clearance things.) These are their profit makers. Stick with Dempsters and a good Chinese market.
For your personal shop, cheeses, deli trays, steaks, roasts, lamb, Campari tomatoes, seafood, cookbooks, imported chocolate and nuts. And a lot more, seems to change every week.
I know you're after what's good but we just had the Butter Chicken that comes in a box. We were very disappointed with it.
Now, on to the good stuff. Just about everything stated above is great.
I'll also add that I like to get a whole top sirloin and butcher it into a couple of steaks and a small roast. Great value.
Canned goods and boxed cereals are also great.
The cleaning products can also make a good value as well.
I have disliked just about every frozen prepared food there, except Ace baguettes, Kirkland meatballs and cheesecake. Fresh baked rolls, croissants, and breads are good, and baked throughout the day from frozen stock. Fresh or frozen pizzas are fine, if you add to them from the fridge. Fresh trays of Chicken pot pie, Shepherd's pie are fine. Their sushi has little merit, comes in from Quebec. The salad packages seem to come with dressings that are salty and greasy. Salt doesn't deter me from the true bargains in imported sausages and cheese, kosher dills, anchovies, and herring.
I always take a run through the kitchen aisles looking for bargains, linens and clothing too. Their occasional kiosks can be worthwhile: I've had good luck with seafood and coffee, others have raved about evoo, and aged balsamic.
My husband and I bought a whole beef tenderloin on a friend's recommendation. It was $60 and I sliced it into 13 six ounce steaks, plus 2-3 pieces that I 'butchered' that I will use for stir-frys or something else. We grilled 2 of them with just a little Paul Prudhomme's steak spice, and they were possibly the best home grilled steaks we've had. We put the rest in the freezer and have since had them again, and they were just as good as the first time, if not better (due to my grilling skills becoming better). I highly recommend doing this if you have sharp knife and decent cutting skills.
We also bought chicken drumsticks in bulk. For about $15, we got about 40 drumsticks, which will last a handful of meals or more (my husband eats like a horse and I'm pregnant, so you never know how much food will be consumed...).
I don't like the trek to Costco and am becoming wary of the time I spend driving for errands, but the quality and price of some of their items is stellar.
Love their triangular multi-grain "ciabatta" buns for sandwiches. Not really ciabatta but a very good bun. I also buy their two-pack of artisan baguettes which I find to be very nearly as good as Ace and much cheaper. Their boneless rib eye steaks are fantastic and their whole boneless rib roast can be either grilled whole (unbelievably good) or cut into steaks (cheaper than pre-cut). Agree on the nuts - almonds, walnuts, pine nuts are always fresh and a very good price. I also buy the 6-pack of romaine hearts during the winter when produce is so dire. Cheeses are great. I always have a big hunk of asiago and Parmesan around. Occasionally they stock raw milk camembert and when they do I buy 2 or 3 of them. Oh and also their 6 year old Balderson cheddar - you'd get a piece 1/4 the size for the same price elsewhere.
Kirkland balsamic vinegar is very very good for and everyday balsamic.
Stay away from fresh mussels when they are in the fish cooler. I bought them once and half of them were deceased. However, when they have one of their "seafood road shows" the mussels are inexpensive, fresh and very good.
Their mussels have been very reliable for me, over 10 years. I always check the P.E.I. inspection label to see if they are more than 7-10 days from harvest.
I returned a sack last year but my fridge was acting up then. I have bought mussels 10 days from harvest, but I use them within hours, and they open properly.
I've only bought the fish-cooler mussels once - so maybe I just got a bad batch. But I'm pretty phobic about shellfish, so once is enough to turn me off. The mussels from their special road show booth, however, have been excellent every time. I always check the date also and avoid any mussels that are more than 5 or 6 days old. I can't remember whether the bad mussels were older than that or not - it was a while ago.