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Best food/prepared food buys at Costco ?

Bigtigger Jul 16, 2008 05:01 PM

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 !

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    normalheightsfoodie RE: Bigtigger Jul 16, 2008 05:06 PM

    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.

    1 Reply
    1. re: normalheightsfoodie
      Davwud RE: normalheightsfoodie Jul 17, 2008 03:07 AM

      It's why my friend calls it the "Hundred Dollar Club".


    2. TorontoJo RE: Bigtigger Jul 16, 2008 05:12 PM

      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.

      1 Reply
      1. re: TorontoJo
        laliz RE: TorontoJo Aug 6, 2008 03:06 PM

        Their Marcona Almonds are far far superior

      2. jayt90 RE: Bigtigger Jul 16, 2008 09:15 PM

        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.

        3 Replies
        1. re: jayt90
          Bigtigger RE: jayt90 Jul 17, 2008 03:01 AM

          Thanks for the tips. However my query was for my personal shopping and not based so much on price as to the taste of their in-store prepared products, from cakes to cookies to lasagnes and pizzas and so forth.

          1. re: jayt90
            Davwud RE: jayt90 Jul 17, 2008 03:10 AM

            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.


            1. re: Davwud
              jayt90 RE: Davwud Jul 17, 2008 06:06 AM

              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.

          2. thenurse RE: Bigtigger Jul 17, 2008 07:43 AM

            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.

            1 Reply
            1. re: thenurse
              smr714 RE: thenurse Jul 17, 2008 09:32 AM

              Also before cutting, firm them slightly in the freezer to make easier cuts.

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              Nyleve RE: Bigtigger Jul 17, 2008 08:05 AM

              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.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Nyleve
                Davwud RE: Nyleve Jul 17, 2008 08:08 PM

                Hey Ny

                I'll take those triangle buns and put the Kirkland pastrami on them with the 2 YO Baldersons white cheddar and some pickles, slivered onion and grainy mustard.
                My favourite home made sandwich.


                1. re: Davwud
                  Nyleve RE: Davwud Jul 18, 2008 07:16 AM

                  Fantastic! For me it's asiago with a sliced avocado, maybe some leftover chicken (or deli turkey) if I have it, thinly sliced onion and either lettuce or (preferably) arugula. A smear of mayo and grainy mustard. Heaven.

                  1. re: Nyleve
                    pinkprimp RE: Nyleve Aug 7, 2008 06:12 AM

                    For me, it's exactly the same, Nyleve, except I use brie instead of asiago and use more than a little smear of mayo! ;-)

                2. re: Nyleve
                  jayt90 RE: Nyleve Jul 17, 2008 10:16 PM

                  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.

                  1. re: jayt90
                    Nyleve RE: jayt90 Jul 18, 2008 07:20 AM

                    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.

                3. g
                  graydyn RE: Bigtigger Jul 17, 2008 08:21 AM

                  I've tried several of the preprepared chilled foods, such as salads, couscous, tzatziki and they were perfectly acceptable. The large quantities are great for parties/bbqs. I have tried the preprepared frozen lasagna as well but I can't recommend it. Actually I don't think I've had a preprepared frozen lasagna from anywhere that I could recommend.
                  I love there whole pork loins. The quality is good and they are so cheap that the first time I saw them I bought three because I thought they were miss-labeled. Turning them into pork chops is as easy as slicing bread.
                  Oh, and I've also tried the chilled but not frozen pizzas that they stock, definitely avoid those.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: graydyn
                    MissDarling RE: graydyn Jul 17, 2008 01:49 PM

                    Tre Marie bakery has an amazing frozen lasagna, but it's homemade style I guess and a bit pricey - but for a BIG family dinner (I have a HUGE extended family) where you need a lot of variety it's AWESOME.

                    As for costco - there cardinal frozen burgers are a great price, my dad buys the giant slab of meat that everyone has previously mentioned.
                    OH the breakfast pitas with flax and raisins ARE SO GOOD!

                    And when they have the lobster rolls in the summer those are a fun treat.

                    1. re: MissDarling
                      normalheightsfoodie RE: MissDarling Jul 17, 2008 02:54 PM

                      Where is your COSCO, I would love Lobster Rolls?

                      1. re: MissDarling
                        Davwud RE: MissDarling Jul 17, 2008 08:10 PM

                        I used the Kirkland frozen sirloin burgers for my hockey BBQ. They were good but a little steak spice made them very good.

                        Also, my Costco sells a canned, frozen lobster meat that I use to make a fine lobster roll.


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                      placet RE: Bigtigger Jul 18, 2008 12:35 AM

                      I find their Kirkland brand preportioned salmon to be less than desirable. However, they occasionally stock Norwegian salmon filets (they come skin-on). They have a higher fat content (making them very flavourful) and are the best on the grill.

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                        placet RE: Bigtigger Jul 18, 2008 12:37 AM

                        Oh, and the Moises pickles!

                        1. Suzy Q RE: Bigtigger Jul 18, 2008 07:19 AM

                          I posted this on the other Costco thread, but it bears repeating here since you asked about the bakery items. The Costco cakes are absolutely fantastic. I've even had special occasion cakes commissioned there (baby shower, birthday, etc.) and they do a beautiful job with decorating as well as flavor. Highly recommended.

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                            lizzy RE: Bigtigger Jul 18, 2008 09:21 AM

                            I have bought a cake and it went over very well. Everyone raved, and it was so good we didn't want to give out any leftovers....they are huge. We also buy the variety muffins for a weekend breakfast, they freeze well. I haven't tried the croissants, yet, but they are on the list. We really like the take-and-bake pizza, we have only tried the margarita but it has fresh basil and mozzarella. As for meats, we love the lamb and we also buy the ground turkey, pork chops and fresh fish. We haven't bought the tenderloin, but this thread has me thinking about purchasing one.

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                              swsidejim RE: Bigtigger Jul 18, 2008 10:32 AM

                              We buy very little at Costco, due to the large packaging sizes.

                              The things we will buy because they are good, or we use alot:

                              extra virgin olive oil
                              Whole Dungeness Crabs
                              King Crab Legs
                              Chicken Breasts
                              big boxes of cheerios
                              Bags of avocados
                              bags of limes
                              baby formula

                              thats about it, we do not eat prepared foods from anywhere, so we do not purchase them @ Costco, we also have a great local butcher, so we do not need to look at Costco's pork/beef products. Their quality, & customer service does not match up to my butcher who cuts the meat to order, special orders meat, as well as offers me a cold beer while I am waiting.

                              1. c
                                cstr RE: Bigtigger Jul 18, 2008 12:12 PM

                                Remember, anything you buy at Costco can be returned if you're not satisfied, no questions asked. The meats are excellent quality and if you buy untrimmed uncut primal cuts the savings it's even better.

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                                  pengcast RE: Bigtigger Jul 18, 2008 04:53 PM

                                  We just had the marinated chicken souvlaki and it was pretty good. I also like the frozen shrimp wrapped in shredded potato, the garlic-lemon hummus and the brie in puf pastry.

                                  For the pantr, the best deal is the large plastic jars of dried mushroom. The jar of porcinis is worth the annual membership fee.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: pengcast
                                    mcel215 RE: pengcast Jul 19, 2008 03:55 AM

                                    I buy the Kirkland Signature Colombian Coffee, and it's really good.

                                    Also in the frozen section, I buy Kirkland's salmon, Perdue Chicken breasts, and Kirkland large scallops. All are excellent to me.

                                    In the meat section, I would buy anything. But, my staples are filet mignon, which I seperate and freeze. And the addictive Rotissarie chicken. :~)

                                    In the deli section, their Salsa is so good. And along with everyone, I have only good feedback about the meats and cheeses. The Parma proscuitto is amazing.

                                    I don't buy much in prepared foods at all. But, that isn't just at Costco, it's me. I find that most prepared foods are high in sodium, and I have a blood pressure issue, so stay away b/c of that.

                                  2. s
                                    Spot RE: Bigtigger Jul 19, 2008 07:53 AM

                                    I must plug the chicken salad, delicious, w/ a creamy dressing, raisins, and whole pecans.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: Spot
                                      wanderinglady RE: Spot Aug 6, 2008 03:31 PM

                                      I have to second the chicken salad. I don't belong to Costco, but when my family visited my sister's family, she bought the chicken salad during a Costco run. I was pleasantly surprised.

                                      1. re: Spot
                                        marti RE: Spot Aug 6, 2008 07:20 PM

                                        Trader Joe sells the same chicken salad in smaller container for about 3.50 called Napa chicken salad which is better for single family households. Wonderful stuff!!

                                        1. re: marti
                                          Cathy RE: marti Aug 6, 2008 07:56 PM

                                          Costco sells a Chicken salad prepared and packaged by outside vendors(which is the one TJs sells) and also an in store chicken salad, made with the rotissiere chicken. I prefer the in store one.

                                          1. re: Cathy
                                            jmckee RE: Cathy Aug 7, 2008 11:38 AM

                                            It's terrific. All the chicken stuff is terrific, including the chicken soup in winter.

                                            Don't forget the pizzas. Best bargain in town.

                                      2. ipsedixit RE: Bigtigger Aug 7, 2008 01:46 PM

                                        The hand-dipped ice cream bars at their concession stand is fantastic, and an incredible bargain at 1.50.

                                        The super premium Kirkland ice cream (in large tubs, gallon-sized) is also fantastic.

                                        The Kirkland potato salad is like crack. If someone were to bury me alive in that potato salad, I could easily eat my way out of it ...

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