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Cooking With Costco

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Ok, most of you know it's true: quite a few small restaurants and caterers get many of their ingredients from Costco or other wholesale clubs like Sams and BJ's... and many of us who entertain regularly do too.

So we've had discussions of wholesale restaurant supplies and supermarkets... how about wholesale clubs?

So what are your favorite products, particularly those geared towards cooking ingredients? Any bargains? Anything to stay away from. For example many people love the wine selection- any recommendations? I occasionally buy the roasted chicken and make sandwiches, chicken salad and the carcass for soup. Or I've bought some par-baked bread which is really nice and far quicker than scratch. And I love the small sweet peppers that I don't often see in regular grocery stores. On the other hand, I've found some of the seafood to be over-priced and not all that fresh. And of course the ginormous quantities and type of packaging sometimes is difficult for the home cook to deal with.

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  1. I think that Costco' meat is terrific, especially their steaks and other beef cuts. I have also been pleased with their seafood. My dad and I made some mussels and pom frittes and were very pleased.

    1. i rarely buy meat or produce from costco due to the enormous size and the fact that i'm single, but their cheese prices area awesome, and i pick up occasional frozen things from them.

      also, the costco near me (pentagon city, virginia) has a coffee roaster in the warehouse. i believe its 8 dollars for 2.5 pounds of still-warm beans. thats pretty unbeatable.

      i've only bought seafood from costco once - mussels- and i was really surprised at the freshness and quality. i think they kept alive in my fridge for a whole week while i worked through the 4 or 6 pound bag. delicious.

      8 Replies
      1. re: kneelconqueso

        Yah, I can relate but, I prep and freeze meals, their quality can't be beat.

        1. re: cstr

          I wouldn't be a Costco member if I didn't have a chest freezer. Had a coupla pies go bad because my family couldn't eat them fast enough. Now half goes in the freezer as soon as I get home. I'm very happy with all the meat and fish I've tried. Splurged on lamb chops about a month ago and they were delicious. I got a whole tenderloin last summer for a special family event and it was fantastic, but I was grateful to recently find four small tenderloin steaks, very nicely trimmed for fast weekday meals. I still ended up freezing two of those little filets.

          1. re: givemecarbs

            At my Costco, you can purchase a half tenderloin for the same price p/lb.

        2. re: kneelconqueso

          As a singer person, how do you deal with the enormous size of their cheeses? The cheeses at Costco always tempt me, but I can't finish a 4 lb. block of cheddar myself.

          1. re: Humbucker

            I buy the 2 lb block, put it in a zip lock, lasts a loooong time.

            1. re: Humbucker

              Have you tried a vacuum sealer then keeping in the fridge? I've had a big pc. of cheese in the fridge that's been vacuum sealed for nearly a year and it (seems to be) fine!

              1. re: ClevelandDave

                Vacuum sealing is the way to go. You can't beat $6 or so for 2 lbs of Tillamook cheddar. I also get the parm from Costco. I cut them in 4 oz portions and seal. No idea how long they last but I've never once had one go bad before I got to it.

                1. re: achtungpv

                  +1 on food sealing cheeses. I just finished up the last of the Gouda from Christmas.

          2. most of the canned goods are national brands, and most of the kirkland stuff is also good quality. meats are always good, and since i don't object to eating a steak that has been in my freezer for a while the large quantity hasn't been a problem. i had one bad experience with trout, it was not as fresh as it appeared in the wrapper. just been more careful since then. costco is really good about refunds, but have rarely had to use it. sometimes i'll shop with a friend and we split some of the larger items, especially fresh produce. much as i enjoy spinach salad, there is no way i can eat a whole bag before it goes bad, and i just can't bring myself to freeze it and use it cooked in other dishes. hard cheeses freeze well for short periods of time as well. about the only thing i avoid is the stagg chili, i think its awful - apparently other people like it.

            1. Wine! They have a great selection... I normally go to my local wine shop, find out what I like, then hit Costco for refills. They have most of the simple table sorts of wines, and often they have more esoteric things as well. My favorite table wines from Costco:

              7 Deadly Zins (a Zinfandel) and Menage a Trois a blended table wine that comes in red, white and rose. I have only had the red and white though. Horse Heaven Hills Chardonnay was nice too...(2007 I think)

              1. I tend to do better at local markets in terms of cooking, but for baking, especially TONS of holiday baking, Costco can't be beat! Nuts, Eggs, Butter, Chocolate, Caoco... etc...

                --Dommy!

                1. I just picked up some of the "fresh" seafood that was on display on ice namely their jumbo shrimp priced at $9.99/lb which were sized 8 to 16. My Costco here in Florida has Pacific brand Organic free-range chicken broth, 6 cartons for like $11. That's a pretty darn good deal since individual cartons go for like $3.99 at Whole Foods and Fresh Market. I do like their par-baked baguettes too.

                  My one annoyance so far is that the Tropicana OJ you have to buy 4 cartons at once. At Sam's Club you can get a 96 oz jug which is great for a single person like me. There is no way that I can work through 4 cartons of OJ unless I wanna feed my neighbors. LOL.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: ramblinwrek92

                    I'm a pretty big Costco fan but you have to shop smart. Some items are not a good deal at these warehouse clubs. Some of my staple items at Costco:

                    Miltons bread

                    Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomatoes in olive oil. The jar is huge at 2 lbs for only 6.99. I have seen jars the size of a dixie cup sell for a dollar less in the grocery stores.

                    Kirkland marinated artichoke hearts. They are about 7 bucks and come in a huge jar.

                    President Feta crumbles

                    Hannah Tzatziki yogurt dip

                    Their bagels are good

                    Dubliner cheese

                    1. re: Liveitloud

                      what do you do with all those sun dried tomatoes? i agree, its a great deal.... but not if you have to throw most of them out when they turn moldy in the fridge after two weeks.

                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                        i am in love with the sun dried tomatoes.....during the summer they into everything....apps, pasta salads.....i haven't had a problem winter or summer...

                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                          I have found that the jar keeps for several months. I put them in Orzo salads, green salads and lots of pasta dishes. They even go well with couscous. Sometimes I just make up a bunch of penne and toss it with the SDT, artichokes, capers and then dress it with a little olice oil, lemon juice and zest. It's great. Not a product that ever gets wasted on me. :)

                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                            Keep them submerged in oil with the jar tightly sealed and they'll last a long time.

                      2. I just bought a bag of their tiger shrimp (4lb. bag) after much deliberation due to their country of origin (Vietnam). I was terribly disappointed with their flavor (iodine?), so will be taking them back today. Anyone else have issues with them? I should say that I bought these in central N.J. as I'm sure they get them from different distrubuters.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: jnk

                          Depends on how you defrost them and prepare them. Many suggest brining first. Also, tiger shrimp are generally considered inferior to while, pink or brown shrimps though they can be tasty when done right...

                          1. re: ClevelandDave

                            Thanks CD, I really did nothing special to them other than take some out of the bag to thaw and then cook them. I returned the remainder to Costco and will definitely try them again.

                            1. re: jnk

                              I can't say Costco is awesome. I started with their predecessor Price Club in SD in the late 70s. It was kind of disquieting and foreboding.

                              Sam Walton visited, and thought it was terrific, he decided to do a hinterland-appropriate copycat. Where you have Costco and Sam's competing, go with Costco. Or try both, and see if one is better, or if one is better for some things, the other for other things.

                              At Christmas, we got some good dungeness crabs and prime grade prime rib at Costco. Okay stuff. I liked their Columbus Italian dry salame whole sticks, $3ish a pound.

                              1. re: MarkKS

                                As an FYI, Price Club was a different company that later merged with Costco. Until the 90's they were completely separate and unrelated businesses.

                                1. re: ferret

                                  Yeah, Sol Price's second in command, I forget his name, went to Seattle and opened Costco in the 80s. We shopped there.

                        2. I love their bulk produce when I need to dehydrate a lot of something -- grapes , apples, pears, peppers, onions. Very fond of their grape tomatoes for straight eating and dehydrating also. Will happily eat asparagus for four+ days in a row when I get it there.

                          Over the holidays, they had a three-pack of bubbly -- prosecco, rose, and something drier -- $21 -- nice to have around and to bring a throwaway bottle to friends' for fun. Bought a number of those packs, wish I'd bought more.

                          Flats of Ro-tel (this IS Texas, y'all) and canned peas. Get tossed into everything (<-- exaggeration) and they get used up quickly.