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Costco cooking - advice?

Hello there,

Due to some recent financial setbacks, I have bought a membership to Costco and am starting to shop there. On my first visit, I felt completely overwhelmed by the sheer size of the products for sale. I've also never cooked things to freeze for later, so was wondering if any of the amazing home cooks here had any advice for how to shop at Costco, as well as some fun recipes that might freeze/stay well for economizing?

Thanks!

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  1. I definitely understand trying to cut food costs, i think the recession has been hard on us all. I use a ton of foil in my kitchen and catering business and i have found costcos huge thing of foil to be by far the cheapest. Other than foil I have four main staples that i can not live without from Costco, and they will save you money and are great.

    1. The first is the big bag of Tyson chicken breasts, they are flash frozen better than any i have ever found, even the food service that supplies my restaurant does not have better... as long as they do not defrost they will never stick together.

    2. The second is their bag of coctail shrimp (around $12 for a ton of them), i use it of course for shrimp coctail with cut up avocado and lemon. But i also put it in everything that i make that i can think of adding shrimp to such as pasta, salads, tacos, stir fry, enchiladas, hamburgers, and even just tossing them in a can of soup.

    3. The third thing is their individual hamburger patties, at one thime they were about the only people that had them... of course you can get them anywhere now but i still think theirs are the best.

    4. The last thing is i always keep one of their 1/2 salmon frozen, just in case company drops by and i need to whip up dinner real quick. It is freakin awesome! I usually cook this when i have company come over, a 1/2 salmon feeds an army and i put it on a foil boat, with a stick of butter, salt, pepper, and juice of a lemon. At 350 for 20 minutes you can feed an army for $7.00 while they eat cocktail shrimp. In the summer you can cook it on your bar b que grill and it really turns out well.

    2 Replies
    1. re: badvegan

      Great tips.

      Do you thaw the salmon first or cook it frozen?

      1. re: badvegan

        Chiming in on the Tyson Chicken breasts. LOVE THEM and the fact I can cook them frozen! In just twenty minutes, perfectly cooked chicken every time. (Haven't tried to bread frozen chicken yet though)

      2. We don't have a Costco nearby, but I'm assuming it's like Sam's Club or BJs?

        We often pick up a whole boneless pork loin at Sam's - there's very little simpler than butchering that - it's just slicing. For well under $20, we usually end up with a couple of roasts (in the 2-3 pound range) and at least a dozen pork chops. They all get wrapped and frozen.

        We find that it's important to divide (and freeze where necessary) stuff right away - it's not such a great deal if half of it goes to waste!

        1. My BJ's is closing, and I'll be joining you at Costco soon. Read an article online recently. The tips I remember are 1) don't get overwhelmed and buy products in huge amounts that you will only use part of 2) go with a shopping list 3) don't impulse shop 4) get a friend to split big things with. You'll soon know the store and it won't be so overwhelming. At first, aim to leave with only a few items in your basket. And when you see others with huge amounts in their baskets, know that you've saved money TWICE that day. If you buy nothing but meats, produce, detergent, and occasionally tires, you will pay for your membership many times over.

          1. The fruits and vegetables at Costco are excellent, and many are not in huge containers. I love their Artisan lettuce, which are small baby lettuces, their raspberries, blueberries and other fruit. Meat is generally very good, and you can freeze what you don't use immediately. We have a vacuum food saver and my husband does this with all the meat he buys there. We are long-time Costco shoppers, and I think my main tip would be to be realistic about what you are going to eat, and to portion and freeze many items as soon as you buy them.

            1. I don't have access to anything like Costco or BJs, but I do like to buy ahead and freeze. So, my advice: I second the advice about frozen shrimp, but I get raw ones. You can get them for a very good price even at the regular grocery, and they defrost in no time flat. So, I have a delicious, quick dinner protein for what usually amounts to less than $1.

              Also, my "make a large portion and then freeze" advice is plastic freezer bags, even for soups and sauces. Tupperwares allow too much air in and invariably don't stack well, plus are hard to label. Plastic freezer bags freeze flat and then thaw beautifully.

              I'll also make a large portion of a sauce, say for shrimp and grits or for a stirfry, and portion that out in the freezer, writing on the side "add shrimp" or "add chicken."

              1. I try to limit myself to 1 or 2 giant bags of fresh veggies at a time, and also try to buy complementary things. For example, I like the 2.5 lbs of baby spinach & the big thing of mushrooms (20 oz? I forget the exact quantity). It helps to identify recieps ahead of time, but with the spinach I'd use it in a couple of salads, then steam the rest & use it for saag (if i'm cooking Indian that night) or garlic spinach (if I'm cooking Korean). Spinach & mushrooms are also good together in calzones, on pizza, lasagna, enchiladas, quiche, omelets...you get the idea. All of those things freeze well, too.

                I buy the 25-lb bags of King Arthur flour, aliquot it into gallon ziploc bags and freeze it. One big bag lasts me most of the year...The whole chickens are a good deal, you can cook one and freeze the other, or roast them both, eat the meat and then make broth from the carcasses.

                The cheeses are a good deal, too - I'll get a 2-lb bag of shredded Mexican blend (I think that's what it's called) and use it over the course of a few weeks for quesadilla, more enchiladas, grilled cheese, etc.

                8 Replies
                1. re: gimlis1mum

                  I buy 50lb. bags of flour (don't need to freeze flour). with my cuisinart bread machine (and the CHEAP yeast from costco), a freshbaked loaf of bread is a snap. Buy some of their Peanut Butter, and you've got a meal for less than a buck!

                  1. re: Chowrin

                    My sister bought 50 lbs of flour for home use and was told it was important to freeze it to avoid insect infestation....I wonder why.

                    1. re: escondido123

                      It might be your climate. If you live in southern California or a place with a desert climate, it's wise to freeze flour, especially whole grain products. The temperature of storage in some kitchens can also spoil the fats in flour and other dry goods, even with air conditioning in the house.

                      1. re: amyzan

                        Yes, even highly-processed white flour will eventually get rancid, as I have experienced. For whole wheat and other flours with more fat, refrigeration or freezing are essential. Even frozen, they will eventually turn rancid. If insects and vermin are the prime concern you can store large bags in a new galvanized trash can. Rubber ones can be chewed by determined critters.

                        1. re: greygarious

                          I keep my flour in the freezer here in Phoenix. Gets buggy and yucky tasting otherwise. I don't buy 50 pound bags though! Not sure where I'd keep that much. I should keep my oatmeal there, too. I think the partial bag I still have is stale or something. It tastes funny.

                          1. re: Jen76

                            I buy mine in 50 lb bags at Costco too. I store it in 2 of those giant paint can (plastic) that you can get at Home Depot.

                      2. re: escondido123

                        well, if you don't have a decent jar for the stuff! anything good that seals will prevent insect infestation... you'll want something that can stand up to teeth for mice. (so not just plastic bags)

                    2. re: gimlis1mum

                      I like the 5lb. bags of mozarella/provalone. Pizza is a fantastic meal, and so are half a dozen other cheezy dishes.

                    3. veggies - love the sweet onions for an onion soup. strawberries are good bu y in season as are the tomatoes and other berries. the large palsti filled salads are in the fridge area but be careful since the fridge is sometimes too cold and ruins the salad.

                      meats - their steaks are very good but still at the high end of the price point. the short ribs are nice, and without the bone present a pretty good deal. i would and do totally avoid the ground beef, they absolutely water enhance the meat so you are paying for water. whole choicken are another good buy. cheeses work well and the buffaloe mozzy is good but pricy so i stick with the regular mozzy which has a nice saltiness if you like it that way.

                      the take-home pizza is enormous and i needed to cut in half and place on 2 baking sheets to prepare. most like these better than i

                      cereals are a good buy if they have the kinds you like, same with many of the large items in the fridge area. they sell barilla pasta in my store and they now have more than just penne. ketchup and other staples are good buys but you need to shell out a fair chunk of change on day 1 but tey are excellent value/$.

                      i also have a bag sucker but rarely use for buy and hold, but i do have two steak in the freezer.

                      As others have said, be careful. you can get way too much and then start throwing items and the money you pai for them out the window.

                      good luck.

                      1. I love Costco's pesto sauce. I buy it and put it right into the freezer. When I need it, I take it out and defrost it for awhile(it defrosts pretty quickly)...spoon out the amount I need and put it back to the freezer.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Monica

                          you can freeze your pesto in ice cube trays for easy portioning.

                          1. re: flies

                            haha, i am usually too lazy for that.

                        2. If you have a deep freeze or even just room in kitchen freezer, you can portion many of the larger bags of veggies into smaller packets. I do this with berries, the prepped winter squash, and home parboiled broccoli, brussels sprouts, and spinach, after setting aside what we use within a week. They have ziploc freezer bags in 4 packs, which last us almost a year. Since there are only two of us, I mostly use the quart size. We do the same with fresh meat, seafood, and poultry.

                          We're not much for the bakery items, because there are only two of us and the portions and quantity are large. If you do go for that stuff, or the snack foods, I've heard friends say it's helpful to portion into snack size bags for the kids. That way they're grab and go for lunches, snacks, etc. The cost savings is in sticking with the portioning anyway.

                          Also, bear in mind that Costco is liberal with their return policy. If you find the quality isn't good, you can return it. I've only rarely had to do this, but it does help me try new things to know that if it's bad, I can get my money back.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: amyzan

                            When parboiling and freezing veggies, do they loose their crispness on re-heating/cooking like other frozen veggies. I've never frozen my own, and wonder if it will make me like frozen veggies more. At least on the broccoli cauliflower side. I love frozen corn and peas.

                            1. re: mickeygee

                              Yes, they're best used in soups, IMO. But, cream of broccoli soup is delicious! Starchy vegetables fare better, generally speaking.

                            2. re: amyzan

                              Costco also sells bags of frozen mixed veg that are very good. I use the Asian Stir Fry (I think that's what it's called) all the time, with udon in soup, as a stir-fry, as a side for Asian dishes. They have other ones as well. I've learned that it's best to buy stuff that's already frozen if you can, as they do a much better job of it than you could. Although I agree that part of the hassle of a Costco shop is the storage challeng after if, especially if you have meat that needs to be broken up and labeled.

                            3. We have found as a good deal the chicken tenderloin packages-they come in a 6 pack but the individual packs have about 8-10 tenderloins which for the 2 of us makes about 2 meals-we do chicken piccata and then grill the rest for sales, sandwiches etc. we use one package and freeze the rest (as is, no freeze wrap needed.)

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: vein1

                                I always buy the breasts and boneless/skinless thighs that way. They're totally sealed so no worries of freezerburn, and very little concern about leaking when you pull them out to defrost in the fridge. I just put the packet in a pie plate on the lowest level in the fridge for a day or so and then the chicken's ready to use. And it's perfect for 2 people. Eat half, and cook the other half up for use in quesadillas, burritos, salad, etc.

                              2. I biggest piece of advice about Costco is in can be great if you go there with a list, buy only what you need and know you will eat and be very, very careful how you store things. Because there are only two of us and we like to eat organic, we buy few items at Cosco--mainly cheeses including Parmigiano Reggiano, Romano, Comte and a good Cheddar--and coffee beans that we kind ourselves. I also feel the quality goes down once food is frozen (that doesn't apply to fish/fruit/veggies frozen at their prime) so I'd rather buy what I need when I need it. It also means we have much less waste and rarely throw something out because of freezer burn or mold.

                                1. I'm going to repeat what others have said: portioning! I will get home and spend 45 min-1 hr portioning and repackaging. Chicken, fish, veggies, fruit. There's just two of us so things go into single or double serving sizes, then into the freezer.

                                  Menu planning is key. If you are looking at a large size of cheese, salsa, soup, veggie, etc., quickly consider what different dishes you can use them in over two-three weeks. My husband can get tired of repeats of the same dish (while I can eat a favorite 5+ days, lol).

                                  Watch out on dry goods that need to stay crispy; even repackaging can intro air and start them staling, unless you use quickly or re-crisp in oven or dehydrator. Also, that huge ketchup/mayo/sauce is great until the day you grab it and it's fuzzy (not the cute fuzzy either). Think how fast you usually use that item before it hits your cart.

                                  I like to grab a huge salmon filet and poach it for several meals: hot the first night with lime squeeze, steamed asparagus (nice price at Costco!), and rice or bread; then cold for a meal or two with dilled yogurt sauce/dip (homemade); also salmon salad with shallots, celery, apple, etc.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: DuchessNukem

                                    same here, Duchess. We eat costco chili for two weeks, sometimes. One cookfest, and then no more need to cook.

                                    Ketchup (at least Heinz. i've had mine out for two years at room temp) doesn't go bad. Just turns a bit darker.

                                    1. re: DuchessNukem

                                      I was in the aisle with the mayo recently and saw a family that was trying to choose between the 2 gallon container, or the pack of 3 squeeze bottles. The squeeze bottles were still about half what you'd pay at the supermarket, but they were really debating whether they wanted to buy the smaller pre-portioned servings or deal with an enormous hulk of a jar of mayo in their fridge for the next 6+ months.

                                      I grabbed the squeeze bottle pack and was on my way.

                                      1. re: DuchessNukem

                                        I also get home from Costco and spend about half an hour repackaging things. I package the steaks individually, the ground beef into 1 lb packages, fish likewise.

                                        The things we regularly buy:

                                        Milk, eggs, steaks, 2lb bags of raw tail on shrimp, ground beef, salmon, whole chickens (they come in a 2 pack), boneless skinless chicken breasts, chicken thighs, cat food and litter, artichokes whenever they have them, organic apples, brussels sprouts, spinach, romaine lettuce, oatmeal (instant) which my husband takes to work, and books. :)

                                      2. If salt consumption is not an issue, the rotisserie chicken is well worth the money, since it has so much more flavor than you'll get if you roast one without a highly-seasoned rub. They also sell chicken salad, chicken salad wraps/rollers, chicken pot pie, and chicken noodle soup made from the rotisserie chicken. All are delicious and reasonably priced even though they are prepared foods.

                                        Their two-packs of in-house-baked breads are excellent, and freezable. The roasted garlic loaf is wonderful and the multigrain hearty and healthy. Don't forget, if you use vitamins or own a cat or dog, that you'll save a lot in those aisles too. I always have a list but I almost always buy a few things on a whim, too. Many items are one-shot deals. Until you've shopped there for some time, you won't know which items are always in stock and which are one-time-only or seasonal . Some of their items are sold at the snack bar, so you can try, say, a slice of pizza and see if you like it before buying the full size package.

                                        1. There are certain things that we always buy at Costco. My husband eats Frosted Mini Wheats (eww) and Honey Nut Cheerios. Except for an occasional sale like at Target, Costco has the best prices. Corn muffins -- they are large and you have to buy 12. But I wrap them individually and even cut some in half for my daughter's portion and they freeze well. Grapes and strawberries. Always the best price so as long as you will go through 4 lbs. of grapes and/or strawberries (which we do), they are a good value.

                                          I don't buy it or make it often, but their brisket is very good and the price is always at least $1.00 less/lb than any place else. And when I do make it (twice a year for Jewish holidays), I make about 20 lbs, so the savings is substantial. Also, as already mentioned, we buy parmesan cheese there. Oh, and Tyson breaded chicken breast tenderloins. For some reason, they don't sell this particular item in the supermarkets near me and I think they are the best of the chicken fingers out there. I keep them on hand for my kids (ok, and my husband).

                                          Plus, on non-food items, we always buy garbage bags, Ziplocs, cleaning supplies (sometimes), tin foil.

                                          You have to figure out what you will go through and what will go to waste. As long as you have room to store them, the non-perishables and household items are generally a good deal and it's not like they go bad.

                                          And we like their roast chicken too. I think it is one of the best roast chickens around...and cheap.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: valerie

                                            recommend cutting costco muffins in half always. they run over 600 calories each.

                                            1. re: Chowrin

                                              My mom always did this when I was growing up. They were great breakfasts for us. She'd cut them in half and put them into ziploc sandwich baggies, then put a bunch of those into a big freezer bag. All you had to do was pull one out when you got up in the morning and it was defrosted enough to eat by the time you were on the bus.

                                          2. STTL: They usually have good deals on Parmsesano Reggiano. What produce they carry is OK, but they're famous for not having some basic things, e.g., celery. Also beware of their cakes and prepared "deli type" dishes made in-store--buying a few of these can negate all the savings you get buying their other stuff in bulk.

                                            I don't know where you live, but in the West we have a store called "Cash & Carry" that sells most of the kinds of foodstuffs found at Costco (but not TVs, cameras, clothes, etc.), mostly to the institutional and small restaurant market. Many people do not realize it, but they are open to the public. If you have one of these type stores in your area, you can actually save more money than shopping at Costco.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: kaleokahu

                                              know I've seen celery in my costco. Figure, like everything else, it rotates...

                                              Learn which veggies keep: 10 lbs of carrots will last for two months, easy...

                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                  I like Cash & Carry, but find that the quality of many of the items is lower than that at costco, and the selection sucks. For some things they're cheaper, and for some, they're more expensive. The gallon(?) sized cans of tomatoes are half the price at costco, which I use as a base for big pots of tomato sauce or tomato bisque which I portion out into quarts and freeze for a day that I don't feel like cooking.

                                                2. +1 on the frozen chicken breasts. Handy to have around for versatile last minute meal planning.
                                                  Also the Kirkland brand paper towels are a staple at my house. Strong, absorbent and perfect for preparing RR's "Late Night Bacon".
                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/746567

                                                  9 Replies
                                                  1. re: KatoK

                                                    How do Kirkland towels compare to Bounty?

                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                        Kirkland towels are good enough to filter coffee through. Using ONE towel. In short, they are the best

                                                        1. re: Chowrin

                                                          Thanks, apple and chowrin. I buy multipacks of Bounty when they are on sale in the supermarket and will compare prices on my next Costco run.

                                                          1. re: greygarious

                                                            G

                                                            It's important to compare apples and apples since there are singles, doubles, triples, full squares half squares. Need to get to the price per square foot or roll.

                                                            All that being said i have always found Costco for Bounty being ~20-30% cheaper than grocers. My general rule is I see bounty at ~$1 per roll in grocer at best (rare as well) and I just purchased the equivilent of 22 rolls for $17 at Costco this morning, about 23% cheaper than my target $1.

                                                            1. re: greygarious

                                                              I much prefer Viva paper towels -- the Bounty ones will flake off. I cannot find Viva at Costco, I get them at Target.

                                                          2. re: greygarious

                                                            I have been buying Kirkland paper towels for as long as I can remember now. Cheaper and better (though I wouldn't mind if each one were a little smaller). I get a lot of use out of each one, which isn't true of the supermarket brand. Also, they never have those decorative elements you often find on other paper towels.

                                                            1. re: Jay F

                                                              get about sixteen uses per sheet, if i'm using it for cleaning the portafilter.

                                                          3. re: KatoK

                                                            Along with paper towels, the Kirkland TP is also great. We are still finishing the last 36-roll package I bought about 6 months ago. We also buy the Kirkland dry catfood - decent quality at a much lower price than what we were paying when we bought Natural Balance - despite the $2 per bag increase in price over the last 2 years. A friend of mine also buys their grain-free dog food for her 3 big dogs. She used to feed them Canidae and said this appears to be just as good or better and is much, much less expensive. She did not like the regular Kirkland dog food, however.

                                                            Lately, Costco has had the best D'anjou pears. They are huge and so good when they soften up a bit. The juice just dribbles down your hand when you eat one. Their meat is great, too. We also love the cases of Pellegrino water.

                                                            I also bought a programmable rice cooker recently for $30. Love it! And my husband likes their Kirkland brand Docker-style trousers as well as the myriad of shirts for work or golfing. It's almost a one-stop shop.

                                                          4. Always get the 4.99 rotiserrie chicken, I get three meals out of it for 2 people. You can reheat the whole bird in the microwave for a roast chicken dinner. Day 2 make a stir fry or chicken pot pie or chicken salad. Day 3 make soup.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: Berheenia

                                                              I second this...we ate it roast then use it for chicken and dumplins, suop or chicken salad....very good deal!

                                                              1. re: Berheenia

                                                                Me too! This is such a great deal. It is very easy to get 3 meals for 2 out of this. Sometimes I even get 4 meals! Their chicken is always fresh, juicy and delicious.

                                                                1. re: Berheenia

                                                                  Costco rotisserie birds are MUCH larger than grocery store birds and usually cheaper. An awesome deal, and often cheaper than buying their uncooked chickens!

                                                                2. Stuff to Freeze:
                                                                  Bolognese meat Sauce
                                                                  Chili (use the big cans of tomatoes and beans, they're cheap as can be!)
                                                                  Stew "stock" (stew before you add the veggies. freeze in "easy to use" portions, and defrost and cook)

                                                                  Stuff that's good and easy:
                                                                  Basmati Rice. With a bit of costco's butter, it's a meal in of itself!
                                                                  Make-your-own bread
                                                                  Make-your-own pie (rec. their three berry mixture)

                                                                  Frozen OJ is very cheap there.
                                                                  Ice cream is a fantastic deal...

                                                                  How many folks ya got at home? How much tolerance do you have for meal-agains?

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Chowrin

                                                                    Just two of us, and a very high tolerance — we just don't eat pork/beef at all. Chicken and fish only.

                                                                    1. re: SouthToTheLeft

                                                                      chicken and fish are more expensive than beef (particularly per calorie, since they're leaner). To make up, do stirfries,and other dishes where you can stretch one breast (or other hunk) to feed two people. Also, look into some of the vegetarian ideas. I started a thread a few days ago on "gourmet cooking for less than a buck."

                                                                      Two people at costco ain't a bad deal -- we've been costco cooking for ages.

                                                                      How much is your Costco budget per month? Mine's roughly $100 in the winter... (more when veggies come out).
                                                                      Oatmeal cookies freeze well, come to think of it...

                                                                      1. re: SouthToTheLeft

                                                                        Well, in that case..I bought a 2.5-lb pack of fresh haddock on Monday. It coast ~20 bucks - they had cod, too, which may have been cheaper per lb. Anyway, here's how I used it up:

                                                                        Monday: I trimmed the fish fillets and used the thinner parts (about 1/3 of the total) to make haddock jeon (recipe from Aeri's kitchen
                                                                        http://aeriskitchen.com/2009/02/fried...). These are meant to be a side dish, but served 'em for dinner with rice and green beans. We munched on the leftovers for lunch the next day.

                                                                        Tuesday: used about half of the remaining fish to make a variation on cod with swiss chard and potatoes for dinner:
                                                                        http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/mem...

                                                                        Wednesday: used the remaining raw fish in another Korean fish cake recipe:
                                                                        http://aeriskitchen.com/2010/07/korea.... I had intended to make these on Monday or Tuesday but never got to it...this is another side dish recipe that I served to the kids as dinner, with some veggies alongside. Hubby had some for lunch the next day & ate them with a salad. I intended to freeze the extras but there weren't any leftover!

                                                                    2. Cooking for a small household does take some planning to reduce waste.

                                                                      I mainly buy their fresh items and try to think ahead on my produce. With asparagus some gets roasted and the rest is lightly steamed and then used for a quiche, for a cold marinated side, an omelet or soup. The surplus from a bag of onions gets caramelized and put in the freezer for later. Potatoes are my biggest produce challenge - we have a very hard time using them all. The campari (?) tomatoes are wonderful. Baby spinach is divided into ziplocks immediately to save space. (The big containers are handy for storage, starting seeds, etc.) Spinach cooks down so much that it is easy to use the whole container.

                                                                      The price for eggs, half and half and milk is very good. We are very happy with their coffee beans too. Their nuts are very fresh and freeze well.

                                                                      Be sure to check their online selections. Many are not found in the stores and usually the price includes shipping.

                                                                      They had a giveaway for a Costco cookbook recently. While many of the ideas were Sandra Lee-ish, it provided a good starting point for figuring out how to deal with the quantity.

                                                                      The snack selections are a plus if you need to give a number of small gifts. For example, the gourmet jelly beans can be repacked in cellophane bags, tucked into a cute box or mug, tied with a bow and voila!

                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                      1. re: meatn3

                                                                        For potatoes, try making a big pot of mashed potatoes and freeze them. When you have something that would be good on potatoes, just take a quart out of the freezer, reheat in a nonstick saucepan for a few minutes (they seem to hemorrhage liquid when they defrost for some reason) and voila, fresh mashed potatoes with little to no work!

                                                                          1. re: LaureltQ

                                                                            Any good recipe for making mashed potatoes? Silly, I know, but I never made it before!

                                                                            1. re: SouthToTheLeft

                                                                              http://www.tigersandstrawberries.com/...

                                                                              that'll do ya. why use a recipe, when you can read the dissertation?

                                                                              1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                Thanks! I came from a health-obsessed family so mashed potatoes were utterly verboten.

                                                                        1. If you have a Sam's Club nearby, the membership is cheaper. I think Costco still sells a food vacuum sealer. Buy it. And the bags. This way you can break down the huge portions costco sells. For example...bacon. You can buy a huge amount of bacon, seperate it into serving pieces and then vacuum pack the portions and freeze. The frozen chicken breasts that were mentioned. They will last longer if you put them in portions and vacuum pack them. When you bake potatoes, bake more then you need. Then use the others for twice baked potatoes, vacuum pack them and freeze. Soup? buy hot drink cups (with lids), portion and freeze. And I agree with the other poster about foil. Good deal and use it.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Atochabsh

                                                                            >>>>If you have a Sam's Club nearby, the membership is cheaper.<<<<

                                                                            Sam's Club is owned by Wal Mart, if it matters.

                                                                            1. re: Jay F

                                                                              Yup. Also, I didn't think the quality of the fresh foods or the store brand products were as good. I used to have both memberships. Finally dropped Sam's, although their prices for some things (some electronics, some food items) were often a bit lower. The store location wasn't as convenient to me, though.

                                                                              1. re: Jen76

                                                                                I have both and I bu much more food products at Costco

                                                                          2. Look for disposable aluminum pans in bulk packs . . . save yourself from doing dishes!

                                                                            The main things I buy from Costco -- when I go -- are the pans, paper towels and toilet paper, aluminum foil if I need it, pre-vacuum-bagged chicken parts (defrost without leaking), Campari tomatoes, a 10-pound bag of onions, and sometimes mushrooms and peppers.

                                                                            *Sometimes* they have oxtails at a good price. I'll never understand why oxtails are so expensive. . .

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Chowbird

                                                                              And pick up some Stretch-Tite plastic wrap. Best stuff out there.

                                                                            2. I almost forgot, the Kirkland Olive Oil is a terrific product and at a great value price. I believe that it is the subject of lots of quality comparisons and I vaguely remember that it was mentioned in the feature on Costco done by the 60 Minutes crew.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: KatoK

                                                                                Yes .. the Kirkland 2 liter EVOO is terrific! Not to be confused with high end OO, but for everyday cooking it's a great value.

                                                                                1. re: KatoK

                                                                                  The EV Organic was one of very few where what it said ON the bottle was IN the bottle.

                                                                                2. Gasoline! :)

                                                                                  I tend to buy all my regular staples there like milk, plain yogurt, bread, butter, cheese, peanut butter, whipping cream, flour, chicken, diapers, etc. By the time I'm done buying all that I'm scared to buy anything else!

                                                                                  1. In Canada we get Australian lamb which is incredible, not sure if you get it in the US. I like the shoulder chops, marinade them in a big ziploc overnight with some dijon mustard, red wine, rosemary, thyme, garlic. Prior to cooking rinse off the marinade and get them nice and dry, salt and pepper, brown on both sides in a cast iron pan then throw the pan in a 350 oven for like 5 minutes to get them medium rare. Beautiful.

                                                                                    1. As I sit and watch the ball game with the sauce smmering I will add one more item. The San MArzano tomatoes. 106 oz about $6 plus a $2 piece of fatback and onion, some garlic cloves and you have lots of marinara sauce for not a lot of momey.

                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                                                        Jesus! What do you do with 106 oz of tomatoes?!

                                                                                        1. re: SouthToTheLeft

                                                                                          Choice 1 - Rao's Marinara sauce = 6 pint jars of sauce
                                                                                          Choice 2 - Hazan's Bolognese = 13 pint jars of sauce.
                                                                                          Choice 3 - Mrs J's red sauce = 6 pint jars of sauce

                                                                                          Currently 20 great choices in the basement for a quick pasta dinner after a long day.

                                                                                          1. re: SouthToTheLeft

                                                                                            part of a stew recipe.
                                                                                            part of a pizza sauce recipe (I'll eat pizza for the next two weeks on it, thanks!)
                                                                                            part of Tomato Potato Onion soup.
                                                                                            half of a chili recipe.

                                                                                            I've got a stockpot, dear, and I cook enough that I only NEED to cook once every two weeks or so.

                                                                                          2. re: jfood

                                                                                            I wish our Costco carried San Marzanos! The east coast stores carry a much better selection of italian cooking ingredients, such a bummer. However, the northwest Costco stores do carry a nice selection of wild salmon that I'm pretty sure other regions don't get. Guess it's all a trade off.

                                                                                            1. re: mrs.corgi

                                                                                              Woah! Wild salmon in a Costco? Very jealous.

                                                                                              1. re: SouthToTheLeft

                                                                                                We get the wild salmon in New York - Long Island. Perhaps you could ask your store to carry it.

                                                                                                1. re: EM23

                                                                                                  They carry the wild salmon at my costco just north of Boston. Of course, they only carry it when it is season.

                                                                                            2. re: jfood

                                                                                              Quick question: I have not seen San Marzano tomatoes (canned) in San Francisco Costco but I did buy a 102 oz can of such from a restaurant owner. My can is NOT D.O.P. from Italy, just San Marzano type tomatoes from U.S.; is your can produced in U.S., also?

                                                                                              (I have not opened mine yet so do not know how it will compare with D.O.P.)

                                                                                              (This message was intended for JFood.)

                                                                                            3. does anyone above who buys freezer items from costco use a food saver? or just keep in freezer bags? The frozen berries and peaches I buy from them always get freezer burn when I keep in the bag they come in (which is resealable).

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: apple342

                                                                                                I do use a Food Saver and when the vaccuum seal is done right, it does protect against freezer burn. I don't use it on frozen fruit, but I don't see why that wouldn't work well. My preference is to use it on soups, stews chili, etc. My technique is to put my food in a square Zip Lock food storage container, usually the 32 ounce size and freeze that until it is a solid block, then I seal the block in a gallon sized Food Saver bag and label it. I find it is easier to stack the blocks in the freezer.

                                                                                                1. re: KatoK

                                                                                                  ohhhh..that is a great tip!! Thanks for sharing that. Several people have told me to get the foodsaver but wasnt sure. Like your "block" method!

                                                                                                2. re: apple342

                                                                                                  ya, I do! dats why they sell 'em. get the jar attachment, it is very cheap and seems to work out well...

                                                                                                3. Ditto on the Food Saver recommendations. It's an invaluable tool when buying large quantities of meat, although like another poster I find that Costco's already flash frozen items keep fine in their original packaging.

                                                                                                  Things like the large jars of salsa, fruit spreads and pesto I divvy up and freeze in smaller containers. I have an assortment of plastic "freezer jam" jars that you can find at the grocery store or Walmart with the canning supplies. They have screw-on lids and come in 8 and 16 ounce sizes. They stand up to the freezer and the dishwasher so they last through many uses.