Costco cooking - advice?
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?
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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.
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!
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.
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.