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What to Buy at Costco?

Hello --

A friend is going to include me (a non-Costco member) on his shopping trip there. It's going to be a quick one, so I won't have time to wander around. I'm hoping some Chowhounders can tell me what food stuffs I should make a beeline for. I've heard they have very good smoked salmon. Anything else?


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  1. mozzarella di bufala, their wine selection is well priced and interesting, their produce are fresh, cheap for the quantity but come in large quantity

    1. I really like their jarred pesto, it's just their Kirkland brand.

      Another vote for the produce too, if you think you can work your way through it. I had some great asparagus from there recently, and I always buy their organic fuji apples. I eat one apple a day and I can still make it through the flat without them going remotely bad, I just keep them in the fridge. The asparagus was a little harder for 2 of us to get through but we made it in just over a week :)

      2 Replies
        1. re: juliejulez

          Love the pesto as well.

          I also like the Kirkland Olive Oil.

        2. Don't forget to look at non-food items, HD TV's, note pads, cameras, jewerly, sunglasses, some great value there.

          1. Buy a gift card, then you can go in without having membership and can check it out at your own pace.

            1. Anything in the bakery is great. Pies are huge, so you need a group to finish them. The produce may be large amounts, but works out cheaper than Safeway even if we can't eat it all.
              Any of their prepared food is very good: rotisserie chicken, shrimp salads, chicken salad, and other meals.

              The Kirkland brand Vodka (Grey Goose), Bourbon(Woodford Reserve), and Tequila( Patron) are excellent and low priced.

              Costco is probably the only chain that sells prime meat. All of their meat is excellent.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Janet

                Costco bourbon comes in a bottle that is similar to Woodford Reserve and when I first saw it, I was pretty excited. But it is most definitely not Woodford Reserve. One taste will tell you that. Haven't done side-by-side tastings on the tequila (which I think is fine for a margarita) or the vodka (I think Grey Goose is all marketing and no taste), but Kirkland has done a brilliant job of making their customers think, at least when it comes to their spirits, they're getting something that they're not.

                1. re: JoanN

                  Oh, that bourbon is really harsh... and I love 90% of the Kirkland products I've tried.

                  1. re: toasters

                    I found it an easy sipper. A bit light on flavor but not bad for a Beam whiskey at $20/liter 7 yrs old and 103 proof

                  2. re: JoanN

                    Yeah, the Kirkland vodka bottles look similar to Grey Goose bottles. We bought some for infused vodkas and found it to be fine for grain vodka and very well priced at about $14 for a 1.75L (I think)?

                  3. re: Janet

                    And Kirkland Tequila is also not Patron!

                    Kirkland Tequila is produced by Fabrica de Tequilas Finos, S.A. De C.V. which is absolutely not Patron who has their own distillery. (which does produce a few other tequilas but not Kirkland)


                    1. re: Janet

                      "Costco is probably the only chain that sells prime meat. All of their meat is excellent."

                      Maybe all of their prime meat is good, but I've found that when it comes to meat other than prime, it's variable. Some is VERY good (loin lamb chops, boneless short ribs, whole tenderloin) and some not so great (strip steaks, boneless rib steaks)

                    2. The fresh precut mangos in the refrigerated grocery case came back for the season this month. Sweetest, juiciest mango ever.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Rilke

                        They also usually have Ataulfo (champagne) mangos for a surprising amount of the year, always wonderful.

                      2. The salmolux salmon lox ( one pound, in a circular arrangement)- tasty and well priced. Maybe $13 for a pound? And it freezes well.

                        The honey smoked salmon. Killer. Hot smoked (baked) salmon very tasty, incredibly well priced. ($14 a pound, I think).

                        Their pecorino/romano - really tasty and well priced.

                        Great prices on fresh goat cheese.

                        The 2 pound bag of dried yeast - the cost of 6oz from the supermarket.

                        Good prices on butter and yes, if I am there, I'm probably going to leave with a roast chicken. A cheap, tasty, easy start to a healthy dinner : )

                            1. The Maya Kaimal indian prepared dish sauce bases in the refrigerated section. Seriously, taste like you spent all day grinding spices, etc.

                              +1 on the mango, the smoked salmon, and I heart the price on baby spinach and 1/2 flats of raspberries.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: gingershelley

                                Last time I went they were out of baby spinach, romaine, and raspberries!

                              2. Yes, the Kirkland brand smoked salmon is a great buy.

                                Do you like cheese? The Petit Basque sheep's milk cheese is one of my favorites, and Costco's price is outstanding. Lots of other good cheeses too, like Dubliner and the two-pack of goat cheese logs.

                                In the snack aisle, beef jerky and marcona almonds are great buys. Big bags of those Brookfield dark chocolate covered pomegranate or acai candies. Three-pound jars of Jelly Bellys.

                                have fun!

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Bob W

                                  Oh yes, the price on the goat cheese is fabulous! As is the price on the Marcona almonds. Thanks for reminding me!

                                  1. re: Bob W

                                    Definitely the goat cheese. They sometimes have a cranberry goat cheese.

                                    1. re: cheesecake17

                                      I've also seen some fig goat cheese, tasty.

                                      1. re: treb

                                        and that plastic tub tof mozzeralla balls! ooohhhhh

                                  2. Rotisserie chicken, prime beef, Kirkland Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Kirkland beef hot dogs and Polish sausage, croissants...

                                    1. The mixed nuts - LOVE LOVE LOVE them!

                                      1. Keep an open mind, don't be in a rush. Romaine lettuce crunches when you slice it and stays fresh forever, steaks are lean, tender, fire engine red, and a bargain, especially filets. Croissants for $6/dozen are a steal, quality is very satisfactory.

                                        I bought a set of 4 cordless phones, AT&T, on sale for $60, best phones I've owned. Big bags of frozen egg rolls and pot stickers cook up in a jiffy and are always nice to have. Discount AMC movie theater tickets save you a bit, and don't expire or ever go unused.

                                        Big jars of Kirkland laundry detergent pods are a buy, name brands are available also. I haven't yet found my "go-to" brand of coffee, but Costco has 20 or 30 choices, ground, whole bean, even instant Starbucks.

                                        God bless everyone who likes the rotisserie chickens, but the ones I've bought have been greasy and not very good, can't recommend those, despite the bargain price.

                                        A pair of prescription eyeglasses from Costco is not the best quality, but they work, and the price was 1/5 what the rip-off optical shop charged for a more fashionable pair.

                                        Above all else, I've found Costco staff to be helpful and courteous. They even topped up one of my tires with air when it was a bit low, no charge.

                                        It's easy to buy things that take forever to use up, but Costco has tons of wonderful, well-priced stuff. Easy to become addicted.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: Greg in Chicago

                                          I usually share the romaine with a friend. Even if I don't, it's still cheaper at Costco

                                          1. re: cheesecake17

                                            They have had romaine hearts at one of the local Costcos and being a smaller package, is better for a single user.

                                            1. re: NVJims

                                              I saw that. Much smaller package and more $$$

                                          2. re: Greg in Chicago

                                            I have a pair of cheapo glasses from the Costco optical shop that's still functional after at least ten years. The RX is way off but they're a geat backup pair and I can't believe they've lasted this long, and they were arouhd $80. My most recent pair from an outside optical shop cost me nearly $700.

                                            1. re: EWSflash

                                              Their optical shop is fantastic. Great prices, great follow up service.

                                              And while my husband is one of the few who CAN break titanium frames (and has), they're really great at helping him find the ones he will break LESS.

                                              Love them.

                                          3. Their Kirkland Signature Ito En Matcha is possibly the cheapest decent bagged green tea you can possibly get.

                                            Nutiva Coconut Oil is available here at good prices.

                                            Madhava Coconut Sugar is delicious, organic and has a more delicate flavor than brown IMO. http://www.madhavasweeteners.com/coco...

                                            Black rice.

                                            Himalayan pink sea salt in large bottles, fairly affordable to refill your grinders.

                                            1. It depends on your cooking and eating habits. The store brand - kirkland - is almost always a good buy/good quality on whatever product it is.

                                              I rarely leave without a bag of frozen chicken parts (for me boneless skinless thighs), some bread, something from the deli section (cheese or a meat product.) I like the frozen mixed vegetables, and the prices on canned goods are what you pay on sale at the grocery. Beans, tomato products, niblets corn (I like canned corn... odd), tuna, etc. The frozen fish is usually good as well. Right now I have tuna and opah in the freezer. The meats are great quality, whether you are buying ground beef, a roast, or one of the huge 'semi-primal' cuts. The ground beef is 12% fat, which I happen to like - even for burgers. I agree that the produce is a good buy, and even if you only use half or 2/3 of it, you are probably still going to save money.

                                              Most Costco's also have regional foods available - although sometimes shoppers aren't really aware of it. Being from Hawaii it's pretty obvious, and when I go to Costco in LA i see lots of regional items there as well. In Hawaii you find Portuguese sausage, kalua pig, chinese pork buns (manapua) lomi salmon, poi (sometimes not always), etc.

                                              I'm single and only visit costco about once every 4-6 weeks, but it is still worth it. I usually end up spending somewhere between $150 - $200 each time i go.

                                              1. Two things I think are great at Costco-Don Lee Farms veggie patties-one of the best veggie patties I've ever had. Also,they sell a huge pack of stuffed grape leaves (dolmas), unfortunately they give so many that it's hard to eat them all before the expiration date!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: schrutefarms

                                                  I rarely get to go to costco since i'm not a member (and its not easy for me to get to) but those don lee veggie burgers are the BEST veggie burger i have ever had! And i swear i have tried at least two dozen frozen/homemade/restaurant ones over the years. My meat loving picky parents even like them!

                                                2. Kirkland canned albacore tuna. Expensive but consistently good

                                                  Rack of lamb, prime beef

                                                  Tillamook cheddar loaf, or just about any cheese you like

                                                  Jacks Garden Fresh salsa (refrigerated)

                                                  San Pellegrino lemon & orange soda

                                                  Mexican Coke--less than a buck a bottle

                                                  Sun dried tomatoes (jarred in oil). They keep relatively close to forever

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: coney with everything

                                                    Curious, why do say Kirkland canned tuna is expensive?

                                                    1. re: treb

                                                      The albacore, sold in an eight pack, comes out to about $1.80 a can, I believe. (This is in SoCal.)

                                                      BUT - it's solid and gives me as much, if not more tuna as two 5 oz "solid" albacore from the grocery.

                                                      And it tastes dandy.

                                                      So I wince as the price keeps going up, but I keep buying as it's just so good and, overall, a very good value.

                                                      It's just buying 8 cans of that very good value at a time, gulp!

                                                      1. re: happybaker

                                                        Yes, the grocery store cans are 5oz vs Costco's 7oz and are the same price, a great value It's about $14. for 8 but, they don't go bad, I usually stock up when they offer an instant rebate.

                                                        1. re: happybaker

                                                          The Wild Planet tuna at Costco is even better than the Kirkland.

                                                          1. re: ferret

                                                            I love the Wild Planet tuna and it's so much cheaper than buying it the grocery store. The best canned tuna I have ever eaten. We usually watch for the to have the $5 off deal and stock up.

                                                        2. re: treb

                                                          Thinking in terms of grocery store tuna which can frequently be found on sale for around a buck a can (solid albacore). Per can you're right, the Kirkland isn't that bad but the Costco mega-pack, as happybaker says, it s a bit of an investment.

                                                          1. re: coney with everything

                                                            Buck a can on sale days are long over, even for the 5 ounce cans, maybe for chunk light, By investment, if you mean you have to buy 8 cans, good thing they're canned and have a long shelf life.

                                                        3. re: coney with everything

                                                          Mexican Coke--less than a buck a bottle Yes

                                                          and Pelligrino in glass bottles! a case is only 11.00

                                                        4. What to buy at Costco? Well, if you asked Mrs. ricepad what I would advise, she'd probably tell you I'd suggest, "Two of everything."

                                                          1. I do like their flower stand prices on and off holidays.
                                                            Vitamins are a great buy
                                                            Costco Pharmacy is the best price going and you DO NOT need to be a member to use their pharmacy.
                                                            3-pk reading glasses huge savings
                                                            Triple pack batteries are a bargain
                                                            Summer reading paperbacks and some cookbooks (gift items)
                                                            I like the Kirkland Greek style yogurt 2 pk
                                                            the cheese section is da bomb as long as I'm entertaining; except large blocks of Parm or goat cheese which work out for me weekly.
                                                            Produce section prices vary week to week but the Costco return policy (say if a melon isn't ripe) makes it easy to give fruit a try.
                                                            Some weeks the 3 carton eggs are the best price around.
                                                            But my favorite item in the whole store, one I rarely leave without, is the $1.35 frozen plain yogurt cup from the Costco cafe. I eat half and freeze half for later..

                                                            1. I just enjoyed both the peaches and nectarines from my Costco shop yesterday. Both are super juicy and sweet. Needed extra napkins to wipe my chin!

                                                              1. Just bought a container of blueberries, huge and sweet. Cantelopes are excellent as well.

                                                                1. I had to return the cantaloupe 3 pk and the peach tray because they mildewed overnight. :*(

                                                                  I have so much trouble finding excellent summer melons!!!

                                                                  1. They were sampling Frankly Fresh zucchini cakes in Brick, NJ today. They were fresh, not frozen although the rep said you can freeze them if you want. They were fantastic.

                                                                    1. I like the roast chickens. Tastier than our local grocery stores' versions and only $4.99 (compared to about $17 at Whole Foods that doesn't taste nearly as good). Leftovers are very useful for recipes calling for cooked chicken meat.

                                                                      1. My fave's..

                                                                        Roasted chicken
                                                                        Mini peppers
                                                                        half and half gallon for $4
                                                                        6pk of brown rice microwave
                                                                        Coffee 2.5-3 pound bag of Guatemalan/Peruvian
                                                                        Fresh Ahi
                                                                        Shrimp Salad
                                                                        Paper towels
                                                                        Parm Reggiano
                                                                        Goat cheese
                                                                        Pretzel rolls
                                                                        Roasted almonds
                                                                        Madras lentils 4pk
                                                                        Himalayan salt and whole peppercorns

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: treb

                                                                            Great deals on wine and booze too.
                                                                            ; )

                                                                          2. re: Beach Chick

                                                                            Those marcona almonds are pretty insanely good, and I'm not much of an almond fan. We do the large containers of mixed nuts, and I ALWAYS eat the almonds first because they are my least favorites...

                                                                            1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                              Pretzel rolls?! Will have to look for those next time.

                                                                            2. No one's mentioned Season brand skinless, boneless sardines. I love them. And I don't know how they do this, but there always seem to be more sardines in the can than the same brand bought at the supermarket.

                                                                              I nearly always have a jar of Kirkland marinated artichoke hearts on hand; great for adding to salads or even just snacking on.

                                                                              I nearly always buy frozen shrimp and scallops and their price for jumbo lump crab can't be beat.

                                                                              In the meat department: rack of lamb, prime strip steaks, flank steaks, and lamb loin chops.

                                                                              And always fresh wild salmon, when it's in season, that I portion out and vacuum seal before freezing.

                                                                              1. I've been a Costco member for years and I am a single household (although my grown son and I share a membership)
                                                                                Canned solid white tuna in water Kirkland
                                                                                Mini baby bel cheese in the net bag (half the price of grocery store)
                                                                                Paper towels (I buy once a year)
                                                                                Marcona almonds
                                                                                Best Foods mayonnaise
                                                                                Double Fiber Whole Wheat Breat (two loaves)
                                                                                Roast Chicken
                                                                                Cottage Cheese
                                                                                Fage Greek Yogurt

                                                                                12 Replies
                                                                                1. re: laliz

                                                                                  They stopped carrying Fage Greek yogurt at our Costco and replaced it with a double pkg Kirkland brand. $6.95 for two large tubs.

                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                    While I adore the Fage, I've heard good things about the Costco version and that price - wow!

                                                                                    1. re: happybaker

                                                                                      The Costco Greek yogurt is fantastic. I buy a pack every time I'm in the store

                                                                                      1. re: happybaker

                                                                                        My sentiments as well, happybaker.

                                                                                      2. re: HillJ

                                                                                        thanks ~` I'll remember this tip if they stop carrying Fage at my Costco

                                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                                          I noticed that the "Everybody's Nuts" Salt & Pepper Pistachios are now being marketed as Kirkland brand on the website (though the bag so far is still labeled Everybody's Nuts). Is the new Costco Greek yogurt actually Fage?

                                                                                          1. re: emily

                                                                                            I doubt it, since the Kirkland is OU (kosher) and the Fage is not

                                                                                            1. re: emily

                                                                                              They don't taste the same; even the thickness is slightly different. I like them both but Fage will always be my fav Greek styled yogurt (outside of Greece!).

                                                                                              1. re: emily

                                                                                                Speaking of pistachios, our local Costco has the big bags of pre-shelled "kernels" from I think Wonderful at about half the cost I've found online (they don't carry them at the grocery stores around here).

                                                                                                1. re: Mestralle

                                                                                                  How much are they per pound? I have been buying unsalted pistachio "nutmeats" at TJs for $4.99/8oz, so $9.98/lb. It seemed pricey to me until I compared prices with whole foods!

                                                                                              2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                In my travels, I've seen some Costco's that have Fage and others that have Kirkland. I've been told that it depends on the location of their suppliers. I like both but, IMO Kirkland is a better value.

                                                                                                1. re: treb

                                                                                                  My Costco has both. I wish they carried a plain 2%!

                                                                                            2. Tuxedo Chocolate Mousse cake log was a huge hit at the dinner party.
                                                                                              Around $15+ and serves 8+ people.
                                                                                              Rich and delicious.

                                                                                              11 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                Our guests loved this. Leftovers froze very well

                                                                                                1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                  I bought six of those tuxedo cakes at Valentine's day for clients and big raves all around.

                                                                                                    1. re: happybaker

                                                                                                      That's cute! Valentine's Day is the occasion we use to say thank you in a big way. At Christmas we only send photo cards. So I'm always looking for ideas.

                                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                        That is a great idea!

                                                                                                        At Xmas, folks are feeling overdosed by goodies. On Valentines Day, it's more of a happy surprise!

                                                                                                        My latest Costco thrill is the two pound bags of frozen dungeness crab legs. They let you do a roasted crab dish or a ginger and scallion crab stir fry so much more easily.

                                                                                                        But I don't think thawing bags of crab legs would be the best and most stable gift to give out ; )

                                                                                                        1. re: happybaker

                                                                                                          It would be fun to host a crab boil or grill though. Not a bad idea if we could get the troops to all show up on the same day/time...that's usually the challenge!

                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                            For most things, picking up the frozen, cooked dungeness crabs from costco works very well for me.

                                                                                                            And you can clean them BEFORE you steam them with lemon, which makes it awfully convenient and tasty. (No wrassling hot crabs!) Works for two or ten.

                                                                                                            But about once a year, someone, or some event comes up and I feel like I have to do the real deal. As I told my cousin "You know I love you if I'm willing to go into my kitchen and wrangle live crab for you. With a cleaver."

                                                                                                            As for the crab boil - you're talking blue crabs, right? Aw, just get a few couples over that you like and go to town. All you have to do is layer and cook the stuff - they do the whacking, cleaning and eating - and if you're friends you won't mind the flying bits.

                                                                                                            1. re: happybaker

                                                                                                              Yeah...all that delicious talk of cooked crabs had me daydreaming. Well its the first day of summer-food for thought (as they say!). I'll have to give the Costco crab legs a try. I've seen them there but I wind up with a big bag of fresh mussels and then I'm onto the produce dept!

                                                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                This is what I made with the Costco crab legs - they worked BEAUTIFULLY. My husband is now a fan of the C-legs and is not averse to us always having a bag in the freezer, just in case.


                                                                                                                P.S. If you do make this with the costco legs - cut the added salt in half.

                                                                                                                1. re: happybaker

                                                                                                                  omg, how did you know i adore ginger! thanks so much. well if this isn't a push in the right direction i don't know what is!

                                                                                                                  i could dive right into that photo and be very happy!

                                                                                                  1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                    Tuxedo Mousse Cake log -- wow, twist my arm!

                                                                                                  2. I like Golden Island pork jerky. Hard to find outside of Costco, and not all Costcos carry it.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: ebchower

                                                                                                      Yes! I've tried 2 different flavors and they were both great.

                                                                                                    2. -cooked bacon (fantastic deal, and less grease to deal with)
                                                                                                      -new (at least to me): Cocola Macaroons box of 15, 4 flavors
                                                                                                      -pesto sauce
                                                                                                      -romaine lettuce
                                                                                                      -bag of 1/2 spring mix/spinach salad
                                                                                                      -marinated ribs
                                                                                                      -frozen bacon wrapped scallops
                                                                                                      -Asti wine (sweet fruity - forgot name)

                                                                                                      1. Organic maple syrup, grade A dark amber, 1 liter for $13.xx.

                                                                                                        The OJ in gallon size are also a good deal.