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I finally get to go to Costco tomorrow - what should I buy

13 years ago

We're actually Sam's members but a friend is taking me to Costco tomorrow.

If I think it's as good as or better than Sam's we may switch memberships even though Costco is about 6 miles further away.

So tell me...What are MUST have's? What shouldn't I pass up and what isn't worth the money no matter how good it looks?

Comments (70)

  • sands99
    13 years ago

    I concur on the spices and the vanilla!

    Think about things you buy on a regular basis that aren't regularly on sale at your local supermarche. Those are the items I tend towards. Also, the better foundations like socks, gloves.

  • jessyf
    13 years ago

    I once bought 1.5 vanilla beans for about $12

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  • Terrapots
    13 years ago

    While you're at it, pick up a vacuum sealer. Their meat is excellent including their ground beef. I always buy they EVOO and light olive oil. Once EVOO is gone there won't be anymore until next year, unlike the bargains you find elsewhere that you never know how old it is. Their laundry soap is an excellent buy also. Stay away from the bakery unless you suffer from anorexia. Most of stores give out samples even during week days except at night. Butter, cheese, milk and frozen juices always make the cut.

    If you see something that's seasonal buy it immediately, it may be gone often within hours. At least that's the way it's been, but who knows during this economic climate. Sounnds like fun. I always like to go with someone who has never been before, but then I've never been to a Sams.

  • JoanM
    13 years ago

    I always head straight to the book aisle. The magazines are discounted as well. The cookies and muffins from the bakery are killer. I have never bought meat that I wasn't satisfied with. I always take home a rotisserie chicken just because my nose leads me right to them.

  • lindac
    13 years ago

    Wow!! I am about ready to punt Sams for Costco....even though it's a few miles farther!

  • bri29
    13 years ago

    Gee, where to start!?! I don't do my regular shopping at Costco (I couldn't afford that many trips to the $100 store), but there are things I go for specifically.

    Meats (we don't eat much beef, so a costco trip lasts us a while)
    Chicken and cheese ravioli in the deli section
    egg rolls
    protein bars for the dh
    disinfecting wipes- one of the three packs has lasted me three years and counting
    frozen precooked chicken breast strips (Foster Farms I think) for quick dinners and salads
    mixed salad greens
    big bags of pistachios with salt, pepper and garlic- yum!
    I also bought a 10 pack of bar towels for $5 6 or 7 years ago that are still in great shape

    Just have fun! Expect a crowd, have plenty of time and don't let it stress you out.


  • shaun
    13 years ago

    NY Strips
    Lamb Chops
    Chicken Breasts (skinless/boneless)
    Dunkin Donuts Coffee
    MultiGrain Crackers
    Mozzarella cheese balls in olive oil

    Gosh there's so much we love from Costco! Have fun~

  • cseim
    13 years ago

    Their meat and seafood section is fantastic! Great book selection for cheap too. Most of the Kirkland brand stuff I've tried has been quite good.

    Honestly, my favorite thing about Costco is the random special items they'll get. I've seen huge, gorgeous orchids and other plants for really cheap. Got a great suede jacket once for $50. We also got a beautiful patio set there last year, way nicer than anything I've seen at Target or Home Depot.

    The only thing I would strongly suggest you avoid is the sushi. This may sound like a given, but on occasion I've actually bought containers of sushi at the nicer grocery stores before for a decent, last-minute lunch. It's not that the Costco stuff wasn't fresh, it's just that the rice was all wrong.


  • loves2cook4six
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    THANK YOU!! I am going to make an extensive list and spend a long time looking and probably spend a lot of $$$ too.

  • Virginia7074
    13 years ago

    Everything mentioned here and if you have a cat, buy cat litter.

    A tip for the ground beef: it's the same price whether you buy one big mound of meat, or buy the package where the meat is divided into small mounds. Look for a package where each small mound weighs about half a pound - if the package contains 12 mounds, look for one that weighs about 6 pounds. Freeze them flat in Ziploc bags and when you need them, just whack the bag on the floor and pull out as many half-pound mounds as you need.

    If you like Fig Newton, their individually wrapped packages are cheaper than what grocery stores charge when they're on sale.

    Also, the big bag of Nestle chocolate chips.

    I eat Craisins, walnuts and Vietnamese Cassia cinnamon in my oatmeal every morning - get all those at Costco.

    If you take Claritin, Kirkland's own brand of generic Loratadine is AllerClear - cheap.

    Phillip's refrigerated canned crab meat. Tzatziki sauce goes good with Stacy's Pita Chips - it's with the hummus.

  • sushipup1
    13 years ago

    We also get vitamins and generic naproxin sodium as well.

    Several times a year, Costco sends out coupon books, and they'll include a wide assortment of goods in the coupons---- fresh bake-it pizza and TV's and treadmills and dish soap. I picked up toothpaste and bar soap there, last coupons.

    Beofre CHristmas there were great coupons for wine and liquor. $4 off on a big bottle of Tanqueray gin, I bought several, will last us quite a while.

    The brand name dry dishwasher detergent is in a HUGE heavy box, the Kirkland brand same stuff is in two boxes, a bit smaller. I pour some of the Kirkland into a pint sized tupperware that I keep under the sink, the big box goes into the pantry. I use a spoon to measure it into the DW dispenser.

    Things like bananas ( 3# for $1.59) tend to go as soon as the store opens, then are gone for the day.

    If you have to shop on weekends, go in the late afternoon, after 4 PM at least. During the week, evenings aren't too bad. Store differ. The Costco in Monterey, where Jim gets his Rx's, always has a long line at the pharmacy, but in Salinas, where I go, there's rarely a line.

    Be sure to get a hotdog and soda, too. $1.50, best lunch in town.

  • goldgirl
    13 years ago

    Sushi raises an interesting question - does anyone know which manufactures make the various Kirkland-labeled products?

  • sushipup1
    13 years ago

    They buy from whoever gives them the deal with the quality they want. And it probably changes often, I bet.

  • natesgramma
    13 years ago

    Tri-tip roasts
    Boneless chicken breasts
    Ziplock and trash bags
    Shampoo, pqper towels, tp
    Grated cheese
    Kitchen towels
    DH socks
    Great cakes and muffins
    Sometimes you can get full if they are giving away food samples in the store.

  • stbonner
    13 years ago

    Here's what I usually buy at Costco:

    cheeses, all kinds. They have an especially great deal on feta - I split the package and vacuum seal it
    generic Claritin
    Cetaphil cleanser and moisturizing cream
    vitamins, calcium, other supplements
    Olive Oil
    coffee filters - you get about 400 for the price of 40 in a supermarket
    I always check the produce, often buy romaine lettuce, asparagus, and whatever else looks good
    they have good deals on wine, although I buy mine from a locally owned shop
    sheets (really nice Royal Sateen sheets currently in stock)
    beach towels
    beach chairs
    Kirkland brand vodka is great - it's apparently French vodka
    coffee (Kirkland brand is very good, roasted by Starbucks)

    I'm sure there's more but you get the idea:)

  • stbonner
    13 years ago

    I can't believe I forgot this one:

    Check out their plastic wrap. I bought a large roll of plastic wrap (3000 ft) in July of 2004 and I still have a good bit left. These rolls currently cost about $13.00. If you have the space to store it it's a great deal.

    My sister-in-law asked for one of these for Christmas, since she's no longer a Costco member. Her prior roll lasted her almost six years.

  • Fori
    13 years ago

    Oh the plastic wrap!

    I bought a roll to wrap my china and stuff before I moved almost 3 years ago. I used miles of it to turn a stack of loose plates into a chunk of plate. I used it with abandon, wrapped things that didn't need wrapping. I wrapped fishing poles and kites and bed rails just to keep them together.

    I am STILL using the stuff in the kitchen. I don't have room for that giant roll. It sits on top of the uninsulated toaster oven and it should be melted into a solid piece but it isn't. It just keeps going.

    If you buy one, realize it's a commitment. You're going to be together for a while.

  • sushipup1
    13 years ago

    Just got back from Costco, picked up a Rx.

    Here's what was being sampled in the aisles:
    Kung pao chicken
    spicy sausages
    chicken wings
    pretzel chips with artichoke dip
    pita chips with guacamole and sour cream
    tortilla chips with nacho cheese
    some sort of vitamin drink (I didn't try that)

    Who needs a hot dog after all that?

  • loves2cook4six
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    I'm back (and a lot poorer :) )

    Here's what I bought

    Glass snapware
    2 Rotisserie chickens
    Garlic Artisan Bread
    Waffle potatoes
    Stirfry veggies
    Wild Alaskan Salmon
    Veggie tray
    Shredded Cheddar
    Shredded Peccorina Cheese (can't remember the whole name)
    Toilet Paper
    Light Thomas Muffins
    The Diary of a Winmpy Kid
    Four Cheese stuffed Shells
    Strawberries, blackberries, canteloupe, pineapple
    Organic Spring Mix, green beans, avocados
    Peaches in glass jars
    Organic Chicken
    Cream Cheese
    Brown Sugar
    Stacy's Pita Chips
    Lindt chocolate
    Fiber One bars
    Almond Milk

    I'm sure there is more

    And I am going to ask hubby if we can join AND keep the Sam's membership. Somethings are cheaper at Sam's but Costco seems higher end.

  • Terri_PacNW
    13 years ago

    Great list...I'd love to be able to shop at both..
    Lucky you having them close enough to do that.

  • granjan
    13 years ago

    The marcona almonds! The meat is great. We love the lamb chops,and pork chops and tenderloins and in summer it's the only place I buy ribs, not that you can't make them in winter. And wonderful oxtails.

    paperbacks, cookbooks and like Eileen, basic clothing. Underpants!

  • Gina_W
    13 years ago


    Yes, marcona almonds. I'm going after work today.

  • cseim
    13 years ago

    Yikes! You must have spent a fortune! I can't leave that store without spending a $100 (or way more) and it only really takes a handful of items to accomplish that. One of us really should have warned you how easy it is to get out of control! :)

    I agree that maybe you can buy some things cheaper elsewhere, but it seems like everything I get there is of very good quality. I hope you enjoyed your shopping trip.


  • carolfm
    13 years ago

    I was scrolling down to tell you about the organic chickens and you've already bought them! We have a Sam's and a Costco here and we have memberships to both. I like and shop at Costco more often than Sam's but there are things that I buy and like from both places. I haven't read all the posts, did anyone mention pine nuts? Big bag for a great price. Also, their premade pizza's are pretty good.


  • kathleenca
    13 years ago

    Though we are not members, friends of ours are, & shop at Costco religiously. They get the frozen shrimp, which are great - tender & flavorful.

  • compumom
    13 years ago

    Great idea! We had those shrimp for a quick dinner last night!
    I defrosted them after work in a colander by running cold water over them. Just saute and serve!

    Loves to cook: Looks like you did great on your first outing! I think Costco quality is very good, back when they were the Price Club, they always had a limited but high quality selection. That seems to have continued with the Costco name as well.

  • Gina_W
    13 years ago

    I always have the frozen (raw) shrimp on hand, as well as the excellent sea scallops - big, tender and sweet - and I'm not a big scallops fan but my DH is, and I concur that these are the best.

    They also have frozen fish like salmon and halibut filets - which are very convenient but I stopped buying because I prefer fresh.

  • Terri_PacNW
    13 years ago

    Organic Chickens??? in the meat case or the freezer case???

    They sell Foster Farms at our Costco. (local chicken producer, but not Organic)

  • loves2cook4six
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Gina, I agree fresh is always better but we don't eat farm raised fish and all the fresh fish at Costco today was farm raised. So I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when I found the Frozen wild Alaskan salmon without added color.

    For help making good choices when it comes to eating seafood, check out the Monteray BAy Aquarium's Seafood watch Program.

    Csein, it wasn't cheap!! But I have about 5 weeks worth of food (supplementing of course with more fresh fruit and veggies and homemade bread) so I hope after 5 weeks I feel like I got my money's worth and want to go back. That's when we'll join if hubby agrees.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Seafood Watch Program

  • loves2cook4six
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Terri The organic chicken was in the fresh produce open fridges, around the corner from the "regular" chicken and was $5.99 per pound. Actually IIRC it was next to the flavored chicken breasts from Foster Farms.

  • compumom
    13 years ago

    Terri, I think our Costco has organic whole chickens, but I've never seen the individual pieces.
    Gina, ditto on the scallops, not as good as fresh, but still good quality and excellent to have on hand! I agree about the fresh fish, I much prefer it to frozen.

  • loves2cook4six
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    This one had whole organic chickens as well as skinless boneless breasts. I bought the breasts at $5.99 /pound

  • compumom
    13 years ago

    I do realize that Gina and I are only cooking for two - four people and you're cooking for six. That would certainly impact my shopping time and my budget, so its understandable that you'd opt to use frozen fish.

  • BeverlyAL
    13 years ago

    Most of what I buy has already been mentioned here. I also buy their Kirkland fabric softener sheets. They have nice furniture sometimes too, and I bought our memory foam mattress toppers there. I don't like Kirkland hams.

  • loves2cook4six
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Hey Compumom, I LOVE fresh fish but we prefer to not eat farm raised fish. So sometimes, ok more often than not, I buy my fish at Whole Foods and pay through the nose for the priveledge :) .

    I wish Costco, and Sam's for that matter, would carry wild sustainable fish and then not add color to it either. Last year Sam's had wild salmon without color for about two months. We ate lots of salmon in that time. Probably should have frozen some but I don't know how to freeze fish at home without ruining the texture when it thaws.

  • centralcacyclist
    13 years ago

    When I use fish I've frozen, usually salmon from Costco, I cook it from the frozen state with no problem.

  • Gina_W
    13 years ago

    I don't have a problem with farmed fish - my choice. But that's another discussion.

    I went today --scored some Adidas and Nike athletic shirts for DH and yoga pants for me - just what I needed. You never know what you'll find!

  • livingthedream
    13 years ago

    I'm a Costco fan, making weekly visits to get their organic salad mix, so it's easy to "pick up a few things" while there. Those things often include nuts, some cheeses, heavy cream, butter, eggs, pet food, paper goods, prescriptions, contact lenses and eyeglasses.

    However, although our local Costco often has wild salmon when it is in season, I won't buy it because they leave the scales on. I'm willing to pay more to get properly-cleaned fish. Flash frozen is almost as good as fresh, and it is available out of season, but I prefer to buy it from Trader Joe's because it comes in smaller sizes.

    BTW, the "color added" to farmed salmon is added to the salmon's food, not its flesh, so it's not present in wild-caught fish.

  • jessyf
    13 years ago

    Gina, I went Wed night, we shoulda coordinated. Thanks for the tip on Borghese, I got some mascara. I rarely use make up so I hope it lasts.

    Our Costco seems to have put out a nice selection of cheeses, not just the run of the mill cheddar and MJ. Saw some nice stuff from England.

    I bought the organic chickens....Colorado...shoulda checked price....two birds for $23....oh well.

    I didn't see vanilla beans this time.

    I caved and bought Ghiradelli brownie mix and Quaker organic oatmeal packets - worked out to 20 cents a packet. I had just made up a bunch of home-made packets in baggies for DS #1. Bad CF member.

  • cloudy_christine
    13 years ago

    Does Costco let non-members in for a day? I think Sam's used to do that, or maybe BJ's. I'd really like to check it out. The store is an hour away, and I want to be sure it's worth it to me to join.

  • Terri_PacNW
    13 years ago

    Christine, I'm not sure what they do.
    Below is the store finder link. It gives you phone numbers and hours and such. Give them a call. Customer service has always been top notch in my dealings with them.

    I shop for my family in the store 2x a month, and during Baseball season have business delivery for 4 months for the Concession stands I run.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Costco Locations

  • sushipup1
    13 years ago

    You can go in, thru the "out" door to the membership desk or the food court (if it's inside). And then just keep going thru the check stands to look around. But you can't buy anything.

    Or go with a friend, which is more fun.

  • caboodle
    13 years ago

    Christine, around here (St. Louis Costco) you don't have the option of a trial run, but what you can do is cancel your membership for a refund if you don't think it's something that meets your needs. I'm not sure what we think yet. I like it, but it's far enough away that I haven't decided if it's worth the trip or not.

    I love some of the things we are able to purchase there, though. I really like the boxes of 'dry' waxed paper. Like the coffee filter (on the coffee filter link) they're useful for so many things.


  • stir_fryi SE Mich
    13 years ago

    That's funny. I was just thinking of joining Sams Club next time instead of Costco even though it is farther.

    I like Costco but have been a member for years and their stuff hardly ever changes.

  • Gina_W
    13 years ago

    The local Costco changes all the time. That's weird. You mean the food doesn't change?

    Jessica, the cheese selection is fantastic isn't it? I have to hold myself back though and just buy one at a time - otherwise I waste it. Right now we're working on a sharp English white cheddar, and I've go a butt of Pecorino Romano not finished yet. Before that I bought a delicious Manchego.

  • BeverlyAL
    13 years ago

    I think a lot of whether or not the food changes depends on the size city you live in. There is very little change here and it doesn't carry nearly as much as I hear some of you talking about.

    PLenty to be said for small towns. Also lots of nice things about large cities. Too bad we can't all have it both ways.

  • stir_fryi SE Mich
    13 years ago

    I guess what I'm referring to is they always have Ragu spaghetti sauce, Friskees cat food, Tide or Kirkland brand detergent -- I would like to see new brands and items.

    For instance, my kids love hot pretzels (the kind you microwave) -- but the frozen food at Costco rarely changes.

    PS; Does it annoy anyone else when they give samples of things like yogurt? Like, who hasn't had yogurt before???

  • sushipup1
    13 years ago

    Yeah, we've all had yogurt before, but it's almost lunch time, and anything tastes good, and I might actually buy some of whatever they are sampling. Like I say, it's a nice free lunch some days.

    We are 7 miles from one Costco in Salinas, 15 miles to Seaside/Monterey, and 20 miles from Gilroy. The Salinas store has a FAR more restricted range of product than the other two stores. Like cheese. The Monterey store has probably 3 times the selection of cheese as the Salinas store, no joke.

  • shaun
    13 years ago

    Hey loves2cook4six I forgot to tell you - (no one is allowed to throw tomatoes at me for admitting this) BUT Costco sells a frozen Tirimisu that is the best I've ever had. SAMS Club doesnt sell it. Just Costco. If you like Tirimisu, you gotta try this!!

  • carol_in_california
    13 years ago

    I recently purchased bilateral hearing aids from Costco.....loved that the hearing specialist is not on commission and that I can try them for 90 days and get a full refund if not satisfied.
    I tried getting aids thru the audiologist and the price was $6000. For the newest technology and comparable aids at Costco I paid $2000.
    I love them and cannot imagine being without them.....and I have only had them for ten days. I go in Monday for a recheck and will have some fine tuning done is necessary.
    I have also had really good service from the optical department. I have had my last two pair of glasses made there even though I used an opthmalogist instead of their optician.

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