I was not always a Costco fan. The $200+ bill everytime we walk out of the place really irks me. I still can't watch the checkout because I start to hyperventilate a bit watching the price. However, I have come to realize the benefit of buying SOME things in bulk. Things we love, things we use a lot of, and things that are a far superior buy compared to elsewhere, SO I have given in. I am a Costco convert, but not without some hesitations. Here are my GETS and SKIPS for the novice Costco shoppers! :)
So let's start with the favorites... Hands down, our favorite granola bar/ candy bar are these and they last quite a while, sothey are a fabulous deal for us! The frozen pretzels are also a great deal and they serve as lunch for me once in awhile when I'm too tired to think about making a real meal. They taste exactly like the kind you buy at a concession stand and come with those little bags of super white crunchy salt - yum!
The cranberries are perfect for breakfasts, snacks, treats when you don't want to actually give your kid a super sugary treat. One bag lasts about a month in our house and this bag is a FAR better deal than the grocery store offerings.
When it comes to dinners, there are a few products we buy EVERY time we need them from Costco. Basmati Rice and Pam (giant cans, 3 to a pack) are two of them. We use them a lot, they are cheap and they are yummy and useful bases for meals. The sun-dried tomatoes on the left are a treat. I usually pick out one or two cans, bags or bottles of something really interesting that I'll use in just about everything for a month. Sometimes we love it, sometimes we hate it. I love the tomatoes, Alex hates them.
Walnuts were another spur of the moment buy for me this past trip to Costco. Last month it was almonds. A bag is expensive ($10-12), but lasts forever and ever. I've been using these in chicken salad, regular garden salads, the kids stir them in yogurt, etc, etc.
Speaking of chicken salad, it is always better with freshly grilled chicken, but if you don't have the time and are going to use canned chicken, the Kirkland brand canned chicken is not that bad. In fact, they come in interesting cans that are a little taller than typical tuna cans, so I've been saving them for DIY projects :)
Lemon juice is also another standard buy for us at Costco. It comes as a 2 pack with these big bottles, so if you don't use lemon juice ever, it would be stupid for you, but I use it quite a bit and it lasts a loooong time, so I always buy it here when I need some. It def. beats the price of the fake little lemons in the grocery store.
...best price we've found outside of WalMart's $5 deals on 24 packs.
...and wrapping up the gets...
The brown sugar (and powdered sugars) are good buys - you just have to find a place to store them once you break the bag open. The olives come in a two jar pack and I love them, so I go through a bottle in a month. They last forever! ...and those pretzels? They usually last about a week in our house. You can see how much we hate them right?
Alex also loves these mixes, and I don't love love love them. Of course I love my yeast rolls and Alex hates hates hates them...so I guess we're even :)
We went to the store a week ago, so we have used up most of the fresh produce, so no pictures, BUT the favorite GETS for us include:
Cantelope (pack of 3)
Bananas (super duper cheap)
Romaine (pack of 6...only buy if you are going to eat salad lunches everyday)
Plums (yum yum!)
Frozen Broccoli (delicious full heads of broccoli)
Frozen Blueberries (a fabulous deal and they last forever and are delicious to boot!)
Sweet Potato Chips (they were gone 3 days after we shopped...oops)
The cakes from the bakery are beyond fabulous!
An expose on Costco would also not be complete without discussing the merits of the concession stand...the ice cream bars and smoothies and ice cream and ice cream sundaes are to DIE for and super cheap. The rest of the food is so-so, but again...super cheap. If you are super duper duper cheap, you'll also take full advantage of your membership and use Costco for entertainment by shuffling your kids around in a cart while sampling a few things, getting free cookies in the bakery and hanging out in the toy aisle.
As far as meat, I am a huge fan of the frozen tilapia, but I don't like the frozen chicken and the fresh meat seems far more expensive than the local grocery stores. I will grab a rotisserie chicken now and again for a quick dinner. Two misses on meat are the meatballs and bacon bits. I thought the bacon bits would be good as an item to throw into a bunch of dishes here and there for variety (like the sun dried tomatoes and walnuts), but they just don't taste good. They are supposedly "real" bacon pieces, but they just taste kind of leathery. Moral of the story...buy the Oscar Meyer bacon, fry it and crumble it yourself. A ton more work, but the taste is markedly different! As far as the meatballs...I hate them - Alex likes them.
On the healthy side of things, I try to get new things once in awhile hoping we'll love it, but once in awhile I strike out. The boca burgers, salmon burgers and this tomato based salad dressing were all misses. The chickens won't even eat the cooked burgers, not to mention the kids...