What do you buy for your pantry at Costco?

Amandajli's question about Trader Joe's favorites got me thinking: what do you routinely buy at Costco to keep in your larder? I confess I probably don't get as much there as I would if it weren't so easy to be led astray in that place. I go for a few things and end up dazed $300 later, with an armchair and a potted palm. Help!

My Costco kitchen faves are: 3-pound bags of almonds and walnuts; coffee filters; butter; rotisserie chicken (4.99 and scrumptious); fresh pork shoulder and tenderloin; wine; golden mangoes when in season; avocados; medjool dates; organic quinoa; organic brown rice; fresh broccoli florets. I haven't really explored the frozen foods or the rest of the food offerings.



pagesinthesun March 28, 2012
Organic quinoa and Fage Greek yogurt, but our very favorite is the frozen wild caught Copper River salmon! It's not always available. Before anyone rolls their eyes, I'm from Arizona. It is by far better than any fish available, even Whole Foods. Give it a try!
mrslarkin March 28, 2012
another thread just reminded me, I buy the Red Star Yeast at Costco all the time. The 2 pound bag lasts quite a long time in the freezer.
Author Comment
Food wise, Sundried tomatoes definatley, Roasted Red peppers, Big bags of frozen berries for my smoothies, Fage Yogurt and boursin cheese, otherwise i shop at Wholefoods for everything else. When it comes to meat, chicken, pork and fish, I only trust Wholefoods. Check out their 5 step program which illustrates unmatched; highest quality standards!!
OurDailyFeed March 28, 2012
*Canned corn
*Tomato sauce
*Sea salt
*Marinated artichokes
*Canned black olives
dinner A. March 27, 2012
Our Costco also sells good quality nursery shrubs during the planting season. I have purchased several varieties of boxwood which have flourished. I've also bought beautiful hibiscus and mandevilla.The price is phenomenal compared to the typical nursery prices. However, it's best to get them early before they've been indoors too long without the benefit of some real sunshine and tender loving care. Of course, buy your groceries first, and with all the savings you can pick up a shrub!
Miafoodie March 25, 2012
Made my list and I'm checkin' it twice as we will have our first Costco in Sarasota, FL. sometime this year. Made a list from the Trader Joe's question also, as our first TJ's will be opening in a few weeks.
Never shopped in either store but I'm excited now thanks to all your wonderful tips.
cookbookchick March 25, 2012
And thanks to a ll for your great tips! Lots of them are going on my list for our next Costco "treasure hunt"!
calendargirl March 25, 2012
Be careful cookbookchick, and don't come home with a potted palm! Agree with you on the coffee, BTW.
cookbookchick March 25, 2012
Artichoke, Parmesan & Garlic Dip -- heat it up 'til it's warm and gooey -- SO good! Also, Seattle Mountain coffee beans roasted in the store (we like the Sumatra) -- very good coffee at less than half the price of retail coffee shops. Unfortunately, not all Costcos have the ginormous coffee roaster that makes this possible. The coffee available at roaster-less Costco stores is inferior.
SeaJambon March 25, 2012
I LOVE Costco, also fall prey to their "treasure hunt mentality" (and, yes, that is what they call it) and buy just about everything others have recommended. There is one additional item that has become a total STAPLE for my cooking that I haven't seen mentioned: the Kirkland Signature (so Costco's own brand) Organic No-Salt Seasoning. It is truly AMAZING and since I try to cook with less salt, it really really does a nice job as a salt substitute for almost all savory cooking (or as a supplement to a greatly reduced from original amount recipe required bit of salt). When they have them, I also have a special fondness for their garlic/jalapeno stuff olives!
calendargirl March 25, 2012
Amysarah, I will be interested to know how you see the difference between the two stores.

And thanks, dinner at sheila's, for the specificity of your list! I do love that Kirkland sweet butter, and like to have some in the freezer.
dinner A. March 25, 2012
Costco can't be beat for certain items. The large quantities can sometimes be a deterrent, but sometimes I've split the items with a friend which makes it an even bigger savings. If you have the freezer space many items can be frozen. some of my favorite items to buy there are:

Kirkland Brand whole Telicherry black peppercorns
Kirkland Brand extra virgin olive oil
Bella San Luis sundried tomatoes in olive oil
Kirkland Brand Grade A 100% pure maple syrup
Kirkland Brand jarred hearts of palm
Mayorga (local roaster) whole bean coffee
Canned wild salmon (when available)
Canned Yellowfin Tuna in olive oil
Turbinado Sugar (sugar in the raw)
3# bag walnuts
Quart size half and half
Quart size heavy whipping cream
Philadelphia Cream Cheese (large 3# block great for baking)
Kirkland Brand salted and unsalted butter
Dodoni Greek Feta cheese in brine
Locatelli Brand Pecorino Romano Cheese (when available)
Fresh fingerling potatoes
Meyer lemons (when available)
NY Strip and Rib Eye Steaks
Coleman organic whole chickens
Wild fresh Alaskan Sockeye salmon (when available)
Frozen shrimp,raw, tail-on, and deveined 21-25 per bag and 31-40
Frozen wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon Fillets Iindividually wrapped portions)
calendargirl March 25, 2012
Amysarah, I am certain others who are more knowledgeable than I am will weigh in on this but my initial thinking is informed by the fact that Sam's Club is a Walmart company, and Walmart tends to cater to an especially broad demographic. Perhaps more boxed and prepared foods? I do know that the Costco stores that carry wine have a broad selection, occasional delights and, according to all the helpful food52-ers here, excellent champagne. I only went to Sam's Club once and found less that I wanted to buy than at Costco.
amysarah March 25, 2012
Good point, calendargirl - I forgot about the Sam's-Walmart connection.

I only go there occasionally (like to buy 3# bags of walnuts for holiday baking or huge packages of paper towel) - and do find some great buys, like recently a bag of 13 juicy limes for $3, or sometimes good smoked salmon, or cheese - but yes, there's a whole lot of packaged stuff I have no interest in.

Sounds like it's worth a field trip to Costco.
amysarah March 25, 2012
A little bit of a tangent, but: there's a Sam's Club about 10 minutes away and a Costco about a half hour. Sam's is good for some things (e.g., nuts, cereal, some baking supplies and cheese, olive oil) but from the lists here it seems Costco is better. Has anyone been to both that can compare? Is it worth schlepping to Costco instead?
hardlikearmour March 25, 2012
nuts of all varieties
organic sugar
butter (I freeze it)
whipping cream during caramel-making season
olive oil
canned garbanzos
dry pasta
canned diced tomatoes
vanilla extract
Adam's peanut butter
Parmesan & Pecorino
frozen blueberries
cookbookchick March 25, 2012
"I go for a few things and end up dazed $300 later, with an armchair and a potted palm."

Thank you, calendargirl, for your perfect description of the Costco shopping experience --- and a good lol giggle!
mrslarkin March 23, 2012
King Arthur flour
baking powder
granulated sugar
brown sugar
heavy cream
unsalted butter
organic eggs
frozen berries
olive & veg oil
chocolate morsels
dried cranberries
navel oranges
the NINA brand tomatoes are awesome
the Cambozola cheese is rocking our world lately
the frozen edamame are great

Meat: boneless country ribs or boneless shoulder to make carnitas or pulled pork, and the pork chops are great, the steaks are great, organic chickens, too. I buy a rotisserie chicken every few weeks, until the kids get sick of it. Sadly, the New Zealand lamb is sub-par, smelled and tasted bad - had to throw it out. They were a teeny bit tiffed that I didn't return the product, but I did get my refund. Will never buy lamb there again.

Fish: I've never been completely happy with the fish from Costco, so never buy from there anymore.

I try to avoid the bakery and the frozen packaged goods case.
calendargirl March 25, 2012
Grateful for the recommendation of the NINA brand tomatoes, mrsl. Will check them out. I am currently on a quest for an alternate brand to Muir Glen, which I like but find pricey. I know lots of tomatoes get canned in Italy, there must be other fine brands. Am especially interested in tomatoes without added salt, as I like to add my own depending on what I am doing with the tomatoes.
mrslarkin March 26, 2012
P.S. The hanging Boston ferns are lovely. I get a bunch every year for the front porch.
babytiger March 23, 2012
Canned tomato, organic peanut butter, nuts, olive oil, vanilla (extract, paste), canned tuna, pasta & sauce, dried onion flakes, tabasco

Flour, sugar and butter when I need a lot of them (i.e. for holiday baking)

Meat, veg, eggs, dairy products - whatever in season/looks good, when needed

parchment paper
boulangere March 23, 2012
Granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla extract, vanilla beans (around the holidays), unsalted butter, cream cheese, Brie cheese, Feta cheese, organic chickens, heavy cream, onions, garlic, avocados, mangoes, olive oil, Italian red & white wine vinegar. And cat litter. I'm not the only one with a pantry.
healthierkitchen March 23, 2012
cheddar cheese, nuts, avocados, meyer lemons and cara cara oranges in season, chanterelles in season, organic spinach if they have it, big bags of quinoa, smoked salmon, frozen cheese tortellini, wheat tortillas, La Brea bakery wheat bread, paper napkins. Sometimes they have wild Pacific salmon, in season, and sometimes I get the tilapia. I used to get cookbooks there but lately they haven't had many. I haven't been happy with the bananas there and although I used to get strawberries there, I now only buy organic which I've never seen there. Rotisserie chicken. Very, very occasionally I will buy the chocolate muffins which are truly not a breakfast food or in any way good for you but my teens find them delicious for what we call "cake for breakfast." I have a friend who loves the croissants but I am picky and haven't tried them there.

I usually go with a list and go straight for the stuff I need (with a little detour to the book aisle, but overall, my store seems to have cut back its book offerings).
HalfPint March 23, 2012
My Costco food list:

cage-free eggs
unsalted butter
dutch-processed cocoa
organic boneless skinless chicken thighs
Parm Reg cheese
canned sardines
dried apricots
nuts (almond, walnuts, pecans)
fresh berries
Fra' Mani turkey meatloaf (it's the best meatloaf I've ever had)
31/40 frozen shrimp, w/ shell on
aged cheddar
chanterelles (when they have them)
French green beans
pork tenderloin
white rice
ecophonic March 23, 2012
I generally try to buy staples I use often and wouldn't necessarily make myself (canned/dry beans, tomatoes, pasta, rice) and depending on which Costco you're at they often offer a lot of organic options such as butter, rice milk, coffee, and cereals.
Sam1148 March 23, 2012
Their store brand extra virgin olive oil is good and highly rated. The parmesan reggiano cheese is a good buy. Protein Bars and Shakes are good. A foodsaver and food saver rolls bags are useful items to have for storing bulk purchases in single packs. I break down the PR cheese and wrap with a paper towel and vac pack--it'll last a year or so in the 'fridge protected that way. The paper towel is vital for PR cheese as it 'weeps' in the bag long term.

The CostCo "kirkland" brand champagne is quite good, according to my guest better than a mid-range veuve clicquot.
The Kirkland Canned Salmon is surprisingly good with big meaty slices of fish; free of spines, bones and eyeballs.
Greenstuff March 23, 2012
My brother shops a lot at Costco. The Kirkland Champagne is real, as in it comes from the Champagne region of France, and it's becoming his standard for kir royales.

As for me, I wander around both Trader Joe's and Costco and walk out empty-handed. Maybe I need a guide.
pieceocake March 23, 2012
Cinnamon, sugar, flour, vanilla extract, chocolate chips (sometimes), oatmeal, avocados, canned stewed tomatoes, canned garbanzos, peanut butter. And when I need them: dried plums, raisins, kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, walnuts & almonds. I used to buy frozen blueberries and strawberries, but I no longer have an extra freezer. Now that they carry unsalted butter, I stock up on butter as well--when I have the room!
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