Tuesday, April 24, 2012

When 'Costco' is what's for dinner

From Costco Wholesale: Fresh flounder, organic brown rice with lentils and lime sections.
Earthbound Farm's Organic Spring Mix, canned-fish salad and Sunset beefsteak tomato.
In the canned-fish salad, only the Moroccan sardines, right, didn't come from Costco.


Food from Costco Wholesale forms the basis of most of our home-cooked meals -- quality is high, prices are low and the Hackensack warehouse store is closer to me than any of the supermarkets I patronize.

I usually can find three kinds of fresh, wild-caught fish fillets for $7.99 a pound -- flounder from Canada, haddock from Iceland and cod from the Pacific -- but when I can't, I'll pick up a 3-pound bag of frozen wild salmon or mahi-mahi, one of the meatiest fish around.

In a covered pot, I've cooked a frozen mahi-mahi fillet in bottled Mexican green salsa in under 30 minutes, and this preparation requires only the addition of a little lime juice to the sauce.

Last week, I picked up two 36-ounce bottles of Wholesome Sweeteners' Organic Blue Agave for $9.89. 

When this item first appeared in October 2011, it came in 23.5-ounce bottles for $7.75.

I use it to sweeten plain, low-fat yogurt and espresso, but I overheard a woman tell her friend that she uses it as pancake syrup.

Terrific produce

Sunset-brand Beefsteak Tomatoes are pesticide free, and come in a 5-pound box ($6.79). They give the Jersey Tomato a run for its money.

I have never found a better-tasting salad than Earthbound Farm's Organic Spring Mix or its 50-50 Spring Mix and Spinach, and the price is usually $4.99 or $4.79 for a 1-pound container.

When this salad mix in on sale at ShopRite, a 1-pound container is $5.99. Otherwise, it's $6.99.

Trader Joe's

An acquaintance says the prices at Trader Joe's never change, which may be true, but they are higher than what Costco asks for an equivalent item and the small selection could never replace the warehouse store.

Trader Joe's, on the other hand, carries preservative and antibiotic-free cold cuts, hot dogs and bacon; organic whole-wheat pasta, sliced yogurt cheese and other items I've never seen at Costco.

Price roller coaster

Costco's prices go up and down -- $2.99 for three of those large, seedless cucumbers on April 12, $3.39 on Monday.

Last week, I also found six tins of Season-brand skinless-and-boneless sardines for $5.99 (after an instant $2 coupon), but the cans are smaller than the ones from Al Shark Moroccan sardines with skin and bones ($1 each at Brothers Produce in Paterson).

Liquid eggs

A 10-pound bag of Earthbound Farm's Organic Carrots were $6.99. A dozen 11.1-ounce cartons of Vita Coco pure coconut water were $15.79.

Six 16-ounce cartons of Kirkland Signature Real Eggs (99% pure egg whites) were $9.49 or $1.58 each, and the liquid eggs can be frozen. 

Kirkland Signature is Costco's house brand.

Two Kirkland Signature Organic Brown Eggs topped with a slice of reduced-fat cheese.

Mashed sweet potatoes

For a side dish, mashed sweet potatoes with garlic couldn't be easier.

Wash and then cut the sweet potatoes in two or three pieces, retaining the skin. Smash garlic cloves with the flat side of a chef's knife, peel and trim the hard stem end. 

Boil the sweet potatoes and garlic until  the potatoes are soft -- 20 to 30 minutes.

Drain the pot, and for a large serving, add 3 or 4 ounces of extra-virgin olive oil or Smart Balance spread, a little salt and Costco's Organic No-Salt Seasoning, and mash.

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