Thursday, October 30, 2014

Costco is ideal for home cooks, but not so great for takeout

A rainy day at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack, where home cooks find many high-quality ingredients at prices that usually beat the competition.


You won't appreciate Costco Wholesale if you spend most of your food dollars on takeout and restaurant meals.

Some of the prepared food at Costco isn't very good, but the warehouse store is filled to the rafters with wild-caught fish, organic poultry, exotic spices and other ingredients at great prices.

Costco is a playground for home cooks, especially those who want to serve more organic and non-GMO foods to their families, including fig bars, spring mix, quinoa and versatile diced tomatoes.

For years, Costco has had the lowest price anywhere for 3 pounds of bananas, only $1.39, but last week, my wife found organically grown bananas next to the conventional ones for only $1.99.

On my home kitchen scale, the bag weighed 3.3 pounds.

Costco's union workers

You can't beat a food store that takes a fixed profit on every item it sells and employs a unionized work force.

Costco could never be confused with greedy Walmart, which peddles low-quality food and fattens its bottom line on the backs of its workers, many of whom earn so little they have to apply for food stamps.

Is the annual Costco membership fee of $55 or $110 a deal breaker?


With a no-fee Costco American Express True Earnings credit card, you earn cash rebates on purchases at Costco and other stores, restaurant meals and gasoline that more than cover the membership fee.

The wine section at the Costco Wholesale in Wayne. You can also find Kirkland Signature's delicious California Cabernet Sauvignon in a 1.5-liter bottle for only $7.99.
You'd do a lot better buying a whole organic chicken at Costco Wholesale and roasting it at home than picking up one of the store's cheap, heavily seasoned and preserved Kirkland Signature Rotisserie Chickens (net weight 3 pounds), which are raised on harmful antibiotics. 

Salmon Milano with Basil Pesto Butter is available at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack for $8.99 a pound, but you have to cook the artificially colored farmed salmon at home. Instead, you can buy wild-caught fish fillets at Costco for about the same price and poach them in Mexican green salsa or bottled marinara, avoiding the butter in the prepared dish.

In addition to whole rotisserie chickens, you can pick up chicken salad and chicken noodle soup, both made with rotisserie chicken, for $4.99, the price for a whole bird. But if you read the list of ingredients, above, you'd pass on this takeout meal.

Costco's cabbage kimchi is only $7.99, but comes in a bottle that is 6 ounces shy of the standard 64-ounce bottle found in Korean supermarkets. The kimchi sold at the warehouse store also contains beef bone extract and added sugar you don't find in other brands. 

Food at great prices is not the only draw at Costco Wholesale. If you care anything about how you dress, the warehouse store is filled with high-quality clothing and accessories at low prices, such as these Italian top-grain leather belts for only $17.99 each, the same price Costco charges for button-down and spread-collar shirts made from 100% cotton. 

These Kirkland Signature 100% Italian Silk Ties also were $17.99 each, though I find the patterns too conservative. This week, we picked up a wool-and-cashmere overcoat for our growing teenage son for only $69.99.

One of the great ingredients for home cooks is peeled California garlic, which has been in short supply at the Hackensack warehouse store recently. On Tuesday, the refrigerated 3-pound bags reappeared with a modest price increase of 40 cents, a far better choice than peeled garlic from China, which has a terrible food-safety record.

Fresh wild-caught Atlantic cod, long-line caught in Iceland, is only $7.99 a pound at Costco, and can be poached for dinner in under 10 minutes in Roasted Chipotle Salsa from Whole Foods Market. Mashed sweet potatoes from the 10-pound bag sold at Costco help me prepare filling meals while following a no-bread, no pizza diet.

Egg whites, reduced-fat Swiss cheese and smoked wild salmon -- all from Costco -- were poached in bottled pasta sauce and served over mashed sweet potatoes for breakfast.

These aged, sharp cheddar slices were $6.99 when introduced at the Hackensack warehouse store in March. On Monday, they were $7.99, still a good buy for 2 pounds of cheese.

About a month ago, I picked up this 2.2-pound  bag of organic coffee at the Hackensack warehouse store for only $14.99 after trying a sample of coffee brewed from the beans. I also was able to get it ground to my specification -- Turkish.

The Ruta Maya Organic Coffee helps me brew two or three strong, smooth cups in the morning.


  1. Since when do you use a Turkish grind in a Bialetti? You're supposed to use an espresso grind. Besides, you should be boycotting anything Turkish since Turkey is aiding and abetting Isis.

    1. I don't use the Bialetti to make coffee; it's for display. I use a cheap Mr. Coffee 4-cup, and the Turkish grind exposes more coffee to the hot water. It can be used in any coffee maker.

  2. Perhaps if Costco didn't have unionized employees, the service would be better. You are always complaining about the service there.

    1. Not always. I complain when they run out of stuff and move items around.

  3. And when they can't answer your questions. And when they flip their name tags so you can't complain about them. Seriously, you should read your blog.

    1. I've been shopping there more than 15 years, so in that context my complaints are relatively few and far between.

  4. I am glad Costco has unionized employees. I boycott Walmart because of the way it mistreats workers, especially women.


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