Thursday, February 15, 2018

Correcting UPROXX article “A Decoder Guide To Scoring The Best Prices At Costco”

This UPROXX article popped up in my Twitter feed and I felt compelled to rectify, well everything.


“Prices that end in $.98 or $.99 mean Costco didn’t get a special deal from the supplier”
Costco does not deal with suppliers - they deal directly with vendors - thus cutting out the middlemen (i.e. suppliers and distributors) - hence the name Costco Wholesale!


“It also means that the product is probably the same price as any other store”
This is absurd. Costco executives have been very open that Costco will not mark up items over 14%, while the vast majority of other retailers markup their items anywhere from 30-80%  and sometimes even more! When you shop at Costco its practically a guarantee that you will save money compared to “any other store.” Countless price comparisons have proven this for decades.


“Prices that end in any iteration of $0.X9 (except $.99) are manufacturer deals. This means Costco got a special deal from the distributor on those items...”
Again, Costco does not mark up more than 14% and it is because of their razor thin margins that you often see prices that end in $.59, $.69, $.79 etc. The last two digits in the price have NO indication of any ‘deal.’ The last two digits of Costco’s prices are merely the result of math and competitive pricing.


“Prices that end in $.97 are manager specific discounts”
The BUYERS set the price of items, not warehouse managers. Also, Costco does not have ‘sales.’ Items ending in $.97 are called markdowns and the warehouse managers have nothing to do with setting markdowns - markdowns, like prices, are set by the buyers.


“Prices that end in $.88 or $.00... are an inventory dump set by the store’s manager. These items are generally returned or damaged merch.”
Costco DOES NOT sell damaged merchandise. Period. Costco can resell returned merchandise if a returned item meets sellable standards (i.e. not damaged), but again managers do not set prices, buyers do. Prices that end in $.88 or $.00 are not indications as to whether or not an item is “probably never coming back.”


“An asterisk in the top right corner means the item has been heavily discounted because it was being discontinued. So this is management again trying to move product out of the store as quickly as possible.”
Asterisks at the top of price signs at Costco indicate that items are not on reorder. This could be because the item is seasonal and wont be back until next year, it could be an item that had poor sales and wont ever be back in stock at that particular warehouse, or there could be a supply issue and Costco is no longer able to obtain the item from the manufacturer. Either way - for the umpteenth time, warehouse managers have no say in which items don't get reordered - the buyers do. 


“They offer a 30-day price guarantee.”
Nope. Costco has no such policy. Costco can do price adjustments at the discretion of each warehouse, but there is no “30-day price guarantee.”


“This combined with Costco’s 90-day no questions asked return policy...”
Another Nope. No where does it say Costco has a “no questions asked” return policy. Costco actually doesn’t even have a formal return policy for the vast majority of their items. Electronics such as TVs, cameras, major appliances, computers, tablets, drones, and cell phones are restricted to a 90-day limit for returns. And the terms of that 90-day return limit are printed on your receipt anytime you purchase applicable electronic devices. Costcos full return policy can be read here.


“Costco takes a loss on certain items”
Another erroneous claim. Costco does not sell their food court hotdog combos, or their rotisserie chickens at a loss. Period. Also the food courts are not located in the back of warehouse, the chickens generally are, but only because that is where the deli is located.


Mic drop 😉

For anyone curious, here are some of the other sources I used to correct Uproxx's claims:


Until next time,
the Costco Connoisseur



#GoingToAllTheCostcos

P.S.
Follow me on Twitter! @CostcoConoiseur
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Thursday, January 4, 2018

January Whole30 with Costco!

Happy New Year Everyone!

This week's post is a #TBT to previous Whole30 posts to help everyone doing the January Whole30 and anyone who is interested in learning more about what Whole30 is.

If you are doing the January Whole30 you will definitely want to check out the previous posts I have done on Whole30 compliant foods found at Costco.

My first Whole30 post from a few years ago goes over some of the basics of the Whole30 program along with a ton of compliant foods I found at Costco.

My second Whole30 post features more compliant foods I discovered at various Costco's around the country.

And my most recent Whole30 post from last September includes even more tips and compliant foods to help you along your Whole30 journey.



Until next time,
the Costco Connoisseur

#GoingToAllTheCostcos


P.S.
Follow me on Twitter! @CostcoConoiseur
Follow me on Instagram! @theCostcoConnoisseur

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Survive your September Whole30 with Costco!

Just in time for the 2017 September Whole30 here are some more Whole30 compliant items I have found at Costco along with a few of my personal tips for crushing your first, (or fifth) Whole30.

(BTW, if you are new to my blog, (Welcome!) this is the third Whole30 with Costco post I have written. To see all of the Whole30 compliant items I've discovered at Costcos around the country check out my original Whole30 post (which includes a Whole30 overview & primer) and my previous Whole30 update post.)



Now that the Labor Day holiday has come and gone it's time to get back to work and back to school. As if that wasn't stressful enough you're probably reading this because you are doing the September Whole30. Congrats! Here are some new compliant items I have come across at Costco along with a few shortcuts I've devised to make it through your Whole30 adventure.


Disposable Dishes

Yes I know paper plates are not the best thing for the environment but they are a life saver for us during Whole30 - especially during the first few weeks when you're coming to terms with the unimaginable amount of time you spend on food prep and washing dishes. Having even one less dish to clean up after preparing a meal is a godsend during Whole30. I prefer to buy the paper ones over styrofoam so at least I know they will eventually decompose. 8 3/4" Chinet Paper Plates, (item #18695) 225 count for $15.69. 10 3/8" Chinet Paper Plates, (item #32711) 165 count for $17.99. 10 3/8" Chinet Compartment Plates (item #169971) 165 count for $17.69. 20 oz Dixie Ultra Paper Bowls, (item #296917) 135 count for $9.99.


Emergency Foods

No matter how much you prepare ahead of time there will inevitably be something that comes up that throws you off your game. Whether its being stuck in a traffic jam, waiting on a delayed flight, or a last minute event that pops up, you have to plan for the unexpected. When I Whole30 I keep compliant foods and beverages everywhere - in my bag, in my car, at my desk and front & center in my pantry. (Remember: there is no snacking on Whole30 so these are emergency foods, not emergency "snacks," and they should only be used in "emergency" situations and not as a part of your daily routine.)

I love these Kirkland Signature Shelled Pistachios (item #1076903) 24 oz. bag for $12.99 and Harvested For You Organic Raw Shelled Pumpkin Seeds (item #1160657) 24 oz. bag for $7.49! When I'm slammed with back to back meetings at work, munching on a tiny handful of these holds me over until I can break away to heat up my lunch. Both are also great for adding crunch to salads & sautéed vegetables.



One of Melissa's tips if you are somewhere unfamiliar and in desperate need of a compliant meal is to check the baby food aisle. Seriously. If you're in a pinch baby food is a great source for minimally processed foods with simple, compliant ingredients (just be sure to read the labels thoroughly). Pouches of baby food seem to be all the rage now, which makes them easy to find, and because the pouches are vacuumed sealed they don't need to be refrigerated and can survive just about anywhere - like in the glove box of your car or in your gym bag. (They do require refrigeration after they have been opened, but unless you're feeding them to a baby or small child you're probably not going to have leftovers.)


I LOVE the Sprout Organic Smash Squeezable Fruit & Veggie Pouches (item #1077447) 14 count variety pack for $11.99. because they have a nice balance of fruits AND vegetables, but I haven't seen this specific variety at my Costco in a while. (Sad face.) I'm including it here because maybe it's still available at your Costco. I've seen GoGo Squeeze Organic Fruit & Veggiez Variety (item #1088020) 16 count variety pack for $9.79, in many warehouses recently so this item should be currently available in most Costcos.



La Croix Sparkling Water Variety Pack (item #897342) 24 pack for $7.79 isn't a new item, nor is it strictly an emergency food, but as a recovering Coca-Cola junkie La Croix has become a staple in my diet. I mention it here because although it's best when enjoyed ice cold, in a pinch I have grabbed one out of the back of my hot car when the only other options at an event were wine, beer or soda.



I don't drink coconut water regularly, (I'm such a sucker for the bubbles in sparking waters!), but coconut water is an excellent post-workout recovery drink and because the packaging of these two brands don't require refrigeration until after they have been opened it's safe to keep one in your gym bag. Kirkland Signature Organic Coconut Water (item #1017308) 12 pack for $9.99, and VITA COCO Coconut Water (item #1017308) 12 pack for $13.99.



Kirkland Signature Organic Almond Butter (item #1109404) 27 oz. jar for $12.79 is fabulous for those with peanut allergies because KS almond butters are made in peanut-free facilities. For a post workout re-fuel or a mini meal to hold you over until you can make a proper dinner keep assorted sliced peppers or celery, and apples on hand to scoop up some almond butter with.



Semi-Prepared Foods

Sometimes the fewer steps the better when making a meal. I love to cook but there are days when my motivation & patience are fleeting and I need to rely on meals that are quick and easy to prepare. Having semi prepared items on hand that I can quickly throw together for a balanced and compliant meal is a necessity on Whole30.

I've mentioned chicken sausages before but I found a new roasted garlic flavor that is to die for! Just like Adiels, these Casual Gourmet Roasted Garlic Chicken Sausages (item #1150959), 3 lbs. for $13.59, are fully cooked so it's totally acceptable to eat them cold right out of the fridge (not that I've ever done that...), or for a proper grownup meal they take mere minutes to heat up.



I bought a spiralizer during Amazon Prime Day two summers ago (back before Costco started carrying spiralizers!) and it does a superb job on all sorts of vegetables, but for those night when I can't bare to have another utensil or dish to wash, already spiralized zoodles are my BFF. I can toss a handful of these Grain & Simple Organic Zucchini Noodles (item #1159491) 2lbs. for $9.99, into hot soup or quickly saute them in a hot skillet in a matter of minutes.



Prepared zoodles can be a bit pricey so when I have time to prepare dinner I prefer keeping a bag of Wholesome Harvest Assorted Organic Squash (item #826365), $6.99 for a 3.5 lb. bag, on hand to spiralize vegetable noodles myself.



I enjoy riced cauliflower, but having only just recently received my Kitchenaid Food Processor blade replacement (finally!!!), I've been in the habit of buying pre-riced cauliflower. I prefer the fresh riced cauliflower like this Farm Day Organic Cauliflower Rice (item #1084279) 2 lbs. for $3.99, over the frozen kind, but I haven't been able to find the fresh bags at my Costcos for some time now. Their 2-pack of 1 lb. bags can steam in the microwave in just 4 minutes! I don't make a lot of mashed cauliflower, but my mom swears the frozen riced cauliflower like, Frozen Via Emilia Organic Riced Cauliflower (item #1123429) 3 lbs. for just $6.89, is superior for making the mashed cauliflower "crust" to her Whole30 Shepard's Pie.



Taco Salads are a staple in our house because they are so yummy & easy to throw together that even the Hubs can handle it. (Lol, I kid, he is a good cook!) I don't know how I managed before I discovered these fresh salsas at Costco. We pile spoonfuls of the Natures Kitchen Mango Salsa (item #1146742) 30 oz. for $7.99, and Sunbelt Organic Fresh Salsa (item #900861) 30 oz. for $7.99, on top of any seasoned meat or poultry over a bed of chopped lettuce and top with a little Wholly Guacamole for an instant taco salad. I started off making adorable "tacos" with lettuce leaves as shells, but they took longer to put together and were so messy to eat that I shifted to just tossing all the ingredients into a bowl and shaking it up for a quicker & less messy salad. I also love the fresh mango salsa over fish or shrimp, and I have been known to add the tomato salsa to frittatas and scrambled eggs. The Santa Barbara Mango Peach Salsa (item #844531) 38 oz. for $5.49 is also fabulous when its available!






I don't know why peeling and mincing garlic can seem like such a chore, but sometimes it really does, so having fresh, Garland Peeled Garlic (item # 5855) 48 oz. for $6.99, on hand is such a timesaving treat! However, unless you really love garlic, I highly recommend dividing up this item with a friend (or two). Or pick up a jar of Kirkland Signature Minced 100% California Garlic (item #581871) 48 oz. jar for $4.79.




I keep reading about how fermented foods are so important to healthy gut bacteria that I was elated to find compliant Wildbrine Raw Organic Sauerkraut (item #1098785) 50 oz. for $8.69, at Costco! It may not be to everyones liking but I love it and am constantly adding it to meals for a new twist on an old favorite. If you are new to sauerkraut maybe try it with compliant sausage or brisket to see if it's your thing. Just remember don't cook it or heat it up because that destroys the probiotics and enzymes that make raw, fermented sauerkraut so good for you.




One thing that sauerkraut is really good with? Pulled Pork! I usually make NomNom Paleos Kalua Pork in my magical Instant Pot, but as fast as that is, it can't beat pre-cooked heat & serve Kirkland Signature Pit Smoked Pulled Pork (item #1122211) 2 lb. for $9.99. The compliant pre-cooked shredded pork heats up in seconds in the microwave (or in boiling water if you're weird about microwaves like the Hubs). You can season this pulled pork pretty much anyway you wish, like with your favorite compliant hot sauce or BBQ sauce, or add it to soups or chilis. 



I don't know why I hadn't considered the salad kits at Costco before, but as long as you DO NOT add the included dressings or toppings - the vegetables in the bag are almost always compliant. (Make sure to read your labels just to double check!) The best part about salad kits? They are already chopped and pre-washed! Since I haven't been able to use my Kitchenaid Food Processor until recently (thanks to the blade recall) I have been buying the Eat Smart Asian Cashew Chopped Salad Kit (item #899632) 23.58 oz. for $4.99, to make coleslaw. I'm not a huge fan of raw brussels sprouts or raw kale, but I like to throw some of the Taylor Farms Sweet Kale Salad Kit (item #675153) 28 oz. for $4.99, into a hot skillet for a quick stir fry to add greens into any meal.




Spices

Did you know Costco has quite the variety of high quality (and in a lot of cases organic) spices and seasonings that are often cheaper than the tiny spice bottles you can buy at grocery stores? I was slow to come around to this but when I started making my own jars of Whole30 compliant taco seasoning, garam masala, cajun seasoning and curries, it just made sense to buy the larger containers, and I couldn't argue with Costco's prices!
 


 





How many recipes do you know that use an entire can of tomato paste? Exactly. Granted tomato paste generally comes in teeny little cans, you still almost never use the entire can for one recipe, which is why I was elated to discover tomato paste in a tube. At Costco. Cento Foods Organic Tomato Paste (item #1049943) 2-pack of 4.56 oz. tubes is $4.99, is 100% Italian and 100% compliant. You can use as little or as much as you need without worrying what to do with the rest! Simply screw on the top and toss it in the refrigerator until you need tomato paste again. Each tube has an unopened shelf life of approximately two years.




Staples

Melissa recommends keeping a few cans of full fat compliant coconut milk on hand so you can make sauces, dips and soups in a pinch. Before Costco started carrying Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut Milk  (item #9440) 6-pack of 13.66 oz. cans for $8.99, I used to have to buy the WholeFoods store brand coconut milk. One of my absolute favorite soups is the Thai Coconut Chicken Soup from The Whole30 Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom book. Before Whole30 I never would have considered soup as a breakfast food, but soup has now become one of my go to breakfasts. Soup is warm, filling and chock full of everything you need for a well balanced meal. And the best part? You cook ONCE and have meals for DAYS! I more or less double up the recipe from the book and end up with approximately ten 2-cup servings that I can grab & quickly reheat for a meal anytime of the day.


Would you believe me if I told you I have NEVER made salmon cakes?! I've eaten scores of them but Salmon Cakes are one of those dishes the Hubs excels at, and I would be out of my mind to offer to make them instead of letting him make dinner. You can't make salmon cakes without almond flour and since I discovered Almond Flour at one of our Costcos we decided to always make double batches of salmon cakes and freeze half so we optimize our time spent preparing meals. One bag of California's Natural Delight Blanched Super Fine Almond Flour (item #1069175) 3 lbs. for $12.49, makes that completely doable without breaking the bank. I've mentioned KS canned wild salmon before, but since we're talking about salmon cakes its worth mentioning again here. Kirkland Signature Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon (item #414144) 3-pack 6 oz. cans for $11.89, is boneless & skinless and makes the best salmon cakes!




Fresh vegetables are my go to, but having a bag of Kirkland Signature Frozen Stir Fry Vegetable Blend (item #1015237) 5.5 lb. bag for $7.99 on hand ensures I can always whip up a tasty, compliant meal in no time flat - and without the mess of peeling & chopping!




Other Compliant Foods Found at Costco

Cooking with Jumbo Rainier Cherries or adding them uncooked to salads brings a sweet tartness to your meals. (Just don't forget to wash up immediately after eating or handling cherries because cherry juice will stain your hands!) It appears I neglected to take a photo of this item (sorry!) but I recall this 2 lb. clamshell was reasonably priced and the cherries were sooooo sweet!


I really enjoy experimenting cooking fish with different fruits, and pre-cut fruits are the best because it they save me the prep time of having to peel & slice myself (#lazy). I especially like white fish like Mahi-Mahi cooked with pineapple skins or with Fresh Cut Mango Slices (item #88356) 2 lb. for $8.99. 



A refreshing, juicy treat on a hot day, Summer is the season of Watermelon. Hurry though, the Seedless Watermelons (item #4032) any size $4.99 at Costco are on their way out as watermelon season draws to a close!



can't tell you how much I adore Fresh Figs (item #13752) 2 lb. for $6.99! The first thing I am going to plant in our new garden is a fig tree (or a fig bush, I forget which it is). While these fragile fruits don't keep for long, they are divine when ripe. Enjoy them by themselves, add them to salad, or add them to your Sunday Roast for a grownup, fancy pants meal.


Bartlett Pears (item #71278) 6 lb. for $7. 99 are another delicious fruit that is wonderful by itself, added to salads or cooked. Pears also don't have a particularly long shelf life - be sure to have plans for using them before you purchase or decide to divide them up with a friend so none go to waste.


The smell of Organic Vine Ripened Tomatoes (item #7920) 4 lb. for $7.99, brings me back to summers at my great grandparents' farm. I swear these taste better than "commercial" tomatoes that are pulled from the vine before they are ripe and ripen while en route to your grocery store.



If you're experimenting with new vegetables my number one tip is to try them roasted first. Roasting brings out the flavors in foods like no other cooking method. These Ark Foods Shishito Peppers (item #897754) 18 oz. for $4.99 are delicious roasted with a bit of oil, and a dash of salt & pepper.



I read somewhere that Michelle Obama once mentioned that you have to have the "beet gene" to enjoy beets and that she and Barak do not have the beet gene. That made me chuckle because it is so true! People either love beets or loath them. I love them but the Hubs despises them. Love Beets Organic Cooked Beets (item #1038672) 2.64 lb. for $7.99 and Gefen Organic Whole Cooked Beets (item #1055385) 3.3 lb. for $5.99 are two different kinds of cooked beets you can find at Costco. I've only ever tried the refrigerated ones and I have been pleased with their quality and packaging. Be careful when handling beets, as they are another food that will dye your hands, counters, clothes, etc. if you don't wash-up immediately after handling them.





Costco is filled with high quality wild caught seafood that you can whip into delicious Whole30 compliant meals:
Cox's Seafood Wild Raw Key Wests Pink Shrimp (item #199693) 2 lb. bag for $17.99.

Orca Bay Keta Salmon Fillets (item #807372) 3 lb. bag for $19.99.



Wild Caught Flounder Fillets (item #630645) 3 lb. bag for $13.79.



Jana Sashimi Grade Ahi Tuna Steaks (item #1145779) 2.5 lb. bg for $17.59.




I have never cooked with hearts of palm before, but since I found SunPix Hearts of Palm (item #50853) 2-pack of 25 oz. jars for $8.99 at Costco I pinned a few recipes on Pinterest that I want to try.



This leafy lettuce is a nice change from romaine that we usually eat, and the generous leaves of Mirabel Butter Lettuce (item #538259) 3-count for $4.79, make great "boats" for tuna or chicken salad.



Much Farms Mini Mixed Peppers (item #202193) 1.5 lb. for $5.79 are delicious when filled with seasoned ground meat or poultry and salsa, or roast them to really bring out their flavor and serve them as a side dish.



While not quite the same shape as the slender Japanese Eggplants, these Sunset Mini Greenhouse Grown Egg Plants (item #171068) 1.75 lb .for $5.49 are small enough not to stand out too much from the tomatoes & squash when I make my fancy pants Whole30 compliant Ratatouille.



I will admit I was averse to sardines and anchovies for the longest time, even though I grew up watching my grandfather eat them one by one straight out of the can as if they were peanuts. However I have grown to appreciate them. Try adding a few to recipes or sauces and you might be surprised to discover you like them too! Costco carries Wild Planet Wild Sustainably Caught Pacific Sardines (item #7554) 6-pack of 4.37 oz. cans for $9.99, and Crown Prince Flat Anchovies (item #7078) 5-pack of 2 oz. cans for $5.89.



Speaking of Wild Plant, Wild Planet Sustainibly Pole & Line Caught Albacore Tuna (item #7552) 6-pack of 5 oz. cans for $14.99 remains my favorite canned tuna.




Grass Fed Beet & Lamb on Costco.com

100% Grad Fed Meat is not always easy to come by or affordable - until now! Costco.com carries a selection of Great Southern All Natural, Antibiotic Free, GMO-Free, 100% Free-Range Grass Fed Australian Beef and Lamb with no added hormones.

Great Southern Grass Fed Beef Top Sirloin Steak (item #1032541) 20-pack 8 oz. servings for $144.99, shipping & handling included.


Great Southern Grass Fed Beef NY Strip CC Steak (item #1012553) 14-pack of 12 oz. servings for $184.99, shipping & handling included.


Great Southern Grass Fed Beef Ribeye Steaks (item #1012425) 12-pack of 12 oz. servings for $199.99, shipping & handling included.


Great Southern Grass Fed Lamb Frenched Rack (item #1060202) 2-pack of 20 oz. for $76.99, shipping & handling included.


Great Southern Grass Fed Lamb Boneless Leg (item #1060197) 4.5 lb. for $72.99, shipping & handling included.



NOTE: Due to the perishable nature, the above items will NOT ship over the weekend. Orders will only ship on Mon - Wed for 2-day delivery on Wed-Fri.



And lastly, while Kirkland Signature Low Sodium Bacon (item #77000) 4-pack of 1 lb. for $15.99 may not be as good for you as free range pork, it is a wallet friendly compliant bacon. I love crumbling a cooked slice into a salad for an added savory crunch or cutting slices in half and using them as wraps about my mini frittatas.




Whether you have a corporation to run, a household & family to manage or are juggling school & work, everyone has something else going on in their lives besides their Whole30. With a cart full of compliant, affordable ingredients and timesaving shortcuts from Costco you can survive your September Whole30 :)




For more information on Whole30 make sure to check out whole30.com and if you find other compliant foods at Costco mention them in the comment section below!
#Whole30 #SeptemberWhole30 #CostcoWhole30 #Whole30Costco #GrassFed

Until next time,
the Costco Connoisseur

#GoingToAllTheCostcos


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