Everyone loves Costco, right? But it’s not just because they have good prices. It’s because what they sell is so good. Trips to Costco are on my regular orbit around town, and today I’m sharing the inside scoop on some wonderful and unexpected things you can find there, as well as some of my favorite go-to staples.
When Costco opened in the Nashville West shopping center, you could hear a collective “Hallelujah” from everyone in my neighborhood. Before the West Nashville store opened, a trek to Costco was a monumental mission that included a basket brimming with toilet paper, paper towels, every cleaning product possible, dog food, cases of water and beer and gigantic hauls of milk and butter. Walking out of Costco for under $300 was nearly impossible, yet justifiable, given the distance it took to get there. “Hey, I have invested 20 minutes on I-65, battling Cool Springs traffic and using lots of gas. I better spend some cash while I’m here,” I’d find myself thinking. Now, however, those of us on the west side of town are free to drop by and spend, say $40, on a couple of things for dinner.
Here are some favorite finds – mine, as well as other Costco devotees. Hope you like them!
On the Grocery Aisles:
Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee in the orange bag. It’s a wonderful combination of smooth flavor and savory aroma and is as good as some of the popular, local coffees in town.
Ghiradelli Chocolate Brownies. After sampling these at cooking class I attended with Ann Calhoun and Lee Ann Merrick (former manager of the Sunset Grill), I am addicted to these decadent and easy to make brownies. Embellish them with more chocolate chips, pecans or frosting and you’ll fool your guests into thinking you slaved for hours over a hot stove.
In the Bakery:
Sunrise Energy Bars. When you are on the run and need something to shove in your kid’s hand as they race out the door, these are perfect – and an incredible source of grains and natural ingredients, to boot. They are filling and make you feel good. You’ll find them located in the bakery area. And they come in small muffins, too! (Costco’s baked goods are amazing, by the way.)
In the Freezer Section:
Michael Angelo’s Eggplant Parmesan. This can be great for dinner parties if you whip up some of your own marinara sauce to add to it. This is my sister’s favorite and she swears by it.
Island Way Sorbet. My daughter’s favorite frozen treat, thanks to her godmother Brooks Mathews. This comes in coconut, mango, pineapple and pomegranate flavors and I love the clever packaging. Each sorbet is presented in a real lemon, pineapple or mango shell. (Not sure how they pull that one off.) Truly, these delicious frosty concoctions have the wow factor.
The Original Naan Pizza. While at Costco this week, I ran into my buddy, Gaylee, and of course, I had to ask her what she loved from Costco. She rattled off the usual things, but she mentioned reading about the naan pizza in a healthy eating magazine. (Not sure which one). It was given top marks when it came to natural ingredients, flavor and originality. And having tried it myself, now, I can say that it’s pretty darn good.
In the Refrigerated Section:
Tzatziki Yogurt Dip and Hummus. Tons of friends tell me that you can’t beat these two items when it comes to throwing a quick dinner party or gathering friends. These products are located to the right of the refrigerated fruit and veggie section (which, in itself, is hugely popular). I buy their salsa and crab salad too.
Kirkland’s Organic Orange Juice. At $6.99 a gallon, it’s a bargain and tastes so much like fresh squeezed. If you don’t need it for a boost in the morning, use it for mimosas.
Costco’s Butcher Shop. I remember when Costco first arrived to Nashville, a friend of mine who is a chef said, “Costco’s meat is some of the best in town.” Really? Then, I ran across this article in the New York Times when the salmonella scare was in the news. It convinced me of the quality controls Costco adheres to when buying meat. Their selection of lamb alone is worth the trip.
Chicken pot pies, chicken salad, chicken noodle soup and rotisserie chicken. I list all of these because they are in the same area and are incredible deals. The pot pie is seasonal, so once the warm weather hits, it disappears. It’s perfect to serve at a dinner party with a green salad and bottle of white wine, though. The chicken salad has a tad too much onion, so add some of the rotisserie chicken or celery or apples. The soup is great on its own, but I make grilled cheese sandwiches to complete the meal. At $4.99, you can’t beat the price on the rotisserie chicken. For delicious meal ideas, go to Real Simple Magazine.
Flowers and Plants. You may not know this, but you can order flowers from the Costco floral department. They may not have the selection other florists have, but if you are trying to save money, their prices are reasonable. Roses are under $15 for a bouquet, and fresh cut flowers like tulips, hydrangeas and calla lilies cost even less. The number for the floral department is 615.354.5102.
Also, if you hear Costco is bringing in large trees or shrubs like magnolias or boxwoods, zoom over. They will sell out in a matter of hours. I watched a guy load up 10 huge magnolias last spring, and I am pretty sure they were priced under $75.
Pizza. The pizza in the refrigerator section to the right of the meat department is always good. However, if you are hosting a school party or large gathering, you can call ahead and Costco will prepare your pizza, cook it and have it ready for pick-up at $10.00 a pizza. One pizza serves a ton of people. For take out pizza orders, call 615.354.5115.
Men’s Shirts. A little bird who will remain nameless told me Costco’s men’s shirts are some of the best you can buy when it comes to quality and construction. (There are many Nashvillians who have made a good living in the clothing business and he is one of them. That’s all I am going to say). At $17.99 a shirt, I grabbed a couple for my husband to check out.
Now it’s your turn. Let me know what you love at Costco. Or, better yet, post your finds on the StyleBlueprint Facebook page. My love affair with Costco continues!