As a culinary judge, I pick up Garofalo pasta and Starbucks blended coffees at Costco. Meredith Ochs
As a culinary judge, I look for nutritious, adaptable meal components and peak season products.
I stock up on specialties like organic Garofalo dried pasta and Starbucks coffee blends.
I also make sure my husband and I eat lots of fruit, like grapefruit and Medjool dates.
Florida red grapefruit is in season now.
Red grapefruit tastes great on its own or in salads. Meredith Ochs
From January to spring, grapefruit develops a perfect sweet-tart balance. A 5-pound bag of grapefruit might seem like a lot for two people, but we’ll go over it easily. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I bought a citrus juicer and started making fresh juices every week.
Grapefruit juice adds a nice touch to homemade vinaigrette, and pieces of the fruit brighten up salads. Occasionally I brulee sliced grapefruit sprinkled with sugar using a kitchen burner or in the grill to eat neat or swim in a cocktail.
You can buy a bag of grapefruit at Costco for $6.
Costco has the best price for high quality organic Garofalo pasta.
I love the quality of the Garofalo pasta. Meredith Ochs
Garofalo pasta has been made in Italy for more than two centuries and contains spiral-cut gemelli from Puglia; the tubular, fluted penne ziti rigate; and the ruffled, Sicilian Casarecce, a champion in sauce keeping.
I like that Garofalo is an old-school brand with a modern understanding of sustainability and transparency, and that I can trace the origin of ingredients on every package.
You can pick up a nearly 18-ounce six-pack of organic semolina pasta for $10.
The Starbucks Winter Blend is a seasonal exclusive at Costco.
The largest bag of coffee I buy is a 40 ounce pack. Meredith Ochs
Medium roast, whole organic beans are my go-to choice for brewed coffee these days, so I’m always happy to discover seasonal Starbucks blends. The Starbucks Winter Blend lists notes of candied nuts and warm spices on its packaging.
We use about a pound of beans each week so the size is perfect as I don’t have an open bag sitting around for too long as the beans start to lose their flavor.
You can pick up 40-ounce bags of Starbucks blended coffees for $15.
Earth Green’s baby spinach is suitable for both hot and cold dishes.
Earth Greens baby spinach can be wilted or used fresh. Meredith Ochs
I like to buy pre-washed Mesclun greens. But because a 16-ounce box tends to spoil before we can both finish it, I reach for Earth Greens baby spinach.
Baby spinach is tender enough to eat in a salad or add to smoothies, and it can be cooked gently. I collapse a generous handful in a bowl of hot lentil soup, add to omelettes and quiches, and sauté with fresh garlic.
Costco sells Earth Greens baby spinach for $4.50 a pound. It’s the same price as the lettuce, but its flexibility means virtually no waste for us.
Kirkland Signature Organic Ground Beef is an affordable protein choice at Costco.
Kirkland Signature Organic Ground Beef can be frozen. Meredith Ochs
Packaged in three separate packages, Kirkland Signature 85% Lean Ground Beef is a bulk purchase that makes sense for smaller homes. I can cook with one pack and freeze the other two.
Costco also carries the slightly more expensive American-bred Wagyu, which is packaged the same way as Kirkland Signature Organic Ground Beef.
Kirkland Signature Organic Ground Beef is $20 for four pounds, a good deal at $5 a pound.
Costco’s Fried Chicken is an excellent budget choice.
Kirkland Signature Roast Chicken is shop seasoned, cooked and ready to eat as is. Meredith Ochs
At only $5, the Kirkland Signature 3-Pound Fried Chicken is too budget-friendly not to buy. It requires no prep and is an easy go-to for a satisfying dinner.
For us, the bird makes about four meals.
It can be taken off the bone and chopped; shredded to make chicken salad; or added to stews, pot pies and other dishes.
Add another colorful vegetable to your plate with Del Monte Butternut Squash.
Del Monte’s butternut squash chunks do all the prep work for you. Meredith Ochs
I don’t usually buy pre-cut veggies, but a box of Del Monte Organic Butternut Squash Chunks is so convenient because there’s no peeling, chopping, or seeding.
Butternut squash has a rich texture and nutty flavor enhanced by hints of butter and brown sugar. It can be cooked almost any way, but I like steaming chunks and using them in a vegetable lasagna.
At 2 pounds for $6 a pack is slightly more expensive and doesn’t keep fresh as long as a whole squash. But it’s no budget cracker.
Costco carries “US #1 Fancy” Kirkland Signature Pecan Halves.
The Kirkland Signature Pecans are of good quality. Meredith Ochs
Heart-healthy nuts are a staple of my Costco purchases, and this time I grabbed the Kirkland Signature Pecans.
I add pecans to whole grain cereals, salads, cheeseboards, baked goods, and basically anything that blends well with their buttery, earthy flavor.
Pecans are high in calories, so I only eat a few at a time and keep the rest in the fridge to extend their shelf life.
I think Kirkland Signature pecans are well priced at $13 for a 2 pound bag.
Making Brussels sprouts from 4Earth Farms tasty is easy.
The little nutritional powerhouses are surprisingly delicious. Meredith Ochs
My mom used to cook Brussels sprouts so I didn’t like them until I figured out how to make them crispy by roasting them in a very hot oven with lots of olive oil, salt and pepper.
4Earth Farms Brussels Sprouts are delicious raw as a crunchy coleslaw or thinly sliced and tossed with balsamic glaze, pomegranate molasses and stone pits, goat cheese and pine nuts.
Costco sells 2-pound bags of trimmed sprouts from 4Earth Farms for $4.
Kirkland Signature Baguettes are baked on site.
The Kirkland Signature Baguettes also freeze well. Meredith Ochs
I guess I’m genetically incapable of leaving Costco without fresh baked goods.
The classic, crunchy Kirkland Signature Baguettes had just been placed on the shelf when I arrived and were still warm from the oven. I admit to nibbling on one on the way home and making sandwiches with the others.
I try to budget at least $6 for good bread, and the 24-ounce baguettes fit that price point.
Fresh Organic Medjool Dates from Natural Delights are a trendy sweet treat.
Natural Delights Medjool dates are a versatile fruit. Meredith Ochs
At $12, a 2-pound box of Natural Delights Medjool dates is practically a waste on a $100 budget. But I think their versatility and nutritional values make them worthwhile.
Dates are considered the oldest cultivated fruit on earth and are currently very much in vogue among specialty connoisseurs. They pair well with butternut squash and pecans, on crostini, or in a baked side dish. They also serve as a perfect accompaniment to various cheeses.
They are also useful in simple no-bake desserts. Mix them with some hot water to get a sweet, caramel-like paste.
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