The Best Deals at Costco and How to Use Them
Many of the "deals" at this big box store are rather ho-hum, but some are well worth the extra trip. Here are our favorite Costco finds.
Costco is a beloved big box store with near cult-like status among many of its biggest fans, but while it can certainly seem like gallons of ketchup or bags of spinach as large as your toddler are good deals, the reality is that not everything at Costco is as much of a savings as you'd think. Not only are some bulk buys unwieldy and far too much for most families to consume before it goes off (especially the produce, which often already feels like it's on its last legs), but in some cases, as with Kerrygold butter, for instance, you can actually find better deals elsewhere on quantities that don't require you to buy an extra freezer chest.
With that said, Costco does have some incredible deals. Here are some of the best Costco deals and our favorite ways to use them:
1. Untrimmed Beef Tenderloin
The meat aisle at Costco has loads of good deals, including lamb chops in some markets and pre-seasoned salmon fillets you can just toss under the broiler. But our go-to is the whole, untrimmed, vacuum-packed beef tenderloin.
Beef tenderloin, true to its name, is the most tender portion of the cow, and it's often quite expensive: somewhere in the range of $35 per pound at most supermarkets or butcher shops. Costco's untrimmed tenderloin is a fraction of that, at around $16 per pound. Of course, you'll have some work to do once you get it home, and you'll lose about 10 percent of the tenderloin's weight after trimming, but the labor and loss is negligible when you see that price difference.
If you don't see the untrimmed tenderloin in the meat case at your local Costco, be sure to ask a member of staff; they usually have them vaccum-sealed in the back. Upon getting it home, simply trim off all the fat and silverskin and remove the chain muscle, the long rope of marbled meat running along one side, from the rest of the tenderloin. (Reserve this for stews and sautés.)
Next, divide the tenderloin into pieces that suit your family's appetite for ultra-tender beef, taking care to cut portions of a consistent thickness along their length. For example, you could cut the fattest end into a roast or into individual steaks, and you can cut the tenderloin into either one large or two small roasts or into individual steaks. The natural membranes on the meat will guide you and help make this easier.
Once your tenderloin is broken down, the possibilities for cooking it up are endless. Use the chain, also known as steak tips, in this recipe for grilled steak tips with chimichurri or simmer them in a mushroom sauce. Serve the tenderloin grilled with gorgonzola cream sauce, bacon cream sauce, or ginger-shiitake brown butter sauce, or go all-in and stuff it with crab before glazing in a whiskey pepper cream sauce.
Dried, slightly sweetened cranberries can be pretty expensive at your local grocery store, but they clock in at about $9 for a four-pound bag at Costco - a total steal. And since they're dried, they have a long shelf life (and last even longer if you take care to keep that bag tightly closed).
We love Craisins because of how versatile they are. They work just as well in sweet recipes like these oatmeal craisin cookies or these magic Santa bars as in savory dishes like this chicken salad with craisins and almonds, these stuffed endive appetizers, this spicy cranberry-jalapeño relish, or paired with butternut squash, onions, and pecans. They can even stand in for other dried fruit, like raisins, adding a welcome tartness to this broccoli-raisin salad. And we love sprinkling them over a morning bowl of baked oatmeal.
3. Starbucks French Roast Coffee
French Roast used to be Starbucks' best-selling coffee, but have you noticed that it's never on the shelves at your local coffee shop anymore? Luckily, this ultra-dark blend is still available at Costco, and while at its usual price it's not that great a deal, it's one of the Costco products that regularly goes on sale, which is the perfect time to pounce.
Costco sells whole beans rather than ground coffee, but did you know that you can bring your Costco bag of coffee into any Starbucks store and have it ground for free? That way, you can easily make your mocha and cold brew at home. And be sure to set some beans aside to make this whole bean coffee ice cream.
4. Rotisserie Chicken
You knew it was coming. Along with the pizza and hot dogs, this is one of the products Costco customers regularly rave about: the rotisserie chicken. Clocking in at $4.99 for a three-pound chicken, this item is one that the company actually loses money on - and in addition to being a veritable steal, the rotisserie chicken is oh-so versatile.
Snag the chicken at the Costco deli counter, and carve it when you get home. Serve the freshly roasted chicken with a side of buttermilk mashed potatoes or sweet potato gratin, and then shred any leftovers to use in chicken enchiladas, nutty chicken salad, pot pie, or homemade chicken soup. And be sure to save the carcass for the richest chicken stock out there.
5. Kirkland Signature Organic Olive Oil
Olive oil skyrocketed to fame as a better-for-you fat back in the 90s, and today, it's most people's oil of choice, whether for sautéing or dressing a salad. But while you might assume that the bulk bottles at Costco are low quality, you'd be assuming wrong.
Samin Nosrat, author of the bestselling Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, recommends Costco's store brand organic olive oil as one of her favorite cooking fats, and we tend to agree. Made from the first-pressed oil of organic Italian olives, this oil is one of only a few imported options meeting U.S. standards, according to a study conducted by UC Davis. It sells for about $14 per 1 ½-liter bottle, a great deal when compared to smaller bottles of fancier oils.
The only real issue with this olive oil is the quantity you need to buy. Over time, olive oil has a tendency to oxidize and even go rancid. Ensure that it keeps at home by storing it in a dark place, like a cupboard. You can also siphon off some of the oil into a small, opaque bottle for drizzling, and keep the rest firmly sealed. This will ensure that most of the oil does not come into too much contact with oxygen.
6. Kirkland Signature Bacon
Tested by Consumer Reports alongside top-selling brands like Oscar Mayer, Costco's store-brand bacon earned a rating of "excellent." The only downside? You have to buy four one-pound packages at once. Luckily, this bacon freezes well, so you can easily save it for later and pull out a pack when you're gearing up for brunch or making meatloaf, carbonara, broccoli salad, or retro rumaki.
7. Frozen Berries
Occasionally, Costco has a wow-worthy deal on Driscoll's organic berries, and if you've got fruit lovers in your household, pounce. The issue, however, will always be whether you can eat all of the fruit before it goes off. A good buy is only as good as the fruit that doesn't end up in the compost bin.
Such is not the case with Costco's frozen fruit, which is always a steal and never goes bad. The organic fruit, in particular, is a great option, and it's sold in resealable bags: perfect for baking or for whizzing up into a morning strawberry-pineapple or blueberry-banana smoothie.
8. Cage-Free Eggs
It's important to pay close attention to the quality of your eggs, no matter where you buy them. With a range of producers and quality standards out there, seeking out pasture-raised, organic eggs is the best way to guarantee both the quality of the product and the humane standards of the animals. And that doesn't necessarily mean you need to hit up the farmers' market for pricey eggs.
Back in 2015, Costco was one of the first major retailers to announce a full transition to cage-free eggs, essentially eradicating a market for battery-raised chicken eggs in the U.S. The retailer also sells an organic store brand egg that is Certified Humane, so you can feel good about using them in your foolproof poached eggs, cheesy baked eggs, and deviled eggs, not to mention all of your favorite baked goods.