AT HOME IN HEATH: NOW I’M A COSTCO PRO
Yes, you’ve heard me whine about the grocery shopping in Heath – as in we have no grocery stores in Heath. I have to go over to Rockwall just to get carton of milk. I know I was spoiled back in Dallas, but I’ve had to up my game. For produce, I’ve found the Farmers Market. My other secret weapon is Costco.
Joining the Dark Side
Y’all know I’m not a Walmart Shopper. I once had a membership to Sam’s, but about all they had that made any sense for me to buy, in the quantities they offered it, was a few paper goods. There was no Sam’s out on the Central Coast and we didn’t catch Costco fever when it came to town. After six years we were back in Dallas and never had any particular reason to join either Sam’s or Costco, once we returned. Then we moved to Heath and I started cooking most of our meals at home. Suddenly, grocery shopping took on a whole new meaning.
We also met Omar and Nohelly. They really know how to entertain. My husband loved everything they put out for us to eat and drink and when he’d compliment them, they’d point him towards Costco. Between my grocery store whining and all the delicious things at our friends’ house, Bill decided we needed to become Costco Members. Oh yes, and there was the cheap gas thing, too.
Our First Visit
So one afternoon on a weekend, we joined Costco and took a stroll through the store. I was initially overwhelmed by the size of the things they sold and dismayed to discover that many of things I buy the most of they didn’t carry at all. Sugar-free, fat-free and low-salt are barely in Costco’s vocabulary, but my beloved South Beach Diet demands them. Still, our bill was somewhere in the neighborhood of $200, so something must have seemed tempting.
The Hard-Boiled Eggs Did It
One item we picked up on that maiden voyage was a package of twenty-four hard-boiled eggs. I was buying them six at a time for somewhere in the 3-4 dollar range. The 24 pack was five something. Bill and I had a difference of opinion. He thought buying six at a time was wasting money. I thought buying 24 at a time would mean wasting food. We bought the package of 24 eggs.
The twenty-four egg package was divided up into four smaller packs of six, but I just knew we weren’t going to eat 24 eggs before some spoiled. Well, I was just wrong. They’ve got some special super-duper technology that helps keep the eggs fresh AND we eat a whole lot more hard-boiled eggs than I realized. Maybe there was something to this Costco thing after all.
I Kept Going Back
Over the next few weeks I kept going back. As we ran out of things I usually bought at Kroger, I’d go see if Costco offered them and how they were packaged.
My first big haul was from the frozen food department. South Beach has a lot of fish recipes and hauling in the fish du jour was taking up a lot of time. I discovered that much of the stuff in Kroger’s seafood case wasn’t actually fresh fish. It was just de-frosted fish. I got to thinking that perhaps I could de-frost my own fish and what I saw in Costco’s freezer beat what was in Kroger’s freezer all to heck. Costco had Wild-Caught Sockeye Salmon, Halibut, Ahi Tuna, Pacific Cod, Mahi Mahi, Tilapia, Raw Shrimp and Boiled Shrimp. So I got a bag of each and moved it to my freezer.
South Beach also has a lot of chicken recipes. So when I ran out of chicken I got a bag of breasts and a bag of thighs from Costco. Bless their hearts. The pieces came individually wrapped, just like the seafood. I’d been buying the bargain packs at Kroger and then repackaging them in dinner-sized portions for the freezer. Suddenly, no more chicken slime to clean off my counters.
Not everything worked for us. Take the huge packages of rotisserie chicken, for instance. It tasted heavenly, but try as we might, Bill and I could not eat it up fast enough. So, then I discovered grilled chicken strips in Costco’s freezer. Now we have it in our freezer.
The Cupboard is Full
So now, my little freezer is stuffed to the gills with everything from broccoli florets to ground beef individually wrapped in 1 pound packages. I’m proud of those raw ingredients. I used to keep frozen entrees and breakfast items in there.
My pantry has gi-normous Splenda, Coffee-Mate, Raw Walnuts and other great big packages. I wrote the date I opened them on the outside. I think it will be some time next year before we actually use up the entire bulk package of Splenda. The Raw Walnuts move pretty fast around here, though.
I’m also giving canned goods a try. First, it was Chicken Broth. After all, they did have the low-salt variety. Then it was canned tomatoes. Back in my pre-Costco days, I’d buy tomatoes that already had Italian seasonings on them AND they were low salt. Costco’s are low-salt, but no seasonings. Next to my 12-pack of canned tomatoes is a 12 pack of tomato paste. Then I broke down and got a 6-pack of canned salmon and a 6 pack tuna – water-packed, of course.
Paper-goods? A no-brainer! Cleaning supplies? Yep! Sodas? Diet Dr. Pepper in 36-packs and ICE flavored sparkling waters! And I love the big bottles of Pellegrino. Kalamata olives? Sure! A tub of tzatziki? Why not! And there’s some Prosecco in the wine department that’s very impressive.
I Still Need Kroger
Though Kroger’s weekly sales figures must have plummeted since I discovered Costco, they need not fear. I’ll be in weekly. Costco doesn’t sell Pinot Grigio in a box. They don’t have Bill’s flavor of Kashi Cookies or Cinnamon Pecan Special K. Blueberry-muffin flavored yogurt? Only at Kroger’s. And Ricotta for my nightly South Beach Diet dessert. M-M-M-M-M! The list goes on.
But if I ever need to make Red Lobster Cheese Biscuits, I know where to go.