I'm a culinary judge who shops for 2 at Costco. Here are 11 things I buy on a $100 budget.
As a culinary judge, I look for nutritious, adaptable meal components and peak-season produce.
I stock up on specialty foods like Garofalo organic dried pasta and Starbucks coffee blends.
I also make sure my husband and I have plenty of fruit, like grapefruit and medjool dates.
Red grapefruit from Florida is in peak season now.
From January through springtime, grapefruit develops a perfect sweet-tart balance. A 5-pound bag of grapefruit may seem like a lot for two people, but we go through it easily. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I bought a citrus juicer and started making fresh juices every week.
Grapefruit juice adds a nice twist to homemade vinaigrette and sections of the fruit perk up salads. Occasionally, I'll brûlée sliced grapefruit sprinkled with sugar with a kitchen torch or in the broiler to eat straight or float in a cocktail.
You can grab a bag of grapefruit at Costco for $6.
Costco has the best price on high-quality Garofalo organic pasta.
Made in Italy for more than two centuries, Garofalo pasta includes spiral-cut gemelli from Puglia; the tubular, ridged penne ziti rigate; and the curled, Sicilian casarecce, a champion sauce-holder.
I like that Garofalo is an old-school brand with a modern take on sustainability and transparency, and how I can trace the origins of ingredients on each 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.
Medium-roast, organic whole beans are my home-brewing coffee choice these days, so I'm always delighted to spot seasonal Starbucks blends. The Starbucks Winter Blend lists notes of candied nuts and warm spices on its packaging.
We go through about a pound of beans each week so the size is perfect since I won't have an open bag around for too long, as the beans start to lose their flavor.
You can pick up 40-ounce bags of Starbucks Coffee blends for $15.
Earth Greens baby spinach works in both hot and cold dishes.
I love to buy prewashed mesclun greens. But because a 16-ounce box tends to spoil before the two of us can finish it, I grab Earth Greens baby spinach.
Baby spinach is tender enough to eat as a salad and or add to smoothies, and it can be gently cooked. I'll wilt a generous handful in a bowl of hot lentil soup, add it to omelets and quiches, and sauté it with fresh garlic.
Costco sells Earth Greens baby spinach for $4.50 a pound. It's the same price as the salad greens but its flexibility means virtually no waste for us.
The Kirkland Signature organic ground beef is an economical protein choice at Costco.
Parceled into three separate packages, the Kirkland Signature 85% lean ground beef is a bulk buy that makes sense for smaller households. I can cook with one pack and freeze the other two.
Costco also carries the slightly more expensive American-raised Wagyu, packaged the same way as the Kirkland Signature organic ground beef.
Kirkland Signature organic ground beef costs $20 for four pounds, a good deal at $5 a pound.
Costco's rotisserie chicken is an excellent budget pick.
At just $5, the Kirkland Signature 3-pound rotisserie chicken is too budget-friendly not to buy. It requires no preparation and is a simple go-to for a satisfying dinner.
For us, the bird makes approximately 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.
I don't usually buy precut vegetables, but a box of Del Monte organic butternut-squash pieces is so convenient because there's no peeling, chopping, or seed removal.
Butternut squash has a rich texture and nutty flavor that's enhanced by a touch of butter and brown sugar. It can be cooked in almost any way, but I like to steam pieces and use them in a vegetable lasagna.
At 2 pounds for $6, a package is a little more expensive and doesn't stay fresh as long as a whole squash. But it's not a budget buster.
Costco carries "US #1 fancy" Kirkland Signature pecan halves.
Heart-healthy nuts are a regular part of my Costco shopping, and this time, I grabbed the Kirkland Signature pecans.
I add pecans to whole-grain cereals, salads, cheese boards, baked goods, and basically anything that blends well with their buttery, earthy taste.
Pecans are densely caloric so I eat only a few at a time and store the rest in the refrigerator to extend their shelf life.
I think the Kirkland Signature pecans are well-priced at $13 for a 2-pound bag.
It's easy to make 4Earth Farms Brussels sprouts taste good.
My mom used to boil Brussels sprouts, so I disliked them until I discovered how to crisp them by roasting them in a very hot oven with plenty of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
The 4Earth Farms Brussels sprouts are delicious raw as a crunchy slaw or thinly sliced and tossed with balsamic glaze, pomegranate molasses and arils, goat cheese, and pine nuts.
Costco sells 2-pound sacks of trimmed 4Earth Farms sprouts for $4.
Kirkland Signature baguettes are baked on the premises.
I think I'm genetically incapable of leaving Costco without some fresh-baked goods.
The classic, crusty Kirkland Signature baguettes had just been put on the shelf when I arrived, and they were still warm from the oven. I'll admit to nibbling on one on the way home, and making sandwiches with the rest.
I try to budget at least $6 for good bread, and the 24-ounce baguettes fit the bill at exactly that price.
Natural Delights organic fresh medjool dates are an on-trend sweet treat.
At $12, a 2-pound box of Natural Delights medjool dates is practically a splurge on a $100 budget. But I think their versatility and nutritional qualities make them worthwhile.
Dates are considered to be the oldest cultivated fruit on earth and are currently trending among specialty-food epicures. They go well with the butternut squash and pecans, atop crostini, or in a baked side dish. They also serve as a perfect accompaniment to different kinds of cheese.
They're useful in easy, no-bake desserts, too. Blend them with a little hot water to make a sweet, caramel-y paste.
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