Five Things Friday #3: Costco Finds

This Friday, I’m sharing a few of my favorite Costco finds. Some people think that big-box superstores mark the end of civilization (as I mentioned in a recent WIAW, they have been saying this since You’ve Got Mail. Fox Books was the Costco of books.) But, Costco is actually wonderful for people trying to eat healthfully without breaking the bank. Fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables make up the bulk of my family’s Costco cart, as well as dairy, eggs, fish, and poultry. And a few snacks like Angie’s and Skinny Pop popcorn. All at prices that are lower than the grocery stores in surrounding suburban Connecticut (and so much lower than in Manhattan it makes me sad to do the math!) The following are just a few of my favorite finds – which you may already have glimpsed in my past WIAW posts and will definitely be featured time and time again.

 

A trifecta of delicious berries

A trifecta of delicious berries

 

Frozen berries: Fresh berries are expensive even when they’re in season, so finding this frozen medley was a big deal! They’re not exactly the same as fresh berries, since defrosting them (either in the fridge or microwave) means they’re not going to be as firm and there will be a lot of juice coming out, but they’re perfect for using in baked goods, breakfast treats, and snacks. And the price really can’t be beat.

 

 

 

A sweet and tangy treat

A sweet and tangy treat

 

I’ve used them to make berry muffins and as a topping for pancakes, and I swirl them into yogurt and ice cream on a regular basis. Nothing beats the wild raspberries that grow in the woods around my childhood home in Connecticut, but these are great for getting through a snowy winter – close your eyes, take a bite, and think of eating fresh berries in the summer sun!

 

 

 

 

Two different medleys for vegetable heaven

Two different medleys for vegetable heaven

Frozen mixed vegetables: Veggies are a staple of my diet. I never had to be coaxed into eating my carrots, corn or peas – I’m still not big on green beans, but this mix is tough to beat on quality and price, so I usually douse them with a little Parmesan and dig in! I use them in everything from omelettes and breakfast bowls to colorful dinner accoutrements. Pretty much wherever you might think of to use chopped vegetables. And I use the Normandy-style blend for hearty winter recipes with broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots.

 

 

Delicious dolmades

Delicious dolmades

Grape Leaves: I always liked the grape leaves, or dolmades, that are served with Greek salads at Greek restaurants and diners. I’d often see them at delis as well, but never in grocery stores (at least, until recently – now they seem to be on the shelves of every Food Emporium around!) A couple of years ago, I found these Frankly Fresh grape leaves at Costco, and ever since they’ve been a must-buy with every trip. Each grape leaf is rolled around a ball of rice, olive oil and veggies – and that’s it. They’re gluten-free and vegan, and a great addition to a salad or served as a side with simple broiled fish and vegetables.

 

 

So much salmon - wild sockeye to grill or steam, smoked for scrambles, and burgers

So much salmon goodness

 

 

All Sorts of Salmon: I love salmon in pretty much all forms. There’s nothing better than a filet of wild salmon, simply steamed or grilled – unless there’s some smocked sockeye salmon in the room, or nova lox for an omelette, or even these salmon burgers. I eat them practically every week for dinner with some veggies and potatoes or rice. You may recognize these from being featured with my roasted butternut squash and asparagus or other dishes!

 

 

 

 

An excellent meatball alternative

An excellent meatball alternative

Chicken meatballs: I don’t eat red meat, and I’m allergic to most meatballs anyway because they usually include bread – even vegetarian “meatballs” invariably include wheat! But I do eat chicken and turkey, and often partake in turkey bacon and chicken sausage as long as it’s gluten-free. So I was eager to try these chicken meatballs, especially when I saw that they included garlic and cheese. They were delicious, with the mozzarella melting when cooked.

 

Black bean "spaghetti"

Black bean “spaghetti”

Black Bean Spaghetti: This was a recent find, courtesy of my dad. These noodles are made wholly from organic black beans and water, so they’re perfect for clean eating – and gluten-free, nut-free, noodle lovers like me. The noodles don’t taste like regular pasta, but it isn’t like rice pasta or quinoa pasta – they aren’t really supposed to. That’s why they are labeled “spaghetti shaped” instead of “spaghetti” on the box.The first time I made it, I just cooked it like regular pasta and sprinkled a little Parmesan on it, having the noodles as a side dish. They were just OK, a little bland perhaps. Since then, I’ve found that they take on the flavor of whatever topping you choose.

 

 

My own delicious and nutritious "spaghetti and meatballs"

“Spaghetti and meatballs”

Since sauce and cheese both go great with black beans, it’s no trouble to find creative combinations. I’ve cooked them first and then baked them with some Cheddar, feta, and Parmesan to create a little cheesy casserole – YUM. I’ve also had success using them as a base for bowls. The trick is to add in other ingredients so they soak up the flavor. Here, I used them for a spaghetti-and-meatball dish, made with the aforementioned chicken meatballs, veggies, and cheese.

 

 

 

 

Just a few more staples

Just a few more staples

 

I didn’t include the fresh fruits and veggies above, because they’re pretty self-explanatory. Regular readers will know about my apple obsession and rabbitlike consumption of berries and carrots. Though there are so many more finds just waiting to be discovered, I’ve waxed rhapsodic enough for today. (Also, you may think you’ve counted more than five items – I’m grouping frozen fruits and veggies into one basket to make this fit a Friday Five, but let’s be honest, no one walks out of Costco with just five items!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s your favorite food find at Costco? Any tips and tricks for making the most of a trip?

 

 

 

 

© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.

 

Disclosure: I purchased all products myself. No financial compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.

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