- As a Culinary Judge, I look for nutritious and adaptable meal components and seasonal 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.
Florida Red Grapefruit is currently in peak season.
From January to spring, the grapefruit develops a perfect sweet-tangy balance. A 5 pound bag of grapefruit might seem like a lot for two people, but we go through it easily. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I bought a juicer and started making fresh juices every week.
Grapefruit juice adds a nice touch to homemade dressing and sections of fruit enhance salads. Occasionally, I’ll burn some sugar-dusted grapefruit slices with a kitchen torch or grill to eat straight or float in a cocktail.
You can pick up a bag of grapefruit at Costco for $6.
Costco has the best price on high-quality organic Garofalo pasta.
Made in Italy for more than two centuries, Garofalo pasta includes spiral-cut gemelli from Puglia; the tubular and ridged penne ziti rigates; and the curly Sicilian casarecce, champion of the sauce.
I love that Garofalo is an old-school brand with a modern approach to sustainability and transparency, and how 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.
Medium roast organic whole beans are my go-to for homemade coffee these days, so I’m always happy to spot seasonal Starbucks blends. The Starbucks Winter Blend lists notes of candied nuts and warm spices on its packaging.
We eat about a pound of beans each week so the size is perfect as I won’t have a bag open for too long as the beans start to lose flavor.
You can pick up 40-ounce bags of Starbucks Blends coffee for $15.
Earth Greens baby spinach is suitable for both hot and cold dishes.
I love buying pre-washed mescluns. But because a 16-ounce can tends to spoil before we can finish it, I take Earth Greens baby spinach.
Baby spinach is tender enough to eat in salads and/or add to smoothies, and it can be cooked gently. I’ll wilt a generous handful of it into a bowl of hot lentil soup, add it to omelettes 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 green salads but its flexibility means virtually no waste for us.
Kirkland Signature Organic Ground Beef is an economical protein choice at Costco.
Packaged in three separate packages, Kirkland Signature 85% Lean Ground Beef is a bulk purchase suitable for smaller households. I can cook with one package and freeze the other two.
Costco also offers the slightly more expensive American-raised Wagyu, packaged similarly to Kirkland Signature Organic Ground Beef.
Kirkland Signature Organic Ground Beef is $20 for four pounds, a bargain at $5 a pound.
Costco’s rotisserie chicken is a great budget choice.
At just $5, the 3-pound Kirkland Signature Roast Chicken is too economical not to buy. It requires no preparation and is a staple for a satisfying dinner.
For us, the bird makes about four meals.
It can be removed from the bone and chopped; grated to make a chicken salad; or added to stews, pies and other dishes.
Add another colorful vegetable to your plate with Del Monte butternut squash.
I don’t usually buy pre-cut vegetables, but a box of Del Monte Organic Butternut Squash Chunks is so convenient because there’s no peeling, chopping, or seed removal.
Butternut squash has a rich texture and nutty flavor enhanced by a touch of butter and brown sugar. It can be cooked almost any way, but I like to steam chunks and use them in a vegetable lasagna.
At 2 pounds for $6, a packet is a bit more expensive and doesn’t stay fresh as long as a whole squash. But it’s not a budget breaker.
Costco offers “US #1 fancy” Kirkland Signature pecan halves.
Heart-healthy nuts are a regular part of my Costco purchases, and this time I grabbed the Kirkland Signature Pecans.
I add pecans to whole grains, salads, cheese platters, baked goods, and anything else that pairs well with their buttery, earthy taste.
Pecans are high in calories, so I only eat a few at a time and store the rest in the fridge to extend their shelf life.
I think Kirkland Signature Pecans are a good price at $13 for a 2 pound bag.
It’s easy to make 4Earth Farms Brussels Sprouts taste great.
My mom used to boil Brussels sprouts, so I didn’t like them until I figured out how to crisp them by roasting them in a very hot oven with lots of olive oil, salt and pepper.
4Earth Farms Brussels Sprouts are delicious raw as crispy slaw or thinly sliced and tossed with balsamic glaze, pomegranate molasses and arils, goat cheese and pine nuts.
Costco sells 2-pound bags of trimmed 4Earth Farms sprouts for $4.
Kirkland Signature baguettes are baked on site.
I think I’m genetically incapable of leaving Costco without some fresh baked goods.
The classic, crispy Kirkland Signature baguettes had just been put on the shelf when I arrived, and they were still warm from the oven. I admit I nibbled one on the way back, and made sandwiches with the rest.
I try to budget at least $6 for a good loaf, and the 24 oz baguettes are 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 it worth it.
Dates are considered the oldest cultivated fruit on earth and are currently trending among specialty food epicureans. They pair well with butternut squash and pecans, on crostini or in a baked side dish. They also serve as the perfect accompaniment to different types of cheese.
They are also useful in easy, no-bake desserts. Mix them with a little hot water to obtain a sweet and caramelized paste.
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