Ten fresh food items you thought you couldn't buy at Costco

The ingredients for this healthy
quinoa salad were purchased at Costco

A fall from shopping at Whole Foods to shopping at Costco.  Sounds drastic, doesn't it?  I made the switch, and I'm here to report that:

  • I'm still putting healthy meals on the table
  • I have an extra dollar or two in my wallet
  • I didn't have to throw a bunch of spoiled food away

If you are skeptical, I don't blame you, because I was too.  But circumstances may push you to re-evaluate your thinking, and this recession did that for me.  Here was the sticking point for me: I just couldn't imagine getting much fresh food at a warehouse that literally supplies me with ten times the amount of product that I can actually use at one time.

But, dear reader, I found that some careful planning will enable you to take advantage of Costco's savings when it comes to fresh food.  Here are ten healthy foods you can purchase at Costco, complete with tips on how to maximize their use:

  1. Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries:  I usually buy 2 packs of raspberries, 2 packs of blueberries, 1 pack of blackberries, and 1 pack of strawberries.  It is true that berries spoil quickly, so how do we get through them?  My daughter and I always snack on them the day we get them.  Then, as I make my son's lunch in the evening, I wash and dry them, then pop them in a bowl in the refrigerator.  Each morning I take the berries out and put them on the breakfast table.  The berries are eaten plain, put on cereal, and snacked on throughout the day.  In addition, there is always a stash of cleaned berries ready for the taking placed in the refrigerator at eye level.  Go ahead and try it.  If the berries begin to go, blend them to make breakfast shakes or throw on top of pizza dough for a yummy summer dessert
  2. Grape tomatoes: These tomatoes are always sweet.  They come in a large container, but if you are creative you can use them all without feeling like you've overdosed on tomato.  Here's how I use them:
    • Top on salads
    • Cut in half.  Saute with onion and garlic.  Add a pinch of sea salt, pepper, and parsley.  (Cover pan so tomatoes get soft and create a nice sauce).
    • Saute with mushrooms 
    • Add to a vegetable medley
    • Grill on a vegetable tray
    • Add to pastas.  My favorite: saute shrimp, tomatoes, spinach and pine nuts.  Top on angel hair pasta
    • Add to school lunches
    • Snack on them
  3. Bananas: Go ahead and get the whole bunch.  If you can't eat them all, pop them in the freezer and make a healthy banana bread when you have time.
  4. Apples and oranges:  In comparison to other fruits, apples and oranges keep well.  If you have space limitations, alternate purchases of one, then the other.
  5. Artichokes: I love artichokes, so I was thrilled when I first saw them at Costco several weeks ago.  The bags contain just 4 artichokes, which is very manageable for a family of 4.  (They are great fun for kids to eat, so if you haven't, you may want to introduce them.  Just steam and serve).
  6. Organic spinach: I don't blame you if you have your doubts about finishing a gigantic sized container of lettuce.  I've balked at them myself, as sometimes they seem to begin spoiling the second you put them in your cart.  I decided to get around this by purchasing the gigantic container of spinach instead.  The reason is this: spinach can be eaten as salad, cooked down to create a side, and added to almost any dish (think pasta and soup).  Getting through it is, in fact, a breeze.
  7. Skim milk: Though you couldn't find a more poorly designed bottle for pouring, you just can't beat the price of this milk.  Since I'm here to save money, I overlook the least ergonomic bottle ever created and buy it anyway.  
  8. Cheese: Costco has a nice selection of cheese.  Don't be intimidated by the amount, as you can freeze half.  I like to buy the Buffalo Mozarella in the summer.  Top it on fresh tomatoes.  Top it on pizza.  Put it between bread with prosciutto and basil and grill for lunch.
  9. Eggs: You can now purchase organic eggs at Costco.  The container has just 18 eggs, which I hardly consider super-sized.
  10. Bread: If your child's lunch menu employs as many sandwiches as mine, you could benefit from a double loaf of bread.  I like the InnKeeper's 8 Grain Bread, which has 3 grams of fiber per slice and passes the "finicky kid" test.

Do you have favorite fresh food buys at Costco?  What are they, and how do you eat them before they spoil?

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