Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Costco in Canada


BettyK
 Share

Recommended Posts

One thing to remember about Costco--everything comes in big, big bundles or enormous sizes. Great if you're shopping and cooking for a bunch of people; not so convenient for one or two.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think you really have to do your homework before you shop there. You need to know the prices in your supermarkets and grocery stores. You need to know if you have room to store huge quantities of things. If you are a small family then you will need to split and re-package much of the fresh meat, cheese, etc. Having said that, I do shop at Costco about once every 2-3 months for some very specific things including paper towels, toilet paper, dishwashing detergent, etc. Sometimes their frozen shrimp are an excellent buy but not always. Chicken thighs, pork tenderloins can also be a good buy.

I have a FoodSaver vacuum packaging machine and immediately split up large packages of meat for freezing as there are only two of us. I also repackage my cheeses and they stay wonderfully fresh this way.

Fresh produce is offered in portions far too large for the two of us so I don't buy any fresh produce there.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Generally speaking, if an item is on sale at Save-On-Foods, it's the same price and sometimes cheaper than the same item at Costco. But for certain things we KNOW we're going to use up (Dijon mustard, real maple syrup, Heinz ketchup) that we don't mind buying the BIG containers of, Costco is our preferred store. Hubby likes the cheese prices (bags of Baby Bel gouda, big rounds of that soft, peppered French stuff that's good in mashed potatoes) and we've had some decent steaks, too.

One has to be disciplined to shop in these places, lest one ends up carting home entire cases of KitKats, cheesies and gummy bears.

I always stay away from the fresh produce. Looks like it was trucked in from Patagonia -- the price may be right, but I'd rather put my Costco savings towards buying fresh, regional produce at a farmer's market or Caper's.

edited to say, I'm mostly referring to bulk or case-lot items on sale at Save-On....

Edited by Redhead (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I gave up my Costco membership after 7 years-it just wasn't cost effective for a single person.

They keep sending me 'membership deals' but it's hard for me to envision circumstances that would cause me to return.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I always stay away from the fresh produce. Looks like it was trucked in from Patagonia -- the price may be right, but I'd rather put my Costco savings towards buying fresh, regional produce at a farmer's market or Caper's.

We would too! We'd rather go to the produce stores on West Broadway for fresh produce than buy the trucked in stuff Costco offers.

Their feta & parmesan cheese prices are what keep us going back. (as well as their prices on T.P., paper towels, books, etc.etc......)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Once upon a long ago I shared a townhouse with 3 other people while we were attending university. It was a happy place. Many long evenings studying hard ... sharing ideas ... beers ... and really really large bags of Cheezies purchased at Costco. Healthy? Perhaps not ... Cheap? Damn straight!

I left that townhouse over Costco bills. Sure we saved tonnes of money (I think our per Cheezie cost was lower than .5 cents!) but oh God did we consume! We had 20lbs to eat! After a while I got tired of consuming ...

Today ... Costco is great for bulk staple items (tomato sauce, San Pelegrino, Nutella :biggrin: ) but lousy for produce. My one exception is the tub of organic mixed baby greens for $5. If you're a family of 4 or better it can work okay if you are carefull. Fewer people than that you run into the same problem I had in university. Sam Salmon'.s experience is typical

I agree, shopping at the farmers markets and specialty delis is much more rewarding (Cioffi's on Saturday is a ritual)... but dang it, sometimes time and convenience wins out.

DA

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Frankly, I find Costco's prices no different than the Canadian Superstore, and you don't need to pay a membership for the latter.

I have been buying my unsalted butter at CS for the last few years. Although the price has crept upwards, I still find it's the cheapest anywhere and the same as Costco.

But ditto on the organic salad sold in the one pound clam shell for $5...it's the cheapest anywhere but that alone is not worth the $$ for a Costco membership.

Due to past recalls on defective/dangerous products, I'm skeptical about buying meat, fish or any protein from Costco. They have one too many product recall for my comfort.

My sister has a card and the whole family and her friends and coworkers go with her. As a member you can bring a couple of people.

I think it's only worth it if you have more than several mouths to feed.

Unfortunately, Costco does have whipping cream with a higher fat content than other stores and cheaper than other stores that has the same product. Also, Costco buys large "rejects" and overstock from brand name suppliers and that's when the good deals are offered. They had Mountain Co-op waffle shirts for a third of the price at MEC. You couldn't even see the defects, if there were any. Plus, I bought a 350-watt KitchenAid mixer for $400 (including tax) which is probably the cheapest you'll find anywhere in Canada. Up-to-date popular books are cheaper (I"ve bought a few cookbooks.)

Their produce looks of very good quality, none of which are organic. So you have to wonder how much crap they spray on their crop to bring it all the way from California, Mexico, Florida, etc.

Redhead, unfortunately, Capers is becoming very corporate (American owned for a few years.) They get a lot of their organics via California, Washington...

I use to work there and during the ripe season, they ordered strawberries from California. Of course we know BC has the best strawberries!

Betty K, if you have time you should go with someone who has a membership to see for yourself. Then hop over to Canadian Superstore. As a bargain hunter, I enjoy going to ethnic communities to buy my stuff:

Butter, nuts, dairy and Callebaut chocolate at Superstore,

Oils and exceptional pasta at Bosa Ent. on Victoria and Frances,

Cheese, cold cuts and produce at Santa Barbara on Commercial Drive,

Produce at Apple Market (West Broadway), Donald's Market (Hastings and Nanaimo) and of course, the Farmer's Market all around town,

Lamb at IGA when it's on sale,

and meat from a store on skid road downtown East Hastings, I forget the name (my previous boss use to buy his meats there.)

I find all this researching fun and I've discovered a lot of good deals on things I didn't expect.

Be forwarned. The lineups at Costco are long, especially Saturdays and Sundays. Think about that when you buy your ice cream. The best times to go is early when the door opens. Plus, the corporate card holders get in an hour earlier than regular members!

Be double forwarned!! As others above have mentioned, you may end up buying a kajillion amount of junk processed food you never intended to buy. :blink:

Hope this helps.

Edited by maxmillan (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Redhead, unfortunately, Capers is becoming very corporate (American owned for a few years.) They get a lot of their organics via California, Washington...

I use to work there and during the ripe season, they ordered strawberries from California. Of course we know BC has the best strawberries!

How annoying.... why would they order California berries when local ones are in season? Surely the California ones aren't cheaper, given the transportation cost?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The GOOD

The biggest savings I found for me, being a pet owner, is the dog food. The savings on two large bags of dog food alone cover the cost of membership. Since I have two dogs we go through a bag a month. So for me it is worthwile.

The organic greens at $5, papery products, dairy and some of the cheese are good deals. The meat can be pretty reasonable as well. I got a good price on my eyeglasses and contact lenses, but shitty service.

The BAD

The sheer number of people in the store and at the check out lines is pretty brutal. For me, shooping at Costco is not really enjoyable the way shopping at Cioffi's or my local produce market is. It is a necessary evil (well, not really necessary) that I have to prepare my self for and get into the Costco state of mind. That means being prepared to plow my way through the idiots who stop right in the middle of the aisle with their buggy on an angle so that no one can pass on either side of them. Or the families of five who walk side by side at a snail's pace, blocking the entire aisle.

Also, not everything is a bargain. Do your homework.

The UGLY

Being rudely pushed aside by the slobbering masses so that they can shove another free sample of cheese filled wieners down their blow hole is not exactly my idea of a relaxing Saturday, so avoid the afternoons because that is when the army of processed food peddlers seems to be out in full force.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you all for your input. Very much appreciated. I'm thinking if we can combine our business purchases with groceries, it will probably be worth it.

I hope Costco will let us in to just have a look. Anyone knows if they allow this? After we check the prices we'll decide if it's worth it or not.

Anna N, we just bought a Foodsaver and love it. No more moldy cheese and freezer burns.

:biggrin: I've heard the bags/rolls for the Foodsaver are cheaper at Costco? One more item to check out. :wink:

Canadiancook, thanks for the warning. We avoid shopping during week-ends for that same reason. Our working schedule allows us to shop while most people are slaving away. BTW, we do our xmas shopping at least one month in advance then we can sit and relax and watch everybody else get stressed. :laugh:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

BTW, we do our xmas shopping at least one month in advance then we can sit and relax and watch everybody else get stressed. :laugh:

Oh...you're one of THOSE people are you? No more advice for you!! :angry:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

BTW, we do our xmas shopping at least one month in advance then we can sit and relax and watch everybody else get stressed. :laugh:

Oh...you're one of THOSE people are you? No more advice for you!! :angry:

Hey, more room for you to shop. You should be thankful. :wink::laugh:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If your hungry, costco is a good place to nosh as you shop with all those samples.

Stupid store line ups are brutal, worse than costco. I found best time to go to SS is on a wednesday morning for some reason. Costco used to have these great dehydrated hash browns that I loved. That's the trouble with the place, unusual items that they stock soon disappear never to be seen again.

My membership lapsed in February and once in awhile i get nostolgic for the place. But haven't found the desire to pay for entry. Find that I go to Walmart lately (hate those lineups too) for canned and packaged stuff and tea and crackers and soup.

The thing I really miss about costco is the cost of mayo and miracle whip that's about it oh and maybe the marinated artichokes.With all the kids gone don't need the volume.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some insider info from Costco has told me the following:

1. They design the store as a treasure hunt, so that you find things not seen elsewhere, certainly sooner, and attractively assembled (on skids!). Many of these items will not be repeated, so you must act at once.

2. All items are first rate, not seconds, and marked up minimally so that profit can be made on volume.

3. Staff are not always at hand, to help, as they set up the place between 4 and 10 AM. Shopping late in the day leads to morwe disappointment.

4. The house brand, Kirkland, is meant to provide natioanl staus at a lower price.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

definatley need to do your homework.

basmati rice (white tusk brand) is a good deal and good stuff.

Cioffi's is awesome! but man oh man the lineups are brutal!

(and the Red apple is excellent for produce and olive oil)

But about costco..... it never seems to fail.... I always! spend too much when I go there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

definatley need to do your homework.

basmati rice (white tusk brand) is a good deal and good stuff.

Cioffi's is awesome! but man oh man the lineups are brutal!

(and the Red apple is excellent for produce and olive oil)

But about costco..... it never seems to fail.... I always! spend too much when I go there.

The secret to Cioffi's is to get there around 5 and grab a number! I might be stereotyping here, but most shoppers at Cioffi's are making dinner around 5. Friday afternoons and Saturdays are the worst!

Good call on the White Tusk rice. I agree, do your homework and you'll do okay. Same thing works for line-ups here too. 5-6pm seems to work. Or when the Canucks are playing. :smile:

DA

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 years later...

The last entry on this thread was May 2004. We are now edging into February 2010 - six years later.

The Foodsaver unit: is it still worth buying a Costco membership - $70?/year to buy one?

What else do folks buy there now? Obviously the thread from 2004 says no fresh produce except for a couple of things are worth buying there. And don't go on the weekend. And do your homework. Etc.

I am a Costco virgin...never even stepped into one yet. We have a new one in Peterborough, our closest city, and I am thinking of a short free visitor's tour tomorrow.

All replies gratefully received. :smile:

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Plus ca change... Costco hasn't changed much in 6 years. It's still a great deal on some staple items, it still pays to keep an eye on what you pay in the grocery store, as not everything is cheapest there.

In fact, it's a useful way to see how much your grocery store is gouging you. Costco won't (apparently) mark anything up more than 14% over cost - they make money on volume (and membership fees).

So, if something is a similar price there as to your grocery store, your grocery store is taking a smaller profit on it. If it's vastly cheaper at Costco, you know the grocery store is marking it up a lot.

For example, we buy Martinelli's sparkling apple every so often. Our local Save-on-Foods has it for something like $5 per bottle. At Costco we can get 3 bottles for $7 or $8. Therefore the local store is marking it up by about 50%.

Living somewhere like Peterborough you may find that some things won't show up in your local Costco that might show up in Toronto. I live in a similar-sized city to Peterborough (Nanaimo), and I've noticed that some things they get in Vancouver don't sell over here - like a nice roasted-vegetable whole-wheat lasagna that we used to buy. I figure it has something to do with buying patterns in each community, and Nanaimo has a lot less people buying vegetarian/organic sorts of things than Vancouver.

We don't buy meat at Costco (we only buy organic and local, and I've never seen organic meat there), and try to avoid the ranks of frozen processed foods. What we find are good deals though are basics: bananas, Parmigiano Reggiano and other cheeses, milk, unsalted butter (still a good buy at about $3.50 per lb vs $5 per lb in the grocery store), bread, canned tomatoes, apple juice, rice, flour (1/2 the price of the grocery store). I got my Kitchenaid Mixer for $300 there, $100 cheaper than anywhere else.

Another thing about Costco worth considering - they pay their employees fairly well, and give them reasonable benefits, unlike Superstore or WalMart. Yes, they benefit from retail psychology - they bring people in to buy cheap produce and entice them with a wall of TVs - but as big box stores go they seem more ethical than some. I still wish they'd stock more organic foods - a box of salad from California doesn't really count.

www.cookbooker.com - Rate and review your cookbook recipes.

Cookbooker Challenge: July/Aug 2010 - collaboratively baking & reviewing Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear Agray,,

Thanks so much for your detailed reply. Very helpful to me.

Ah yes, the small city syndrome. We live, of course, near Peterpatch (as we lovingly call it) near the Big Smoke as they now appear to call Toronto. We can't get all sorts of stuff and whenever a friend or we are going thataway, we call around to see what someone wants. A friend phoned me from Pickering yesterday on the way home from Toronto, and I asked her to buy X...etc.

What we can't get is frustrating. What we can't get in Omemee our nearest town is enormous, starting with eggplant. However, for reasons, unknown, Omemee does carry white corn syrup which my DH couldn't find in the larger food stores in Peterborough. Who knows why?

So tomorrow, I am off to Costco. Just phoned them. $55 + tax is current yearly membership and it's good in the USA. OK. DH is going to Indiana in April and I'll ask him to get stuff. If Costco USA is like Walmart Canada/vs/USA it should be fun.

Thanks again. :smile:

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I went to college in Peterpatch. :biggrin: Even in Costco stores as close to each other as the Mississauga and Burlington stores, you'll find that what you can get at one, you can't get at the other.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Costco.....

As a business owner I used it on a weekly basis for the first 7 or 8 years. Pop and dairy mostly, some dry goods, produce is ifffy but the cheeses and cold cuts are decent. Cleaning produts are good, as are some appliances (kitchenaid, food savers etc).

The small but annoying bad points started to add up, one of the major ones being no credit cards allowed, and the final clinker was persisant harrasment by staff to customers in the line up trying to "upsell" memberships.

Stoopid store has dairy prices on-par with Costco, but they are doing funny things with their meat: Some stores here in Vncvr are only selling "flavour enhanced" pork,(read: 17% salt/soya protein pump), produce is iffy as well, and they do tend to be very creative with their pricing--bulk foods are usually more expensive then bagged foods.

It doesn't hurt to have a membership at Costco, if you hit it once a month or so for dairy and bulk items you should get your money's worth for the membership.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...