As a professional chef who often buys large quantities of singular items, I haven’t quite wrapped my head around frequenting Costco. Although I’ve held a membership for 20+ years, I have rarely shopped there during the last five.  The sheer hyper-consumerism coupled with maniacal SUV/Minivan parking gridlock and the overstuffed people rudely stepping on one another as they fight reach for fistfuls of the free samples (which you can find in any Costco daily from about 11:00-3:00) is enough to keep me away on most days.

A couple of friends (whose eating habits and food choices I respect) had clued me in on their latest finds at Costco, so today I decided to give it a go en route from an appointment to home.  My intention was to do hot lap around the food section and grab the two items on my “list” (that “list” surged from two to five once I entered the parking lot).    My plans quickly derailed as I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of everyday items I discovered and instead of the aforementioned “hot lap”, my time there was spent in more of a leisurely “stroll”.  OF COURSE Costco still had their requisite inventory of fodder food-stuffs that continues to puzzle me: I mean, how many more shapes can companies squeeze out of pureed and emulsified one-oft chicken parts? With gimmicky marketing slogans such as “shaped like Mickey” and “8 grams of whole grains” and “only white meat chicken” (last I checked, fat is white-ish; stomach and spleens are white; heads and eyeballs are white..….), products such as these stood front and center.  In Costco, there is a least half of a freezer aisle devoted to “meat shapes”.

Ummmm.....yeah.  Don't buy these. Please don't.

Ummmm…..yeah. Don’t buy these. Please don’t.

14 or so Costco shoutouts

Pumpkin Seeds Move over Almonds, you are expensive and sooooooo 2011. Happy to see these as one of the “IT” foods of 2015. (I deem them an “IT” food as Costco had 3 types in the “Snack and Nut” aisles). Pumpkin seeds are nutritional powerhouses. You tri geeks endurance athletes take note; not only are pumpkin seeds a terrific source of protein, fiber but contain a decent amount of Potassium, Manganese and Magnesium. Buy them salted and you have #electrolytes.  For those sensitive to nuts, these are no-brainer replacement.

Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Dark Chocolate-coated Pumpkin Seeds

Dark Chocolate-coated Pumpkin Seeds

Organic Coconut Oil I cook almost exclusively with Coconut Oil. Why? Love the taste and its anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. It’s a key ingredient in some of my favorite plant-based dessert recipes. I also use it as a makeup remover. I tried using it as body lotion but the I couldn’t keep the my dogs from licking my legs…….#freakmutts

Love sautéing with this stuff

Love sautéing with this stuff

Cholula Uh huh, love this stuff….now only if Costco will start carrying the Chipotle flavor….

Favorite Daily Condiment

Favorite Daily Condiment

I'll take seeds over nuts most days.

I’ll take seeds over nuts most days.

Hemp Hearts and Sweet Potatoes Yum and Yum. These are ELITE (a-hem Kurt Perham) seeds.  Hemp Hearts have about 50% MORE protein than pumpkin seeds and are loaded with Magnesium, Zinc, Iron and Manganese; a little go a long way.   The organic sweet potatoes were half the price of area markets, and I had no problem purchasing the 7 lb bag since I eat on average one-a-day.  My go-to second breakfast is typically a Baked Sweet Potato with a tablespoon or so of Hemp Seeds.  And maybe some other stuff.  #10gramsofprotein

 Organic Black Beans The 8-pack pricing works out to about $.78/can. Besides the fact that I use a fair amount of Black Beans, half a can of Beans-with-Salsa is one of the best post-long workout recovery fuel choices around–perfect 4:1 Carb:Protein ratio and simple when it sometimes becomes a chore to choke down on of those highly crafted recovery shakes, right? Best. Price. Anywhere. 

Harmless Harvest Coconut Water and GT Kombucha You know that you live in coastal SoCal when your Big Box Food et al Discount Store stocks spendy raw quenchers. These are staples in my house, so why not save the cash? About a 20-30% savings depending on where you shop.

Raw Harmless Harvest Coconut water tastes just like the stuff from a freshly cracked coconut--full of electrolytes as well

Raw Harmless Harvest Coconut water tastes just like the stuff from a freshly cracked coconut–full of electrolytes as well

You know what they say: "A Kombucha a day....."

You know what they say: “A Kombucha a day…..”

Vitamix Demo YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If you don’t have a Vitamix, put one at the top of your list of things to purchase STAT. It’s better than a powermeter, triathletes.  I stuck around for the green smoothie demo (spinach, banana, pineapple, lemon, lime and ginger) and turned into one of those Costco patrons and reached in for the second sample before I finished my first #smoothiewhore

Vitamix Demo--make one small change and add a green smoothie a day to your daily food intake

Vitamix Demo–make one small change and add a green smoothie a day to your daily food intake

I almost went for thirds it was THAT good

I almost went for thirds it was THAT good

Organic Frozen Fruit See ^^^^^^^. Geoff eats bowls and bowls of frozen mango pieces for dessert and snacks; I make smoothies. Lots of them. Most bags are 3.5 pounds for under $10. Whole Foods, while I love you and you are still my happy place, you charge about two and an half times the price for essentially the same product.

Mango......

Organic Pineapple……

Organic Mango.......

Organic Mango…….

Organic Strawberries

Organic Strawberries

Sports Nutrition-Bars and Protein Powders Read between the lines (or the entire ingredient list) before you buy any sports nutrition products.  There are plenty of bad ones out there cloaked in clever packaging of misleading marketing jargon (refer back to the paragraph on “meat shapes”). You can’t beat the price on Clif Bars and this pea protein-based from Vega (for all of you protein-starved Americans;  TWENTY grams per serving )

Cannot believe Vega is in Costco. High quality and nutritionally dense--run to Costco and grab a container ALONG WITH A VITAMIX

Cannot believe Vega is in Costco. High quality and nutritionally dense–run to Costco and grab a container ALONG WITH A VITAMIX

Seaweed Snacks My junk food. Love these salty-crunchy snacks and my only regret is the amount of packaging per unit

Kelp.  Now if I can just figure out how to turn the piles on Dog Beach into some high end canine chow.....

Kelp. Now if I can just figure out how to turn the piles on Dog Beach into some high end canine chow…..

San Diego Craft Beer……’nuff said

This really begs the question......why go Gluten Free?

This really begs the question……why go Gluten Free?

Other mentions—Organic Quinoa; Misc Organic Frozen Veggies; Organic Spinach, Carrots and Strawberries. Organic Veggie Burgers. Wine……..

Total time in Costco 45 minutes

Total aggravation factor on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the highest:  Two (meat shapes +1 and having to root around in my purse for my receipt upon exit +1 )

Total impulse purchase of things I don’t eat or drink on a daily basis: Zero–yay, me!!!!! Not typically shopping behavior for me and my food curiousity

Total time wasted going out of my way to go to Costco: 7 minutes (all parking lot maneuvering–my back-up camera got one hell of a workout)

Total Amount of $$$$ Saved: $40 (estimate). Bill was $137.xx

I’m sure that I’ll be back on the Jimbos/Whole Foods/Chino Farms circuit tomorrow, but today’s experience rekindled my patronage of Costco.

And that damn achilles?  More on that soon.