7 Costco Groceries This Former MasterChef Contestant Always Buys

published Oct 27, 2023
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Redmond, WA, USA - May 16, 2021; Entrance to Costco Wholesale store before opening hours with no people in Redmond Washington State
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If you’re a Costco member, chances are you have a short list of favorite products. Okay, fine — maybe it’s a long list. Maybe one or two are why you even became a member in the first place. Former MasterChef and Best Leftovers Ever contestant chef Shawn Niles has a few must-haves of his own, and he’s sharing them with us here.

The Washington-based restaurateur and Costco superfan is passionate about cooking for his family and his community, and he turns to quite a few clever Costco items — especially in the meat department — before he heads into the kitchen. These are the seven items Niles seeks out on his trips to the warehouse.

1. Colombian Coffee, $14.99 for 1 (3-pound) can

“I’ve got a high-end Breville, and I take my morning Americanos very seriously. To tell you that I gladly use Kirkland [Signature’s] Colombian Coffee is the truth. It’s delicious. I also love that I can buy it in bulk, because I use it often, and it will last 10 times longer than that expensive pound of coffee I can buy anywhere else.” 

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2. Organic Orange Juice, $12.59 for 2 (59-ounce) bottles

“I’ve spent a lot of time trying OJs from different stores, because it’s something I love to keep in my fridge at home. I thought I had found my favorite until someone gave me a glass of Costco’s [Kirkland Signature Organic Orange Juice] — I was sold! It is perfectly balanced between sweet and tart, and I like that it’s organic.”

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3. Rotisserie Chicken, $4.99 for 1 chicken

“There are times in my life when I just want the rotisserie chicken — my whole family does. While it might pain some chefs to let a big store cook their poultry, this is an incredible option when I’m in a hurry and trying to feed my family a decent meal. And you can’t beat the price. At $5, it’s head and shoulders (beak and comb?) above anything you’ll find at another grocery store.” 

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4. Whole Pork Belly, $3.34 per pound

“Costco really has led the charge on providing whole bellies (most stores will, at best, provide strips of cut-up belly and, at worst, nothing at all). For those who serve pork belly on the regular like me or just really enjoy it at home with their families, Costco provides an excellent opportunity to buy skin-off, fat-on delicious pig tummy.”

Credit: Alyse Whitney

5. Wild-Caught Seafood, price varies

“I have long visited Costco for wild salmon. As a chef, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the wild chinook, or coho, or sockeye salmon that I find at Costco. For the quality and price, the salmon is fantastic.” Niles notes that it even comes deboned, which is a huge time-saver. The warehouse’s wider selection of seafood options, including crab, cod, and Penn Cove mussels, is worth paying attention to as well, he explains

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6. Smoked Salmon, $27.19 for 2 (12-ounce) packages

“Smoked salmon, especially in the Pacific Northwest, is always expensive. Costco seems to have the very best option for this if I’m not going to smoke it myself. Costco’s packages of smoked salmon are larger, and about one-third of the cost of what I’ll pay anywhere else. If I’m cooking for a crowd, then I’m probably going to spend three times as much money shopping at a smaller grocery store, and I’m going to waste a lot of time opening a bunch of tiny packages.”

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7. Castelvetrano Olives, price varies

“Castelvetrano olives are a delicacy in my house. I can’t tell you how many times my wife has purchased a container of olives in Italy and just snacked on them as we walked the streets. Every once in a while, if you pay close attention, you’ll find giant jars at Costco. I wish they were available all the time, but I will take what I can get — especially when purchasing them at another grocery store will cost me the same, or more, for a much smaller quantity.”

Are you a chef who shops at Costco? Tell us about your favorite buys below.