Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Co. of Cost

Costco. I blame ADP, who gave me a glimpse of the wonders within, and LJ and Snow, who made the wonders usually available as daily provisions, for leading me down the path of bulk buying enlightenment.  When I returned from a month in CO/IN/ID to an entirely empty kitchen and pantry it was time to take the plunge on my own.  The one little hiccup: buying bulk gets big and heavy, fast, so transport of the wonders is tricky.  Oh well, nothing's perfect.

However, the economics make sense: what I consume in abundance, they sell in abundance.  [Plus cars, tires, and gas in case I ever decide to address the pesky transportation problem.]  Seriously, what I save on frozen fruit alone pays for my annual membership.

I buy - and usually eat - for one, but sometimes I'm eating for up to five - me, my arms, my legs, my stomach, and my heart - and plan and shop accordingly.  Before big series of days or weeks, I make sure I have everything on hand.

One tip: make large batches of a bunch of grains (I do lentils, rice, quinoa, and crock-pot split pea stew) on one day (Sunday afternoon is a good choice) and store them in tupperware in the refrigerator and you will have a week's worth of meals/snacks.  Add steamed frozen veggies; some scrambled eggs; top with salsa/cheese/whatever; and you will have a meal/snack - in exactly those five minutes between the end of your session and when you face-plant straight into bed.

Here's my usual Co. of Cost shopping list:

Liquids

Unrefrigerated (until you open it) soymilk - the base for all my smoothies (fodder for another post) and sometimes I just chug it out straight out of the container after a run.  If I didn't buy soymilk in bulk, I would be at the grocery store every other day easy.

Seltzer water - my drug of choice is Diet Coke but to cut down on the chemical consumption, I throw some Crystal Light into some seltzer, close my eyes...and still feel a little jilted

Dairy


Fage (Greek, aka extra thick, yogurt) - more base for my smoothies, or a cheaper/bigger (because who eats just 6 or 8 oz of yogurt?!?) low-fat yogurt mixed with honey/jam

Cottage Cheese - throw in jam or eat it straight out of the container...yum!

Cheese (not pictured) - Costco has a great selection of hard/sharp cheeses, my favorite, but the LAST thing I need is several pounds of cheese sitting in my refrigerator

Fruit


Frozen fruit(s) - Costco carries three types: blueberries, strawberries, and the trio mix...my freezer stocks them all, several bags deep, because they go into my smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, cottage cheese...


Fresh fruit(s) - my goal is to eat four pieces of fresh fruit per day, so I try to have at least four different kinds on hand; they get carried in my bike jersey for mid-ride eating or in my backpack for post-session fueling; the bananas also go into my smoothies or get spread with some almond butter

Vegetables


Frozen veggies - Costco carries 3 or 4 different types: broccoli, the asian stir-fry mix, the normandy mix (broccoli and cauliflower), and the basic mix (peas, carrots, corn)...I stock the broccoli and the normandy and along with the frozen fruit, can barely close the door of my freezer

Fresh veggies - there is no way I could photographically do justice to Costco's fresh produce selection.  I mean, they have a room bigger than my apartment to keep the most sensitive veggies super-cold.  I buy the 2.5 pound bags of spinach to blend into my smoothies.

Healthy Fats and Protein


Avocados - yum, just yum...eat plain, on top or with anything (except fruit)

Nuts - Costco carries endless assortments of mixes, trail mixes, and nut-bars, but the basics are almonds, pecans, walnuts...I stock all three and put the walnuts into my smoothies


Eggs - lots of training can be done on 36 eggs for less than $3, need I say more?

Dry Goods


Oatmeal - the unofficial food sponsor of triathletes nation-wide...who wouldn't want 110 servings of it?!?


Honey and agave nectar - for smoothies, coffee, yogurt...


Training Nutrition, aka Dried Fruit


Along with almonds, dried apricots and prunes are my ride nutrition.  Not kidding.  Snack-size zip-lock, several handfuls, and enough water and I could go for hours.  I also use chunks of roasted sweet potatoes when I have them.

Sadly, just like any grocery store, Costco has its deficiencies.  My world would be more complete if Costco carried sweet potatoes; a much better brand of almond butter; rice in bags less than 50 pounds; and grains like lentil, quinoa, green split peas, and yellow split peas.  Oh well, nothing's perfect.

And my kitchen is already bursting at the seams!

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