Consumer Reports: What to buy at Costco, best ice cream

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What to buy at Costco and what is the best ice cream bargain? (WPVI)


WHAT TO BUY AT COSTCO

Looking to load up on bargains at a warehouse store? Joining Costco can lead to big savings in your household budget, but it's important to know what to get and what to forget when you're filling your cart.

Definitely bring home the bacon. Kirkland brand is top-rated and crisps up nicely.
Kirkland Signature Olive Oil is another good pick-up. It has a distinct flavor and is a Consumer Reports Best Buy.

But there are things to skip. Don't bother with the Kirkland facial tissues. When Consumer Reports tested for strength, they rated just so-so. But do grab the Kirkland paper towel. Testers found it has excellent absorbency.

A check-in to the dishwasher labs at Consumer Reports found Kirkland Signature Gel struggles to clean dishes, so instead, get the Kirkland Dishwasher Pacs, which do much better.

If you're entertaining, Consumer Reports says several good choices include Cuisine Adventures Spanakopita, Hannah Classic Hommus, Kirkland cooked, tail-on shrimp, and Kirkland Signature Vanilla Ice Cream, which beat out Breyers in Consumer Reports' taste tests. And, when the party's over, break out the Kirkland Signature Trashbags. Consumer Reports says they're strong enough to handle most messes.

When you're tallying your savings, don't forget to factor in the cost of the membership fee to shop there. But be aware that Costco has a generous return policy. It accepts virtually everything except electronics anytime. With electronics, you typically have 90 days to return your purchase.

ONLINE: Best & Worst Costco Products


BEST ICE CREAM

America's favorite ice cream is vanilla. But what makes plain vanilla really great plain vanilla? An excellent vanilla ice cream should have definite dairy flavor, balanced by real vanilla. It shouldn't be overly sweet and it should have a creamy, smooth texture.

A specially trained Consumer Reports' "sensory team" blind-tasted 19 vanilla ice creams for flavor, texture, and appearance. Several are not so great. For instance, Target's Market Pantry Vanilla Bean has an "airy, gummy" texture, and the vanilla is just "basic."

Topping Consumer Reports' taste test: Ben and Jerry's vanilla. Tasters say it's "rich, dense, and creamy," with a complex vanilla flavor. It's about $1 a half-cup serving. Another one to go nuts over: Hagen-Dazs vanilla is "full, dense, and creamy," with "big dairy flavor." It also runs about a $1 a half-cup.

Unfortunately, the top-rated ice creams are really high in fat. But there very good ones that have about half the fat and are also lower in price. Those are Breyers, Great Value, Baskin-Robbins, Nice, Tillamook, Blue Bell, Turkey Hill, Dreyer's/Edy's, Friendly's, and Blue Bunny.

If you are inviting over a gang for ice cream, another good choice is Kirkland Signature Super Premium from Costco. At 30 cents a half-cup, it's one-third the price of Ben & Jerry's or Hagen-Dazs. But buy it for a crowd. It's sold as two half-gallon containers.

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