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  • Costco

    Post #1 - August 8th, 2005, 9:07 am
    Post #1 - August 8th, 2005, 9:07 am Post #1 - August 8th, 2005, 9:07 am
    Has anyone here shopped at Costco for food?
    What is the quality of their fresh food?
    Has anyone tried their meats? their fish?
    Is it worth the $45 fee to join?

    [Moderator edit to reflect correct name]
  • Post #2 - August 8th, 2005, 9:14 am
    Post #2 - August 8th, 2005, 9:14 am Post #2 - August 8th, 2005, 9:14 am
    Given that there are 81 threads in the Shopping and Cooking forum that mention Costco, I'd say a lot of people have and do use it. Mentioned that I can remember easily: salmon, olive oil, tri-tip, brisket.

    Go to the search page, choose "Shopping and Cooking" as the forum, and type in "Costco" to the search box. You'll see what I mean.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #3 - August 8th, 2005, 9:15 am
    Post #3 - August 8th, 2005, 9:15 am Post #3 - August 8th, 2005, 9:15 am
    Sorry I mispelt the word.
    Should be Costco
  • Post #4 - August 8th, 2005, 9:18 am
    Post #4 - August 8th, 2005, 9:18 am Post #4 - August 8th, 2005, 9:18 am
    With so many local independent groceries throughout Chicagoland, why would you want to go to Costco to buy meats and produce? I haven't found their quality to be much better than many of the independents that I shop and the amount that you have to buy is a lot larger. Their produce is pretty decent but is much more expensive than the small ethnic groceries that I go to.

    I joined four months ago for a year and no, I haven't purchased more than $200 there ... no, it hasn't been worth it.
  • Post #5 - August 8th, 2005, 9:28 am
    Post #5 - August 8th, 2005, 9:28 am Post #5 - August 8th, 2005, 9:28 am
    What usually justifies the membership is some staple you have to buy in bulk-- for me, inkjet cartridges and diapers and wipes (though we're about out of that phase) basically covered the membership fee.

    I buy some meats there, like the tri-tip or the salmon you'll find discussed elsewhere, and I avoid other meats-- especially the heavily processed luncheon meat, for instance.

    Out of season, I buy fruit there and it's a good deal and comparable to Whole Foods quality at a much cheaper price. I buy a lot less of it right now, when what's in the farmer's markets and fruit markets is far better quality and similarly priced.

    The thing I find overrated is the wine section. I usually don't buy that there, unless I see something odd and interesting (I bought a couple of bottles of an Australian dessert wine that was cheap and terrific).
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  • Post #6 - August 8th, 2005, 12:22 pm
    Post #6 - August 8th, 2005, 12:22 pm Post #6 - August 8th, 2005, 12:22 pm
    jlawrence01 wrote:I joined four months ago for a year and no, I haven't purchased more than $200 there ... no, it hasn't been worth it.

    some of us buy things above and beyond groceries there....

    contacts solution, bulk soap ($3.99 for almost a gal of dial soft soap, you can't beat that), shampoo/cond, $.19 digital photo prints (among the cheapest in the country), clothes, projector, furniture, gas, prescription meds, vitamins, you name it. my fam has been member since '91, and that's what shows on my current crusty/browned card. i <3 costco.
  • Post #7 - August 8th, 2005, 12:31 pm
    Post #7 - August 8th, 2005, 12:31 pm Post #7 - August 8th, 2005, 12:31 pm
    Regarding the digital prints, if you want best results head over to Dry Creek Photo, where you can download ICC profiles for the photo printers at most Costcos, and a few other places in the state.

    For info on using these profiles see this page
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #8 - August 8th, 2005, 12:39 pm
    Post #8 - August 8th, 2005, 12:39 pm Post #8 - August 8th, 2005, 12:39 pm
    HI,

    I bought my most recent set of tires there. When its time to rotate, I drop the car off (they need 30 minutes) and do my shopping. I give them my cell phone to alert me when the car is finished.

    My Mom just bought a pair of prescription glasses.

    We also buy most of our medications there, which I don't always find convenient. The pharmacy in Glenview closes at 7 PM and does not open on Sundays. What is inconvenient is if you bring your script from the doctor, they claim it takes one hour to turn it around. I have the office phone it in, then I can just pick it up without any time lag. At this location there are young clerks who are front of house at the pharmacy. They believe 7 PM closing is all the money is counted and the register closed. If you come at 6:58 they claim you are late, the pharmacist makes them open up and they are reeling from the effort and inability to be outside at 7:01. If the pharmacy was open 8 PM or to closing, it would be much easier to work with.

    Our attraction to Costco was the food section, but we've expanded our use of it over time. (I'm now going over to their website to check the prices of digital prints - thanks Tony!)

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #9 - August 8th, 2005, 12:48 pm
    Post #9 - August 8th, 2005, 12:48 pm Post #9 - August 8th, 2005, 12:48 pm
    The bulk aspect is also handy for when you really do need bulk:
    My wife buys food for the boy scout events there regularly, and it's quite a steal.

    For me, Costco is as close as the nearest Jewel, and a lot closer than all but two small, dingy independent markets.

    Food items we find worth buying there:
    • 2lb blocks of cheese for my white-cheddar-addicted son (on the other hand, their parmesan hasn't thrilled me -- it's fine for everyday use, but not an out-of-the-park hit)
    • Red bell peppers -- a lot cheaper than supermarket, and they somehow don't shrivel in the fridge while we go through the pack of 8
    • Lamb chops
  • Post #10 - August 8th, 2005, 2:08 pm
    Post #10 - August 8th, 2005, 2:08 pm Post #10 - August 8th, 2005, 2:08 pm
    I purchase many things from Costco. Especially, if I'm cooking for a large party. Not to mention the soap and cleaning supplies. Over the past year I have bought, at least

    12 whole briskets
    10 whole Strip loins to be either roasted whole or cut for steaks (Choice)
    5 whole pork loins for roasts or chops
    8 lamb racks
    30 slabs of ribs
    100 pounds of red potatoes (we like potato salad)


    Overall, I like Costco best for their meats if I am looking to feed a crowd.

    Flip
    "Beer is proof God loves us, and wants us to be Happy"
    -Ben Franklin-
  • Post #11 - August 8th, 2005, 2:15 pm
    Post #11 - August 8th, 2005, 2:15 pm Post #11 - August 8th, 2005, 2:15 pm
    I'm actually not a Costco shopper (largely, I guess, because bulk shopping doesn't appeal to me), but I'd endorse Costco over Walmart, if that's the choice to be made. Costco pays its employees an honest wage, provides far better medical (and even dental) benefits than Walmart does, and even tolerates unions, as some Costco employees are members of the Teamsters union. Despite these comparatively decent policies -- or really, because of them -- the president of Costco is increasingly attacked by economic analysts for not maximizing profits for the company's investors (read, driving down wages and benefits to the lowest possible levels). Such is the nature of what gets applauded as good business management in America today. For a really good discussion of this, see "How Costco Became the Anti-WalMart," in the July 17th New York Times.
    ToniG
  • Post #12 - August 8th, 2005, 5:57 pm
    Post #12 - August 8th, 2005, 5:57 pm Post #12 - August 8th, 2005, 5:57 pm
    re : ^^^

    i met a young-ish lady @ the Bedford Park store who has been w/ Costco for almost 10 yrs. she actually moved from SF's East Bay out to the Chicago district to help manage and pump up the not-as-profitable BP store.

    also bought a used Centurion bike off the photo guy @ the Lincoln Park store. he's a long time Costco employee as well and followed the company out from the Fullerton, CA store (where my parents shop) out to the LP store.

    2 weeks ago, we bought a Costco mango cheesecake to feed the clinic @ IL school of optometry and it was a HUUUUGE hit. yah, i should really buy Costco stock.... too bad it's so expensive
  • Post #13 - August 8th, 2005, 6:48 pm
    Post #13 - August 8th, 2005, 6:48 pm Post #13 - August 8th, 2005, 6:48 pm
    If you live near one of the locations that has gas pumps, that's a big savings! That, combined with a few big purchases for business reasons, made it worth the upgrade to the executive level.

    Our typical Costco food purchases include cases of bottled water and juice, butter, cheese, sausages, some produce, crackers, and some produce and frozen foods. Such meat and fish as I've bought there has been very good.

    But we also stock up on paper goods, cleaning supplies, office supplies and, now and then buy some computer-related items, housewares or appliances.
  • Post #14 - August 8th, 2005, 6:56 pm
    Post #14 - August 8th, 2005, 6:56 pm Post #14 - August 8th, 2005, 6:56 pm
    I went today... and bought two bottles of wine.
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  • Post #15 - August 8th, 2005, 7:08 pm
    Post #15 - August 8th, 2005, 7:08 pm Post #15 - August 8th, 2005, 7:08 pm
    When Costco started carrying bottles of Hendrick's gin for about $5 less than Sam's, I was pretty excited. At this price point it's about the same price as the same amount of Bombay Sapphire, and in my opinion, Hendrick's is a far better gin. I almost hate to say it out loud for fear that it might go away. Sometimes PIGMON gets a little panicky when we walk in to Costco, and the Hendrick's isn't in it's usual place.
  • Post #16 - August 8th, 2005, 8:48 pm
    Post #16 - August 8th, 2005, 8:48 pm Post #16 - August 8th, 2005, 8:48 pm
    There was a good article about Costco in the NY Times a couple weeks ago, about how their business model compares to Wal-Mart, or should I say Sam's Club.

    I make my dues back in printer toner. I am very conscious about every purchase because I have read their promo literature, and their business model is very geared towards the impulse purchase, "what a bargain" syndrome.

    That said, in addition to the printer toner, I buy lump crab, racks of lamb. I have not liked their farm salmon, although I bought some of the wild salmon recently which was better as gravad lax than just cooked. Sometimes a 3 lb. bag of baby spinach. If we're having a BIG get together, one of the bins of organic mesclun. The Dole Golden pineapples are always a deal.

    That said, you've got to be careful about Costco. Some things, like toilet paper, are the same price as at Dominicks and can be found cheaper at Cub Foods.

    I also really wonder about the diet of people who are walking out with all that processed food in such huge quantities.

    And I sometimes really wonder about the future of our country when I see how willing people are to wait 5 minutes, clog up the aisles, just for a free piece of frozen salmon pattie, or whatever.
  • Post #17 - August 8th, 2005, 8:57 pm
    Post #17 - August 8th, 2005, 8:57 pm Post #17 - August 8th, 2005, 8:57 pm
    HI,

    In Consumer Reports, they had a comparison of laundry detergents with the Kirkland brand coming up high in the rankings. I switched to Kirkland without any feeling of compromise, though I do pretreat everything which goes a long way to getting stains removed.

    Around the holidays, I will buy a gallon of whipping cream at Costco for various baked goods. It really feels so decadent to have half gallon containers of whipping cream in the refrigerator.

    Does the Chicago store still offer caskets? There used to be on 41 just north of Grand Avenue a low cost casket store. Whenever I had friends visiting from Europe, I would take them up there as part of the tour of odd but true Americana. Plus it was on the way to the pyramid house.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #18 - August 8th, 2005, 10:23 pm
    Post #18 - August 8th, 2005, 10:23 pm Post #18 - August 8th, 2005, 10:23 pm
    I am very conscious about every purchase because I have read their promo literature, and their business model is very geared towards the impulse purchase, "what a bargain" syndrome.


    My theory about Costco is this:

    1) It removes the need to think about a whole host of things you don't care about. Costco detergent is fine, fine, I'll buy a big jug of Costco detergent, and never have to evaluate the relative merits and value of All versus Wisk again. As Devo sang, "Freedom from choice, is what we want."

    2) On the flip side, it's kind of like a flea market with new stuff. That is, the appeal of the flea market is what thing you would never have imagined in a million years that you will run across. Costco works kind of the same way-- what will they have this week? Jacuzzis? Home trepanning kits? The four-disc box set of season 1 of B.J. and the Bear? You never know, and thus they conquer the boredom that sets in at any other retailer once you've been a few times.
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  • Post #19 - August 9th, 2005, 7:24 am
    Post #19 - August 9th, 2005, 7:24 am Post #19 - August 9th, 2005, 7:24 am
    For a hilarious story of what can be found at Costco, read Harlan Ellison's surprise at finding his (never-used) screenplay to I, Robot boxed with the Will Smith DVD:
    http://www.mccmedia.com/pipermail/brin- ... 10949.html
  • Post #20 - August 9th, 2005, 11:07 am
    Post #20 - August 9th, 2005, 11:07 am Post #20 - August 9th, 2005, 11:07 am
    I was all excited on the other board when Costco was coming (that and Fogo, which has spawned a somewhat gross trend), and I think it is as good as I thought it was when it wasn't here. Whole choice strip loins and tenderloins are hard to argue about, since most of what's out there at any level is starting out at IBP. I mean 8 bucks a pound looks pretty good. I almost fell over when the Food Lion in NC had the exact same stuff for $16/lb. last month.

    As Mike G says, they do this sort of grand experiment with seasonal or one-off stuff that is often priced crazy-low. When the Damen store opened, I was there and we were in the market for a new TV. For whatever reason, they were selling huge, digital-ready TVs for a price so low that some dude came in and bought out the store. Presumably, his intent was to resell them. I enjoy getting the odd item such as a teak garden bench for 200 bucks then see the neighbors run down for one only to find that they are gone, never to return.

    And you have to take what they've got -- they do tend to get you jazzed up about and item then drop it (Lezza spumoni was a major blow for my 5 year old). Around turkey frying season, the commercial containers of peanut oil allow the economics of turkey frying to (almost) make sense. From time to time Costco has certain interesting seafood items, though I really don't care about farmed frozen prawns, lobster tails, etc. The live mohogany clams are mighty good, though. There are some wine bargains now and then, but you must pay close attention. I will say the selection, both in terms of depth and interest has taken a real dive at the Damen store over the past year. Decent higher-end tequilas (Patron, eg), bourbon (Blanton's, eg), and other booze is pretty cheap. The top-quality olive oil is quite good. Big-ass cans of Sea-Watch clams, huge cans of San Marzano tomatoes, etc. etc. Last but not least, if you have kids in diapers and drinking formula, well, it's almost necessary to go to Costco.
  • Post #21 - August 9th, 2005, 11:56 am
    Post #21 - August 9th, 2005, 11:56 am Post #21 - August 9th, 2005, 11:56 am
    Politics and cultures aside, both Costco and Sam's are terrific places to buy some stuff. A recent Cooks Illustrated article points out that the clubs make whole beef tenderloin a relatively reasonable purchase. While not as impressive as Flip's list, I have also purchased large, maybe gross, quantities of food at both clubs.
    Costco-Gallons of skim milk @$2 or less. Very good mescalum salad, albeit a pound, may be the best value in the store. Good prepackaged quacamole, pomegranate juice, weekend specials on clams and mussels, Ranier cherries, prepackaged lunch salads are all recent good "finds." Lamb is great here. $5 rotisserie chicken is good favor/value. Beef is good quality, all cuts. I've done several whole tenderloins-great stuff. Pork with one exception has been good also.
    Sam's-Boston butt has bone in-my preference for pulled pork. Costco recently changed to boneless on butts and consequently on country style ribs. There was a time that Sam's would not be beat on any price-not so anymore. Meat prices are usually pretty close at both clubs though.
    General-learn about cryovac. Untrimmed beef briskets and Boston butts are in cryovac-also at a lower price. For grilling and Q some cryovac stuff is much better than trimmed.
    In general the club prices are good, although they regularly get beat on sale items. But you'll never get burned badly by price at either place.
    FYI-I probably buy 10:1 Costco to Sam's.
  • Post #22 - August 9th, 2005, 12:04 pm
    Post #22 - August 9th, 2005, 12:04 pm Post #22 - August 9th, 2005, 12:04 pm
    Since discovering the untrimmed whole beef briskets, I have not gone elsewhere for briskets that I intend to smoke. The generous fat cap does a great baste on the briskets as they smoke at 200 degrees for 10-12 hours.

    There's also something exquisitely enjoyable about carrying boxes of meat to and from the car.

    Cheers,
    Wade
    "Remember the Alamo? I do, with the very last swallow."
  • Post #23 - August 9th, 2005, 12:18 pm
    Post #23 - August 9th, 2005, 12:18 pm Post #23 - August 9th, 2005, 12:18 pm
    We joined Costco (after having a Sam's Club membership for a couple of years) about four years ago. Supposedly they are building a new one in the southern suburbs (probably Tinley Park or Orland) and we usually go to the one in Merrilville, IN. Yes, it's a schlepp -- but we think it is worth it. Regular purchases include their Egyptian cotton beach towels, dishwasher detergent, their Kirkland house brand over-the-counter medications, tri-tips, giant blocks of Dubliner cheese (my husband is an addict), batteries, ink-jet cartridges and cases of water. I have two terra cotta planters on my deck from Costco that I got at a very reasonable price last year. The one thing we simply cannot do without is their Kirkland brand body wash. They weren't carrying it in the stores for a few months and we couldn't find anything we liked as well as that stuff. We were thrilled to find it again in June.

    My husband will frequently pull off the expressway and fill his gas tank at the Oakbrook location on his way home from work. He has a horrendous commute and he feels their gas prices are less expensive than the other stations in the area.

    Suzy
    " There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life."
    - Frank Zappa
  • Post #24 - August 10th, 2005, 10:28 am
    Post #24 - August 10th, 2005, 10:28 am Post #24 - August 10th, 2005, 10:28 am
    Cathy2 wrote:
    I switched to Kirkland without any feeling of compromise....


    I fully agree with Cathy. Costco's house brand Kirkland rarely takes a back seat to other name brands that they carry. I've tried Kirkland tuna, laundry detergent, paper towels, dish washing detergent, and even some of their clothes and have never been disappointed. They're definitely worth a try.
  • Post #25 - August 11th, 2005, 7:14 pm
    Post #25 - August 11th, 2005, 7:14 pm Post #25 - August 11th, 2005, 7:14 pm
    Costco's Beek, pork and veal are fantastic, better then what I can get at the local stores in the Chicago area.

    The Kirkland brand of estate grown extra virgin olive oil has been rated the top in real simple magazine.

    Everything I have gotten there has been so good, I do the majority of my shopping their.

    We like it so much, we call it our "club".
  • Post #26 - August 12th, 2005, 11:57 am
    Post #26 - August 12th, 2005, 11:57 am Post #26 - August 12th, 2005, 11:57 am
    I have just finished reading an excellent new biography about the life and death of Lou Gehrig entitled “Luckiest Man” by Jonathan Eig. No, I didn’t buy it at Costco, and while I highly recommend it to any like-minded baseball fans, the accounts of Larrupin’ Lou’s harrowing descent into the abyss of ALS are difficult passages to read. Among the many later-stage symptoms of this insidious disease is an inability to swallow, which for Lou must have been especially disheartening given his voracious appetite and love of sein Mutter Christina’s German cooking. Lou’s plight was one of the things that crossed my mind as my throat began to swell shut while at Costco yesterday.

    I suppose I can identify with what Gehrig went through more than most people who don’t have ALS. A lifelong tree nut allergy manifests itself in a similar way once I’ve made the mistake of ingesting walnuts, pecans and most of their histamine-inducing brethren. Yesterday, the familiar signal—an itching sensation inside my mouth—began while pushing my cart past the Great Wall of Cooking Oils. Staring down with growing alarm at the empty sample cup in my cart, I pulled a u-turn and headed back to the helpful Sample Senior who had initially seduced me with her come-on for greens salad tossed with one of Newman’s Own delicious salad dressings. Bells sounded loudly in my head as I read the front of the bottle: Newman’s Own Light Raspberry &…Walnut. I now noticed the front of the serving cart was festooned with all manner of red advisories gravely warning of allergic reactions at hand for those affected few who were stupid or careless enough to partake of these particular offerings. Paul’s handsome smiling face seemed to mock me from the bottle’s label…the smug son of a bitch and his damned charitable endeavors had probably cooked my goose. I stumbled away from the cart, feeling like Edmond O’Brien in “D.O.A.” after learning that someone with murderous intent has slipped fatal poison into his drink.

    I plotted out the route to Good Shepherd hospital in my head as I wobbled up toward the front of the store, but I was already feeling a little calmer, as it was clear that the reaction was not coming on in its usual violent way. The swelling in my throat had already plateaued, coming nowhere near its usual point, which I liken to trying to swallow a peanut butter coated ping-pong ball. Still feeling awfully sick, I veered off into the Pharmacy in search of Benadryl, the intravenous delivery of which is usually the first line of defense upon arriving in the E.R. after past encounters.

    So, to the list of what others have mentioned as Costco essentials, I will now add Kirkland-branded diphenhydramine hydrochloride—generic Benadryl. Something like 200 tablets for under $4. I forced three 25mg tablets down with a few sips of Kirkland bottled water right there amid the gross-count boxes of Prep H and Metamucil. I felt confident enough in my recovery that I was able to proceed through the checkout and the exceedingly thorough receipt check on the way out. As always, the thought occurred to me that if Costco receipt checkers were in charge at the security checkpoints in our nation’s airports, no-one would think twice about terrorist threats in the air.

    Back home again, before succumbing to blissed-out Benadryl sleep, I went to www.newmansown.com and learned what had probably saved my bacon. The dressing was vegetable oil based, and contained “2% or less of: walnuts.” I am among the fortunate afflicted few that can tolerate trace amounts of the allergen with little serious effects. If it had been made with walnut oil, things would have turned out much differently. Be careful out there. Costco giveth, and Costco taketh away.
  • Post #27 - August 12th, 2005, 3:51 pm
    Post #27 - August 12th, 2005, 3:51 pm Post #27 - August 12th, 2005, 3:51 pm
    Yikes. I will point out that in addition to the warning signs they put up, they won't give samples to my kids (to whom the point of Costco is, of course, free samples) without my permission.
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  • Post #28 - August 12th, 2005, 4:01 pm
    Post #28 - August 12th, 2005, 4:01 pm Post #28 - August 12th, 2005, 4:01 pm
    HI,

    I was in Costco in the last few days. They had samples of cereal, which you were expected to eat dry. I then saw a gallon of milk on ice sitting discretely behind the sign. "Oh, you can have milk with your cereal?" Grumpy old man got even grumpier when a 10-year-old came up and I offered him the option of milk. "We offer milk only upon request, we don't intend to do this for everyone!" snapped the server. It almost approaches being a secret menu item.

    Another great deal at Costco is the two dozen roses for $12.99 in a great range of colors.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #29 - August 13th, 2005, 7:17 pm
    Post #29 - August 13th, 2005, 7:17 pm Post #29 - August 13th, 2005, 7:17 pm
    had a tremendous lobster/shrimp seafood salad sample last week @ the Schaumbug Costco... i can't believe they were serving LOBSTER at the sample carts.

    newman's caricature really scares the bejeezus out of me, but i can't stop subbing his grape juice for water...

    that said,
    digital prints @ Lincoln Park down to $0.17 this week(?) & i just picked up
    Infocus 4805 projector with screen for $1K - $100 rebate. KILLER DEAL.

    per my source, Costco planning to open another whse in S. Loop within the next 1.5 yrs.
  • Post #30 - September 1st, 2005, 8:36 pm
    Post #30 - September 1st, 2005, 8:36 pm Post #30 - September 1st, 2005, 8:36 pm
    It's all about the milk and the return policies. The $1 savings on skim milk pays for the gas consumed in the trip. And Costco taking back a laptop which I had dropped on a cement floor and giving me a brand new one, no questions asked, is why I will stay a member for life.

    Oh, and Kirkland brand canned chicken is great. Sure, the chicken salad I make with it isn't as good as if I roasted/deboned/chopped my own chicken, but it also saves about 2 hours of work.

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