Every time I make a trip to Costco, I have to stop by the dairy aisle.
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Welcome to Thrifty. A weekly column where associate nutrition editor and registered dietitian, Jessica Ball, keeps it real on how to grocery shop on a budget, make healthy meals for one or two and make earth-friendly choices without overhauling your entire life.

I'm a dietitian on a budget, and the choices I make grocery shopping reflect that. I also only shop for myself and my partner, so Costco sizes don't always make sense for us. But there are still a few items I choose to buy at Costco because of their impressive quality and competitive prices (looking at you, meat counter). When I make my quarterly visits, there is one budget-friendly ingredient that is always on my list: the Kirkland Signature Parmigiano-Reggiano wedge ($22.69, Instacart.com). 

Panoramic view of Costco Wholesale store at sunset
Credit: Adobe Stock / mandritoiu

I am a cheese lover—it might just be my favorite food. But high-quality cheese can come at a high price point. This two-pound wedge at Costco is my workaround. Parmesan cheese can range from $12 to $24 per pound, so $22 for two pounds of real Parmigiano-Reggiano from Italy feels like a steal. It also lasts a long time so you don't have to worry about using it all up right away. Since it's a hard cheese, it lasts in the fridge for up to six weeks when stored properly (think airtight plastic or reusable bag). If you are really worried about getting through the larger size wedge of cheese, you can even freeze it for up to six months. 

Choosing a large wedge like this keeps me from buying the pre-shredded or grated stuff. I am definitely not shaming anyone for deciding to buy shredded cheese, but there are a few reasons I avoid it. First, many shredded cheeses are coated with starch or anticaking agents to keep it from sticking together in the container. While these starches and anticaking agents are safe to eat, it can mess with how your cheese melts.I also like to use Parmesan in other shapes than just shredded. I top pasta or risotto with shavings using a veggie peeler. Slices or broken-off hunks are great for charcuterie boards (or simple snacking). Cubes are perfect for chopped salad or Antipasto Salad. Plus, then I can use the rind for making dried beans or soup as it imparts a nice, umami-rich flavor into the broth. To be Thrifty, we love finding a use for things that would otherwise be wasted. 

Next time you head to Costco, consider adding the Kirkland Signature Parmigiano-Reggiano wedge to your list. It will help save you some money while giving a serious flavor boost to your meals. For more, check out these budget-friendly foods I always have in my kitchen.