The 14 Best Costco Items to Buy for Quick Family Meals

published Sep 5, 2021
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I love the value proposition of Costco, but buying in bulk can be a challenge. Our storage is limited, and my family of four doesn’t like to eat the same thing every night, so sometimes larger quantities of food can go to waste. But I’ve found that with a little planning and more mindful shopping, I can make good use out of these great-value groceries. My two main strategies are to choose items that can be broken into smaller units and frozen or stored away for future use, and to look for ingredients that can work for several different kinds of meals.

Here are my 14 best things to buy at Costco for quick family meals.

Rotisserie Chicken, $4.99 per chicken*

The rotisserie chicken is always a hit — as soon as I walk in the door with one, my kids dig in. We serve it on its own the first night, then tear off pieces to use for chicken sandwiches, tacos, or chicken salad for a day or two afterwards. Then I pull the rest off the bone and freeze it to toss into chicken soups or other meals. 

Kirkland Organic Ground Beef, $23.99 for 3 1.34 lb packs

Ground beef is so versatile: We use it for everything from meatloaf to tacos to lasagna to burgers. I appreciate how Costco packages their meat: one pack is just enough for dinner, plus leftovers for my lunch the next day, and the other two are well-portioned to stick into the freezer for the future.

Kirkland Organic Chicken Thighs, $24.65 for 3 1.34 lb packs

I like these for the same reason as I like the beef — one packet is great for dinner in the days after a shopping trip, the other two are great to have on hand for later in the freezer. My family prefers chicken thighs to chicken breasts (which are also available in 3-packs), and we grill, stir-fry, or bake the chicken thighs with a variety of flavorings. 

Kirkland Five Cheese Tortelloni, $10.92 for 2 24-ounce packages

Pasta is always a hit with my kids, and these cheese tortellini can be a quick meal on their own or with pesto, red sauce, or just a little olive oil and parmesan (and can also work in a cold pasta salad for lunch leftovers). I put one of the packs in the freezer and make the other at the end of the week when I’m out of ideas.

The Little Potato Company Dynamic Duo Fresh Creamer Potatoes, $6.99 for 5lbs

My kids love potatoes, but those big baking potatoes take forever to cook and are usually too much for each kid to eat one. Creamer potatoes are a little more versatile. We eat them boiled and mashed, quartered and roasted, or tossed into a soup. The potatoes keep for a long time in my pantry, and the 5 lb. bag lasts us about three meals.

Rouge River Farms Shucked Sweet Corn, $4.39 for 8 ears

Eight ears of corn seems like a lot for a family of four — but often my kids will each eat two for dinner. I like that these pre-shucked ears save me on prep time, and I cut the kernels off any leftovers to toss into a soup, salad, or scramble, or freeze. I do find these go bad quickly, so I make them within a day or two of buying.

New World Farms Broccoli Florets, $5.99 for 3 lbs

Broccoli is a staple veggie in our house; we bake it, stir-fry it, and boil it into soup. These pre-chopped florets save me on prep time, and the bag works for about two meals for us, with leftovers. (These should also be eaten within a few days of purchase.)

Avocado 6-Packs, $5.39 for 6

We loooove avocados — for guacamole, salads, on toast, alongside eggs, or just on their own with some vinegar and salt — and I find them an easy add-on to bulk something up. They take a little strategizing because they’re not usually ready to eat when we get them; I leave them on the counter to ripen for a few days, then put half in the fridge and bring them out after we’ve eaten the first batch. Hard to beat the price!

Baguettes, $4.99 for 2-pack

My kids prefer baguettes to regular sliced bread for toast in the morning. We like making little sandwiches or bruschetta, and toasting cubes into croutons. We can’t eat both baguettes before they get hard, so I usually cut one into chunks and freeze it right away. When we’re ready to eat it, I defrost it in the microwave and toast it.

Frozen Stir-Fry Vegetable Blend, $8.49 for 5.5 lbs

Generally, my family isn’t big on mixed or frozen veggies, but this is a blend of the ones they actually like. I like to have this in the freezer to stretch out trips to the grocery store, or to toss with some leftovers to turn them into dinner.

S&W Organic Black Beans, $7.99 for 8 15-ounce cans

My kids love beans, and I love to have a protein in the pantry that cooks up quickly. We eat them with rice alongside tacos, in soups, or mixed into salads.

Kirkland Organic Diced Tomatoes, $5.99 for 8 14.5-ounce cans

While there are lots of options of jarred pasta sauce available at Costco, I find the diced tomatoes to be a little more versatile and just as easy to use. The small cans are a good size — I use two to make up a pasta sauce for the whole family, but can just use one to mix into taco meat, soup, or a casserole. These are great to have on hand.

Barilla Spaghetti, $9.83 for 4 2-lb boxes

My kids love pasta, with any kind of sauce or just plain, or tossed in with rotisserie chicken and some veggies for a quick dinner soup. We always have pasta in the pantry!

And for the ultimate quick family meal…

Kirkland Signature Cheese Pizza, $9.83 for 4-pack

Frozen pizza is what I make when I’m totally out of ideas and the fridge is just about empty — but for the kids, it feels like a treat. The 4-pack keeps me stocked up for a month, or I can put a couple in the oven if we find ourselves with a bunch of neighbor kids in the house at a mealtime. Always a crowd pleaser. (There is also a gluten-free 4-pack for $15.99.)

*All prices are what I observed one particular day at my store in Raleigh, North Carolina, but may vary based on location, availability, or any promotions they have going on.