The Costco Groceries I Keep Around for My Hungry Teens

published Nov 10, 2021
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Did you know that teenagers eat a lot of food? If you’re reading this, my guess is that you do. And did you know that, when there are one or two teenagers, there’s almost always a whole lot more right behind them? (All hoping for snacks and perhaps a meal.) Again, I’m guessing you knew that too. If you’re a parent of a teen, you likely also know the magic of Costco.

I’m a loyal Costco shopper and I love shopping there for teen-friendly food — chips and good-for-you snacks and all sorts of other goodies. What are the best Costco buys for teens? This week I enlisted my 18-year-old son, Charlie, to join me at Costco and point out the items he thought were the crowd-pleasers for his people. 

Here’s what Charlie recommends for the teens in your life.

1. Fruit, prices vary

Let’s start with the virtuous stuff! Pineapple, cherries, and a big fat watermelon were the top three fruit picks of the day. The package sizes (and prices!) at Costco are hard to beat in this department.

Credit: Katie Workman

2. BelGioioso Fresh Mozzarella Snacking Cheese, $10.99

These bite-sized mozzarella balls are like the graduated version of cheese sticks. Charlie threw two bags into the cart: Each one contains 24 (1-ounce) packages, and if he doesn’t eat them all right away, they will be perfect tucked into baked pasta dishes (like chicken Parmesan baked ziti).

Credit: Katie Workman

3. Bread and wraps, prices vary

Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse bread in Hearty White landed in our basket; it’s great for sandwiches and for toast with scrambled eggs in the morning. I also threw in a package of Damascus Bakery Roll Up Wraps (which come in plain and whole-wheat for $5.29), thinking that wraps are another quick lunch option, providing I don’t slack off in the cold cuts arena.

Credit: Katie Workman

4. Mission Flour Tortillas, $4.29

If there’s a better quick-and-easy meal possibility for teens than quesadillas, I don’t know of it. Buy some shredded cheese, use up that leftover chicken, and chase the teenage hungries away. 

Credit: Katie Workman

5. Don Lee Farms Veggie Burgers, $12.79 for 12

If you know a lot of teenagers, then you probably know a number of vegetarians. More and more teens are embracing a version of a reduced-meat or meat-free diet, and keeping a package of veggie burgers on hand ensures that, no matter what else is happening in the kitchen (or on the grill), everyone is going to be happily fed. These are organic, vegan, gluten- and GMO-free, and made with sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, celery, onions, and spinach.  

Credit: Katie Workman

6. Assorted Beverages, prices vary

Charlie is a particular fan of Naked Juice‘s Blue Machine flavor, but the Costco assortment of single-serve 10-ounce refrigerated drinks ($14.49 for 12 bottles) also contains Berry Blast, Mighty Mango, and Strawberry Banana, so everyone has choices. Charlie also gave a shout-out to Capri Sun (for its retro-ish appeal) and lightly flavored low-calorie sparkling Spindrift water. Also, Gatorade and Snapple never seem to go out of style.

One more: Kombucha has a lot of fans amongst the younger set, and six (14-ounce) bottles of Brew Dr. (in varieties like Clear Mind, Island Mango, and Superberry) go for $11.99. I will pause to say that watching a teenager drink something labeled Clear Mind feels a bit like an oxymoron, but that’s just a little perk for us adults.

Credit: Katie Workman

7. Okami Bao Asian-Style Steamed Buns, $9.69

I have never seen a group of teenagers look as excited as they do when a plate of steaming dumplings or spring rolls hits the table. The Bibigo potstickers come in vegetable and chicken and vegetable. Another hit: These Okami Bao Asian-Style Steamed Buns with pork and BBQ sauce.

Credit: Katie Workman

8. Mesquite Wings with Blue Cheese Dressing, $5.59 per pound

Costco’s rotisserie chicken gets all the love, and while it’s a great option for teenagers, there are plenty of other prepared heat-and-eat options, including stuffed peppers, mac and cheese, and more. Don’t forget to check out the party trays of wings with dipping sauces. These Mesquite Wings with Blue Cheese Dressing were a big hit with Charlie.

Credit: Katie Workman

9. Chips and snacks, prices vary

Charlie picked out a 30-ounce bag of Cape Cod Reduced Fat Potato Chips. My older son would have made a beeline for the large bag of Stacy’s Pita Chips, which he eats in bulk along with hummus for several meals a week.

Other snacks Charlie tossed in the cart or pointed out for a future shopping expedition: Pepperidge Farm Milano Cookies, Kirkland Peanut Butter Pretzels (well-priced at $8.69 for almost 3.5 pounds), Kirkland Organic Roasted Seaweed Snack with sesame flavoring, Nutella (two 33.5-ounce jars for $12.59), Kirkland Signature Movie Theater Microwave Popcorn (44 bags for $9.99), and Taki’s.

I added some That’s It Mini Fruit Bars (which have only two ingredients: apple plus another fruit like blueberry or mango) to balance out the salty indulgence, and have hopes that they will get eaten.

Credit: Katie Workman

10. Ravioli Lasagna with Beef and Pork Bolognese Sauce, $4.69 per pound

Hungry meat-eating teenagers are usually looking for something very hearty, and lots of it.  At $4.69 a pound, a container or two of this should solve the “How do I feed a bunch of hungry kids?” dilemma easily and inexpensively. The other pre-made meal that grabbed Charlie’s attention was the package of chicken street tacos for $4.99 a pound, complete with tortillas, lime wedges, salsa, cilantro lime crema, and piles of grilled seasoned chicken.

Credit: Katie Workman

11. Sabatasso’s Pizza Singles, $6.99 for 12

Pizza. Duh. There are so many options at Costco, including a freshly cooked pie from the food court or any of their frozen varieties. I usually go for the Sabatasso’s Pizza Singles, which come in a 12-pack with six plain and six pepperoni.  

Credit: Katie Workman

12. Nestle Variety Pack, $13.99 for 40

Another duh. Charlie gravitated towards the combo pack from Nestle, which contains Vanilla Sandwiches, Drumsticks, and Cookie Dipped Bars. He also pointed out a My Mochi combo box with an assortment of strawberry, green tea, and sweet mango ($10.79 for 18).

What’s on your teenager’s Costco wish list?

This post originally ran on Kitchn. See it there: The Best Costco Groceries to Buy If You Have Teens in the House