It’s about 1,000 degrees out as I am writing this, but that wasn’t the only reason I wanted to spend a big chunk of time exploring Costco’s freezer aisles. I feel a huge sense of satisfaction when my freezer is full. In fact, I feel the same way about a well-stocked freezer as I do about a well-stocked pantry: peace of mind, building blocks for dinners at the ready, and fewer trips to the store (not that I really mind food shopping, as must be pretty clear by now).
Yes, some of the things in my freezer are things I’ve made and tucked away for another day (mini banana bread loaves and bolognese sauce and whatnot. But a lot of my freezer real estate is devoted to raw ingredients and some prepared foods, as well. Stocking up on quality ingredients at terrific prices essentially means that when I am meal-planning for the week and don’t have time to go to the store, then I can just “grocery-shop” in my own freezer!
These are some of the items I score at Costco on repeat, because I’m always glad to have them on hand.
Bubba Gump would be impressed. There are all kinds of sizes and versions of shrimp available in Costco's freezer aisle. And frozen shrimp is one of the foods I keep in my freezer at all times: They defrost quickly, they're of excellent quality, and with a couple of pounds of frozen shrimp at your disposal, you can entertain in style at a moment’s notice. Two pounds of raw 21/15 shrimp sell for $15.79, two pounds of raw 31/40 shrimp are $13.69, and two pounds of 30/40 Wild Raw Gulf Shrimp are $22.89.
If you want cooked shrimp, prices start as low as $14.99 for two pounds of the 50/70 size, and you can get two pounds of cooked 31/40 shrimp for $15.79.
Wild fish is super flavorful and sustainable, as well—two very good reasons to stash some in the freezer. Plus, all of these varieties are individually wrapped for freshness and total convenience; pull out just the amount you need. You can pick up a pack of individually wrapped wild Alaskan salmon fillets—three pounds for $32.99. Individually wrapped wild Atlantic cod at $16.49 for two pounds. And wild mahi-mahi, three pounds for $19.99.
Two pounds of raw 15/20 sea scallops for $24.99? That is a little goldmine to keep in the freezer, not least because they cook up in a jiffy. And then you can make Scallop & Pancetta Kebabs With Balsamic Glaze whenever the mood strikes.
Or take the immediate-gratification route and pick up a pack of Phillips Crab Cakes, six for $19.99 (that’s a little over $3 a cake!). Aren’t you fancy.
If you need to feed a lot of people on a budget, and want to know you’ve got a crowd-pleasing meal, then you should make a beeline to the lasagna section. Their Kirkland-brand lasagna is all-natural, it’s made from Italian sausage and beef (paging Ron Swanson), and a couple of three-pound lasagnas can be yours for $12.89. I’m already thinking about the football team dinners I have to host this fall ...
Of course there are pizzas. Get the classic Kirkland cheese pizza (a four-pack for $8.99), Sabatasso’s gluten-free four-cheese pizza (three for $15.99), or if you’re knee-deep in the cauliflower culture, Milton’s margherita and roasted vegetable cauliflower crust pizzas are also available (two for $12.99).
Not all Costcos might carry this, but if they are located in an area with high demand for kosher meat, you might find:
There are a lot of choices, and in terms of bang for the buck, frozen vegetables can be a great place to save some cash. The vegetables are frozen immediately after harvesting, so you can know that you’re getting peak freshness (true of frozen fruit, as well; see below).
There are a lot of reasons you might want to have a stash of frozen vegetables on hand, and a lot of ways to use them. Costco seems to have thought of many of these already! All of the following are under their house brand, Kirkland: five pounds of organic mixed vegetables for $7.89; five-and-a-half pounds of mixed stir-fry vegetables (broccoli, sugar snap peas, carrots, mushrooms, red peppers, water chestnuts, and onions) for $7.99; and a Normandy-style vegetable blend (broccoli, cauliflower, multicolored carrots), five-and-a-half pounds for $6.99. Not to mention straight-up broccoli, four pounds for $7.79.
If you’re a smoothie person or into fruit desserts, then this is just smart fruit management for a multitude of reasons: You always have fruit on hand, save money, and waste nothing (because you’re using only what you need).
A few store visits revealed four pounds of Happy Village organic cherries for $9.99; four pounds of Wyman’s wild blueberries for $8.99; an organic tropical blend from Sunrise Growers (mango, strawberries, and pineapple), $9.99 for four pounds. Clovis Farms makes an organic “Super Smoothie” fruit blend (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, kale, spinach, and bananas), which retails for $10.79, and an organic “Supreme Berry Blend” from Townsend at $7.70 for three pounds.
On the Kirkland front: three pounds of organic blueberries for $7.99; five pounds of pineapple chunks $8.39; six pounds of whole strawberries $10.99; and four pounds of the three-berry blend for $8.99.
C’mon, you know we’re talking about vanilla. Yes, we love all of the trendy flavors, but when it comes time to top your scoop of peach cobbler, pear tart tatin, or nectarine crisp, then you know what you want. Not to mention when you’re ready to à-la-mode that slice of apple pie. Two half-gallon containers of their super premium vanilla ice cream (made with pure vanilla) is yours for $12.99.
Recipe: The Best Streusel Apple Pie Ever
Anyone who has ever ordered dumplings from a takeout place knows that quantity can mean pretty pricey, pretty fast. But that’s because dumplings are the best. At Costco, you can go big—and stay home.
The Bibigo brand has a lot to choose from: Organic Chicken and Vegetable Potstickers are $11.99 for a three-pound bag (which was further discounted by $3 when I was last there), 36 big steamed dumplings sell for $11.99, and their mini chicken wontons, great for a party? $9.99 for three pounds. Spicy fried seaweed rolls, a unique offering that caught my eye, await me in the freezer tonight (50 ounces for $9.59).
Not all Costcos sell ice, but those that do sell a 20-pound bag for about $2. Hard to beat for filling up those summer coolers, and blending together your favorite cocktails.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).Order now