Grocery

25 Costco Bulk Buys to Score for Thanksgiving

Grocery-store whisperer Katie Workman strikes again! This time: with all of the deals.

November  9, 2020
Photo by Bobbi Lin

Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and the time is nigh for resurfacing that gravy boat. This particular holiday is a favorite for many people, including me and mine, but also a stressful one, because getting a very involved meal with lots of components on the table is not instinctual for even the most perfectly capable cooks. There is a lot to say about being more prepared and relaxed for this gathering, but if I had to say just three things, they’d be:

  1. Plan ahead.
  2. Make lists.
  3. Shop in advance.

Let’s dig into that shopping thing. While shopping at a price club with a friend and splitting up supersized packages to get those amazing savings is always a good idea, it’s particularly brilliant at this moment in time. Here’s why: It’s likely that you will be buying pretty similar ingredients and, this year especially, it’s also likely you will not need 15 pounds of baking potatoes, or 4 pounds of craisins. So, make a joint shopping list and decide which items you can split and which items you want all to yourself (2 pounds of Brussels sprouts, yum)—and proceed accordingly.

While some of your Thanksgiving shopping has to be done days before the big day, much of it can be done weeks before, and a leisurely visit down the aisles of a New Jersey Costco in late October revealed plenty of Thanksgiving staples stocked to the rafters. Fresh turkeys are still a-coming, but cans of pumpkin and evaporated milk are in full supply right now.

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Here's what I found:

1. Baking Potatoes

One year my mom decided we would have roasted potatoes for Thanksgiving instead of mashed potatoes, and when my sister found out, she stood up, got in the car, drove to the market, and bought another batch of potatoes to mash. Some things can change, but this clearly wasn’t one of them. At Costco, $10.99 will get you 15 pounds of baking potatoes (that’s 73 cents per pound!). If you want to go the shortcut route, 3.25-pound packages of Idahoan Buttery Homestyle Mashed Potatoes are boxed up and available for $6.99.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Great article - but I was shocked to see it was updated this year, in the middle of a worsening pandemic, and is still offering us tips on how to have "lots of guests in and out over the holiday". This is encouraging really dangerous behavior - *not* how we want to treat those we love (no matter what a good deal we could get to feed them all)!”
— car0line0
Comment

Recipes: Cheesy Mashed Potatoes, Thyme & Yukon Gold Potato Gratin, Creamy Scalloped Potatoes

2. Sweet Potatoes

Also a nonnegotiable item on many people's Thanksgiving tables. You can get 6.5 pounds for $7.99, which is quite a bargain.

Recipes: Sweet Potato Spoonbread, Scalloped Sweet Potatoes, Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Roasted Garlic

3. Brussels Sprouts

One of the other quintessential Thanksgiving vegetables, beloved by many (and who cares about the people who don’t like them—more for the rest of us!). At Costco, you can get 2 pounds of Brussels sprouts for $6.09.

Recipes: Brussels Sprout, Apple & Pomegranate Slaw, Crispy Brussels Sprout Salad, Warm Brussels Sprouts With Bacon & Mustard Vinaigrette

4. French Green Beans

These slender, tender beans—also called haricot verts (which means “green beans” in French, wouldn’t you know…)—are great to buy in bulk when you’ve got casserole on the menu. 2 pounds sell for $6.69, which is less than the price I often see them at the market. They’re hand-trimmed, too, which is pretty snazzy.

Recipes: Fresh Green Bean Casserole, Green Bean Nicoise Salad, Green Beans With Tarragon Vinaigrette

5. Crispy Onions

And if you’re a cook who just can’t walk away from that classic old-school green bean casserole, then you’ll be happy to know that Costco sells a 24-ounce bag of Fresh Gourmet Crispy Onions for $6.99.

6. Turkey Brining Kit

If you’re planning to brine your turkey, know that a container from Rotelle with an assortment of seasonings and spices can be yours for $8.29. (Note: No turkey included!)

7. Stuffing

A three-pack of Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Classic Stuffing is (48 ounces total!) is $8.59, and if you’re a Stove Top family, eight 6-ounce boxes are bundled up for $8.49.

8. Chestnuts

Or pick up a six-pack package of Galil Organic Roasted Chestnuts (21 ounces), shelled and ready for eating or cooking for $8.19. Chop them up and add them to your favorite homemade stuffing. The same brand is sold on Amazon for far more money!

Recipes: Bread Stuffing with Turkey Sausage, Cornbread & Mushroom Stuffing or Dressing

9. Charcuterie

We eat our Thanksgiving meal at around 5:30 p.m., so there’s always the issue of lunch—when and what and how to not ruin everyone’s appetites or cause additional cooking and stress. Our traditional Thanksgiving Day lunch is right around noon: a big pot of my Very Mushroomy Mushroom Barley Soup and a graze board of sorts with cheese and charcuterie for nibbling. At Costco, an assortment of salami, prosciutto, soppressata, and coppa (all uncured) from Fratelli Beretta is $16.79 for two 12-ounce packages. A 24-ounce Columbus charcuterie sampler with six types of sausage and salami is $15.89.

10. Pureed Pumpkin

Load up for a fleet of pumpkin pies, pancakes, and more. Three 29-ounce cans of Libby’s pumpkin are $7.29 (at my local grocery store, one 15-ounce can is more than 3 bucks!).

Recipes: Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes, Pumpkin Cream Cheese Brownies, The Best Moist Pumpkin Bread

11. Ready-Made Pies

But if you don’t feel like making your own Thanksgiving dessert, you can pick up a ridiculously large Costco-baked pumpkin pie for a low price of $7.39.

12. Spices

All of the warm spices—ground ginger, cinnamon, whole cloves—are available in large containers for a fraction of supermarket prices, compared ounce to ounce. 10.7 ounces of ground Kirkland Saigon cinnamon is $3.49; and from McCormick, a 6.5-ounce container of ground ginger is $3.69, a 9.75-ounce container of nutmeg is $10.69, and a 6-ounce container of whole cloves is $7.99.

13. Craisins

Currently, 64 ounces of dried cranberries is just $10.99. That is a lot of dried cranberries—and you use them in all sorts of ways in the Thanksgiving meal, as well as throughout the whole baking and holiday season.

14. Pillsbury Crescent Rolls

Does anyone have the willpower to pass up a hot crescent roll? Five 8-ounce packages are $9.69. That’s 40 rolls, waiting to happen. And guess what a single 8-ounce package of Pillsbury rolls costs at a leading supermarket chain? $4.19.

15. Heavy Cream

Land O’Lakes heavy whipping cream is $4.19 for 1 quart, which is a really great price for an ingredient I use large (almost unconscionable) amounts of over the holiday weekend.

Recipes: Perfect Whipped Cream, Creamy Mushrooms With Marsala Crostini, Creamy Rutabaga, Parsnip & Cheddar Soup

16. Canned Whipped Cream

Or if you want a shortcut to whipped cream, you can buy three cans of Reddi Wip aerosol whipped cream for $10.99. I just found a single can at a local store that goes for about 5 bucks.

17. Apples

Costco has a nice selection of apples at some terrific prices. 10 pounds of Red Delicious are $3.99 (just over a buck a pound!), 5.5 pounds of Gala are $9.79, and 5.5 pounds of Juci apples are $14.69. If you’re looking for organic options, you can pick up 5.5 pounds of organic Fuji apples for $8.99, or 5.5 pounds of organic Honeycrisp for $17.09.

Recipe: The Best Streusel Apple Pie Ever

18. Nuts

Kirkland Praline Pecans are downright decadent, and $14.49 will get you a whopping 2.5-pound container. These would be great for nibbling with a drink before or after dinner, and for adding to a cheese board. But also for: decorating a Sweet Potato Pie or topping a slab of Lazy Oven French Toast. Lots of other nuts are available as well, such as walnut halves with pieces, pecans, almonds, and more.

19. Breads

A gorgeous bread basket rounds out a Thanksgiving buffet perfectly. Costco bakes their bread on-site, and the offerings are varied and quite sophisticated. Twelve artisan rolls are $7.39, a generously seeded two-pack of multigrain loaves is $8.59, while two country French breads sell for $7.39 (each is 1 pound). A crusty 30-ounce round of cranberry-walnut bread is priced at $9.79.

Or, pick up a box of Penguin All-Natural Cornbread Mix or Krusteaz Pumpkin Spice Quick Bread Mix—both packages make multiple loaves and are priced at less than $10.

20. Paper Plates

If paper plates are part of your holiday plan, grab a pile of 165 sturdy Chinet plates, made from compostable material, for $19.99. Chances are you'll be able to use them throughout the year, too, even if your gatherings are smaller this year.

21. Food Storage Containers

For leftovers. If your family is anything like mine, you make a ton of food and want to freeze leftovers, or share them with neighbors. Twenty-five 38-ounce Snap Pack storage containers with lids can be yours for $8.59, and your visitors will be happily thinking of you again the next day when they tuck into their leftover turkey and Harissa-Spiked Parsnip Puree.

(Note: Prices have been updated to reflect information from Costco.com and Costco via Instacart in November 2020 and may be subject to change.)

Additional Recommendations From Food52 Editors:

22. Kosher Salt

It’s not a Thanksgiving-specific purchase, but between my turkey’s dry brine and seasoning all my various dishes (boiling potatoes alone calls for several palmfuls), last year on the big day I went through about half a box of kosher salt. A three-pound box of Morton’s (saltier by weight than Diamond Crystal, so it lasts even longer!) is just $2.69.

26. Olive Oil

Second only to salt, when prepping a big meal I go through olive oil at record speeds. Dressing salad, roasting vegetables, maybe a tray of olive oil lemon bars to being some oomph to the dessert lineup, I can’t have too much EVOO on hand. A two-liter jug of Kirkland Signature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil is $11.49—practically a steal.

23. Yukon Gold Potatoes

Nothing makes creamier mashed potatoes than Yukon Golds. Their waxy innards mash smooth without going gluey. Don’t tell the Thanksgiving-police, but sometimes I forgo the mash if I get really nice Yukon Gold potatoes: Instead, I boil them until tender, smash them flat, toss with lots of oil and salt (see purchase suggestions above), and bake the taters until crispy-crunchy. At Costco, 15 pounds runs you just $8.59—that’s probably enough for 10 Thanksgivings. Luckily, potatoes last for weeks.

24. Butternut Squash

Whether you’re eyeing a butternut squash soup or a roasted squash salad, it goes without saying that a pre-broken-down butternut will save you loads of time and possibly a hand injury. A 2-pound container costs $7.39.

25. Graham Crackers

A graham cracker-crust pie is always welcome at my Thanksgiving dessert table. I’m currently dreaming about this vegan pudding pie. Maybe two, considering four 14.4-ounce boxes is just $8.99.

You’ve got this! Now find a shopping partner and start ticking things off your list.

Did we miss anything? What Costco products are you stocking up on for Thanksgiving? Let us know in the comments below.
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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Ed Hauptmann
    Ed Hauptmann
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    Michael Clason
  • car0line0
    car0line0
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    Clare Marie
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    ffldcheese
Author of The Mom 100 Cookbook and themom100.com blog. A New Yorker, cook, and mom, I don't sit still very much.

21 Comments

Ed H. November 13, 2020
Most of these prices are easily beaten during Thanksgiving sales at local grocery stores. For instance, sweet potatoes are about $0.39/lb at this time of year, and there are sales for much, much cheaper stuffing and other traditional thanksgiving items, like butter, flour, cranberries, etc. Also, Sam's Club has much cheaper and better produce, such as apples. I almost never go to Costco for anything anymore, and I will probably drop my membership.
 
Michael C. November 11, 2020
Don't know where to find a needy family? Ask a clergy, the Salvation Army , or a local food bank.
 
Michael C. November 11, 2020
Don't worry about making too much food. Make as much as you normally would and give a Thanksgiving dinner to a needy family. No or little food on Thanksgiving is worse than no presents on Christmas Make it a great holiday for all and thank the Creator that you are in the position to help. ''I was hungry and he fed me''
 
car0line0 November 9, 2020
Great article - but I was shocked to see it was updated this year, in the middle of a worsening pandemic, and is still offering us tips on how to have "lots of guests in and out over the holiday". This is encouraging really dangerous behavior - *not* how we want to treat those we love (no matter what a good deal we could get to feed them all)!
 
[email protected] November 10, 2020
Seriously? I don’t know why so many people believe they have the right to tell others how to live. I am having my usual Thanksgiving, and I have invited all of the people I normally would. As adults we get to decide these things, don’t be a ninny shaming others.
 
Stephanie-Oh November 10, 2020
Oh please! There is a pandemic going on and the numbers are rising fast. carOlineO makes a good point. Even small gatherings are potential spreaders. You on the other hand sound reckless.
 
Alane November 10, 2020
I never comment on forums such as these but CarolineO’s comment is definite “ninny” status. 😂 Standing up with realfoodcook. I’m a 47 year old woman who can decide for myself. Shaming others is the dangerous behavior. You take care of yourself and allow others to do the same in decisions such as these. Just unfollow Food52 if you’re so shocked.
 
car0line0 November 11, 2020
I would never tell others what to do, and of course everyone is free to make their own decisions, but I sincerely hope you will consider that our choices do affect others and not just ourselves.

Unfortunately, none of us can "unfollow" members of our communities who choose to keep socializing as if there was no pandemic! There are lots of tiny changes we can make to our holidays that really will save lives...
 
Stephanie-Oh November 11, 2020
Alane. unless you have been hired by FOOD52, you have no say over who I follow. If possible I would Unfollow "ninnies" like you. So your chronological age is 47 but your maturity age is 2! When I read people comment with misinformation and damaging information, I step in. I would be remiss to ignore dangerous information. Wear a mask, wash your hands, and DISTANCE for the sake of family and friends.
 
Alane November 11, 2020
I’m afraid there’s been a huge misunderstanding. This “ninny” has been reminded why I don’t comment in forums such as these. I would erase my comment if I could figure out how. Because “”this “ninny” can’t figure it out (probably because I’m 2 years old) I will do my best to clear it up.

I have taken great care in planning my Thanksgiving. I’m very aware of the threat and am concerned about protecting those vulnerable in my family. My only point was meant to support realfoodcook in his/her comment about telling others how to live. I think carolineO and Stephanie-Oh and I all feel the same about the pandemic and how we should be doing our part to protect the vulnerable and slow the spread. I’m being anything but reckless. I AGREE WITH YOU! The only difference is that I don’t find it necessary for the public shaming of those who look at it differently. That’s all. The “unfollow” comment was simply meant to suggest that you do have power over Food52 to show them that you found their comment about guests “in and out” over the holiday distasteful by not following their site anymore. I’m sorry my initial response was interpreted so differently than it was intended. I will take my own advice and take care of myself from now on. If Food52 decides to ban me because of this response, so be it. It would stink because I’ve gotten some great recipes off their site. The Apple Cider Chicken is amazing!

@ Stephanie-Oh ... The personal attack of my age definitely clears up what your age is.

@realfoodcook You do you.
 
Brinda A. November 12, 2020
Hi everyone, thanks for chiming in. I lead the edit team at Food52 and want to take responsibility for this oversight—the author wrote this piece in 2019 (pre-pandemic), and we updated it with some new items we love from Costco in 2020. Any remaining references to large gatherings was an error on our part, and we apologize sincerely.

We take our community's health and safety very seriously, and hope that everyone is mindful of CDC recommendations and their local government's regulations when it comes to Thanksgiving celebrations.
 
Basil B. November 18, 2020
Logic over anything government passed, please.

You know where you should be and precautions to take. There is absolutely no reason to hide in a hole. Science, don't get it from gov't but do investigation separately, says to be mindful if you are at risk. EVERYONE knows risks and how to minimize. Go forth and have a happy holiday. Ignore regulations. Seriously, they aren't following science. You can easily go online and see disputing conversations from Stanford, Harvard, and UK universities. Go with your gut. Those who are afraid can stay home. Beauty of US.
 
Clare M. November 18, 2019
I highly recommend #5. I don't even make green bean casserole, but I bought a bag thinking what the hey. Still haven't used them as a topping for anything, but I'm almost through my second bag. Delicious on their own.
 
ffldcheese November 13, 2019
How about shopping at small independently owned shops? There are local florists, small groceries, butchers, fishmongers, cheese shops, mom and pop wine shops that need support. The consolidation in food leads to less healthy food and less choice and small business are better for communities. #shopsmall
 
Amy D. November 15, 2019
It would be nice, but when your feeding a troop, real life gets in the way and you need the discount. Power to those who can afford it. For me Costco works.
 
Basil B. November 18, 2020
Certainly! Unless you can't afford for groups; therein lies beauty of Costco and others.
 
catalinalacruz November 9, 2019
No, no, no! Not paper plates! Think of the environment and the problem with landfills. If you have that many guests, someone will offer to wash the dishes. Your grandkids will thank you.
https://sciencing.com/environmental-effect-of-paper-plates-5478412.html
 
Claire S. November 10, 2020
What about the water waste, I mean you just can’t win!
 
Erica L. November 10, 2020
Compostable?
 
Basil B. November 18, 2020
If you want to use paper plates, use them. If not, don't. It's not like this is happening everyday. And ignore the idiotic shaming.

And no. The grandkids will not thank you. But great to use vintage china etc. if you have them. You'll use more water, but what a nice setting!
 
NaoHorton November 4, 2019
Costco also has a huge apple pie for $12.99 which is still a deal when you consider how many apples it takes to bake a standard sized pie. Also, there's a 36 count of dinner rolls which may seem like a lot for a smaller group but they make great mini sandwiches or sliders (leading up to the day) and I plan on using some for stuffing and then the rest re-heated for T-Day! And, they're only $4.99! If your family is a fan of King Hawaiian rolls, there's a 2 x 16 count for $4.99. They typically cost $3.79 - $4.29 at a supermarket for a 12 count. They'll make a great mini sandwich for leftover turkey on Friday.