- I asked Costco employees for recommendations, from frozen food to snacks, and tried their picks.
- I loved Costco's premade quinoa salad, frozen meatballs, and peanut-butter pretzels.
- I probably wouldn't repurchase frozen acai bowls or Costco's premade mac and cheese again.
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Shopping at Costco can be pretty overwhelming.
The warehouse club sells thousands of products from fresh produce to frozen meals. With so many choices, it can be hard to know what's worth purchasing. Plus, trying something new is a gamble when you're buying in bulk at Costco.
To try to find some new favorites, I turned to those who know the store and its products best — Costco employees. I bought 10 items recommended to me by Costco employees throughout various departments and tried them all.
Two employees raved about the versatility of the Kirkland frozen Italian-style meatballs.
While in the frozen section, a Costco employee recommended Kirkland frozen Italian-style meatballs. I bought a large, resealable bag that came with about 140 meatballs for $20.
The employee said they love to throw the meatballs in a slow cooker with their favorite sauce for a quick and easy low-prep meal.
The meatballs cooked fast and were very flavorful.
Frozen meatballs can often be a bit bland, but the ones from Kirkland were not.
They had great flavor on their own or I found tossing them with barbecue sauce or teriyaki sauce enhance their flavor even more.
I cooked them both slowly for hours in my Crock-Pot and quickly for 20 minutes in the oven. I even had some for dinner after smoking and cooking them on my Traeger. All methods worked well.
I asked a deli employee for their favorite cheese recommendation.
I think Costco's a great place to pick up staple cheeses and discover new, interesting options to add to a board.
I asked a deli employee in my local Costco for their favorite cheese and they pointed me to the flagship cheese from Beecher's.
They told me they loved the robust flavor and hard texture of the cheese and love to put it on a charcuterie board with pickled items, fruits, meats, and crackers.
Beecher's cheese hails from Seattle, Washington, and smaller blocks of it can be pricey at other supermarkets. At Costco, the block was $11 per pound.
This is a great cheese to serve on a cheese plate.
I sliced into this giant block of cheese and immediately fell in love. It's definitely not a soft cheese, so it crumbles just a bit. But because it's aged for 15 months, it has an incredibly robust flavor, making it the ideal pairing for other bold items such as pepperoncini.
I would definitely buy this again if I was having a get-together and planned on putting on a spread for multiple people. It's delicious, but it's a big block of cheese to keep on hand on a regular basis for just myself.
One employee said Costco's quinoa salad is their favorite premade item.
Costco has a huge array of premade options in its deli section. An employee directed me to the large container of quinoa salad for $4.80 a pound.
The employee who recommended it said they love to serve it for picnics and at parties or pair it with a main course at dinner.
I would buy this quinoa salad every time I go to Costco.
The salad is made up of quinoa, mung beans, red peppers, tomato, cucumber, parsley, and more.
Though it's seasoned simply with lemon juice and salt, it's anything but boring. It's jam-packed with flavor and absolutely delicious on its own for lunch or paired with other items in a meal.
I kept it on hand in the fridge for a whole week and honestly wanted to eat it with every meal. This was a top recommendation given to me, and I will definitely be buying it again on my next trip.
Several employees said Kirkland peanut-butter-filled pretzels are their go-to snack.
Wandering the snack section in Costco is a dream. There are so many items from familiar classic brands and fresh new ones. But one of the best items may just be from Costco's own Kirkland brand.
A large tub of Kirkland peanut-butter-filled pretzels is about $10.50. A number of employees told me this was hands-down their favorite snack, and it's developed a cult following over the years.
These pretzels are the ideal salty snack.
I'm not much of a fan of stick or round pretzels, but these are on a different level. They have the perfect balance of crunch with a creamy peanut-butter center. I also love the flecks of salt on top.
They're ideal for grabbing a handful when you want a quick snack.
One employee said they love Costco's premade mac and cheese for dinner or a party.
One employee raved about the many ways they like to serve the chain's premade mac and cheese, from dinner parties to quick weeknight dinners.
It can be found in the deli section and retails in large containers for $3.50 per pound.
I wished the mac and cheese had a little more flavor.
It's hard to say anything bad about a giant platter of mac and cheese. Costco's version of it is easy to heat up in the oven and had plenty of curly noodles to soak up the cheesy sauce.
It was a decent, cheesy comfort dish and I'd definitely eat it again, but I wish it had a bit more flavor. I'd buy it again in a pinch to go with other items, but it's definitely not a new go-to for me.
An employee in the frozen section said acai bowls are their favorite breakfast item at Costco.
One employee recommended I pick up Tattooed Chef premade acai bowls, which in a pack of six for $13.50.
They said they love them for a grab-and-go breakfast bowl or as a base for a smoothie (if you skip the granola that comes with them).
The acai bowls were good, but I probably wouldn't buy them again.
Each bowl comes with a mixture of berries, along with a package of granola with flakes of coconut and chia seeds.
I loved the simplicity of grabbing one from the freezer and either letting it thaw at room temperature or heating it up for 30 seconds, but these weren't a new favorite for me.
The flavor was great and they're incredibly convenient, but I didn't find them good enough to become an item I'd reach for on a regular basis.
The Tattooed Chef sheet-pan vegetables are a favorite for one employee.
One employee recommended I buy a bag of Tattooed Chef sheet-pan vegetables for a no-fuss addition to any meal. I bought a huge 4-pound bag for $13.
I loved the convenience and versatility of these veggies.
I'm generally not someone who buys frozen vegetables because I prefer fresh ones. However, these are a great staple to keep on hand for convenience.
The bag has a mixture of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, red onion, and sweet potato that's already lightly seasoned with oil, salt, and pepper.
I made these by roasting them on a sheet pan and cooking them on the stovetop. Both produced delicious results with subtle flavor. I love that they're already tossed with oil and preseasoned and ready to cook, but I did add other seasonings to amp up the flavor a few times.
Another employee suggested I pair Kirkland hummus with naan.
This recommendation came from an employee who stocks the deli section, and they said it was one of their favorite go-to combos for an easy snack.
I picked up a pack of Kirkland hummus singles, which come with 20 individual hummus cups, and a tub of naan dippers, which is just mini pieces of naan.
This is a new favorite combo for me, too.
Although hummus is often served with pita, naan is a bit softer. I loved these mini pieces of naan for dipping and they were the perfect size for the individual cups of hummus.
The hummus was creamy with such great flavor, and the mini cups seemed easy to pack and take on the go.
A combination of mini naan dippers, carrot sticks, and a hummus cup has become my new favorite snack.
One employee said MadeGood mini packs of granola balls are great as a snack or breakfast.
The MadeGood granola minis sell for $12, with 24 individually wrapped packages in each larger bag. The employee I spoke to said they take them on the go for a convenient breakfast.
The big bags of granola minis have two flavors: chocolate chip and mixed berry. They're gluten-free and nut-free and each pouch has about six mini balls of granola.
These are the perfect hiking snack or quick breakfast.
I preferred the mixed-berry flavor over the chocolate chip, but both were flavorful and hearty, with a slight chewiness.
I brought these in my backpack for multiple hiking trips. I also had them as a snack at home and as a quick breakfast paired with a banana. I loved the convenience and flavor of the mini packs and will absolutely buy them again to keep on hand.