Save me Costco, you're my only hope....
September 8, 2017 2:28 PM   Subscribe

So I waited too long to book catering for a party I'm overseeing for 25 family members in tiny town I've never been to. There is a CostCo in a town we'll be driving through on Friday, but whatever I buy there would have to still be fresh by Saturday night (we'll have a fridge/freezer.) The meal doesn't have to be fancy, but should be a step up from pizza. What can I get at CostCo to feed all these people without having to slave in the kitchen (and that isn't just sandwiches?)

All the caterers in town are booked for weddings and I'm kicking myself. None of the Mexican restaurants do drop-off trays. We're already doing Pizza the night before. Worst case scenario means instead of enjoying time with family, I'm stuck cooking while they all go hiking. Hope me please - tell me your CostCo-food recipes I can make quickly (or better yet - combine and reheat) in under 45 minutes!
posted by egeanin to Food & Drink (34 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Lasagna.
Garlic bread.
posted by SLC Mom at 2:30 PM on September 8, 2017 [16 favorites]

I would start with their rotisserie chickens.
posted by janell at 2:31 PM on September 8, 2017 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Does Costco sell pre-made lasagna? I'm buying a membership just for this event so I'm not sure what they have!
posted by egeanin at 2:31 PM on September 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

They absolutely do have pre-made pasta dishes in the "deli" section. Rotisserie chickens are a good idea, too. Dessert will be easy- pies and cookies!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:33 PM on September 8, 2017

Costco will have you covered. The Kirkland-brand lasagne is actually really good. So is their pulled pork. Maybe grab one of their veggie trays and some hummus too. Back by the meat they have a large selection of pre-made meals -- everything from mac n cheese to chicken alfredo to salmon.

Right now they are also selling massive pumpkin pies!
posted by Ostara at 2:36 PM on September 8, 2017

Best answer: Costco always has a number of pre-assembled dinner items, though they vary by location. The one near me in Missouri almost always has a ravioli lasagna (delicious), stuffed peppers (delicious), fettuccine chicken alfredo (not bad) and then a few others sprinkled through.

They often have sides as well... So, you could also do a few rotisserie chickens, a couple trays of mashed potatoes and then grab some fresh or frozen veg.
posted by Jacob G at 2:36 PM on September 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: They also sell pre-made Shepherd's Pie which is good, pre marinated chicken wings in BIG trays that you can shove straight into the oven.

You can buy a few big bags of superfood Kale Salads which are absolutely divine once you've mixed everything together.

They have sooo much wonderful food, you will be absolutely fine!
posted by JenThePro at 2:43 PM on September 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

There are other good suggestions here—and I know you said no sandwiches!— but I just want to mention that their sandwich platters can feel pretty fancy and are varied/substantive. There'll be an aisle (often in the back, near the bakery/cakes and such) of a bunch of prepared dishes that you just serve, or heat up and serve.
posted by Zephyrial at 2:44 PM on September 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Do check how many oven racks you'll have and pencil out a little diagram of how much food you can heat up at once. Dinner for 25 people can bottleneck on a home stove -- getting the huge mass of frozen food up to temperature takes a *lot* longer than 4 servings. BUT STILL DOABLE, panic not, though you'll have to have a rough-sketch plan since Costcos don't have exactly the same thing every day.

Really filling appetizers that take a while to eat keep everyone happy while the big tasty slodge is heating. The best bagged salad, fancy nuts, several rotisserie chickens, and lay it out as a buffet for people to assemble themselves. Meanwhile soup on the stove -- two kinds in smaller pots heat faster than one kind in a kettle, and people enjoy choice. You started the lasagna as soon as the oven came up to heat as soon as you got back from hiking.

Beautiful fruit and cookies and let everyone who's hungry come help with chopping and prettifying. Cloth napkins for everyone, if Costco has them, also for prettifying. You're aiming for Babette's Feast here, it can be slow as long as there's always something lovely and something nibblable.

posted by clew at 2:46 PM on September 8, 2017 [16 favorites]

Truly, if everyone goes hiking and then piles home together, let the introverts take a sandwich from the tray and hide while the extroverts gang into the kitchen and make the feast. Chunk tasks into subsets that you can delegate entirely -- in my case the salad buffet is one set, stirring the soups is another, washing and chopping fruit is another, testing the lasagna (or whatever but lasagna is a classic for this) is your job.
posted by clew at 2:49 PM on September 8, 2017

I think with Costco your problem won't be finding a tray of food that's ready to eat with minimal fuss, it'll be having too many options to choose from. Their food selection - at least in my Costco - is practically built for this kind of event.

Also if it happens to be New Orleans that you're passing through let me know and I can maybe meet up and save you having to buy a membership.
posted by komara at 2:58 PM on September 8, 2017 [5 favorites]

Everyone loves Costco rotisserie chicken. Agree that there will be way more than you need. They also have TONS of appetizer things and really great cheeses both presliced and in chunks.
posted by Room 641-A at 3:09 PM on September 8, 2017

Schedule as much time as you can to shop at CostCo - if you haven't been there before, it can be overwhelming, and you really will be facing a whole lot of options. Get a list of allergies/food needs in advance, if possible.

I'm very fond of the chicken-and-cheese ravioli, but those might not be practical for a larger group.) nthing the rotisserie chicken - my family does CostCo shopping on Tuesdays, and for a long stretch bought 2 of them as "Tuesday lunch and late-afternoon snacks" for 5 adults, with the carcass saved for soup later in the week.

In addition to several ready-to-cook meals, they'll have several box-o-snacks options: cookies, small pastries, granola bar things, etc. - that can tide people over while they're waiting on dinner, if you're cooking for 25 on a single stove.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 3:15 PM on September 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

A couple of my favorite prepared meals there are the shepard pies and chicken pot pies. As far as I know they don't have fresh made lasagna but I was happy with their frozen.
posted by beccaj at 3:15 PM on September 8, 2017

Best answer: They have MASSIVE cakes that will last all weekend.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 3:26 PM on September 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Their appetizers are wonderful! Jalapeno artichoke dip, hummus, cheeses, olives, nuts, fruit, little naan bread that can be toasted and sliced up, on and on.

You could do a mix-and-match pasta thing rather than lasagna, if you won't have time/oven space to heat that much lasagna. Costco usually has a few options for ravioli and tortellini in their fresh food section. The pesto is wonderful. And the frozen meat section will have giant bags of pre-cooked meatballs that can be heated in sauce.
posted by beandip at 3:26 PM on September 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Bakery
Grab some fresh rolls or bread from the bakery. They may even have garlic bread. (Also where you will find pretty good cookies and sheet cakes, if you need dessert).

Hit the deli section (near the butcher) for trays of pre-made chicken alfredo, shrimp scampi, lasagna, etc. Or grab those roast chickens.

The greens cooler (a huge walk in fridge) has bags of salad makings--Cesar salad bags and a few other types also include a bag of dressing. Just open and dump into a huge bowl or two.

This area can be tricky, if you want something ripe for that day, but there are usually grapes, oranges, apples, etc., next to where you'll find the roast chickens.

You've got this!
posted by Ink-stained wretch at 3:27 PM on September 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Everyone else has covered the savory foods (you can relax completely), but I need to tell you that their sheet cake is best-in-class.
posted by lalex at 3:32 PM on September 8, 2017 [5 favorites]

Prepare for long lines and looking for parking, but you could get lucky because timing is kind of random.
posted by Room 641-A at 3:34 PM on September 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh, and get gas! They're usually the cheapest option.
posted by Room 641-A at 3:35 PM on September 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You will have lots of wonderful options. There was something called a "meat stromboli" last time I was there that looked delicious, layers of yummy stuff wrapped in pizza dough, like an enormous calzone.... Lasagna, chicken alfredo, marinated shrimp, giant chicken pot pies (these all come from the fridge, not the freezer, so no need to budget thawing time.) Nice pre-cut fruit and crudites in the refrigerated produce section. In the frozen section, lots of fancy appetizers. Fantastic sheet cakes, lots of tasty cookies in the packaged foods section (not the bakery itself, those are meh)... budget enough time to look around and you'll be happy.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:50 PM on September 8, 2017

Our store that is like Costco but sadly is NOT Costco has these little frozen quiches that are ahMAZing and come in huge batches that cook quickly. I pray for a big event so I can justify buying those.
posted by thebrokedown at 3:57 PM on September 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ermagerd mini quiches!! They aren't always available but everyone loves them and they taste okay microwaved too
posted by sacrifix at 5:17 PM on September 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: We had 12 people for dinner last weekend (but cooked enough food for 25, we are still eating leftovers, that's how we roll). My goals were quite similar - everyone gets fed and the hosts get to spend quality time with their favourite people. I mainly wanted to 2nd clew's comment about having a plan for what goes in the oven when. I'm unsure if you can fit 25 people's worth of lasagna in the oven at once, but if you can, there won't be much else cooked in that oven during that mealtime. My strategy was to have some things that could stand to be served warm rather than hot coming out of the oven a little early, then putting on a couple more things that would come out just after the mealtime started - but we didn't have a big main course, so YMMV. Part of our plan was also to have some things that could be cooked on the stovetop, and our Australian Costco came through with chorizo that we cooked up in this quick recipe and haloumi that we quickly fried up like this and served with some lemon wedges. The chorizo was a definite winner - it was the recipe people were asking for as they left at the end of the night.
posted by Cheese Monster at 5:22 PM on September 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: You guys are the best - thanks! I am so relieved. :-)
posted by egeanin at 5:35 PM on September 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Their pumpkin pie is really good. I don't think I've had any of their baked goods and been displeased. Truly, don't sweat it--if you went straight to the deli and then the checkout, you could be out the door in 20 minutes with enough food to feed 50. They have tons of take-and-bake choices that they either assemble on-site or offer in the pre-packaged section. You might also consider dropping by the freezer section for hors d'oeuvres that you could toss in the oven as well.
posted by Autumnheart at 5:36 PM on September 8, 2017

The frozen spanakopita appetizers are delicious. They are also good cold, so you could bake them earlier in the day & then refrigerate them, if you think the oven is going to be full with dinner-stuff later on.
posted by belladonna at 5:49 PM on September 8, 2017

Your unfamiliarity leaves me wondering, do you have a Costco membership already or are you planning to buy one at the door? It's $55/year.
posted by hwyengr at 6:48 PM on September 8, 2017

Response by poster: hwyengr - I ordered one online, I just need to pick it up at their membership desk at my first visit to the store.
posted by egeanin at 6:58 PM on September 8, 2017

I just went to Costco and they have this divine truffle opera cake that made me wish I was 12 people, so I could have just eaten it for myself. You'll be fine!
posted by yueliang at 12:40 AM on September 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Popping a big roast in the oven isn't much more difficult that heating a prepared entree. Costco probably has preseasoned tenderloins. A single use foil pan might be worth the cost.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:56 AM on September 9, 2017

Tell us how it went!
posted by clew at 10:41 AM on September 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

Cheesemonster-intrigued by the chorizo recipe-what type of chorizo did you use?
posted by purenitrous at 2:24 PM on September 9, 2017

Purenitrous - unfortunately I'm pretty uninformed about chorizo (in my defence, I'm a vegetarian). I had a look for a picture but couldn't find one. It came in a 1kg bag and it was paler in colour than I expected (I thought it would be dark red like salami but it was more of an orangish pink).
posted by Cheese Monster at 2:52 PM on September 10, 2017

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