Power Hour Meal Prep

Meal Prep Plan: How to Bulk-Prep 2 Weeks of Costco Meals in 3 Hours

Image Credit: Joe Lingeman | Kitchn
Image Credit: The Kitchn

There's no denying how much we love Costco. (And nope, we're not paid to say this!) But while we enjoy debating our favorite things to buy and answering your most pressing questions (how is the wine so cheap? What time should I go to get the best free samples?) the real reason we love the warehouse giant is the fact that we can grocery shop in bulk and get more food for less money.

In this Power Hour I'll share my plan for preparing two weeks' worth of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for two adults and two kids, using only Costco ingredients. This Power Hour takes three hours (plus an extra 30 minutes to store and stash ingredient extras), but you'll be well-prepared for the next two weeks of eating. Follow along for my bulk shopping and family meal planning tips.

Image Credit: Joe Lingeman | Kitchn

Grocery shopping in bulk lends itself to a larger-scale meal plan than you've seen in other Power Hour plans. When I shop at Costco, I put in the time upfront, planning and prepping two weeks of meals at once.

My Meal Prep Goals

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My Meal Plan

Breakfasts

Lunches

Dinners

Meal Prep Plan Snapshot

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Image Credit: Patty Catalano

My Shopping List

These are the ingredients I bought or used for this meal prep plan. The bunches, packs, and jars are "Costco-sized," and therefore larger than what you'd find in a regular grocery store. I also relied on items already in my pantry or fridge, including olive oil, cooking spray, salt and pepper, heavy cream, and Dijon.

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Power Hour: How I Get the Prep Done

I set aside three hours to prep two weeks of family-friendly breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. But I also had 30 minutes to spare after my prep was done, so I divided leftover sausage, cheese, and chicken into meal-sized portions, vacuum sealed them, and then froze them. (If time allows, I recommend you do the same.)

A few words on shopping and storage: I find that Costco's avocados are usually a great deal, but often rock hard. Set them on the counter to ripen, then refrigerate, where you'll get at least another week of storage. My Costco doesn't sell shredded cheddar, so I buy it in a block and shred it by hand.

After par-cooking the potatoes, roasting the mushrooms and bell peppers, and browning the sausage, I freeze them in a single layer on a sheet pan before transferring to a container for longer storage. This locks in the browned and roasted flavors while extending the shelf life, and leaves room for flexibility in case I need to adjust my meal plan. Freezing on the tray prevents them from freezing into a solid block, so I can reach into the bags to grab as many pieces as I need for lunch and dinner prep. Thawed par-cooked potatoes give off extra liquid, but you won't notice this once they crisp on the stovetop or in the oven.

1. Parboil potatoes: Rinse potatoes; transfer to a large stockpot. Cover with cool water and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until potatoes are fork-tender, about 4 minutes. Drain, then spread onto a sheet pan to cool. Once cooled, cube a few for breakfast burritos, then divide the rest into 4 (1- to 1 1/2-pound) portions using zip-top bags or food storage containers. Refrigerate two and freeze two.

2. Roast mushrooms and bell peppers: Combine quartered mushrooms, a clove of minced garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper on a sheet pan and toss to combine. Toss a sliced orange bell pepper with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread onto a second sheet pan. Roast mushrooms and peppers at 425°F until browned, 10 to 20 minutes. Chop two red bell peppers, reserving some for the frittata and breakfast burritos, and freeze the rest for week 2's Monday dinner. Reserve half the mushrooms for the pasta bake. Freeze remaining roasted mushrooms and bell pepper slices on parchment-lined sheet pan before transferring to a zip-top bag or food-storage container for freezer storage.

3. Break down rotisserie chicken: I find it easier to separate the meat from a rotisserie chicken when it's still warm from the store (or microwaved for a minute or two). Separate the leg and thigh, then slice the breast portions off. Refrigerate those portions for week 1's Monday dinner. Pull the rest of the meat off the carcass (if there's not enough, use some of the pre-grilled chicken strips) and toss with pesto, cherry tomatoes, and some veggie slaw for Monday's lunch.

4. Prep sausage: Remove the casing from 2 1/2 pounds (about 10 links or 1/2 of a Costco saddle pack) of sausage. Brown in a large cast iron skillet (you may need to do this in multiple batches). Using a slotted spoon, transfer browned sausage to a parchment-lined sheet pan. Reserve about 1 cup for the frittata and freeze the rest. Once frozen, transfer to a zip-top bag or food storage container for freezer storage. Do not wash the cast iron skillet.

5. Scramble eggs for burritos: You'll scramble 20 eggs to make 16 breakfast burritos. My nonstick pan can handle 8 eggs at a time, so it'll take a couple of batches. Heat the pan over medium and spray with nonstick spray (you can use butter or oil if you prefer). Pour in well-beaten eggs and add a generous pinch of kosher salt. Stir occasionally until almost cooked and transfer to a bowl to cool.

6. Shred cheese: Shred half the block of cheddar for chilaquiles, breakfast burritos, and grilled cheese.

7. Bake frittata: Bake the frittata in the same cast iron pan used for browning the sausage. Using this recipe as a guide, add the reserved browned sausage and bell pepper, a few cloves of minced garlic, and cubed mozzarella cheese. Once baked and cooled, slice and refrigerate in an oven-safe container.

8. Assemble breakfast burritos: Making 16 breakfast burritos is easy if you set up an assembly line. Tear 16 pieces of foil, set aside the same number of tortillas, and have the scrambled eggs, salsa, cubed parboiled potatoes, red bell pepper, and shredded cheddar close by. Add the cheese to the center of the tortilla; top with eggs, potatoes, and bell pepper, and a spoonful of salsa; and fold up the burrito and wrap in the foil. Refrigerate half and freeze the rest. Transfer from the freezer to refrigerator next Sunday to thaw.

9. Assemble grilled cheese: While the shredded cheddar is front and center, pile some onto a quartered baguette, then slice lengthwise. Tuck a few halved cherry tomatoes into two of the sandwiches. Wrap all of the sandwiches in plastic wrap or place in a food storage container and refrigerate.

10. Assemble pasta bakes: I'm streamlining and dividing this recipe to feed my family on two different nights. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 (24-ounce) jar of marinara sauce with 1 (24-ounce) package refrigerated tortellini and half the reserved mushrooms in a large mixing bowl. Transfer half to an 8x8-inch baking dish; top with mozzarella. Top with remaining tortellini mixture and more mozzarella. Repeat with the remaining marinara, tortellini, and reserved mushrooms. Cover with foil, refrigerate one dish, and freeze the other.

11. Assemble French bread pizzas: Slice the remaining baguette in half crosswise, then lengthwise, so that you have four pieces of bread. Spread pesto onto the cut side of the bread. Top with halved cherry tomatoes and shredded mozzarella. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze.

12. Assemble smoothie packs: I follow this recipe for the proportions. Pre-measuring the fruit means I'm more likely to make morning smoothies, but if you're OK with measuring in the morning feel free to skip this step.

Image Credit: Patty Catalano
Image Credit: Jenny Chang-Rodriguez | Kitchn
Image Credit: The Kitchn | Kitchn
Image Credit: Joe Lingeman | Kitchn

Two Weeks of Costco Meals with Minimal Weeknight Cooking

Breakfast: Breakfasts alternate between the burritos, triple berry and banana smoothies, and maple Greek yogurt with granola. Heat foil-wrapped burritos in a toaster oven, or unwrap and warm in the microwave. For smoothies, blend 1 pack of pre-measured fruit, a scoop of Greek yogurt and some water in a blender for 2 servings.

Lunch: Lunches are built using extra ingredients from dinner prep and planned leftovers. I'll use tortillas for wraps and quesadillas, tortilla chips for nachos, and frozen quinoa-kale mix for grain bowls. Toppings include rotisserie chicken (plain and mixed with pesto), pre-grilled chicken strips, browned sausage, cherry tomatoes, vegetable slaw mix, roasted mushrooms and bell peppers, avocado, lime wedges, Greek yogurt, and shredded cheddar and mozzarella. All of the elements are prepped and ready so they're easy to mix and match for lunch.

Dinner: Follow this game plan for dinners during week 1.

Note: Week 2 begins with no grocery shopping or meal prep because it's already done!

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If you have a Costco card burning a hole in your pocket, but haven't been sure about how to supersize your meal plan to accommodate bulk buying, I hope this plan gives you the encouragement and tools to be successful. I'd love to hear what Costco products you rely on for meal prep.

(We also have more Power Hour Meal Prep plans for all kinds of cooks and eaters! Check out all the plans we have so far.)

Power Hour Meal Prep is the series where we help you put it all together. We show you how to eat well during the week with an hour or two of Power Hour prep over the weekend. Every plan is different; mix and match to find your own personal sweet spot.

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