Frozen foods Costco shoppers swear by

Costco pros know there are some items you can't leave the warehouse store without. But unless you're feeding an army, the sheer volume of food can be intimidating. Before setting foot in Costco, a game plan can be helpful. Aside from diamond engagement rings and a 1-year supply of freeze-dried emergency food, there's a bounty of fantastic freezer items you'll want to make room for in your fridge. While frozen food can get a bad reputation as the mark of a kitchen amateur, it's the perfect purchase in large quantities. You don't have to worry about spoiled food, and you'll always have something on hand. Whether you find yourself playing hostess often, are a dedicated meal-prepper, or are just looking for something quick and new, everyone seems to swear by these freezer items. Make a beeline for the frozen food and load up the shopping cart with these products to streamline the mealtime routine.

Amy's Cheddar Beans, Rice, and Cheese Burrito from Costco

A filling frozen dinner is hard to come by, especially on the cheap. What starts as a quick meal, turns into a watery mess of under-seasoned mush. Amy's, the vegetarian frozen food go-to, understands the disappointment of a weak dinner and comes to the rescue with their Cheddar Beans, Rice, and Cheese Burrito. These burritos go from the freezer to a warm, cheesy meal in a few minutes flat. 

Enthusiasts range from growing kids looking for an after school snack, to adults who need a quick lunch to pack in a hurry. Each burrito is individually wrapped, which makes for super simpler transport. They are one of the best frozen vegetarian entrees found at Costco, both in terms of price (around $10 a box), nutrition (11 grams of protein), and taste (flavorful Mexican goodness). Not only are they organic, they can also check off a lot of the food allergy boxes.

Costco's Crazy Cuizine Mandarin Orange Chicken

When the craving for Chinese food kicks in, it's hard to ignore. But instead of paying for delivery, why not preheat the oven for a more cost-effective dinner? These sweet and savory chicken bites are delicious with rice and vegetables, just like you'd get in your take out order but easier on the wallet. Crazy Cuizine Mandarin Orange Chicken goes from the oven to plate in under a half hour, and is super helpful on those evenings when you need an assist with pulling dinner together. The reason it's so good? The chicken and the sauce cook separately, which means they won't turn to mush when you heat them up. Costco pros know to stock up on this orange chicken to always have a restaurant quality meal ready to go in the freezer. 

Endlessly versatile, Crazy Cuizine Mandarin Orange Chicken bites make a great appetizer as well. Any future surprise hosting will make you look effortless and organized with a few toothpicks and these crispy chicken bites. You'll feel good serving to guests since in addition to being high in protein, they're free of preservatives, trans-fat and MSG.And unlike lots of competitors, this dish is more chicken, less batter (and therefore, less guilt!).

Costco's Trident Alaskan Salmon Burgers

If your heart says, "burgers," but your belly says, "salad," these Trident Alaskan Salmon Burgers are a good compromise. With plenty of protein to satisfy carnivorous cravings, they're still full of heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. On a multi-grain bun with sweet potato fries, this Costco frozen gem is a quick and healthy take on the classic "burger and fries." Or, if you're focused counting carbs, skip the bun and throw a salmon burger on top of greens for a paleo-friendly treat. These burgers pack a great grilled taste, but are still a modest 170 calories a serving.

The patties are made with wild salmon and are a fantastic dinnertime meal hack. The burgers are pre-seasoned with a mild blend of spices and herbs, so they taste great on their own, or as a base for more vibrant flavors like Sriracha mayo or mango salsa. As BBQ season approaches, it's smart to have a healthy alternative on hand for cookouts and get-togethers. They're flaky enough to use in omelettes or on top of salad, if you're experiencing summertime burger burnout. 

Maas River Petite Whole Green Beans from Costco

Costco offers plenty of snacking temptation in the freezer aisle, but at the end of the day, it's hard to ignore that nagging voice in your head begging you to "eat something green!" While it would be great to shop daily, picking up fresh veggies along the way, these frozen organic petite whole green beans are an easy choice. Frozen right off the vine, they're as delicious as the day they were picked and make a super simple side for more time-consuming dishes. Sautéed on the stove-top with some of that famous Kirkland Extra Virgin Olive Oil or simply microwaved, a bag of these green beans in your freezer are the key to a balanced meal even under the tightest of time restraints.

A great item to have on hand, the big bag is easy to seal up and pop right back in the fridge. There will always be just the right amount of little green beans to make an authentic Nicoise salad or whip up an entire casserole. Costco shoppers swear by these as some of the freshest freezer produce. They're the key to having summertime veggies year-round! 

Kirkland Grilled Chicken Breast Strips from Costco

In an ideal world, we would have an endless amount of time for meal prep. We all know getting ahead of your diet and planning out entrees is key to sticking to a healthy lifestyle, but spending precious time prepping protein is not our idea of fun. A Whole30, paleo, or low-carb diet must-have, Kirkland Grilled Chicken Breast Strips take the most time-consuming step out of the equation. 

Perfectly portioned and prepared with only salt and water, these chicken breast strips go from freezer to plate in minutes flat. The classic Costco generous size won't go to waste, since there are several ways to incorporate these strips into any meal of the day. They make getting lean protein easy, and are a favorite of health conscious Costco shoppers. Chopped up for chicken salad, shredded into quesadillas, or mixed up with pepper and onions for a fast fajita night, you'll never run out of creative ways to use this handy freezer item.

Looka Frozen Macarons from Costco

What do a trip to Paris and browsing the frozen food section at Costco have in common? They both can lead you to colorful French desserts. Looka Frozen Macarons won't help you get airline miles, but they will make you feel incredibly chic when you share a plate of them for an after-dinner treat. These all-natural sweets taste as good as they look and come in a bunch of flavors sure to please any palette, like chocolate and pistachio. 

Two fluffy almond cookies sandwich a rich filling, satisfying your sweet tooth in a light and unexpected way. One of the classier items you'll find in the freezer section, they'll instantly make any event an elegant affair. Petite, pretty, and slightly less indulgent than the typical sugar-loaded dessert, these macarons make a posh addition to your Costco frozen haul. Forget about booking an international flight and pick up these delicate pastries on the next Costco trip.

Costco's Kirkland Golden Sweet Frozen Pineapple Chunks

A blender can be a one-way ticket to clean living or really up the ante on your frozen cocktail game. Either way, a great item to have on hand is frozen pineapple. These Golden Sweet Pineapple chunks have a bright, tropical flavor that is perfect on either side of the smoothie spectrum. Try blending it up in a breakfast smoothie with ginger, or later in the day with tequila and lime. 

Buying fresh pineapple can be a pain. It turns your kitchen into a sticky mess, not to mention the knife skills and time it takes just to break one pineapple down into poppable bites. But this pre-cut, perfectly portioned frozen version makes it much easier to bring a little bit of Hawaii home. Not just tasty, pineapple is chock full of bromelain and other immune-boosting vitamins and minerals. A bag of these Golden Sweet Pineapple Chunks can bring cold relief or a healthful boost in a sunny smoothie, making them a must-buy from the freezer section. 

Costco's Kirkland Nature's Three Berries

Berries are a perfect snack anytime of day, work great in tons of different recipes, and have several health benefits. Unfortunately, it feels like they are always either out of season or incredibly expensive. Lucky for Costco shoppers, Kirkland's freezer favorite, Nature's Three Berries, combines blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. 

As the days get longer and sunnier, you'll want to spend more time eating frozen treats on the patio, and less time washing and trimming bushels of berries in the kitchen. Just as flavorful as the ones found at the local farm stand, this enormous bag will last you through several breakfasts of french toast topped with berries and yogurt parfaits. Perfect to pop into a shake or spoon over ice cream, this frozen version makes berries less of a splurge. And if this behemoth bag is more intimidating than inspiring, extras can be cooked down into a delicious jam that tastes like summer year-round.

Amylu Kale and Mozzarella Chicken Burgers from Costco

If you always find yourself hungry for dinner before you can finish making it, quick preparation is key. These Amylu Kale and Mozzarella Chicken Burgers are a dressed up version of boring burgers, with leafy kale and salty mozzarella mixed right in. There is so much flavor, you definitely won't miss the beef. These are perfect to pack for vacation, or any time there is a large crowd to please without much time. They're pre-cooked, so you can go from starving to sitting down with a lean, tasty meal in less than ten minutes. 

Defrosted and packed for an effortless office lunch, a few minutes in the microwave will give you a lean, juicy burger that will be the envy of all of your coworkers. The grilled chicken flavor easily adapts to a plethora of toppings. But the inventive addition of kale and mozzarella keep even a plain patty mouthwatering. It's no wonder they're a foodie favorite.

Grain & Simple 2 Minute Grains from Costco

Feeling full and eating healthy don't always go hand in hand. Grain & Simple 2 Minute Grains are a hearty side dish and a high-fiber alternative to simple rice or pasta. The combination of wheat berries, quinoa, farro, and barley create lots of great texture and bite. The grains are pre-seasoned (with organic tomato, onion and pepper), so they're already packed with flavor, even before the addition of vegetables or protein. They make a great base for a grain bowl and are a quick stuffed-pepper filling. 

While a $10 restaurant grain bowl is a fast and effortless meal choice, it certainly isn't thrifty. This is just one of the several reasons Grain & Simple is the ultimate Costco freezer staple. Just combine one of the four pre-portioned packets with the produce and protein already in your fridge (or some other freezer favorites listed above) for instant lunch or dinner. The possibilities are endless, even when your time is not.

Mini Chicken and Cilantro Wontons from Costco

If we had to choose one option from the Costco frozen aisle, it would probably be this one because they are so incredibly versatile. You can serve the Mini Chicken and Cilantro Wontons with a dipping sauce as a tasty appetizer, or create a filling main meal by simmering them in soup or serving them alongside stir-fried vegetables. 

You have a few options when it comes to reheating the frozen dumplings, too. If you don't want to dirty any extra dishes, reheat them on a plate in the microwave or plop them (still frozen) into simmering soup. You can also pan fry them in oil in a skillet for a crispier option.

You'll find a few wonton and dumpling options in the Costco freezer section, but these mini wontons are hard to beat. Their chicken, cabbage, and cilantro filling is delicate but full-flavored, and they come in a three-pound resealable bag. The small size makes them perfect for serving at a party, and because they're fully cooked, it only takes about five minutes to heat them through.

Vegetable Spring Rolls with Edamame from Costco

If you're in the mood for Chinese takeout but don't feel like going out, keep a package of these Vegetable Spring Rolls with Edamame in the freezer. They're so easy to reheat — bake them in the oven or pull out the deep fryer to create a super-crispy exterior. Spring rolls are a great appetizer, but they also make a fantastic low-calorie snack (especially considering that each one of these spring rolls contains fewer than 80 calories).

Each package comes with a whopping 50 pieces, and they're stuffed with protein-packed edamame, jicama, carrots, cabbage, sweet potatoes, onions, and leeks. You'll have plenty of spring rolls to feed surprise guests, or create a platter for a large dinner party, and you don't have to worry about preparing a sauce, either. These spring rolls come with a tasty sauce concoction made with soy, ginger, honey, and lemon. 

This isn't one of those frozen appetizers that turns out soggy when it's reheated, either. They're baked in the oven (or deep fried), so the wrapper remains delightfully crispy.

Costco's frozen Shrimp

Every time we go to Costco, we pick up a bag of frozen shrimp. It might not be a meal on its own, but you can use frozen shrimp as the basis for dozens of quick-and-easy weeknight dinners. Because they defrost quickly, you won't have to plan far ahead to use them, and shrimp taste delicious no matter how you cook them. Pop them on a skewer to hit the grill, or marinate them and bake them as a sheet pan dinner. They're fantastic when dipped in batter and deep fried, or tossed with rice and vegetables for a quick-cooking stir-fry. As a bonus, they're high in protein and healthy fats, making them our go-to protein choice for healthy meals.

Frozen shrimp are easy to find at the regular grocery store, but they're much less expensive at Costco. You'll find them in two-pound bags for the price of a single pound at a regular store. Pick up the 31/40 peeled, tail-on shrimp if you like smaller shrimp, or go for the 21/25 bag if you prefer the larger ones. You'll also find pre-cooked shrimp options, too, if that works better for your needs.

Costco's Kirkland Signature Meat Lasagna

Lasagna is an excellent way to feed a crowd on a budget. It's usually a crowd-pleaser, and you don't have to prepare a ton of side dishes. A slab of meaty, cheesy lasagna plated with a side salad is all you need to satisfy everyone's hunger. Although it's easy enough to prepare, lasagna can be a pain to make from scratch. After boiling all the pasta, making the sauce, and creating all the layers, you can make quite a mess in your kitchen.

That's where Costco's lasagna comes in. Even though it's a frozen product, it tastes high-quality enough to be homemade. Plus, it's ridiculously cheap considering that it feeds up to 12 people. We're not sure we can make a homemade lasagna that large for less than $15! When it comes to ingredients, Costco lasagna is test-kitchen approved: It's made with 100 percent ground beef chuck, vine-ripened tomatoes, whole-milk ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, and no added preservatives.

Marie Callender's Chicken Pot Pie from Costco

If you're looking for a ready-to-eat meal that's easy to reheat in the microwave, you can't go wrong by looking at frozen chicken pot pie. Marie Callender's is one of our favorite brands because it tastes almost as good as Grandma's. The chicken itself is full-flavored and juicy, and it's swimming in a thick, peppery gravy. Add in tender celery, carrots, and peas and a delightfully crusty exterior, and you have yourself a well-rounded, delicious meal.

You can totally find Marie Callender's outside of Costco, but this eight-count pack is a total bargain: Each 10-ounce pie only runs you about $1.50 per pie (priced at the time this article was published). We can't think of a single meal you'd find at the grocery store for that price! Considering that Marie Callender's is made with tender, white meat chicken (raised without antibiotics), no preservatives, no artificial flavors, and no artificial colors, picking up a package of these is a no-brainer.

Costco's Kirkland Italian-style Cooked Meatballs

Meatballs are one of those seemingly simple dishes that always takes longer than we think to make from scratch. All that mixing and rolling, not to mention that you have to time the cooking perfectly or you'll end up with a dry meatball. 

Frozen meatballs take away all the dishes and guesswork, and they (surprisingly) taste homemade after they're thawed. Add them to the slow cooker with a bottle of Teriyaki sauce and serve them with toothpicks for an easy appetizer, or toss these meatballs in your favorite marinara sauce for a pasta dinner. Don't forget about using the leftovers to make meatball sandwiches the next day, too.

A six-pound bag of meatballs at Costco costs about $3 per pound (at the time this article was published), which isn't much more expensive than a pound of ground beef. They're bite-sized and contain the perfect level of spice, and the bag contains a whopping 140 meatballs. The best part: You don't have to reheat the whole bag at once. Feel free to pull out just a few meatballs to reheat for lunch or dinner.

Costco's Frozen Organic Vegetables

If you're trying to make more organic choices at the grocery store, don't walk away from the frozen vegetable section at Costco. While these vegetables won't reheat into a ready-to-eat meal on their own, they do make cooking much easier. They're pre-cut and can be used as a shortcut for most recipes that call for fresh veggies. According to Insider, some frozen vegetables are healthier for you than fresh vegetables. That's because they're frozen at the peak of their freshness, preserving the nutrients.

Many of Costco's frozen bagged vegetables are certified organic, and we love how they're not more expensive than non-organic options, like the ones you'll find at the regular grocery store. Most of the options at Costco come in at around $2 a pound (priced as of the time of this article), and you'll take home four- to five-pound bags. We love the Normandy blend (carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli) for soups, stews, and stir-fry dishes, and you can't go wrong with the bag of pure broccoli when making broccoli cheese soup (like this copycat Panera recipe).