9 Organic Meals from Costco for under $100

This is a guest post by Erin Chase, founder of 5DollarDinners.com and author of The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook series.


9 Organic Meals from Costco on 100 Days of #RealFood

Since moving to Texas in 2012, I find myself shopping at Costco more and more. I’m not sure if it’s because my family is growing (I’m feeding 4 boys, ages 9 to 18 months), or if it’s because I’m now a full time work from home mom-blogger-consultant, or the fact that there is only 1 major grocery store chain in my town…which results in not so fabulous sale prices because there is no direct competition nearby.

With all of these factors combined together, I found myself working hard to make the most of the bulk ingredients I was purchasing each month from Costco. And I quickly discovered that I was in a game of ‘mix and match’ with ingredients like chicken breast, ground beef, stew beef cubes, canned tomatoes, baby carrots and others.

It became a challenge to use up the fresh produce before it went bad, to package up some of the ingredients together into slow cooker packs and toss into the freezer, or double up on some meals and stash the doubled portion in the freezer for a future meal.

Last September, I pulled together all my favorite ‘mix and match’ meals using the ingredients I regularly purchase at Costco. I priced out this list and was shocked to find that I could make 20 meals within a $150 budget. That’s $7.50 per meal!

I was thrilled with this price point because it was close to $5, but not so high that it was going to break the bank…plus this also includes higher prices that you pay for higher quality meats at Costco as compared to grocery store sale prices. I shared the list on $5 Dinners, and it quickly went viral and has been seen by millions since. So I created a second plan, and most recently, a gluten free meal plan.

{Complete Listing of all my 20 Meals from Costco Meal Plans.}

So when Lisa asked me to pull together a similar list using their organic products, I gladly agreed! While our family doesn’t personally eat 100% organically, I do squeeze as many organic ingredients into my grocery cart as my budget allows. Thankfully, Costco has a great inventory of organic ingredients, and many of them are priced competitively to conventional ingredients at the regular grocery store.

I have shared an Organic Ingredient Price List for Costco, including my recommendations for which organic ingredients to purchase from Costco when you’re on a tight budget. For example, the price per meal/per pound on frozen organic vegetables is half as much as frozen organic vegetables at the local grocery store in my area; and almost the same price per meal/per pound as conventional frozen vegetables.

Therefore, I recommend getting frozen organic vegetables from Costco. Check out the list for other organic ingredient prices and my recommendations for those on a tight budget.

Here’s how this plan works:

I’ve pulled together a list of 9 recipes that call for organic ingredients that you can find at Costco. I expect that you would have some of the staple ingredients like olive oil, spices, and baking supplies already in your pantry or fridge. These smaller amount ingredients and pantry staple ingredients are not figured into the total cost from Costco. I have outlined below what organic ingredients you’ll need for each recipe.

On the shopping list I have indicated the total price, as well as the number of meals you will need to make with that ingredient. At quick glance, you’ll notice that there will be quite a few additional ingredients leftover after these 9 meals have been made. I’ll give you a few ideas of ways to use up those extra ingredients.

I have included 2 totals for you…one is the total for all the ingredients, including the items/ingredients that you won’t use in the plan. The second “prorated” total is based on the price for only the ingredients used for the meals in the plan.

The 9 Meals (doubled recipes count as 2)

Chicken Taco Salad with baby carrots – DOUBLED

Organic Ingredients to Purchase

Make Ahead Notes: Cook the chicken ahead of time and shred it. Once cooled, it can be frozen. Pull out to thaw overnight and this dinner is very quick to throw together on a busy weeknight.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup – DOUBLED (and Freezer Friendly!)

Organic Ingredients to Purchase

  • Shredded Chicken, made from whole chicken
  • Chicken stock
  • Corn
  • Salsa
  • Tomato sauce
  • Tortilla chips
  • Black Beans
  • Mixed Greens – Side Salad

Make Ahead and Freeze Directions: Make a double batch of this recipe. Before you add the tortilla chips in at the end, pour half of the soup into a bowl and chill in the refrigerator. Once cooled, you can freeze that half for a future meal. Thaw, reheat and then add the tortilla chips into the soup just before serving.

Spaghetti & Meatballs with Side Salad – DOUBLED

Organic Ingredients to Purchase

  • Ground beef
  • Spaghetti noodles
  • Tomato sauce
  • Baby carrots
  • Spring Mix Salad

Note: You can make your own red marinara sauce with 2 15 oz. cans of tomato sauce, Italian seasonings, garlic and/or onion powder, and if you’re like me and like it on the sweet side, a touch of your preferred sweetener too. This will make enough sauce for 1 lb. of pasta and 1 lb. noodles.

Make Ahead and Freeze Directions: While you’re making one batch of the meatballs, you might as well make both batches. I like to freeze my meatballs raw, but you can also cook them and then let them cool completely in the fridge before freezing them. Letting them cool completely will help reduce the risk of freezer burn. (Of course, I never have to worry about freezer burn with meatballs because they never last more than a week or two in my freezer!)

Sloppy Joes with salad

Organic Ingredients to Purchase

  • Ground beef
  • Baby carrots
  • Tomato sauce
  • Sandwich loaf bread, in place of buns
  • Spring Salad Mix

Kale Quiche; using this whole wheat pie crust – DOUBLED

Organic Ingredients to Purchase

  • Kale
  • Eggs

Substitution Note: The original recipe calls for spinach. Replace the spinach with equal amount of kale and cook as directed. Or you could buy a bag of 1 lb. organic spinach too.

The Grocery List of Organic Ingredients from Costco

We recommend organic ingredients, and the prices below are for the organic ingredients sold at Costco.

1 – 1.5 lb. bag kale (2 meals) –  $5.29

1 – 6 lb. package spaghetti noodles (2 meals) –  $6.99 *prorated to $2.49

1 – 40 oz. bag of tortilla chips (4 meals) – $4.79

1 – 2 pack whole chickens (4 meals) – $22.09 for 2 chickens

1 – 12 pack, 15 oz. cans tomato sauce (6 meals) – $7.59 *prorated to $3.80

1 – 5 lb. bag frozen corn (4 meals) -$5.99 *prorated to $4

1 – 2 pack, 38 oz. jars salsa (2 meals) – $4.49 *prorated to $2.25

1 – 8 pack, 15 oz. cans black beans (4 meals)  – $6.79 *prorated to $3.40

1 – 8 pack, 32 oz. containers chicken stock (2 meals) – $9.99 *prorated to $2.99

1  – 3 pack ground beef (2 meals) – $17.99

1 – 5 lb. bag baby carrots (3-4 meals) – $5.49

1 – 2 loaves, Sandwich loaf bread (1 meal) – $5.99 *prorated to $3

1 – 2 dozen eggs (2 meals) – $7.25

2 – 1 lb. Spring Salad Mix or Mixed Greens (2 meals) – $6.78

Total (Pro-Rated) Cost – $91.61

Total Cost – $117.52

.

Leftover Ingredients

  • 4 lbs. pasta noodles
  • 6 cans tomato sauce
  • 1 jar salsa
  • 4 cans black beans
  • 6 quarts of chicken stock
  • 1 sandwich loaf
  • 1-2 meals worth of frozen corn

Ideas to use up these leftover ingredients

  • Corn-Black Bean Salsa – 1 can black beans + 2 cups corn + couple Tablespoons salsa
  • Noodles with tomatoes sauce – pasta with marinara as side dish for grilled chicken or steak

I hope that you enjoy this organic meal plan from Costco…both the recipes and the savings!

What are your favorite organic ingredients to purchase from Costco? 

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97 thoughts on “9 Organic Meals from Costco for under $100”

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  1. I appreciate the recipes and what you are doing here. However, I feel it is somewhat deceptive to say “I’ve pulled together 9 recipes” when, in fact, there are only 5 “recipes”.

    1. Julie, in the post she says there are 9 meals, not 9 recipes. All the recipes but one are doubled making 9 meals total. Hope that helps : )

      1. I was referring to the sentence under “here’s how this plan works”. No biggie really . Just a little disappointed because I too love costco and eating organic. I am happy to get the 5 and do enjoy the post. ;)

  2. Great ideas. I love Costco too, although we don’t have as much organic as in the States. We do have the organic chicken which I always buy.

    One thing you forgot in your taco meals was cheese. I can do without, but this would cause a mutiny in the family (along with sour cream).

  3. Thanks for this shopping list Erin. Costco is one of my favorite places to go shopping for groceries and especially gas!The one thing that drives me crazy about Costco is how they don’t all have the same ingredients. For example some Costco stores have grass fed beef! I wish my Costco carried that but at the same time it’s really good to buy directly from the farm and support them. I’ll have to write down this list and go shopping soon!

    PS. Great name ;)

  4. I’m not clear on how you are prorating some items? Is that on a per meal basis? If so, then could you squeeze in another $8 dollars and purchase say those hothouse bell peppers, or the 3 pack of hothouse cucumbers and then you would have a few more fresh veggies to spruce up an additional side or main meal?

  5. Have you tried Kirkland Signature Turkey Burgers. They only have 4 ingredients and I was wondering if they are “real food approved”? Thanks!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Sarah. We’ve not. I can’t find an ingredient list on the product so I can’t say for sure whether it would be “real food”. ~Amy

      1. The ingredients are White Turkey, Kosher Salt, Rosemary Extract, Black Pepper. Let me know what you think!

  6. What a fantastic post! I printed out the shopping list and took it to Costco yesterday. I followed the list to the letter, buying everything except for the stuff they didn’t have (couldn’t find the salsa or the black beans, so I’ll hit up a local grocery store for those). I made the Sloppy Joes last night (hit) and made the crock pot chicken so it’s ready for the chicken taco salads tonight. Now I’m making chicken stock and patting myself on the back for being so efficient ;) . I love that this is organic and SO reasonably priced, and that I have meals planned for almost two weeks. I don’t think I’ve ever purchased the ingredients for 9 conventional meals for this price, never mind organic. Thank you! I hope to see more plans and posts like this!

  7. Erin – this is amazing and wonderful! Great job, I can use all of these recipes making suitable substitutions for gluten free. Thank you for doing this, it will be very helpful to a lot of people.

  8. I didn’t see any fresh fruit for a growing family. Didn’t sound good to me at all. Where is the fish. One meal could be meatless, try something with less starch, buy brown rice instead of white. The bread should whole wheat and organic.

  9. Costco’s organic rainforest blend coffee (I forget the specific brand) is amaaaazzziiing. I have been looking for great coffee to drink black for a long time and all the brands I like break the bank. This has been my greatest Costco find!!

  10. I also buy quinoa, brown rice and dried pinto beans from my Costco. They are all organic. The rice and beans come in giant bags, but I bought Rubbermaid tubs (perfectly sized and also at Costco) to store them. We make our own refried beans in the crockpot-huge way to save, avoid cans, and they taste better than canned too. Thanks for sharing your list – this gave me some new ideas!

  11. This looks like our weekly shopping trip list to costco. Also if you are a butter lover, great prices on organic butter at Costco compared to the grocery store!

    1. I used to buy organic butter from COSTCO, but now I buy it from Trader Joe’s. The costco butter is pretty white, which indicates that the cows are not getting much sun or grass. The organic ground beef sold there is grain finished. Definitely better than the cows eating GMO corn, but just something to think about. When you buy organic you generally think about pastured cows, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Pastured might be more important than organic, in my opinion. Just something to think about that I wasn’t aware of when I first made the transition to organic foods.

      1. Cassie, this is a great point. It’s hard, but important for every family to balance budget and quality of organic foods which can indeed vary (despite the organic label). It’s an individual choice. I have a small local market that stocks Trickling Springs butter which is yellow due to healthy grass fed cows. Our costco is not good at all with stocking organic products.

  12. Way to go Erin!! My favorite meal plan of yours so far :). I am one of your beta testers and you rock! Keep up the great work! Wish I had thought of it :). Nothing is perfect and while everything may not meet some of the qualifications of the 100 days site, per the comments, this is awesome for us folks just trying to feed our family’s better.

    1. For what it’s worth, the organic tomatoes at Costco are in BPA-free cans. Not perfect, but honestly, I use them. They’re comparable to Muir Glen and much cheaper.

  13. Oh another FYI, even organic boxed stocks contain some form of MSG, not exactly the “homemade” most people are looking for. Check it for yeast extract or autolyzed yeast, which are both essentially MSG.

    1. It’s my favorite way to do stock too Dana!

      The boxes of organic chicken stock that I have (and bought at Costco) don’t have any extracts, are labeled as GF, but do contain ‘natural flavor.’ I think it has the fewest ingredients of a boxed stock that I’ve ever seen!

  14. The bread is really questionable. I wouldn’t trust their bread, organic or not. I’m sure it’s loaded with soybean oil, preservatives, and hidden refined grains. Not exactly good for you, even if it is organic. Thanks for sharing, although I don’t shop there it’s nice that they try to make organic stuff more available to their customers!

  15. And that will teach me to not click all the links!! I saw that recipe on Lisa’s page before, too!! I do my chicken in the crock pot often. Thanks, Erin!!

  16. Thanks for the recipes. I don’t have a membership to Costco, as my employer does BJ’s fundraisers, and I renew through them. I’m sure I can find similar ingredients at BJs. One question: have you thought of cooking the chicken in the crockpot, to prepare the chicken for the dishes as well as making a homemade stock? Doing this, you could save even more money!

    1. Yes Carrie! That is linked up in the recipe lists!

      Shredded Chicken, made from whole chicken – click on the link from ‘made from whole chicken’

      That’s definitely the best way to get the chicken and stock. I included the box stock for those who didn’t wish to do that!

      Way to save girl!

      Erin

    2. Bjs doesn’t seem to have the number of awesome things that Costco does, but…they DO have really good organic bread! It’s take and bake. And they have a wheaty, seedy variety, but I don’t know that it’s 100% whole wheat, but since we don’t eat it very often, I don’t worry about it too much. I also buy Kerrygold butter there–we only use it for spreading on bread since it’s so expensive and tasty!

  17. I love this! Thanks for sharing. I did a detailed price comparison of 50 real food items (Costco vs. conventional grocery store price), and I found that you can save well over $1000 a year at Costco. They are amazing.

    One question – Do you find whole wheat pasta or whole wheat bread at your Costco? My store only carries highly refined white pasta and bread with long, unpleasant ingredient lists. I will definitely put in a request for whole wheat products if I know what kind the other Costco stores are carrying.

    1. Annemarie,

      Honestly, I can’t remember off the top of my head. For this list, I was mainly looking at the organic vs. conventional. I can check at my store next time I’m in there!

      Erin

      1. Hi, Annmarie-

        Our Costco carries Rudi’s Organic honey sweet whole wheat bread, which doesn’t meet the 5 ingredient rule but is pretty good. It might be only Colorado, though, since Rudi’s is local. I know they have whole wheat pasta, and organic pasta, but I don’t think they have both.

    2. Annemarie,

      Our Costco has 3 varieties of whole wheat organic bread. The brand is Alpine Valley and the varieties are:
      -Multi-grain with Omega-3
      -Raisin Cinnamon Whole Wheat
      – something with Chia (don’t have that one here).

      These don’t meet the 5 ingredient test, but all of the ingredients are things I have in my kitchen except “wheat enzymes” (last item).

      As far as the pasta, ours carries an organic variety that uses white flour. If I remember correctly, there were only 3-5 ingredients…but white pasta nonetheless. The brand name is eluding me now, but it had the #1 in the middle of the word.

      Hope that helps.

    1. Hey Tabitha,

      Actually…their selection of organic produce and non-meat ingredients isn’t huge. I wanted to highlight the prices on the whole chickens, as well as the ground meat…hence all the meat in this plan!

      Erin

  18. I LOVE Costco and do the bulk of my shopping there and appreciate the fact that they are carrying more and more organic products. One thing to keep in mind, I recently looked at the package of the organic ground beef (prepackaged in a 3 pack) and at our local costco the meat was the product of beef from 3 different countries (I can’t remember which ones but none USA). That alone, for me, was a reason NOT to buy the organic ground beef from them but to buy it from Whole Foods. Whole Foods grinds all their meat in house AND the meat department offers $1 off/pound on selected items if you buy 3 or more pounds which sometimes can make the prices comparable to Costco…

  19. Hi Erin,
    These recipes are great! We have a tomato allergy in our family, any suggestions for substitutions? Thanks so much!

    1. Oh no!!! That’s really tough one…especially with this plan!

      You could always make your own white sauce and serve with the noodles and meatballs. Or make a meatball stroganoff-ish type dinner. For the soup, you could leave out the tomato sauce entirely and it would just be more of a chicken and veggie type soup. Sloppy Joes would be tough…you could use the meat to make a meatloaf without tomatoes or ketchup…instead of sloppy joes?!

      Hope that helps!

      Erin

    2. If you wanted to spend some extra time (and possibly a little extra money) on it, you can find recipes for marinara style sauces bases on cooked beets and carrots. Just google ‘tomato free marinara sauce recipe’ and you should find several variations.

      Also, as far as the Sloppy Joe goes, I think you could you just make a maid-rite style loose meat sandwich for an easy substitute. Season with Sloppy Joe type seasonings, or whatever you’re in the mood for. If you want a sauce with it you could try a honey mustard sauce or just use hamburger type toppings (mayo, mustard, pickles, etc).

  20. We love their 100% Maple Syrup. By far the best price i’ve found for the real syrup. Also like their organic milk and hummus.

    1. Curious how much the maple syrup runs there?

      We have a Sam’s Club membership. I’d love to switch to Costco, but the only one in the area din’ that close and also at an intersection that is always a traffic jam. :-(

  21. Great meal plans! I love their organic chicken and chicken parts!

    In addition to your great organic grocery list, Costco also sells Kerrygold butter (not organic but from grassfed cows), organic coffee, organic honey, a ton of frozen organic veggies, organic juices…and so on. I love Costco!

    1. Thanks for the notes about the other organic items…I’m planning on adding to it soon! Will be sure to get these included :)

      Erin

  22. Thanks for the info! I’m heading to Costco this weekend to stock up on organic stuff. I love that they keep getting more and more affordable organic items! I’m definitely gong to try making the tortilla soup recipe. Looks delicious :)

    1. Yes…it has been great watching them grow their affordable organic product selection over the past few years!

      Erin

    1. Glad you like it Julianne! My hope is that this makes it easier for everyone to eat healthy and organic meals while sticking to a tight budget!

      Erin

    1. Hey Dee,

      All of these ingredients can be found at Costco. They have a good selection, but it’s pretty limited to “one per kind”…meaning that there is only 1 kind of organic spaghetti pasta noodles sold there. Some of them are brand names that you might recognize, but more are not. Some are their organic label, such as the Kirkland Organic Salsa.

      Unfortunately, I don’t have a complete list off the top of my head!

      Erin

      1. Unfortunately, my Costco doesn’t carry the organic chicken. I don’t remember seeing the organic frozen corn, either, but I was not looking specifically for that. I found that different Costcos carry different items.

    2. Brands carried at Costco can really vary from one region to another so what Erin buys may not be the same as what you or I would buy.