NOTE: Even if you don't have a Costco near you, read on. Many of the things I mention in this article are available in other grocery stores. And there's a few recipe suggestions as well.
The only good thing about the winter and hiding inside is that I've had some time to do some cooking. I do love to cook when I have time. And lately, I've really been getting some new (and old) inspiration.
We love shopping at Costco so that we can buy in bulk and freeze and store, but any club store or grocery store with quality meats and other products will do. I also have found local butcher shops who sell freezer packages.
For the things we don't buy in bulk, we visit our local farmers market or grocery store.
Then, we decide on meals based on what we have. It's greatly taken the stress out of meal planning and we like discovering new products to try.
So to help you with meal planning, I've put together a list of a few of my favorite discoveries at Costco and some creative ways to use and store them.
The Famous Costco Rotisserie Chicken
Yes, it's really that good. But any rotisserie chicken will work for this.
We love it for lunches. We take one to the office, keep it in the frig and then snack on it. We love to add it to Yakisoba Noodles with Vegetables (pictured below and available in the freezer section). This makes for a yummy hot lunch. We also just shred the meat and use to make sandwiches.
Recently, I took the left-over bones with just a bit of meat on them and put it in a pot to make chicken noodle soup. (It's been a long time since I've done this and I forgot how easy it is.)
Chicken Noodle Soup
Take the leftover rotisserie chicken bones and meat, put ihem in a pot, cover with water, add sliced carrots, celery, onions and your favorite herbs like thyme. Bring to a boil and then simmer covered for an hour or so until you have a rich broth. Remove the bones and let cool on a plate. Strain the broth and discard the vegetables. Remove any meat from the bones and put the meat back into the broth. Add fresh sliced carrots and chopped celery and onion. Add more chicken meat if needed (See below for a good source) and then bring to a boil. Add your favorite egg noodles and cook until the noodles are tender.
I also discovered that Costco takes rotisserie chicken meat, shreds it and and packages it. I've added this to my chicken noodle soup above. I've also made chicken salad with it. Put some of the shredded meat in a bowl, add mayonnaise, mustard, relish, celery, chopped banana peppers, salt, pepper, and celery seed to taste. Use for sandwiches or open-faced melts.
The shredded meat also works great for fajitas. Saute onions and peppers in olive oil til tender, Then add the shredded chicken and fajita seasoning to taste. Serve with tortillas, sour cream, shredded cheese and salsa.
We stock up and freeze in gallon freezer bags. The things we like the best are the Einstein Sesame Bagels, the corn muffins and the ciabatta rolls. My partner loves to warm up a corn muffin for breakfast. We use the bagels for bagels with cream cheese and lox. And the ciabatta rolls are great for open-faced melts, sandwiches or as dinner rolls.
So far we've tried the chicken breasts, chicken thighs, hamburger, and top sirloin. We bought a vacuum sealer and separate the bulk packs into meal sized portions. Then we check out what we have and meal plan from there. I've been finding great recipes on Facebook and Pinterest and saving them to Evernote (check out how to do this here)
We love to purchase a large salmon fillet to make a delicious Orange Salmon Recipe (recipe here). It's tasty and is a beautiful presentation for a small dinner party. Then we take the leftovers and add to the Yakisoba Noodles for a yummy lunch.
Cauliflower Crust Pizza - We keeps a package in the freezer at all times! Great for a quick meal when we don't know what we want to eat and it keeps us from ordering take-out.
Breakfast Sandwiches - Jimmy Dean Egg White, Turkey Sausage and Cheese breakfast sandwiches make a great breakfast on the go.
Kodiak Cakes Frozen Waffles - Since we love the Kodiak Cakes Protein Flapjack and Waffle Mix we decided to try their frozen Power Waffles. Just pop in the toaster to heat. I like to add peanut butter and sliced bananas for delicious breakfast that stays with me all morning.
We've found lots of healthy snacks to keep at home and the office. One of our favorites is the barkThins Snacking Chocolate shown below. Great if you just want 'a little something sweet.'
I hope these suggestions give you some new meal planning ideas and inspirations. And if you've got a favorite one, please share it below. Everyone can always use new ideas!