Costco membership card and meat

Top Value Cuts of Meat to Buy at Costco

When it comes to your weekly grocery haul, protein is one of the biggest pain points for your budget. As an essential part of any omnivore’s meal-prep routine, meats like beef, chicken, lamb, and pork have always been among the most costly items on store shelves — and even more so in these inflation-weary times. With grill season now heating up, those woes are going to get more stressful as shoppers look for ways to buy popular meats in bulk.

Luckily, Costco’s got us covered. The big-box chain is known for offering money-saving bulk purchases, and Costco’s meat department is home to some of the store’s best deals. One of the top Costco shopping hacks is to scoop up multi-pound portions of protein at wallet-friendly prices before freezing it for later use, like at a neighborhood block party or backyard barbecue. The key tip for freezing large quantities of meat is portion control. Simply divide your meats into individual portions, vacuum-seal them (don’t forget to label and date the package), and freeze until ready for use. Talk about a time and money saver.

Even with Costco’s budget-friendly pricing, some cuts of meat are of better value than others. We scoured the aisles of our local store to find the best deals, so all you have to do is pick out your favorites. Keep these best-value cuts of meat in mind during your next Costco run — your wallet will thank you.

Lamb chops

pack of Costco lamb chops

Lamb isn’t exactly known as a budget-friendly meat, but Costco’s version might just have you rethinking that notion. Similar in appearance to tiny T-bone steaks, Costco’s thick-cut Australian lamb chops typically come in packs of eight to 10, weighing between two and three pounds per package. Based on recent pricing of $5.99 per pound, this buy provides four to five dinner-sized portions of protein for less than $20. While the total package weight does include bone, the chops are thick and meaty, providing a hearty meal when paired with potatoes and grilled veggies or a salad.

If you’ve never cooked with lamb, these juicy chops are a great place to start. The chops are thick and fairly forgiving when cooked in a cast-iron skillet or on a grill. Simply brush each chop with a light coating of olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic, and sear for roughly two to three minutes per side for a total of eight to 10 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 125 degrees Fahrenheit for medium-rare chops. To ensure juiciness and tenderness, be sure to let the meat rest for five to 10 minutes before serving. Once you’ve got the basic cooking method down, you can experiment with rubs and marinades to your heart’s (or palate’s) delight.

Top sirloin

top sirloin steaks at Costco

When your stomach is craving steak but you’re on a burger budget, reach for top sirloin. An often overlooked cut of beef, top sirloin is among the best-value steaks on the market for its meaty flavor and tender texture, without the extra fat that comes with a well-marbled ribeye. The steak is super easy to source from most grocery-store butchers at a decent price, but this is especially the case at Costco. The Kirkland version of top sirloin retails at $8.99 per pound for a roughly three-and-a-half-pound package, which means you can provide steak to a crowd for less than $40.

Costco’s top sirloin earns its value from its USDA choice rating. This grade of beef cut ensures both quality and a lower price point than higher-grade prime beef. The main difference is in the amount of marbling — while prime cuts achieve their rating thanks to a higher fat content via thorough marbling, choice cuts are leaner, which suits top sirloin just fine.

Even though it lacks the rich marbling of more pricey beef options, top sirloin is a surprisingly versatile cut. Simply sprinkle it with salt and pepper before cooking it just about any way you like: on a grill, in a cast-iron skillet, or even in your air fryer.

Chicken thighs

packages of Costco chicken thighs

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Roasted, fried, or grilled, budget-friendly chicken thighs are a meal-prepper’s dream. Thanks to some extra fat and a protective layer of skin, chicken thighs are among the most forgiving cuts of meat to cook and reheat, making them the perfect solution to catering for a crowd (or meal-prepping for one) on a budget. Costco lends an extra wallet-friendly hand by selling bone-in, skin-on thighs at a steal: just $1.79 per pound.

The big-box store even goes a step further by selling the meaty thighs in a pre-portioned multipack. Six sealed packages of thighs weighing in at a grand total of 11-plus pounds make freezer storage super simple, saving you both time and money in the long run. For the mathematically challenged, you’re looking at roughly $20 for probably a month’s worth of meat.

Not sure what to do with all those thighs? The sky’s the limit. As one of the most underrated cuts of meat you should be eating, chicken thighs are juicy and flavorful on their own with just a pinch of salt and pepper, or they can pack a punch with a mouthwatering marinade. Throw them in the air fryer for a quick and easy weeknight meal, or head for the grill to infuse those thighs with the smoky flavor of summer. Either way, be sure the internal temperature reaches 185 degrees Fahrenheit before digging in.

Lamb leg

Kirkland Signature boneless lamb leg

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If you’re looking to impress your guests without breaking the bank, a lamb leg from Costco might just be the way to go. The centerpiece of many an Easter celebration, this cherished cut of lamb deserves pride of place in your weeknight dinner rotation, too, for its ease of preparation and mouthwatering meatiness. And thanks to that money-saving Kirkland label, you can enjoy a boneless lamb leg at just $4.99 per pound, roughly the same price as a Costco rotisserie chicken.

Thanks to the bone being removed, Costco’s lamb leg is an even better deal, offering up nearly five pounds of pure, Australian-grown protein. Like New Zealand lamb, most Australian-raised lamb is grass-fed, which results in an earthier, gamier flavor than American-raised lamb. While the taste isn’t for everyone, it’s certainly worth a try, especially at Costco prices. 

To tame the gamey taste of grass-fed lamb, try marinating the meat in an aromatic marinade infused with strong flavors like garlic and rosemary. Roasting is the method of choice for the lamb leg, which, while a tad time-consuming, means that you’ll be left with plenty of rich, juicy meat to use in your meal-prepping endeavors. Slice and portion for a grab-and-go salad topper or sandwich stuffer, shred the meat for a taco filling, or serve whole as an impressive weeknight dinner that even your in-laws will love.

Chicken wings

packages of Kirkland chicken wings

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While inflation remains evident at the meat counter, the protein that induces the biggest sticker shock might just be chicken, as its price rose considerably in the years following the pandemic. Luckily, chicken prices seem to be stabilizing somewhat — especially at Costco, where you can bulk-buy chicken wings for $2.49 per pound.

Like the Kirkland chicken thighs, Costco’s chicken wings are also sold in a set of six pre-packed portions that make storage a snap. Weighing in at between seven and nine pounds per bundle, this mammoth-sized serving of chicken wings will run you between $18 and $25 for a welcome throwback to pre-pandemic pricing.

A package of wings this large is just begging for some culinary experimentation. While frying is the preferred method of cooking, there are plenty of hacks for chicken wings you’ll wish you knew sooner, helping you bake or air-fry a batch of crispy poultry treats. Among the simplest ways to ensure extra-crisp baked wings is to simply pat them dry before coating them in a hefty dose of seasoning, as well as using a secret ingredient: baking soda. This kitchen staple raises the chicken skin’s pH level, resulting in brown, crispy skin and tender meat without the need for a deep-fat fryer. 

Oxtails

packages of oxtails at Costco

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In recent years, oxtails have appeared on menus at high-end restaurants and trendy eateries thanks to their rich flavor and versatility. While the tail end of a cow might not sound like the most appetizing cut of beef, oxtails are beloved for their high collagen content that imparts a rich depth of flavor and unctuous mouthfeel to slow-cooked soups and stews the world over — think Jamaican oxtail stew, Korean sokkoritang, and Italian coda alla vaccinara. 

In addition to the culinary benefits of oxtails, using them is an exercise in sustainability. By eating traditionally less-desired cuts of beef, you’re helping to eliminate food waste while encouraging a more ethical approach to meat consumption. It’s a mouthwatering win-win.

Experience the gourmet gift of oxtails for yourself with a quick Costco run. The big-box store sells a hefty pack of the protein for $7.99 per pound, divided into two vacuum-sealed bags for ease of storage. The entire package weighs between four and five pounds — more than enough for a hearty braise. The easiest way to introduce oxtails into your culinary repertoire is with a simple stew. Slow and low is the way how to cook oxtail soup — just don’t forget to brown them first to lock in all that juicy flavor. 

Boneless chuck roast

Costco boneless chuck roast

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Beef on a budget doesn’t get much more economical than boneless beef chuck roast. If you avoid the biggest mistakes everyone makes with pot roast, boneless chuck roast can be a foolproof crowd-pleaser with a little kitchen know-how. Due to its sourcing from the cow’s hard-working shoulder muscles, chuck roast can be a tough nut to crack. The secret lies in slow-cooking the hefty portion of protein, so that the tough connective tissue breaks down and renders the remaining meat tender and juicy.

The chuck roast is a naturally large cut, making it an ideal piece of beef to buy in bulk. At Costco, that translates into hefty four- to five-pound roasts sensibly priced at $5.99 per pound. That averages out to roughly $27 for a cut of chuck large enough to feed eight to 10 people. 

If you’re not planning on having a dinner party anytime soon, you should still consider Costco’s boneless chuck roast for your meal-prepping needs. You can’t beat a hearty cup of stew for weekday lunches during the cold winter months, especially when it’s pre-portioned for the grab-and-go lifestyle. When the weather warms up, you can braise the beef in the slow cooker with your favorite store-bought barbecue sauce for tender meat that can be used on sandwiches, salads, tacos, or even pizza.

Eye of round roast

eye of round roast packages

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Another often-overlooked cut of beef, eye of round roast is a surprisingly versatile piece of protein that doesn’t break the bank. Cut from the rear leg of the cow, eye of round is known for its tenderloin-like shape and low fat content, which unfortunately can also render the beef tough if not cooked properly. Like other lean cuts, eye of round does best when cooked low and slow — think roasting, braising, or sous vide. When given the respect it deserves, eye of round roast can even serve as a wallet-friendly substitute for the premium-priced beef tenderloin.

The key to finding the best way to use eye of round is to experiment, and luckily, Costco provides an affordable way to source some prime specimens. Retailing at $4.89 per pound, Costco’s eye of round is sold in packs of two roasts, each weighing in between two and three pounds. Selling roasts in packs of two means that you can experiment with various cooking methods and marinades without blowing your weekly budget on beef — and if whipping up multiple roasts just isn’t in the cards for you this week, you can always freeze one in a vacuum-sealed bag for a rainy day. 

Boneless pork loin

packages of boneless pork loin

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Costco is big on the pig. So big, in fact, that the chain sells a whole boneless pork loin large enough to stock a barbecue food truck through the lunch rush. Long and lean, Costco’s boneless pork loins range in size from around six pounds to more than 10, but at just $2.29 per pound, you can afford to go big on the pig, too.

Unless you’re planning to feed the entire neighborhood at your next backyard barbecue, you probably don’t need to cook up that whole pork loin in one fell swoop. Instead, try portioning the super-sized chop into a few smaller roasts for more manageable storage. Once you’ve vacuum-sealed and stored the extra portions, you can get cooking. 

Super-lean pork loin needs some TLC in order to coax out flavor and avoid becoming tough. Marinating the meat is a prime option to impart both flavor and moisture, especially if you plan to grill. However, the best method for making pork loin roast is a two-pronged approach with a crucial first step: Sear the meat to get a golden-brown crust, then roast it or pop it in the slow-cooker until just a bit of pink remains in the center for a tender, juicy main course that your family (and your wallet) will love. 

Pork belly

plastic-wrapped pork belly

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Pork belly has enjoyed a revival in recent years, and Costco has noticed. A staple of Chinese cuisine, pork belly has made its way into the American culinary zeitgeist and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. It’s not hard to see why the aptly named cut has become so popular. Cut from the underside of the pig, pork belly is known for its rich layers of meat and fat that transform into a symphony of textures and flavors when cooked correctly.

The big mistake you might be making with pork belly is to try cooking it over high heat to achieve that signature crispy skin. Like so many other good-value cuts of meat, preparation requires time and patience. Pork belly needs to cook for a long time over low heat in order for the fat to render and the meat to become melt-in-your-mouth tender. Slow-roasting, braising, or simmering allows the layers of fat to melt, basting the meat in its own juices and creating an irresistible texture and depth of flavor.

If you want to try this technique for yourself, all you have to do is head to Costco. The retailer sells hefty eight- to 10-pound cuts of pork belly for just $3.99 per pound, putting international culinary exploration within arm’s reach. Put your Costco membership to good use by experimenting with dishes like crispy pork belly, pork belly bao buns, or an unctuous pork belly ramen.

Boneless pork shoulder butt

package of pork shoulder butt

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Few things feel more like summer than a pulled pork barbecue sandwich. Boneless pork shoulder butt is a prime cut for making tender pulled pork thanks to thorough marbling that imparts a rich, juicy flavor into the meat when cooked low and slow. Costco’s 10-pound-plus boneless pork shoulders that retail for $2.49 per pound all but guarantee that you can smoke up as many butts as you like without breaking the bank — and if you’re looking to save money on your weekly grocery runs, you should.

While roasting or smoking aren’t exactly time-saving cooking methods, cooking large portions of value cuts like boneless pork shoulder can make your weeknights a lot less hectic in the long run. Cook up several pounds of pork, shred it, and use it over the upcoming days to throw into scrambled eggs for a quick and protein-packed breakfast, or onto a salad or bun for a grab-and-go lunch. This also makes dinner a breeze with shredded pork tacos or quesadillas prepared with the pre-cooked meat. If you’re looking to experiment beyond the realm of barbecue or shredded pork, boneless pork shoulder butt can be a prime protein for braised dishes like pork ragu (best enjoyed on top of pasta or in a meaty lasagna) or savory pork carnitas.

Prices in this article are based on the author’s experience as of the publication date, and may vary depending on location and price fluctuations.

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