And now’s the perfect time to stock up.

By Stacey Ballis
January 08, 2021
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Winter feels like the right time to stock up, and for Costco fans, that's right for lots of good reasons. Now that you've cleaned out your holiday shopping and cooking wave, it's time to stock up again for a winter of lots of home cooking. Here's how to pack up the pantry and freezer with 8 smart buys at great prices.

Red Star Yeast
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After the infamous yeast shortages of the early part of the pandemic, even occasional bread bakers came to understand the importance of having some on hand. I love Costco's two-pound bag of Red Star Dry Active Yeast. I keep a small amount in the pantry for use and the rest in the freezer; it's a huge relief to know I am never without. Costco stores have restocked this precious commodity, so grab one now while you can! Two pounds is a lot, so unless you are baking bread at massive scale, it should last you easily through the winter and beyond.

Buy it: Red Star Dry Active Yeast ($5.59),

Better than Boullion
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Winter is a time for soups and stews and braises, and we often don't have time to be making stock from scratch. Sure, you can keep canned or boxed stock on hand, but it is expensive and takes up a lot of room. This year try my favorite stock base, Better Than Bouillon, a secret weapon paste that can be added to hot water to make stock or stirred into your cooking straight as a flavor booster. Costco carries the large 16-ounce size (double what is available at most grocers) so you'll never be more than moments from having the stock you need for your recipes. I buy one in chicken flavor, one in beef, and one in vegetable so I know I'm ready for anything.

Buy it: Better Than Bouillon ($7.45),

Bake at Home Lasagna
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Bake-at-home pasta casseroles

When the weather gets cold, cozy casseroles become just the thing to feed your family, especially these days when comfort is something we could all use a bit more of. Grab a couple of Costco's bake-at-home pasta casseroles from the prepared section—lasagna, mac and cheese, or chicken Alfredo—and freeze at home for dinners that are as easy as thawing overnight in the fridge and baking. If you aren't feeding a family, repackage into smaller containers for easy heat and eat meals for one or two.

Buy it: Kirkland Lasagna with Pork and Beef Bolognese ($21.30),

Lobster Ravioli
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Splurge meals

I love shopping for special things I can stash in my freezer for future meals, and the Maine Lobster Ravioli two-pack is just such a deal. These elegant raviolis need nothing more than a toss in melted butter with some lemon zest and chives, then store in your freezer. You can get your fancy on any day of the week this winter! Because we all know we'll need the occasional fun night while making it to spring.

Buy it: Rana Maine Lobster Ravioli ($16.16),

Frozen Shrimp
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Speaking of seafood and sales, don't pass up the frozen tail-on shrimp in the freezer section. When it comes to last-minute meals, you can't go wrong with these: You can cook them straight from frozen, making for midweek after-work meals that feel like a treat instead of a chore. From quick sautés to pastas to sheet pan suppers, shrimp are a powerhouse ingredient that will keep you cooking all winter long.

Buy it: Kirkland Tail-On Shrimp 21-25 Count ($19.27),

Babybel Cheese
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Snacking cheese

Isn't it clear that snacking is now officially a major part of our home lives? But it can be hard to find something on the healthier side to feed that need, which is why I love these miniature rounds of French cheese. You get a quick hit of protein that's delicious with or without crackers. And while the taste is sophisticated enough for grown-ups, I defy you to find a kid who isn't thrilled with the act of unzipping the wax cover from these adorable and good-for-you treats.

Buy it: Mini Babybel Cheeses ($13.67),

Pains Au Chotolat
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Having a secret weapon or two in your freezer can really be a godsend during the best of times, but as we look ahead to the next few months, some special treats on hand will be more important than ever. And these flaky, buttery, chocolate croissants are just the ticket for a cozy weekend breakfast or an indulgent afternoon tea break, just when you will need it most.

Buy it: La Boulangerie Pains au Chocolate ($8.70 for 16),

Serrano Ham
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Serrano ham

Last, but not least, the specialty gift that we wait for all year is this annual offering of a whole leg of Spanish serrano ham. The super-premium cured ham is usually thought of as an ideal centerpiece for a holiday cocktail party buffet, but don't discount it as the magical ingredient for the post-holiday season! Serrano ham can often run as much as $40 per pound when sourced in premium delis and butchers, so to get a 15-pound leg for under $10 per pound is a steal. You can use serrano in any recipe calling for prosciutto or country ham or even bacon, and because it is cured, it will last, properly stored, for a year or more. Plus, it freezes beautifully. This year slice some thin for charcuterie boards or sandwiches, some thicker and some cubed or in lardons for ease of use in recipes and be sure to save the bone for making a rich ham stock, ideal for black bean or pea soup. Once the ham is broken down you'll have a year's worth of wonderful cooking and eating opportunities stashed away.

Buy it: Noel Alimentaria Serrano Ham Leg ($112.99),