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Hosting a party or small gathering? Costco Catering might be your best option for feeding a crowd without breaking your budget. From the current menu to step-by-step instructions on how to order catering from Costco, we dug into all the details on how it works. With this info in hand, you can walk up to that in-store kiosk (yep, they don’t take orders online) with confidence.
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1. Costco Catering is an in-store offering near the deli department.
You’re most likely familiar with Costco, whether you’re a Costco member yourself or you’ve been there with a friend or relative who needed help transporting a giant 24-pack of paper towels. But did you know the warehouse club also offers catering?
Costco Catering is one of many additional services available at the megastore, but the selections are limited. The good news is that what they do offer can feed a crowd at a get-together, casual party, office meeting, or other group gathering — especially if you’re on a tight budget.
2. You have to place your orders “old-school” style.
There is no option to order Costco’s party platters online. You’ll have to physically go into the store and look for a kiosk that says “Order Party Platters Here” or “Deli Order Selection.” It’s usually near the deli or bakery department. If you can’t find it, just ask one of the friendly associates.
Once there, you’ll fill out a simple form to specify which trays you want and how many of each you need, as well as your contact information. Drop off your form in the special slot, and you’re done.
TIP: If you’ve ever ordered a cake from Costco, ordering platters works the same way.
If you don’t want to trek over to a Costco to place your order, you can try calling your local store instead. Just choose the option for the deli department, explain what you need, and they’ll most likely accept your order.
3. Give Costco a day’s notice when ordering, and remember that they don’t deliver.
Whether you’re ordering in person or by phone, you should place your Costco Catering order at least 24 hours in advance. Just put the date and time that you’re picking it up and they will have it ready.
If you need catering items in a last-minute pinch, though, Costco does usually have some pre-made sandwiches, wraps, and other items available as grab-and-go.
TIP: On the day of your event, you’re responsible for the pickup. Costco doesn’t deliver their catering party platters.
4. You’ll need a Costco membership to order catered items.
While Costco does offer a few services to nonmembers (like eye exams in the Costco Optical department), their catering requires a membership card. You’ll need your membership card to get into the warehouse to place your order. And you’ll need to include your membership number on the catering order form.
Related: Is Costco membership worth it? Here’s how much food, gas, and wine you’d need to buy.
5. Costco Catering doesn’t let you customize orders.
Costco Catering’s motto may as well say, “You get what you get, and you don’t mind a bit.” In other words, you can’t substitute ham for turkey or ask for a vegetarian-only sushi platter. The party platters come as they are.
TIP: If you’re looking for more variety at similar price points, you may find a larger number of deli tray options at Walmart.
6. But Costco platters are made-to-order and super affordable — as low as $0.74 per person.
If you’re not picky, Costco’s four main party platter offerings have universal appeal — and reviewers say they are delish! I’ve been to quite a few kid parties and office gatherings myself where a Costco platter (or several) fed a hungry crowd. I’ve even ordered a platter of Chicken & Swiss Rollers to bring as a potluck item when I didn’t have time to cook.
As far as value goes, Costco catering platters are definitely a great deal and far less expensive than going to a specialty deli or restaurant. Sure, you might not get “gourmet” quality, but it’s made to order so you can count on same-day freshness.
If you were in the mood to cook and prep, you could theoretically buy Costco items to make your own platters and save a few bucks. But for a few dollars more, all the work is done for you!
Depending on your location, you may also have the option to order sushi or chicken wing platters (although my local Costco doesn’t have these).
7. The Chicken & Swiss Platter is a fan favorite for as low as $1.67 per person.
Our advice? If you’re serving sandwiches, go with the Chicken & Swiss Platter ($1.67 – $2 per person) over the Croissant Sandwich Platter ($2 – $2.50 per person). Not only do the roll-ups taste pretty delicious (the secret ingredient is a schmear of cranberry cream cheese!), you’ll get a lower price per serving. And the rolls are easier to hold than the items on the Meat & Cheese Platter.
Then again, if you can’t resist buttery croissants, cut the already halved croissant sandwiches into fours. That way you’ll have double the servings (and a $1 – $1.25 cost per person).
As for the remaining platters, they are all pretty wallet-friendly. For the shrimp, you get 3.5 pounds of shrimp, bringing the cost to $11.42 per pound, plus you get cocktail sauces. If you bought and cooked your own bags of frozen Costco shrimp, you could save a few dollars. But your time is likely worth more than that.
For the meat and cheese, Costco’s prices are more competitive than if you bought cold cuts at a supermarket or deli. Costco’s tray includes a pound each of chicken, ham, and roast beef, plus 28 slices each of different cheeses (provolone, cheddar, and Swiss cheese). The meat alone would ring up under $9 per pound for the price, plus you get the cheese.
8. Need add-ons? Supplement with Costco’s pre-made dishes.
When you’re picking up your freshly made catering order, you could opt to add on other pre-made food options and platters. Note that these selections might not be as freshly prepared as your catering order (check the “packed on” date), and you may have to heat them up at home. But it’s always nice to have extra yummy dishes for guests. Popular Costco heat-and-serve and ready-to-serve meals include:
- Caesar salad
- Chicken salad
- Mac and cheese
- Spinach salad
- Street taco kits
TIP: You won’t find a better value on large bakery cakes than a Costco sheet cake. To make a custom order, fill out the form at the warehouse and drop it off at the bakery kiosk at least 48 hours in advance.
9. Costco Catering isn’t ideal for elegant affairs — or breakfast.
- The Krazy Coupon Lady
Because Costco has very limited menu options — and no opportunity to modify or customize an order — you should look elsewhere for more upscale affairs that need more of a banquet-style, hot entree presentation.
Costco also doesn’t do any breakfast catering. However, they do have an extensive bakery section with croissants, muffins, and bagels, plus fresh fruit, so it’s certainly not hard to create your own continental breakfast spread.
The Bottom Line About Costco Catering
For party platters that don’t cost a fortune, Costco Catering is a solid option. While they consist of finger food fare — and they won’t deliver to you — you can feed a crowd with freshly made food for a fraction of the cost you’d pay at a restaurant or private caterer. I’d also recommend picking up some extras while you’re in the store (like Costco’s scrumptious chocolate chip cookies).
For game-day munchies, family birthdays, PTA meetings, or other laid-back events, Costco Catering is certainly worth a try.