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Supply shortages are messing with this Costco favorite

Is there anything better than gooey, creamy, delicious mac and cheese? Whether as a side or the main course, this dish is beloved for good reasons. The ultimate comfort food, you can dress it up with lobster or truffle oil, or you can eat it plain. And while it’s not a hard meal to make at all, we’re big fans of Costco mac and cheese — not only is it tasty, but it’s one of many Costco prepared meals that offer serious convenience on those nights you just don’t want to cook.

Unfortunately, there have been some changes to the availability of this Costco must-have — here’s what you need to know.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Aluminum shortages are affecting Costco mac and cheese

Redditor kevlar51 brought the change to the attention of Costco enthusiasts: the Costco mac and cheese is no longer served in an aluminum pan. Rather, it’s now housed in a plastic container, meaning that you can no longer heat it up in its existing container.

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Of course, Redditors were quick to point out the culprit — aluminum supply shortages.

“It’s a national supply chain issue. Our vendors cannot keep up with our needs,” user Cmc0927 said.

Redditor TheHighPhotographer added, “Packaging has been very hard to get. I’ve had brands I work with that have had to wait 8-12 months on custom bags and such. Restaurants/stores…are constantly going with whatever container is available…”

It’s not just a Costco issue, either. “It’s everywhere,” user kingoftheives said. “Companies are trimming/simplifying product offerings and phasing item SKUs in and out rapidly dependent on the packaging supply lines availability. I think it’s going to keep changing and getting worse; consumerism habits will have to change.”

“It’s the same at Sam’s Club,” Redditor jednaz reported, noting that their family usually splits these kinds of prepared meals in half, freezing the other half in glass containers. They did, however, lament the loss of the aluminum containers since they “would wash them and use them as to-go containers for leftovers at large family holiday meals and get-togethers.”

According to Bloomberg, manufacturers are paying a record price for aluminum; the cost to transport aluminum is now responsible for one-fifth of its total price. This aluminum shortage has had an effect on businesses all over, from cat food companies to local breweries. Labor shortages, the pandemic, the ensuing supply chain crisis, and China’s pollution crackdown have all contributed to the issue.

What does this mean? It might be a while before you see Costco mac and cheese in aluminum pans again.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

How to heat up Costco mac and cheese

While we love the convenience of putting an oven-ready pan right in the oven, this isn’t the worst issue ever.

Use Pyrex

One Redditor suggested heating the mac and cheese up in Pyrex instead of the plastic container it may come in — which has the added benefit of letting guests think it’s homemade. Redditor nellyllen added that all you need is to add in some “extra shredded cheese and a few seasonings” while ColourofYourEnergy suggested finely crushed up croutons on top of the shredded cheese.”

Try cast iron cookware

If Pyrex isn’t for you, try cast iron. Redditor rans2390 swears by this, claiming it tastes better anyway. “I just slide it in when I turn the oven on and heat to the temp on the packaging… Once it’s pre-heated, I add the mac and cheese to cook, usually about 50 minutes and it’ll be perfect,” they reported.

While we love the convenience of prepared meals you can pop straight in the oven, Costco mac and cheese still offers a combo of flavor and speed. Just grab your cast iron cookware or your trusty Pyrex, and you’ll be good to go. Of course, if you want to add just a few more steps, you can try this three-ingredient mac and cheese recipe. It’s delicious and so easy to make, your kids can do it.

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