Back in those dark days before we became Costco members, I associated this warehouse store with over-processed frozen convenience foods and gallon jugs of mayo. I heard stories from co-workers who bought large containers of ranch dressing, and despite their best efforts to dunk everything they consumed into it, most of the dressing ended up in the trash as the expiration date came too quickly. I saw egg rolls and pizzas and other high-calorie, low-nutrient frozen ready-to-go meals in the freezers of people I knew. As a family of two who prefers clean eating, Costco never seemed right for us. Then one Christmas we received a Costco membership as a gift and my perspective changed; big time.
There are many healthy, nutritious foods at Costco that are in reasonably sized containers that a small family (remember, there are just two of us!) can eat without waste. I created this shopping list for those who’ve never been to Costco and are curious if a membership would be worth it to them, or for current members who are looking to add a few new healthy items to their cart this week.
Without further ado, here are my personal top 15 healthy food picks from Costco.
Our Costco membership pays for itself in the savings on almond butter alone. Not kidding. These jars of MaraNatha are larger than the ones at most grocers (26 oz. vs. 16 oz.), and cost less. We probably go through one jar a month in our house.
While all of their fresh fruit options are good, I find that we purchase blueberries most often. A carton will usually last us 5 days. They also sell frozen blueberries in a giant bag for a really, really good price that we keep in the freezer for when the fresh berries run out.
Convenient 4-packs make it easy to pop a few in the freezer if you don’t plan to cook it all at once. I love my turkey meatloaf muffins, and we use turkey in casseroles or pasta sauce over spaghetti squash.
From hard-boiled to egg-in-a-cup concoctions, I love having a few dozen eggs in the fridge. Ever since we had to give up our backyard hens, I’ve missed having fresh eggs. While not as good as the straight-from-the-coop that we’d like, these eggs are a good replacement.
Yes, Costco sells the Fage Total 0% yogurt that is a staple in most healthy kitchens, but lately I’ve been digging the flavor of this Jalapeno Greek Yogurt Dip. I hesitated to add it to my list as the protein is very low for greek yogurt (1 gram) then their website lists 3g, which makes me wonder. It also has canola oil, but overall is pretty decent. If that is not for you, buy the Fage and mix in your own spices and diced peppers, but for convenience sake this makes it into my cart. Carrots and sugar snap peas are delightful dipped in this stuff. It’s like crack; you’ve been warned.
Sometimes a girl just has to have something sweet! Lately I’ve been into making homemade Larabars and these dates are the sweet foundation to my tasty bars. A friend recently told me about how she enjoys a date topped with almond butter, and how she also made brownies that were fruit-sweetened with dates. The ideas to use these are endless.
We end up freezing most of these for smoothies, but we also eat them for snacks or on top of oatmeal.
Yes! Awesome price on this, and is divine in baked goods or regular cooking. I recently browned some chuck roast in coconut oil for a Sunday slow cooker recipe. You can also use it on your skin and hair. Check out 47 Uses For Coconut Oil for more ideas.
A huge 1 lb. container of Earthbound Farm organic spinach from Costco is often the same price as the small bag that you’d find in your typical grocer. I love how the container has a resealable lid, making it easy to grab handfuls of spinach for green monsters. This container also seems to keep the greens fresher for longer, when compared to a traditional plastic bag.
The veggie options are Costco are really good! It is hard to pick a favorite, but lately we’ve been enjoying their brussels sprouts as a second favorite to spinach. I love to quarter these are roast them as a side dish for just about any meal.
A whole bag of perfect avocados? I’ve never had problems with these. Unlike supermarket avocados that are sold loose (and subjected to much handling and squeezing) these are virtually untouched by other shoppers. They make take a few days to ripen on the kitchen counter, but are well worth it for perfect, unblemished, non-stringy avocados.
Costco always has fresh salmon for sale, but I am a bit weirded out with fresh salmon (you know, the whole possibility of worms thing). I prefer it frozen, that way I also don’t feel obligated to eat 2 lbs. of salmon in one sitting. While Costco sells several varieties of frozen salmon (salmon burgers, marinated salmon, and another plain variety) the wild caught sockeye is the one I grab. Each filet is individually wrapped and portioned, making it easy to grab what you need to thaw for dinner.
The price on this amazes me for 6 cartons (that’s 24 cups!). Veggie broth is the perfect base for nearly any soup, or to de-glaze a pan, or to add to cooked veggies. A great pantry staple!
Costco is now carrying 6-packs of the unsweetened vanilla almond milk that is a staple in nearly every healthy living blogger’s (HLB) kitchen. We use this in smoothies, baked goods, and overnight oats. I love how they are the regular-sized cartons, and are shelf stable so our fridge doesn’t get overloaded at once. The jury is out on just how healthy (or unhealthy) almond milk really is, but it tastes good, is gentle on my stomach and I will continue to use it since I stay away from soy milk.
Although not a food, this is a good buy in my book. Living up north, and spending most of my days inside of a cubicle, I don’t get a lot of sun. Taking these makes me feel so good, and we hardly ever get sick in our house. This is Vitamin D3 from cholecalciferol, which is the one you want (unless you are vegan).
I didn’t bother to list prices with each item, as I have found that prices often change with the season and could vary by region. I can vouch that we pay significantly less for all these items than we would at the typical grocery store. These are all items that we use frequently so they rarely go to waste (okay, sometimes I can’t keep up with all that spinach!).
Costco does have its share of unhealthy eats, and unfortunately I see lots of people pushing carts filled with junk food (like those pizzas with the obnoxious amount of pepperoni on them, or boxes of frozen microwave cheeseburgers). Just like any grocery store, it is your choice what you decide to put in your cart, and ultimately in your body. Despite this, there are plenty of food and nutritional items for those who are into clean eating and healthy eating. A lot of these items also work with a gluten-free or Paleo lifestyle.
My one complaint is that I wish Costco’s “food court” had healthier options. The only thing they offer is a Chicken Caesar Salad (which you could leave the dressing off). Everything else is either churros, pizza, fried chicken rolls, or ice cream. It would be nice to have some healthier options, especially since the food court is popular with families with children.
Well there you have it, my go-to clean eating shopping list for Costco. While these are my current top 15, there are plenty of other things that could have rounded my list up to a top 20, or even top 30. :-) Ground bison, raw nuts, kale salad, and other healthy foods that we enjoy from Costco; what are yours?I am not a registered dietician or nutritionist. The opinions expressed in this post are solely my opinion. You should always do your own research when it comes to exercise and nutrition or consult a doctor. :-)