Those of you who know me know that I am a bit of a Costco junkie. Shopping there allows our family to save money on expensive health foods by buying in bulk AND have a kitchen stocked with healthy foods for easy snack and meal prep. Not only do I love the deals and having healthy food in the house but it has also become family date night! Little Miss is in all her glory rearranging the items that she can manage to pick up, my husband and I discover things we didn’t know we needed, and, of course, we can’t ignore the SAMPLES! Everything in moderation, right?! I’m getting off track….
Being a registered dietitian nutritionist and Costco enthusiast, I often find myself sharing my must-have’s from Costco with clients (click here to work with me), friends, and family. For this week’s post, I thought, why not divulge my list to all?!
P.S. This is not a sponsored post. I don’t get any compensation from Costco or any of the specific brands recommended. What follows are simply the foods and brands that have passed my personal test for taste, price, and naked ingredients!
A Dietitian’s 20 Must-Haves From Costco
- Frozen: Sunrise Growers organic antioxidant frozen berry blend
- Great for smoothies and for topping steel-cut oats and yogurt.
- Why splurge on organic? Nonorganic berries are on the EWG dirty dozen list, meaning they are a type of produce with one of the highest pesticide loads.
- Frozen: Kirkland Frozen Pineapple
- Great for green smoothies or a pineapple freeze (just add water and ice!).
- Organic Apples
- Organic apples can be quite a bit more expensive than nonorganic apples, buying them at Costco can mean big savings.
- Why splurge on organic? Like berries, nonorganic apples are on the EWG dirty dozen list, meaning they were singled out as a type of produce with one of the highest pesticide loads.
- Earthbound Farm Organic Power Deep Green Blends or Organic Green Spinach
- If you are thinking “yeah right, there is no way my family is going to finish that bag of greens before it goes bad” trust in your family and remember this trick: once you notice a few slimy leaves or the lot is looking a bit wilted put it in a zip lock bag and freeze it for green smoothies!
- Why splurge on organic? Nonorganic leafy greens are on the EWG dirty dozen list too, meaning they were singled out as another type of produce with one of the highest pesticide loads.
- Sunbelt Organic Fresh Salsa
- Fresh salsa or pico de gallo can be pricey, but this one is a steal, is made with all naked ingredients, and tastes great!
- I will warn you, once opened this only lasts about three days so plan accordingly (a crock pot meal with the salsa and chicken is delish and easy!).
- Frozen: Kirkland Wild Pacific Sockeye Salmon
- Fillets are individually wrapped so you only cook what you want!
- Wild salmon is worth the extra money because of the increased (better) omega 3 (anti-inflammatory fats) to omega 6 (inflammatory fats) ratio.
- Frozen: Dr. Praeger’s Organic Harvest Veggie Burgers
- These make a quick and healthy lunch or dinner. I use them on top of salads, in a sandwich, wrap, or corn tortilla.
- Even husbands morally opposed to “fake” burgers will admit that these are tasty when used in a manner not pretending to be a “true” burger (well, my husband does at least).
- Kirkland Organic Ground Beef
- Why spend more on organic meat? Chris Kresser cites, “Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids were 47 percent higher in organic meat (4). Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and have been shown to be protective against cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline (5).” And check out this link for more evidence-based information on organic meats.
- Coleman Organic Whole Chicken
- I freeze the chickens and defrost one in the fridge a couple nights before I want to use it. My current fav roasted chicken recipe is Rosemary Apple Chicken from Elana’s Pantry.
- Why spend more on organic meat? Just as with ground beef, Chris Kresser cites, “Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids were 47 percent higher in organic meat (4). Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and have been shown to be protective against cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline (5).” And check out this link for more evidence-based information on organic meats.
- Nellie’s Free Range Eggs
- The gold standard for protein! These babies not only have all nine essential amino acids that our bodies need but the yolk is also pack full of nutrients, so don’t be shy about eating the WHOLE egg. Research is showing that high cholesterol is linked more with a eating processed foods full of sugar and empty calories than it is with animal products.
- Kirkland Raw Nuts
- I try to always have almonds and walnuts (the nuts highest in omega 3s) on hand as they come in handy for making weekly trail mix, topping salads, mixing with grains like quinoa, and cooking/baking. Nuts can be expensive and buying them in bulk from Costco really helps you save.
- Kirkland Creamy Almond Butter
- This brand has just one ingredient: roasted almonds. That’s it. If you are at home, take a few seconds to look at the ingredient list of your peanut butter or other nut butter; many of them have added sugars (which increase inflammation in the body and can lead to weight gain) and palm oil (high in the saturated fat that can lead to weight gain, heart problems, and chronic diseases). Less is definitely more when it comes to nut butter ingredients.
- Olio Nuovo Unfiltered Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Finding high quality extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) that won’t degrade under high heat and will thus maintain its nutritional integrity can be tricky. This one does it! Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to find out why this oil meets the mark.
- Kerrygold Butter
- Let’s be honest, sometimes butter is just what we need . . . to get the right flavor or texture for a recipe, at least. I like this butter because it is made with milk from grass-fed cows (which results in a higher (better) omega 3 to omega 6 ratio) and the flavor and texture are perfect.
- Kirkland Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
- A staple condiment to have on hand for making salad dressings and that you will see in loads of recipes!
- Gray Poupon Dijion Mustard
- Pardon me, but who doesn’t need two large containers of Gray Poupon?! I love using this mustard for salad dressings, sauces, and on sandwiches!
- Take a few minutes to check out the ingredient lists on your condiments in the fridge. If you don’t know what a certain ingredient is Google it so you can decide whether it is in line with your health goals. It is amazing how many condiments, such as salad dressings and BBQ sauces, are loaded with the added sugars, MSG, and artificial colors and preservatives that can cause or contribute to inflammation, weight gain, ADHD, and chronic diseases.
- Seeds of Change Organic Quinoa and Brown Rice with Garlic
- This is a bit of a splurge item (as I also buy the uncooked quinoa which is cheaper) but, believe me, during a busy week when I haven’t batch cooked quinoa in advance, 90 seconds in the microwave for a delish and healthy side is VERY attractive!
- Dave’s Killer Organic Bread: 21 Whole Grains and Seeds
- It can be hard to find breads that manage to avoid junk ingredients and preservatives, but this one does it and is delicious!
- Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Tortilla Chips
- If you’re going to eat tortilla chips, and you need something to go with that pico de gallo after all, these chips are a healthier option that taste great. I love that you can read the ingredients and know what everything is and that whole grains and seeds are baked into the chips to add healthy fats, protein, and fiber to a food product that can otherwise be nothing but empty calories.
- GT’S Organic Raw Kombucha Gingerade
- A great way to add probiotics to your diet in order to improve gut health and, in my humble opinion, a tasty beverage (my husband does not agree with me on this point, but I think takes a refined palate to appreciate this refined drink ;)).
I know that Costco has different food products based on where you live, so here’s hoping most of my suggestions are national. But I would also love to hear from you in the comments about what your favorite healthy food finds are and where you live. For example, my sister lives in Hawaii and her Costco there has unsweetened frozen acai packets, lucky!
To large quantities of healthy food, saving money, and family date nights at Costco! Chris