15 Dietitian-Approved Foods at Costco
There’s no getting around the fact that shopping at Costco can be overwhelming. The place is massive (and I hear custom-designed for getting you lost so you buy more). When I started going to Costco on a regular basis, I would routinely text a few friends — known devotees — to find out their top picks. They never steered me wrong. Now that I’ve got my footing, I’ve come to find plenty of my own favorites, too. Below you’ll find 15 Dietitian-Approved Foods at Costco.
Side note: I’ve also developed a game plan to make my visits a little more streamlined. I wrote about that in this post called 7 Costco Shopping Strategies.
15 Foods I Buy at Costco
Frozen fruit is a staple in our house and Costco’s supply is hard to beat for quality and price. I always pick up two bags (about all I can fit in the freezer) and switch up the fruit I buy with every visit. Mango and sweet cherries on one trip, pineapple and blueberries on another. I use the fruit mostly for smoothies and baking (frozen berries can go straight into muffin and quick bread batter, no defrosting required). I also use frozen fruit in savory dishes like this Sheet Pan Chicken with Wild Blueberries.
Quality seafood doesn’t come cheap, but Costco has good offerings in that department. Wild Planet is a favorite for canned fish and I’ve never been disappointed with the smoked salmon selection. I haven’t bought fresh salmon there, but have routinely spied the wild Alaskan sockeye that friends swear by. If you like octopus, Costco’s is imported from Spain, sold in a vacuum sealed packs, and excellent done on a hot grill.
There has been a lot of reporting around false labeling practices in the world of olive oil. It’s hard to know who to trust. That said, Costco’s Kirkland brand has a reputation for “what you see if what you get”: organic, extra-virgin oil. It’s just good, everyday olive oil at a fair price (Even Samin Nosrat of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat fame gives it a thumbs up). I use a lot of olive oil, so don’t have a problem using it up in a reasonable time period, but be sure to store it in a cool, dark place to keep it from going bad.
Canned Foods and Dry Goods
I don’t buy a ton of canned foods at Costco, but these are two brands I really like. I’m thrilled that S&W is now doing organic beans because they’re one of the better tasting brands as far as I’m concerned. And San Marzano tomatoes are my go-to variety for soups and sauces. Costco also stocks terrific beans, and grains, and noodles, such as Seeds of Change Quinoa and Lotus Foods whole-grain ramen.
Organic/Grass Fed Meat
I know the meat section of Costco is a popular part of the store, but I haven’t done a whole lot of exploring there. That said, I regularly buy their grass fed ground meat as well as these tasty links for my sausage-loving hubby. I particularly like the ground bison, which seems leaner than their ground beef and is excellent in these blended burgers.
I’m a pretty devoted farmers’ market shopper, which is why I don’t make much of a dent in the Costco produce section. The amounts they sell are more than I can get through (and I don’t like that many of the items are so heavily packaged). That said, they have good berries and I always buy their bananas and avocados (two foods we can’t seem to keep in stock at our house).
I almost always pick up one of these salad kits during a Costco visit. It’s an easy springboard for a healthy lunch. I typically use about half the dressing in the kit (it’s a little sweet) and then finish with vinegar from my pantry along with a source of protein (chicken, tofu, nuts, chickpeas, etc). Check out this recipe I wrote for how to turn the Asian-style salad kit into a quick meal.
Nuts and Nut Butters
I’m quite sure if nothing else, I would go to Costco just for their roasted, salted Virginia peanuts. I pour some into a pint jar to keep within reach for quick snacks or for adding to recipes. The Kirkland nut butters are excellent and processed without added sugar or oils. I always pick up a bag of nuts, which rotate each time (walnuts, almonds, cashews). I stash them in the freezer to maximize shelf life (like olive oil, they will go bad over time).
Rao’s Marinara Sauce
I love Rao’s sauce so much that I’m giving it its own category. The ingredients are just the same as if I were to make sauce at home (with no added sugar). The jars are big, so whatever I don’t use once I open a jar, I’ll freeze for next time. These are nice to have on hand when I want a shortcut for Spaghetti Squash Lasagna or Tofu Parm. My kids also use the sauce regularly when they want a quick spaghetti dinner.
Hemp hearts and chia seeds can be pricey, so Costco is a good place to get them. The bags are pretty big, so the freezer is your friend for keeping them fresh. I add them to baked goods, such and these cookies and these bars. They’re also a good addition to smoothies for a boost of protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
Fresh Turmeric and Ginger
I was surprised to find fresh turmeric at Costco, the same brand I buy from a small local market I frequent. Ditto for fresh ginger. I like to whirl it into Turmeric Tonic, blend it into hot matcha, or use it in savory dishes.
The cheese selection at Costco is pretty impressive and the prices can’t be beat. And while we all know that cheese is a source of saturated fat, if you go for quality, a little goes a long way. These are a few favorites: Kerrygold Dubliner for sandwiches and snacks, a giant hunk of aged Parmigiano Reggiano (which lasts a very long time), my favorite feta cheese, and very good quality burrata. They also sell Boursin in three-packs, which is a household favorite.
My hubby is a big snacker and loves all things that crunch. I usually manage to land on one new “find” during my Costco runs, including these seaweed crisps and seasoned shiitake mushrooms. My own favorite, however, is the Bare Snacks Organic Baked Apple Chips. The feature a ingredient: apples.
The selection of beverages at Costco, from cocktail fixings to kombucha is impressive. Here are standard picks for us: Spindrift sparkling water and Blue Bottle Cold Brew Coffee (which we pour over milk and ice for an easy iced coffee).
Pure Maple Syrup
I tend to prefer to buy most foods unsweetened — from yogurt to drinks to oatmeal — and do the sweetening on my own. That way, I know how much is going in there. Maple syrup is one of my preferred ways to give foods a hit of sweet. The good stuff is expensive, so pure maple syrup is always on my list at Costco. It’s far more affordable and you can pick up just a single jug that won’t take over your whole fridge.
This is my most current list of 15 dietitian-approved foods to buy at Costco. You’ll also find a previous post on the subject by heading here (warning: you’ll see some repeats).