A Healthy Food Guide to Costco

healthy food at costco

Anyone who says eating healthy and eating economically can’t go hand in hand hasn’t been to Costco lately. Although I haven’t historically been a big warehouse shopper, a recent spin through the Costco aisles left me pleasantly surprised with the abundance of wholesome offerings. While plenty of naysayers will argue about the politics of their produce or the downside of eschewing the small retailer, the fact is that Costco makes a lot of good food accessible and affordable to a lot of folks.

Indeed, the big box retailer is shaping up to be the number one seller of organic food in the country. Plus, they have a reputation for paying and treating their employees far better than the competition. As for the challenge of bulk buying, when you’re short on pantry space (hello me), find a likeminded friend and split your spoils in half.

Overwhelmed at Costco? Here are 15 registered dietitian-approved (and delicious) options! Click To Tweet

With all that in mind, here are 15 ideas for filling your shopping cart at Costco. I’d love to hear your “best picks” as well, so please share in the comments section below.

HEALTHY FOOD GUIDE TO SHOPPING AT COSTCO

1. Nuts and Dried Fruits

A wide selection of everything from pistachios to medjool dates at affordable prices and much of it organic.

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco

2. Pumpkin, sunflower, chia, and flax seeds

Seeds of every stripe, all at a significant discount over mainstream markets.

TIP: Store them in the freezer (nuts too) to extend the shelf life, particularly since the volumes are large.

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco

3. Healthier Snack Foods

Quite a few tasty items that pass my sniff test for better snacking.

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco

4. Fresh Produce

A wide variety of fruits and vegetables, much of it organic. Large avocados go for about $5 a bag, which is hard to beat. While not organic,  avocados are at the top of the Clean 15 list, which means minimal pesticide residues.

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco

5. Frozen Fruit

A freezer section with much in the way of fruit, particularly organic fruit, a household staple for making smoothies and other frozen treats. The prices are significantly lower than Whole Foods and other markets.

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco

Check out the frozen fruit section at Costco -- there are some great options! Plus, more tips. Click To Tweet

6. Quality Bread

Dave’s Killer Bread, a top choice for whole grain sliced bread, along with a section devoted to local loaves, in my case, Acme bread.

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco

7. Whole Grains

The selection wasn’t huge, but Bob’s Red Mill and True Roots are two quality brands.

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco

8. Nut Butters

No shortage of options for nut butters, including Brad’s Organic Almond Butter, which has a bit of a cult following as I understand it.

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco

9. Specialty Beverages

Both Forager nut milks and Harmless Harvest coconut water are household favorites that I rarely buy because of the hefty price tag. Costco sells them at a deep discount.

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco

10. Canned Fish

Canned wild sardines and wild salmon are two of the most convenient and affordable sources of healthful Omega-3 rich fish available. Wild Planet is a quality product.

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco

11. Olive Oil

Many brands of olive oil have come under fire for false advertising, labeling their products “extra-virgin” when indeed they are not. The Costco organic olive oil, however, was found to be the genuine article according to testing done at UC Davis.

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco

12. Dairy Aisle Favorites

Name brand yogurts, including Fage, Noosa, and Chobani were among the offerings, as well as Bellweather Farm’s DELICIOUS creme fraiche.

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco
13. Good Cheese

Over the holidays, I noticed Epoisses on the shelves at Costco, a delicious, stinky, and expensive French cheese. During this recent visit, I discovered a number of everyday favorites in stock including Point Reyes Blue, Kerrygold, Cabot, and Tillamook.

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco

14. Meat and Fish

Organic beef and chicken and wild salmon, were among the offerings in the butcher section of the store.

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco

15. Pure Maple Syrup

Organic maple syrup with a more reasonable price tag than the norm and also one of the better ways to sweeten things up on the home front.

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco

What?!!!With a shopping cart of healthy, whole foods, perhaps there’s some wiggle room for something along these lines, no?

Healthy Food Shopping at Costco

If you like this post, you might appreciate this one about my Best Picks at Trader Joe’s. Or check out my tips on top healthy convenience foods.

 

Comments

07.08.2015 at 3:01 PM #

Corrin

I love Costco for exactly this reason! I can buy twice as much of all my organic favorites.

07.08.2015 at 3:01 PM #

katiemorford

Exactly!

07.08.2015 at 3:29 PM #

Audrey

I asked for a Costco membership for my birthday present from my husband this year (how exciting!) and was also presently surprised with the selection of produce and healthy snacks. I see myself shopping here once a month for lunch snacks. I also saw individually packaged grain (quinoa and corn) and bean (black and something else) microwavable meals. I will definitely look into this when school starts back next month!

07.08.2015 at 3:29 PM #

katiemorford

I think your hubby got off pretty easy for your birthday this year 🙂 Thanks for the tips.

07.09.2015 at 4:11 AM #

Carolyn

Does anyone know how Costco compares to BJ’s. Is Costco better for healthier eating? I’ve been through BJ’s and don’t remember seeing anything remotely like what’s in this post.

07.09.2015 at 4:11 AM #

Kara

My parents belong to BJs back east as they don’t have a local Costco. Their BJs has different stuff from our Costco in SF but it does have a good selection of organics and some great healthy items. I think, as with Costco, you just need to scour your local store a few times to figure out what’s there and then you’ll have your go-to items.

07.09.2015 at 5:17 AM #

Vanessa Man

Apparently they do not carry the same products at every store. There’s at least 5 product in there that are not available at the Houston market. I love Costco but they have been very limited in their variety lately. They have also been employing inexperienced people and not training them well. Lately we’ve had more bad experiences than pleasant with Costco and since my car was destroyed right at the entrance of the store I am avoiding going there lately.

07.09.2015 at 5:17 AM #

katiemorford

I can see why you might be turned off from Costco. Sorry to hear about your car 🙁 It does appear that different stores feature different products.

07.09.2015 at 6:53 AM #

Heidi Roth

Love Costco as well, although they don’t carry a lot of the products you mentioned at the Boston stores. One of my new favorite snacks that do carry is the Nature Made Organic Coconut Chips. Dangerously addictive!

07.09.2015 at 6:53 AM #

katiemorford

Love coconut chips! I didn’t see those, but it seems what they stock varies by location.

07.09.2015 at 7:00 AM #

Heidi Roth

Oops, meant Made in Nature, not Nature Made!

07.09.2015 at 7:46 AM #

Rebecca

Yes I LOVE Costco! I love almost all their fresh produce (except the spinach & spring mix-they go bad so so fast!), the FAGE yogurt, frozen berries, canned tomatoes, beans, & cereals in particular.

07.09.2015 at 7:46 AM #

Kara

Rebecca, if you make green smoothies, you can always freeze any fresh spinach you won’t get to before it goes bad! Just toss frozen into the blender with your other ingredients. It helps make the big format purchase worth it.

07.09.2015 at 8:27 AM #

Meal Makeover Mom Janice

I buy many of these items at Costco but a few were new to me. Let’s hope my local Costco carries them! I was pleased to see the organic ground beef on my last trip. Some day, I’d like to spend several hours scouring the aisles for healthy food items! Thanks for doing some of the legwork for me!

07.09.2015 at 8:27 AM #

katiemorford

You are very welcome. I’m sure you’d find some gems that I missed 🙂

07.09.2015 at 11:34 AM #

Heather @ Heather Pavlik RDN

What a great list! You just about hit all of my Costco favs. My absolute favorite at Costco is the Aidells Chicken Apple Sausage. They are to die for!! Ps. I just got a job in SF and move out on Saturday. I love connecting with other local RDs 🙂

07.09.2015 at 11:34 AM #

katiemorford

Those are a favorite in our house too. Welcome to San Francisco. Feel free to reach out when you’re settled!

07.09.2015 at 3:35 PM #

Kara

Great post and I couldn’t agree more. We have a good selection of organic and name brand items here in SF. I love the peanut butter, which we go through quickly, and the organic produce selection is pretty good as well. I used to make my own yogurt but with 2 kids and a full time job, it’s fallen by the wayside (though your recent post may re-inspire some weekend yogurt making). In the meantime, there’s an organic brand that comes in a large tub, which we love (rich and creamy). Plus, there are organic apple chips that are just baked apples (imagine!) that the kids love to take to school. It takes a few visits to find the good stuff but once you do, you can get in and out pretty quickly while stocking up on great essentials at a good price.

07.09.2015 at 3:35 PM #

katiemorford

Great suggestions…and I agree, the giant store can be overwhelming but once you know what your “go tos” are you can manage it pretty quickly.

07.09.2015 at 9:16 PM #

Monica

In San Francisco, but not Brooklyn, they have Hodo Soy Extra Firm Tofu. It’s three blocks of tofu, but they are individually vacuum packed, so I was was very excited to buy it and eat it!

07.09.2015 at 9:16 PM #

katiemorford

I didn’t see that! My favorite tofu brand. Thanks for the tip!

07.13.2015 at 7:06 PM #

yunah

although there are 3 costcos in seoul- they carry very few of these items. just got back from sf & scott was surprised to see so many costco products in my suitcase: parmesan, sardines, kerrygold butter, nuts, flax seeds….

07.13.2015 at 7:06 PM #

katiemorford

You are funny….but I can see why. Next time, a suitcase entirely dedicated for your favorite goodies!

08.22.2015 at 6:09 AM #

Elizabeth Shaw

I love this! I am a huge COSTCO fan as well- and I believe anytime there’s a will, there’s a way! Those who say healthy eating is to expensive are not ready to make that change, but with deals like this on pantry staples, it’s possible for anyone! Thanks for sharing- and great site!!

08.22.2015 at 6:09 AM #

katiemorford

Thanks Elizabeth. I’m with you on Costco being a viable option for stocking a healthful pantry…just have to put your blinders on since there’s a lot of temptation too 🙂

09.09.2016 at 6:42 PM #

Kim-NutritionPro Consulting

I absolutely love Costco! A few things on your list aren’t available at the one I’m close to. The savings on quality foods and food ingredients is hard to match anywhere else. I even buy clothes there.

09.09.2016 at 6:42 PM #

katiemorford

I’ve definitely learned that they vary by location. I imagine you’ve got some goodies in your neck of the woods that we don’t have here.

09.10.2016 at 4:12 AM #

Louise

What a fantastic post!!! I also love the ready to eat brand ‘Love’ beets. I add them to smoothies for sweetness. And they just added B’More Skyr smoothies-30+ gm pro/bottle and no added sugar. At half the price of the grocery store it is an awesome deal.

09.10.2016 at 4:12 AM #

katiemorford

Love getting more ideas. Thanks Louise.

11.07.2016 at 3:25 AM #

Terry Fest

What a big help all of these posts are. We too visit Costo. We call it the $300 store. If you approach the management with enough friends you can request that they supply your store with some more specific items. You will be surprised at how accommodating they are. I found a few items to add to my list after reading this post. I like the frozen legumes for the convenience factor. If not at Costo, even local grocery store (Trader Joe’s)……like white navy beans and at Trader Joes’ frozen rice for a quick addition to some scrambled eggs and chicken……

11.07.2016 at 3:25 AM #

katiemorford

Haven’t seen frozen legumes. Makes sense. Thanks for the tip!

05.12.2017 at 1:42 PM #

Rebecca

I LOVE Costco! Especially their produce & giant tubs of yogurt! I just need to kick out all my roommates so I have room in my fridge for Costco trips 😉

05.16.2017 at 6:51 AM #

Lauren Harris-Pincus

I couldn’t survive without Costco. And yes, I will manage to eat the entire 4 pound container of strawberries all by myself.

05.16.2017 at 6:51 AM #

katiemorford

Things could be worse…you could be eating the entire 4 pound container of ice cream 🙂

Post Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *