You might be surprised to know that as a small household, and someone who eats probably 90% organic, I like to shop at Costco.
I don’t know if all Costco’s are created equal, but I know the one closest to my Denver zip code realizes that shoppers will quickly scarf up anything that says “organic” on the packaging. (I love this because it says that in our country, we can effectively vote with our dollars). And Costco offers great values on the kind of food I like to buy – whole and unprocessed.
I am someone who doesn’t eat much processed food (or sugar), and Costco stocks a surprising array of whole foods. The prices really are great, sometimes half the price of other stores!
First, Be Prepared & Save Money
Before sharing a few of my favorite things, first some reminders before stepping foot in the warehouse:
1. Shop with a list.
I know you’ve heard it before, but I have started practicing this and it really works. And it feels great to leave the store having achieved this goal.
2. Plan your budget ahead of time.
Since there are so many temptations at Costco, food and non-food, decide ahead of time a specific dollar amount that you allow yourself to go over for items not on your list. Make sure to aggregate small purchases not on your list. Then, do not purchase the items that exceed your limit. If you still want/need the item(s), you can always return to get them on another trip.
3. Along these same lines… Don’t shop when you’re hungry!
Here Are Some of My Favorite Things at Costco
PISTACHIOS, WALNUTS, and ALMONDS — Nuts make a great snack, and blended with water, a sprinkle of salt and a splash of vanilla, they turn into nut milk. I tend to eat a lot of them and if you meet with me in person, I sometimes serve pistachios because they do help satiate hunger and help your brain function better. Costco has great prices on bulk nuts.
PUMPKIN SEEDS — Costco sometimes carry one of my favorite brands of pumpkin seeds, Go Raw!
COCONUT WATER — Coconut water is a much healthier option than sugary sports drinks.
DATES — I love these for making my own “Lara Bar” type snack in the food processor at home, and I also use them when making nut milk.
TOMATO SAUCE — Costco has an excellent Italian tomato sauce, called White Linen with only a few ingredients, San Marzano tomatoes, and no sugar.
HATCH GREEN CHILIES — You can find hatch green chilies in a big jar, which I divide into smaller containers and then freeze.
FRESH FRUITS & VEGETABLES — I love the 1.5-pound bag of organic mixed greens (baby kale, spinach and chard) for my morning green smoothie. I also love their Campari tomatoes (not organic though, but really good, especially grilled!), organic zucchini/yellow squash mixture, lemons and avocadoes (not organic), organic apples, organic sweet potatoes, and organic onions.
FERMENTED VEGETABLES — a.k.a. organic sauerkraut. A couple of tablespoons of this every day is really good for your gut health.
QUINOA — Costco has this as organic and a great price for a four pound bag. I don’t eat many other grains, so this is a staple.
EDAMAME PASTA — Since I don’t eat flour, edamame pasta allows me to have pasta guilt-free! It seems pricey, but the box lasts forever — a little goes a long way, and sometimes I mix it with zucchini pasta made with a spiralizer.
ORGANIC FROZEN FRUIT — Costco rules when it comes to frozen berries. My favorites are the blueberries, mixed berries, strawberries and cherries.
WILD SMOKED SALMON — A delicious, peppered wild salmon that is excellent on a salad.
ORGANIC CHICKEN — This is an easy prep meal. You can even freeze 2 of the 3 packages for later use.
FLAVOR ENHANCERS — Himalayan pink sea salt… in a grinder! Ditto on the pepper grinder, real vanilla extract, organic maple syrup, raw honey, and any other spice you like a lot (of).
MATCHA — Last summer on an end display, I saw a bright green bag of matcha, which, I now know, is a magical Japanese green tea powder. It was $35 for a 16 oz. bag. I decided to splurge, and I’m so glad I did – my morning matcha has been life changing. A matcha in a coffee shop costs about $5 or $6, yet one bag makes at least 100 servings.
Other Organic Honorable Mentions
All organic at Costco: kombucha, Greek sheep-milk feta (they have a really awesome selection of European cheeses, several made of goat and sheep milk), cold-brew coffee, eggs, coconut oil popcorn, avocado oil, grain-free granola. I also love how they bring in many locally made items, which seem to be around for a limited amount of time only.
If your local Costco store doesn’t carry a good selection of organic items, then ask them to! If you don’t care about eating organic, then there are probably even better deals to be had. Costco is a surprisingly great place to go if you care about eating well and want to save money doing so — and maybe even enjoying a few not-so-healthy samples while you’re there.