Those who think that eating healthfully means spending big bucks and shopping at specialty stores and organic markets hasn't been to Costco lately. A recent spin through the aisles turned up a surprising number of wholesome offerings, making 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. With all that in mind, here are 15 ideas for filling your shopping cart at Costco. If you have healthy favorites of your own, please share in the comments section below.
15 "REAL FOOD" COSTCO FAVORITES
1. Nuts and Dried Fruits
The store stocks a wide selection of everything from pistachios to medjool dates at more affordable prices and much of it organic.
2. Seeds of Every Stripe
Pumpkin, sunflower, chia, and flax seeds are all at a significant discount over mainstream markets. Store them in the freezer (nuts too) to extend the shelf life, particularly since the volumes are large.
3. Healthier Snack Foods
Quite a few items are available that pass my sniff test for better snacking, including Roasted Seaweed, Skinny Pop, Kind Bars, and Mary's Gone Crackers.
4. Fresh Produce
The produce section is packed with 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.
5. Frozen fruit
The freezer section is stocked with a variety of fruit, including several organic options. Frozen berries, pineapple, and the like, are household staples for making smoothies and other frozen treats. The prices are significantly lower than Whole Foods and other markets.
6. Quality Bread
The store sells 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.
7. Whole Grains
The selection isn't huge, but Bob's Red Mill Steel Cut Oats and True Roots Quinoa, two quality brands, are among the offerings.
8. Nut Butters
No shortage of choices for nut butters at Costco, including Brad's Organic Almond Butter, which has a bit of a cult following as I understand it.
9. Specialty Beverages
Both Foragers 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.
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 that is consistently on the Costco shelves.
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.
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.
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.
14. Meat and Fish
Organic beef and chicken and wild salmon, are among the offerings in the butcher section of the store.
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.
With a shopping cart of healthy, whole foods, perhaps there's some wiggle room for something along these lines, no?
If you like this post, you might appreciate my Best of Trader Joe's post.