Costco: 8 Top Foods You Must Not Buy, And 9 Good Ones That Save You Money
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Many people have the notion that eating healthy is expensive. Without giving much thought to it, eating healthy may seem expensive and something that is unattainable to those who wants to live frugally.
Go to any supermarket and you’ll find that TV dinners and other prepackaged foods are cheaper than organic ingredients. But these cheaper processed foods have unseen costs: they take a toll on your health.
Of course, many of us cannot afford to pay the premium on organic and raw goods. I’ve been there before. One of my favorite places to shop is Costco, and I do buy many of my health food staples.
In this “Guide to the best and the worst items to buy at Costco“, I’ll show you how you can eat healthy even when on a budget. I really like some of their healthy foods so much that I think the yearly membership is worth it, considering the savings I get from shopping regularly there for my supplies.
The Good: Healthy Staples
When shopping at Costco, my biggest piece of advice is to come with a plan. I like to start by making a list of the healthy foods I need. Since it’s a bulk store, it can be quite easy to fall into the trap of buying more than you need. Do you really need that two-pack of olive oil when you’ve still got a full bottle sitting at home? Here’s my list of the best things to buy from Costco.
1. Nuts And Dried Fruits
This is my favorite place for nuts and dried fruits.
I especially like the raw almonds from Costco as they are really fresh and of a higher quality than those that I got from Walmart.
When roasting the almonds, you can tell the big difference between the almonds from Costco and those from Walmart by the aroma that fills the home.
This is also the place to get those medjool dates for making your raw food snacks.
Costco stocks a good variety of seeds. From chiaseeds, to flaxseeds, to hemp hearts, you can expect to find a good selection of organic seeds at most locations. Their prices are decent, seeds are fresh and of good quality.
3. Healthy Oils
Healthy oils can really burn through your wallet at the local supermarket. At Costco, you can find olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil at a steal
I love the big tub of coconut oil that I get from Costco that is of good quality. I’ve compared the price and you do get it cheaper at Costco.
I like the quality of the oil, and how fresh it is. One big tub does last you a long time, and for me it makes cooking such a pleasure!
4. Fresh Produce
The options for organic fresh produce will often vary depending on the location you go to. But if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to find some organic avocados and spinach at good prices! I love their spring mix, prepackaged cut vegetables, mushrooms and the big bags of carrots. All good and fresh. Never had any problem with them.
5. Frozen Fruits And Vegetables
This is a must-have for my smoothies. The selection of organic frozen fruits at Costco are a luxury! There are mixed berries, mangoes, pineapples and various other fruits. You will just be spoiled for choice.
There are also frozen vegetables that come in handy sometimes. I like the variety choices and freshness. Although I know we never say “frozen” and “fresh” in one sentence, but they are actually good.
6. Whole Grains
I stock up on my quinoa and oats supply from Costco. I definitely get and save a great deal of money for the amount of these grains that I buy regularly.
7. Kefir And Yogurt
I get my unflavored kefir and yogurt supply from Costco. They come in big tubs but the family finish them easily in a week.
This is one of the few places where I can find kefir that I like, and I use it in my smoothies and cooking.
8. Meat and fish
In recent years, Costco has leveled up its options for organic beef, chicken and wild salmon. Look for individually wrapped and portioned meats and fish that you can freeze. Most of the time I get really good deals and the meats are fresh.
9. Gluten-Free Bread
While my local health food store stocks a great selection, they unfortunately don’t have many choices for gluten-free bread. Surprisingly, I’ve been able to snag gluten-free bread from a few Costco locations.
The Bad: Processed Foods
And now the worst things to get from Costco. If you’ve been following the healthy trends, you will already know some of these.
You would think when I talk about buying healthy foods cheaply from Costco that I might mention about buying the supplements from here. I recommend buying supplements only from your healthy organic food stores, but never from pharmacies, Walmart or Costco.
2. Soft Drinks
Costco stocks all of the popular soft drinks from Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. But there’s nothing soft about what these sugar-filled drinks do to your body. Avoid them at all costs, especially the ones with aspartame.
3. Sugary Granola Bars And Cereal Bars
As good as they may sound on their marketing (and as good as they may taste) these bars are one of the first things you should avoid. It may seem like you’re getting Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain bars at a big discount, but they’re packed with fillers, invert sugar and corn syrup. Steer clear of these!
4. Chips And Candy
When packing snacks for the kids or for work it might be attractive to get them in bulk at Costco.
A recent report found that the SunChips potato chips of the Frito-Lay corporation contains chemicals from Monsanto’s RoundUp herbicide.
5. Processed Meats And Cheese
Processed meats contain nitrites and nitrates that function as preservatives to prevent growth of harmful bacteria in meat. They also improve the appearance of the meat products by giving them a red meaty color. When cooked, these compounds turn into nitrosamines that can be carcinogenic (cancer-causing).
6. Tubs Of Margarine
Ok, so the margarine come in big tubs and they’re cheap. Avoid them! The main ingredients in margarine are vegetable oils that are unsaturated and are subject to a hydrogenation process. This process involves exposing the oils to high heat and pressure, turning them into transfats, which are highly toxic and clog the arteries.
Beware of even margarine that says “transfat-free” as they are still made from vegetable oils that can cause serious harm to your health. Many brands of margarine use emulsifiers that are linked to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
6. Frozen Processed Meals
Costco has a wide array of frozen meals that can be convenient in the short-term but can lead to long-term inconveniences to your health. The majority of these meals are packed with too much salt and additives. Make sure to always check the ingredients list of any frozen meals you may be getting, some meals have some of these additives that you should totally avoid!
8. Salad Dressing And Condiments
Store-bought salad dressing such as Hidden Valley’s ranch dressing gets many of its calories from fat.
Not only this, it contains a number of additives like MSG. Rather than buying this from Costco, we recommend making your own healthy dressing!
Steer clear of each of these and you’re well on your way to be a frugal AND healthy shopper!
The Ugly: Shopping Habits
Costco has a great way of promoting their new products by way of giving out free samples. I know of many who love to go to Costco on a Sunday afternoon as that’s when they dish our many food samples. Sometimes all the samples can be one person’s free lunch!
Samples are certainly a great way to find out about new products. But beware! Samples can really tempt you to buy something you don’t need. I recommend eating before you head to Costco. When you’re there on an empty stomach you’ll be more compelled to buy on impulse.
Also, hold back from buying foods from a new and unknown brand. Being new into the food industry, food manufacturers tend to add more additives to make the food taste really good. These artificial food additives can be detrimental to your health in many ways.
One last word of caution. If you’re going to pick up some of the “healthy” snacks, make sure to read their ingredient labels. You never know what could be in them! Having said all that, when you shop wisely, healthy-eating doesn’t have to break the bank.
Some of the links I post on this site are affiliate links. If you go through them to make a purchase, I will earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you). However, note that I’m recommending these products because of their quality and that I have good experience using them, not because of the commission to be made.