Costco Finds: 7 Healthy and Affordable Foods
Costco can be a pitfall of nutritional no-no's with packaged and processed food in the largest quantities known to mankind and as far as the eye can see. On any given day, you can ingest an entire meal from their samples, right? Not the most nutritionally sound lunch, mind you. Just yesterday, they were handing out hot dogs, microwavable cheeseburgers, juice specifically marketed to kids, lunar sized muffins and enchiladas.
However, if you play your cards right, Costco can be a superfood, nutritional SCORE. Unless you have a huge family or are shopping for everyone in your neighborhood, the key for single gals like myself is to find products that are fairly shelf stable or freezable so you don't waste most of the product. Or, even better, find a Costco buddy with whom you can split your purchases, and thus, the savings.
Here are my top seven finds at this megastore giant so you can leave with your wallet, and your health, in tact.
- Gluten-free Bread by The Essential Baking Company — The first ingredient is (next to water) mixed SEEDS! It's high in fiber (5 grams!) and moderate calories (100). I don't eat processed carbs often, but every once and a while a girl's gotta have a vehicle for some nut butter. Two packs come to a bag, and I share one with a friend and then place a few slices in my fridge and freeze the rest. Bread for months and both packs for only $8!
- Avocados — Again something you may want to consider sharing with a fellow Costco friend, as all the avocados tend to ripen at the same time, and five come to a bag. If you're like me and eat at least half an avocado a day, they'll disappear pretty quickly, but you can always store them in the fridge once they've ripened for a longer shelf life. My friend claims she's never had a bad one. I concur. $6 for a bag.
- Hail Merry's Lemon and Chocolate Mint Tarts — Oh, man, I was certainly in trouble when I found these. The treat to top all treats, in my book. All natural ingredients grace the label of these wonderful little morsels. The best part? At Costco, they are packaged in their single-serve form, so you don't end up eating a whole regular sized tart in one sitting. My recommendation? Pull one out from the case, put it on a plate and return the carton to the refrigerator. Lock fridge. I have no idea how much they cost. I never look. I just buy.
- Produce — If you happen to eat very large amounts of kale in a single sitting, or have a large family, Costco carries some really nice produce. My friend and I recently purchased a HUGE watermelon for only $5.49 — plenty for watermelon margaritas, watermelon ice pops plus more! Limes were only $4.49 for a 5 lb. bag! Trust me, that's a LOT of margaritas. You may need to watch the more perishable greens. Remember, even if you get the produce cheap, you're still wasting the savings if you have to throw half the bag out due to spoilage. Produce is best shared with a friend to ensure freshness and no waste.
- Sardines — Yes, these little powerhouse fish are a great nutritional score and a wonderful value here. Often rated as one of the world's healthiest foods, sardines are loaded with vitamin B12, an excellent source of vitamin D and protein, and chock full of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. You get five shelf stable packs of sardines for only $8.59. HUGE SCORE.
- Organic Frozen Blueberries — These are a staple in my freezer, as I use blueberries almost daily in my smoothies. A lower-sugar fruit, these buggers blend up wonderfully when frozen. And while they don't always make the dirty dozen list, conventional blueberries rank pretty high on the list of dirty, pesticide-laden fruits and are best bought organic. The lowest price I've seen for conventional blueberries is $3/pack, which is less than 16 oz. At only $14 for 4 lbs. ($3.50/lb. or 16 oz.), I don't mind the extra odd cents per pound for better quality and clean fruit!
- Organic Coconut Oil — This is the best of all as far as I'm concerned. I scoured the Internet and couldn't find anything lower than the under-$15 price tag I scored at my local Costco. Most suppliers, including Amazon, rang in around $20. If you don't think you'll ever make use of a 54 oz. vat of coconut oil, I'll give you six ways to use it here. Watch it disappear.
While it's wonderful to save at Costco on the above products … and more (toilet paper anyone?), watch out for booby traps! Avoid the temptation to get seemingly "healthy" supersized bags of chips, unless you are planning a large gathering or party at your home.
Such products (even my favorite Beanitos which I spotted the other day) are still supersized and your willpower to eat "just one" will certainly be defeated with a 2 lb. bag in your home. Trust me, and I speak from experience, if they are in the house, you will eat them. I can justify that such products are "healthier" than Doritos or Cheez-Its, but the truth is, they are still processed. Better to keep those indulgences to human size bags.