Love it or hate it, Costco has become a mainstay in major cities across the country. I LOVE Costco. I mean, I really love Costco. There are a lot of foods in my cupboards that I would not be able to afford if it weren’t for Costco. If I had been able to register at Costco for my wedding, I probably would have. Since they have everything, I thought I would share my Costco shopping list!
Shopping at Costco takes a special knack (at least if you don’t want to blow your whole paycheque it does). It can be a source of great cost savings if you plan ahead and stick to your list. If you are the kind of person who doesn’t really plan ahead when it comes to meals and groceries, or you get easily distracted by shiny things…oooh, the Easter goodies are out!
Shiny things, right.
As I was saying, if you don’t really plan ahead, or you get distracted easily, or you are a notorious impulse shopper, then maybe Costco won’t be the greatest place for you to save money. But if you are reasonably organized, feed a lot of people, or are looking for some economical whole-food choices, Costco just might be your new best friend.
For those of you looking for ways to implement better, cleaner dietary choices without breaking the bank this New Year, I’ve compiled a list of my top ten favourite (AIP-friendly) Costco products. Here goes!
Wild Pacific Salmon Fillets
This is by far and away my number one pick on my Costco shopping list. You cannot beat the nutritional value of high-quality wild salmon. It’s where I get a significant portion of my omega-3’s, as well as a wide variety of other vitally important micronutrients! While pricier than its Atlantic (farmed and possibly GMO) counterpart, this is an excellent buy when compared to what you would pay at the health food store, or even the big chain grocery stores. Fillets (around 6 oz. each) come individually wrapped, which makes it really handy to take out just what you need and stick it anywhere in the fridge to defrost. Unfortunately, it does also drastically increase the plastic waste that comes from this product, and it takes up quite a bit of room in our freezer, but is it very tasty!
This was a close second for me. While not as “clean” a choice as New Zealand lamb (which is guaranteed 100% pasture/grass raised), I believe Australian lamb is still a solid (and affordable) choice. Sheep and lambs raised in Australia spend the majority, if not all, of their lives on pasture and live a relatively natural life, with limited use of grain feed (used during a drought, for example), though some sources do report that up to 15% of Australian lamb is grain finished. Costco carries a limited variety of cuts, usually roasts, chops, and ribs, but it is a good quality meat with a mild flavour at a reasonable price. Since I don’t tolerate beef and game meats can be a little hard to come by or exorbitantly expensive, this has become a staple meat in our house. It does make a wonderful Irish Stew or Lamb Curry!
Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
This is another big one in our family. We go through almost one full 1.6L tub per month. Coconut oil is a nutritional powerhouse with its high medium chain triglycerides and lauric acid content. Because of its high smoke point and minimal coconut flavour, we use it quite frequently for stovetop and oven use. It’s also a favourite for tossing with freshly steamed veggies in place of butter and for fat bombs. Other uses include homemade beauty products and oil pulling. One tub runs you about $25 at Costco, compared with $38 at the local health food store.
2019 NOTE – Costco has since switched from carrying Nutiva brand to their own house Kirkland brand at a substantial savings ($17 for Kirkland vs $25 for Nutiva). While still organic, I cannot vouch for the sustainability of the sourcing of the Kirkland brand like I can with Nutiva at this time.
Kirkland Signature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
With all the hulabaloo about contraband olive oil (a UC Davis study showed that up to 69% of “extra virgin olive oil” sold in the United States was doctored or adulterated in some way), it’s nice to know I have a secure and reputable supply. Kirkland Signature’s organic extra virgin olive oil is a high-quality pure olive oil that passed UC Davis’s 2011 evaluation with perfect scores, passing both the chemical and taste tests for extra virgin quality with flying colours. It’s beautifully smooth with a strong finish. This is my salad dressing oil of choice and we go through quite a bit of it. It now comes in a dark plastic 2L bottle, an unfortunate change from its former dark glass 1L bottle, but you can’t beat the quality or the price of this product.
2019 NOTE – Costco does adjust the composition of their olive oil sources from time to time. Their current organic olive oil has a higher percentage of Tunisian olive oil which gives it a much more peppery taste than it used to have.
Earthbound Farm Salad Greens
I really enjoy Earthbound salad clamshells. They’re wonderfully nutritious and a great way to get a variety of leafy greens into your diet. They cost less than half of what they would at the big grocery stores. I have salad of some variety almost daily for lunch, especially during the summer. Sourcing these greens from Costco makes a big difference to our grocery bill. The only reason these aren’t higher on the list is because the clamshells don’t often make it to their “best before” date before going bad. They are triple washed and packed quite tightly, so the high moisture and lack of air circulation inside the container accelerates the decomposition process. We have found that taking the greens out of the clamshell and storing them in the fridge in a freezer bag with a paper towel to absorb the excess moisture does help to extend the storage life.
Organic Maple Syrup
Since I’m still sorting out my honey allergy, maple syrup is my liquid sweetener of choice. This is a seasonal item at my local Costco. Produced and hand-packed in St-Robert Bellarmin, Quebec, Costco only carries it leading up to Christmas. When we see it, we stock up. It’s some of the best maple syrup I’ve had, and that’s saying something for a self-proclaimed maple-aholic! Four 750 mL bottles seem to last us the year comfortably, but in the event that it doesn’t, Costco does carry 100% pure (non-organic) maple syrup year-round. Nothing better than some warm maple taffy after a fresh snow on a cold winter day. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, you have my sympathies…
2019 NOTE – Costco has since switched their Kirkland brand maple syrup over to organic in addition to the specialty Christmas variety.
Organic Roasting Chickens
The only reason these aren’t higher up on my list is because of the price. I had a hard time getting over the $30 price tag for two modestly sized roasters. Maybe it was harder for me after being used to the turkey-sized roasting chickens we raised on the farm growing up or that I usually buy from my sister. One hen will usually give me and Scott 2-3 meals each. That breaks down to approximately $2.50 per serving for organic chicken. Plus, I still have the carcass with which to make bone broth afterwards. My first choice is to source my chicken direct from a local producer, but if I must buy store-bought, this is what I buy.
These are my most favourite mollusks! Proudly labelled “Product of Canada”, I know that these scallops are grown and harvested in a responsible manner. All Canadian scallops are farmed, but because scallops eat plankton (microscopic colonies of plants and animals found in sea water), they are not subject to artificial and unnatural commercial feeds. They still eat their plankton diet as nature intended. And because scallops are extremely sensitive to toxins and contamination in their environment, the presence of scallop farming actually increases the need for protection of the aquatic environment. It’s a win-win! Additionally, scallops are an excellent source of vitamin B12, iodine, protein, phosphorus, and selenium and are also a good source of zinc, magnesium, and potassium. Due to the price, we save these for special occasions, but they sure are good (and good for you!). Especially wrapped in prosciutto. Everything is better wrapped in prosciutto.
Organic Calimyrna Figs
Since dried fruit is only supposed to be an occasional treat on the AIP, I savour these. They are so flavourful and delicious with the nice crunch of the seeds. Just the perfect something for when I need a sweet little snack or for some tasty fig-crusted salmon. They also pack a nutritional punch for their size, being high in fiber, potassium, and calcium. In addition to being organic, Made in Nature, the producers of the figs, participates in the Non-GMO Project, and I am happy to support that. As well as being a nice snack now and then, these figs also play a starring role in making water kefir. Because they are unsulfured, they are safe to use as a mineral source for water kefir during the first ferment. They aren’t very nice to eat afterwards, but they certainly make some delicious kefir!
This is a recent addition to my Costco shopping list. Since avocados top the Environmental Working Group’s Clean Fifteen list, this not being an organic product didn’t bother me so much, plus the oil supplier for Costco, Chosen Foods, is a participant in the Non-GMO Project. There are currently no genetically modified species of avocados available commercially, but I like the idea of supporting a company that is actively involved in a movement against further GMO contamination of our food supply. Avocado oil is very high in vitamin E and has a crisp, clear flavour, which makes it great as an alternative to olive oil. It has a higher smoke point than its olive-based cousin, too, making it a better choice for cooking and baking. It also contributes to a great may-no-naise! And it works really well as a carrier oil for use with essential oils and as a massage oil.
There were several other products vying for a spot on my top 10 Costco shopping list, including Ocean’s canned salmon and pole & line tuna, Sunmaid’s organic raisins, Earthbound Organic’s broccolini, organic coconut flour, tea tree essential oil, and the list could go on. But these are my picks, the backbone of my monthly Costco shopping list.