Well, here it is as promised—Part II of my Costco real food love fest. This time I am going to be dishing on my favorite items from Costco’s freezers, along with meat, dairy, seafood, and poultry, as well a few real food rule benders. And because I care, a brief word of caution: As you know or as you will certainly learn the first time you walk through those doors, Costco is full of extras. Part of the art of shopping there (without breaking the bank) is wearing a pair of make believe blinders and sticking militantly to your shopping list. If you are a Costco newbie, you might want to review the little primer I included in Part I.
Sponsor Shoutout: Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts
Before I get to all that, in my first Costco post I mentioned that I make sure to buy Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts, which are one of my pantry staples. Aside from tasting great, they also have lots of Omegas 3 & 6 and more protein than chia and flax combined! I like to sprinkle them on salads, cereal, and yogurt, and I also like to add them to my smoothies. You can even eat them straight from the bag, if you want. Their site has a lot of great recipes I actually have in my queue to try, including this smoothie recipe. The next time you shop Costco, be sure to look for Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts!
My Go-To Costco Shopping List (Part II)
I have to admit to a bit of trepidation as I entered Costco last week. My family just completed our Suburban Smackdown Challenge where we purchased NOTHING but food and very basic necessities for six months. As I alluded to above, Costco is also a veritable smorgasbord of material goods, and this was to be my first visit without the constraints of the Smackdown to reign in my wants. I’m proud to say that I entered with an iron will and left with that will only mildly softened. I stuck to my list….for the most part. :) So without further ado, let’s get to that list, starting with the freezer section. Oh and you can download a printable version using the button below!
Frozen Vegetables and Fruit I Buy at Costco
A well stocked freezer full of whole foods is an essential tool for feeding a family, and there is no shortage of great frozen finds at Costco. Most of my take-homes include veggies, fruit, and seafood, but you will find a couple frozen real food rule benders in my cart as well. I’ll share those a bit later.
Let’s begin with vegetables and fruit. You may remember from my last post that as a health coach, I’m very big on the concept of “crowding out” other food groups with nutrient and antioxidant-packed vegetables and fruit (heavy on the veggies). The good news is that vegetables and fruit retain most of their nutrients if frozen soon after they have been picked. So bring on the frozen produce!
Frozen Seafood I Buy at Costco*
Ah, the bounty of the sea! Costco offers a good selection of frozen fish and other seafood which can add much needed variety to your weekly meal plans. Fish (especially fatty fish) and seafood are important sources of essential long-chain omega-3 fats. Fish are high in protein and also good sources of vitamin D and selenium. If you do not eat fish regularly, a high quality fish oil supplement is a good idea. Your brain and body will thank you for it.*Be sure to shop for fish/seafood that is sourced sustainably.Fresh Seafood I Buy at Costco*I admit to not being the best planner in the world, so many of our meals are pulled together out of the air at the last moment. Therefore, fresh seafood is not terribly frequent in our household. There are a few items here that I do pick up occasionally.*Be sure to shop for fish/seafood that is sourced sustainably.
Meat and Poultry I Buy at Costco
This, along with dairy, is the area where I think our Costco could offer better choices. While there are organic options, pastured and grass-fed are not descriptors on any of the packaging. In fact, I asked the very nice butcher if they had any grass-fed options outside of bison, and he referred me to Matthews Farmer’s Market. I thought that was very sweet (and accurate) of him. That said, some of these organic meats do make their way into my cart from time to time.
Dairy Items I Buy at Costco
Again, this is a shorter list. While Costco does offer whole organic omega 3 milk, we are almond and coconut milk drinkers for the most part. As for cheese, I’m very picky about the quality since my husband and boys seem to inhale it. And before anyone corrects me with, “but eggs aren’t dairy,” please know I am aware of this. Eggs are, however, located in the dairy cooler at Costco. So forgive them.
A Few Real Food Rule Benders
There ya have it. Don’t forget to download your printable version of this list using the button at the beginning of the post. While this list is not comprehensive, it does represent most of the tried and true grocery items that make the job of feeding my family three+ meals a day a little easier. The hard part is keeping those blinders on…and keeping my husband out of the tool isle.
|Kirkland Organic Normandy Vegetables|
This classic combination of carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower is great in casseroles or on its own served over a bit of quinoa.
|Bybbe Foods Organic Mixed Vegetables with Shelled Edamame|
This is a huge time saver as far as winter vegetable soup making goes. The edamame adds extra protein. The combo is also yummy mixed into brown rice, quinoa, barley, or farro.
|Path of Life Organic Quinoa and Kale|
As a rule, I do not use plastic steamer bags. I heat this in a pan or steam it using a fine mesh stainless strainer. I love this pairing of super-foods as a quick and complete meal but have yet to get my boys on board for this one. Kale, not disguised in smoothies, is still a hard sell for them.
|5 10-oz. steamer bags||$12.49|
|Bybee Organic Green Beans|
Caramelize some onion in a bit of avocado oil or grass fed butter, then add these carotenoid-rich beans and chicken or veggie broth. Simmer to desired tenderness. Salt to taste. Delish!
|Path of Life Broccoli Florets|
A great source of fiber, Vitamin C, calcium, and antioxidants. I use frozen broccoli in lieu of fresh broccoli for soups, casseroles, and stir-fry.
|4 1-lb. bags||$6.49|
|Sunrise Growers Organic Sweet Cherries|
Give me a big handful of these with some raw cocao (“ao” not “oa”) and I’ve the got the start of a decadent tasting and deceptively nutritious smoothie.
|Wyman’s of Maine Organic Blueberries|
Blueberries are associated with better memory and brain function. I could list a whole load of healthy facts on this little power berry, but better memory and brain function should be motivation enough. (Besides, I forgot the rest.)
|Pure Nature Organic Strawberries|
I’ve never met a strawberry I didn’t like, but these in particular are really large and really sweet. They are the base of most of the smoothies that make it into my kids’ bellies.
|Radar Farms Organic Island Mix (Strawberry, Blueberry, and Mango)|
This is a new item, but sounds like a fab combination.
|Cascadian Farms Antioxidant Blend (Berry)|
Um, raspberry, strawberry, and blueberry….mucho berries…muy bueno….need I say more?
|Cox’s Seafood Wild Caught Shrimp||40-50 ct. 2 lbs.||$20.99|
|16-20 ct. 2 lbs.||$24.99|
|Cox’s Raw Peeled Wild Caught Shrimp||16-20 ct. 2 lbs.||$36.99|
|Kirkland Raw Sea Scallops||15-20 ct. 2 lbs.||$35.99|
|Kirkland Wild Caught Mahi Mahi||3 lbs.||$17.99|
|Kirkland Wild Caught Pacific Sockeye Salmon||3 lbs.||$34.99|
|Orca Bay (Pacific) Flounder||3 lbs.||$13.99|
|Kirkland Wild Caught Hake Loins||3 lbs.||$13.99|
|Fresh Wild Mahi Mahi||per lb.||$8.99|
|Fresh Wild Caught White Shrimp|
I don’t have pricing because it was unavailable this visit.
|Wild Cooked Red King Crab (a rare splurge)||per lb.||$19.99|
|Wild Cooked Cold Water Lobster Arm/Claw||per lb.||$9.99|
|Meat and Poultry||Quantity__||Price|
|Kirkland Organic Ground Beef|
While I don’t use beef often, the grass-fed option I would typically buy is $9.99/lb. So every once in a while this beef, at half the cost, comes home to my freezer.
|High Plains Ground Bison|
I’ve bought bison a couple times, but my husband has to handle and cook it. I eat 95% vegetarian, and it is hard for me to add a once endangered animal to our menu (yes, showing my bias here). However, these animals who graze on grass and other natural Great Plains vegetation boast a very lean meat, which is high in protein and rich in iron. If you are going to eat a red meat and can get past eating this national treasure, bison is a healthier choice.
|Coleman Fresh Organic Whole Chicken 2-Pack|
When I don’t have access to a pastured bird, these guys are always available. Each chicken is in the 5-6 lb. range. I have used them for Lisa’s Best Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot and have fed my family for days from one chicken.
|Coleman Fresh Organic Chicken Drumsticks||per lb.||$1.99|
|Coleman Fresh Organic Chicken Breasts||per lb.||$4.99|
|Coleman Fresh Organic Chicken Thighs||per lb.||$4.79|
|Coleman Fresh Organic Chicken Wings||per lb.||$2.99|
|Dairy and Eggs||Quantity||Price|
|Kerrygold Imported Irish Butter (from grass-fed cows)||1.5 lbs.||$6.99|
|Kerrygold Imported Dubliner Cheese||2.18 lbs.||$13.99|
|Coastal Rugged Mature English Cheddar|
(I once dated a guy I would have described with those exact words.)
|Kirkland Large Organic Brown Eggs|
While not pastured, these eggs are certified humane and are sourced locally according to packaging, but I’d describe it as regionally since the farm is in Georgia and we’re in North Carolina.
|Jack’s Special Salsa|
I’ll be honest, this stuff is ALWAYS in my fridge. It’s only offense is a little added cane sugar.
|Dr. Praeger’s Organic Harvest Veggie Burgers|
While the ingredient list is long, it is made up of whole organic veggies and grains. The only true rule breaker in these otherwise healthful patties is a bit of canola oil.
|Kirkland Basil Pesto|
Yes, I prefer to make my own, but this is a tasty version to have on hand. When I use it, I have to look past the added sunflower oil and ascorbic acid.
|Silk Unsweetened Almond Milk|
We drink a lot of almond milk, and I cook with it almost exclusively. Making it myself is not always feasible. Silk is one of the few brands without carrageenan, though it’s ingredient list goes way beyond the almonds, water, and vanilla that I would use.
|Green Chopsticks Organic Chicken Dumplings|
These are flavor-packed and full of whole, all organic ingredients, along with a smidge of sugar as well as refined organic flour.