As a nutritionist and frugal grocery shopper, I'm forever trying to save money — while also buying healthy food. Like many other people, I have a strong love of Costco, so I regularly head to the bulk warehouse haven to keep tabs on my budget while also feeding my body well.
Why Costco Is Good for Eating Well on a Budget
Costco is a great place to shop for healthy food because I find that, even though I spend more up front, I spend less time shopping and fewer dollars over the course of the month. One trip to Costco means I don't have to stop at the grocery store every week (where I'm more likely to spend money on extra stuff I don't need!). I don't have to worry about running out of staple items, I get more food (that whole bulk thing!), and I can take advantage of some seriously good deals.
With all of this in mind, here are the items I regularly buy at Costco while I'm trying to eat healthfully on a budget.
The 7 Healthy Things I Buy at Costco When I'm on a Budget
1. Organic Apples
Many people don't like buying fresh produce in bulk, but I love it because I end up eating more of it and the quality at Costco is great. It's simple math: If I have five pounds of apples, I'm going to eat five pounds of apples.
I stock up on more than just apples, too: I like to buy all the fresh produce — greens, bananas, fresh Medjool dates, oranges, lemons, cucumbers, carrots, sweet potatoes, grape tomatoes, and more.
I can save at least 50 percent when I buy Costco's organic produce versus the same amount at other stores. I freeze whatever is starting to go bad towards the end of the month and just use it in smoothies.
2. Organic Oatmeal
My favorite oatmeal is Bob's Red Mill quick-cooking steel-cut oatmeal, and Costco has a great price on a huge bag of it. At less than $9 for 112 ounces, this oatmeal is about 25 percent cheaper than what the same amount would cost me elsewhere. This bag will last me at least three to four months, which is great because I don't have to buy it that often.
Other good things about this oatmeal: I like that it cooks in just three minutes and has no added sugar, salt, or other ingredients besides oats. Plus, it can even be used in baking!
3. Organic Dried Figs
Dried fruit is so much cheaper at Costco than at other stores. I can get two, 2-pound bags of organic dried raisins for just $9 or $10 at Costco, compared to a measly 16-ounce container for $3 at Walmart or Target. I stock up on dried figs, raisins, and dates and either eat them right out of the bag, toss them in oatmeal, or use them in a baking situation.
4. Almond Butter
I'm constantly buying almond butter (and applesauce!) at Costco. The Kirkland Signature brand is seriously legit and I actually seek it out, choosing this over other name-brand options. If you aren't already a fan of Kirkland Signature products, try this almond butter and you'll become one.
5. All The Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
I spend more money on stuff from the frozen fruits and vegetables aisle than any other section at Costco. Why? One reason is that I choose frozen over fresh when I'm on a tight budget because it lasts longer. I can also use frozen fruits and veggies in pretty much anything, and they are generally sold in bulk at a great price at Costco.
I buy organic whenever the item is offered, but if not, I'll go for conventional frozen fruits and vegetables because they always taste great. The things I always look out for and stock up on: mixed tropical fruit, pineapple, organic mixed berries, organic wild blueberries, organic strawberries, asparagus, green beans, mixed frozen vegetables, and organic broccoli.
6. Unsweetened Almond Milk
My favorite brand of unsweetened non-dairy milk is also sold at Costco — for less than I can find elsewhere — so I always stock up on it whenever I can. I tend to buy two boxes of it each month, which is six cartons, and this is plenty to last me all month.
I use unsweetened almond milk in all my smoothies, in coffee, tea, oatmeal, and sometimes in baked goods. I also love organic soy milk, but it's rarely sold at my local Costco.
7. Pantry Staples
I don't buy a lot of packaged snacks, which Costco is well-known for, but there are some other items that I like to buy when I need them and when they are available. This list includes organic lentils, organic coconut flour (for baking), cocoa powder, organic canned tomatoes, coffee K cups, and canned pumpkin.
Sometimes I'll also splurge on one or two specialty or seasonal items at Costco because, let's face it, Costco has some deals that are just too good to pass up!
What healthy foods do you buy at Costco when you're on a budget?