Costco's food court is a magical place. The warehouse store is known for mega deals on bulk groceries — and the same goes for bulk-sized food court items. For just $1.35, card-wielding members can consume a 16-ounce cup's worth of Costco's Kirkland Signature chocolate-vanilla swirl nonfat yogurt.
Food court patrons can also purchase a large slice of pizza for $1.99, a quarter-pound polish sausage and a 20-ounce soda for $1.50, or a giant twisted cinnamon sugar churro for $1. (As if you needed further proof that Costco's deals can't be beat.)
Unfortunately, aside from being super affordable, there's something else all of these items have in common: They're not the healthiest choices. So, we asked four registered dietitians to recommend the best thing to order at the Costco food court. Not so surprisingly, all four experts that we polled had the same answer: chicken Caesar salad ($3.99), with just a little bit of dressing.
Here's what everyone had to say.
Marisa Moore, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
"Knowing how long people spend in Costco, the food court can easily grab your attention after a long day of shopping — or even one lap around the massive store. The one thing that stands out is the chicken Caesar salad. It's the best opportunity to get a lean protein and a few vegetables. Definitely order it with the dressing on the side. If [the dressing] comes in a large packet, start with just a quarter of the packet. You can always add more if needed but might find that less is just enough. And I'd be remiss not to mention this: Costco sells a ton of healthy foods throughout the store. You can always buy fruit, nuts, or a yogurt to tide you over until you get home or your next healthy meal option."
LeeAnn Weintraub, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and the blogger behind Half a Cup
"Unfortunately, Costco's food court doesn't have the best options. All of the savory items are very high in sodium. The best choice is probably to order the chicken Caesar salad while going light on the dressing (use less than half)."
Kara Lydon, a Registered Dietitian and the voice behind The Foodie Dietitian
"I always encourage people to listen to their bodies to determine which foods they're in the mood for, so if you're eyeing up that slice of pizza, go for it! But if you want to choose a meal that has the most balance and variety, I'd say opt for the chicken Caesar salad. You'll get all three macronutrients — carbs, protein, and fat — which will leave you feeling satisfied, satiated, and energized afterwards."
Brigitte Zeitlin, Registered Dietitian and founder of BZ Nutrition NY
"A good option would be the chicken Caesar salad. It gives you vitamins, minerals, and filling fiber from the veggies — plus some protein to keep you alert and energized. Ask for the dressing on the side and use only one to two tablespoons of the dressing (to prevent the salad from turning into a sugary-calorie bomb). If there is an option to opt for just oil and vinegar instead, use that."
Have you had the chicken Caesar salad? What did you think about it? Discuss in the comments below!