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Hunting and Gathering at Costco

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When I switched to eating whole foods rather than processed ones, my grocery budget definitely swelled. Although I’ve heard people say that eating paleo doesn’t have to be expensive, I find that the switch from lunches of pancakes and dinners of Hi-chew (click the link, it's deranged, and I can't believe I ate so much of the crap for so long) and second pancakes to grass-fed beef and fresh vegetables brings with it a jump in the grocery bill. I’m not complaining. I think it’s to be expected, and there’s no point in pretending quality food is cheap, especially when we’re eating as much as we need to feel satisfied.

There are plenty of resources out there that discuss eating paleo/whole foods on a budget. Robb Wolf’s Paleo Diet Budget Shopping Guide is a good one. I haven’t been able to take advantage of one of the popular recommendations of buying meat in bulk and freezing it, since I don’t have a chest freezer (yet?). However, I have been able to fully realize the joys of a different bulk buying experience: Costco.

Buying the Costco membership a few months ago was kind of a gamble. Since I’d had one before, I knew that it was a great place to buy so much toilet paper that I could build a tower in my bathroom with it. I also knew that it was a bastion of the standard American diet and the brands that feed it. If you so choose, you can walk away with pounds of chicken nuggets, mozzarella sticks, pizza-bagel bites, mega-jarred mayo, and a big jar of Prilosec to take care of the after-effects.

I had read in Robb Wolf’s guide that Costco sells grass-fed ground beef, though, so I decided to give the place a try. Over the past couple of months, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the selection. During my last visit, I took note of many of the paleo-friendly items and their prices so that if any paleo readers are on the fence about buying a membership, they can have a little more information at their disposal about whether this might be worth their while.

I recognize that some of these items may not be ideal paleo choices. Omega-3 eggs, for example, might not be as high-quality as farmers-market-fresh eggs laid by pastured hens. I haven’t used the majority of these products, so I can’t speak to their quality, except where noted. Personally, I use Costco to supplement trips to my primary grocery store, Central Co-Op; my small neighborhood grocery store; and farmer’s markets. And, of course, I fill up on gas every time I go

This is an incomplete list, but it’s a starting point to give you a sense of what’s available.

 

List revised 12/26/12; all items and prices from South Seattle Costco

Snacks:

Oberto BBQ Pork Jerky (no gluten ingredients), 2 packages, 9oz each: $12.49

Kirkland Steak Strips (jerky with no gluten ingredients), 12oz: $8.99

Larabar Variety Pack, 18 bars: $15.79

Mauna Loa Macadamia Nuts, 24oz can: $15.89

Kirkland Dry Roasted Almonds, 2.5lb: $8.99

Kirkland Pistachios, 48oz: $14.99

Wonderful Shelled Pistachios, 24oz: $14.99

Made in Nature Organic Black Mission Figs (no added sugar), 32oz: $7.99

 

Pantry items:

S&W Organic Tomato Sauce, 12 cans, 15oz each: $7.69

S&W Organic Stewed Tomatoes, 8 cans, 14.5oz each: $7.69

S&W Organic Tomato Paste, 12 cans, 6oz each: $6.39

S&W Organic Whole Peeled Tomatoes, 6lb6oz can: $2.65

Musco Family Olive Co. Pearls, Extra Lg. Pitted California Ripe Olives, 8 cans, 6oz ea: $8.45

Tabasco Sauce, 12oz: $4.95

French’s Mustard, 105oz: $3.79

Star Nonpareil Capers, 25oz: $4.99

Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard, 2pk, 16oz ea: $6.79

French’s Mustard 2pk, 30oz ea: $4.89

Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire Sauce, 2pk, 20oz ea: $6.95 (This stuff is gluten-free, unlike many brands of Worcestershire sauce, which can contain barley.)

Bella Sun Luci sun dried tomatoes, 32oz: $7.85

Kirkland organic chicken stock: 6 cartons, 32 oz each: $11.69

Kirkland minced garlic, 48oz: $3.99

McCormick's Smoker Paprika, 8.5oz: $3.65

McCormick's Chili Powder, 20oz: $5.25

Kirkland Crushed Red Pepper, 10oz: $3.25

Kirkland Pure Sea Salt, 30oz: $2.79

Kirkland Mediterranean Sea Salt with grinder, 13oz: $3.49 (I have this and love it. The grinder turns smoothly and I like the grind that results. It is not reusable, however.)

Kirkland Black Pepper with grinder, 6.3oz: $4.89

Kirkland Black Peppercorns, 14.1oz: $5.99

Kirkland Balsamic Vinegar, 1 liter: $10.99

Kirkland Raw Pine Nuts, 24oz: $17.79

Kirkland Pecan Halves, 2lb: $15.99

Kirkland Walnuts, 3lb: $17.99

[Kirkland Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1.5 liters: $9.49] (See comments for more information: there is reason for concern about the quality of this oil; Kirkland Toscana may be the only Costco olive oil of reliable quality. -02/06/14)

Nutiva Coconut Oil, 78oz: $21.99

MaraNatha Almond Butter, 26oz: $5.79

Kirkland Clover Honey, 5lb: $12.79b2ap3_thumbnail_138.jpg

Kirkland House Blend Coffee, 2lb: $12.79

Seattle Mountain Coffee, Sumatra, 2.5lb: $16.29

VitaCoco Coconut Water, 6 cartons, 1 liter each: $9.99; 12 cartons, 11.2 oz each: $14.99

 

Animal:

Kirkland Wild Sockeye - Canned - 3 cans, 6 oz each: $9.99

Wild Planet Tuna - 6 cans, 5 oz each: $15.99 (I love this stuff)

Bear & Wolf Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon - 6 cans, 6 oz each: $10.89

Kirkland Albacore (solid white) - 8 cans, 7 oz each: $13.99

Seawatch chopped sea clams - 2 cans, 51 oz each: $14.99

Trident Naturals Alaskan Salmon Burgers, 12 ct, 3lb total: $15.99 * Note: Check salmon burgers for ingredients: May have changed and may not be to your liking.

Kirkland Wild Sockeye, frozen, 3lb: $27.99 (I really like these--the fillet portions are individually vacuum packed, so a single portion is simple to pull out of the freezer and thaw for later.)

Kirkland Wild Alaskan Cod, frozen, 2lb: $15.99 (Same as above, though the cod doesn't freeze and thaw quite as well as salmon.)

Kirkland Wild Alaskan Halibut, frozen, 2lb: $39.99

Kirkland Wild Caught Hake Loins, frozen, 2.5lb: $13.99

Kirkland Raw Sea Scallops, 8-12 ct., frozen, 2lb: $25.99

Kirkland Raw Tail-on Shrimp, deveined, frozen, 31-40/lb, 2lb: $13.79

Omega-3 eggs, 18-count: $3.79

Chicken of the Sea Real Crab Meal, 16oz: $17.99

Fresh wild halibut: $17.99

Fresh wild Pacific rockfish fillet: $5.99/lb

Fresh wild razor clams: $9.99/lb

Fresh wild sockeye: $8.99/lb

High Plains Bison NY Strip Steaks (2 to a pack): $19.99/lb

Niman Ranch Applewood Smoked Bacon, 3 pack, 12oz each: $11.89

Kerrygold salted butter, 3 x 8oz: $6.99

Plant:

Garlic, 3lb, $3.79

Yellow onions,  10lb, $4.49

Large lemons, 5lb, $6.49

Large avocados, 5 count: $5.99

Organic carrots, 10lb: $5.99

Kirkland Nature's Three Berries (frozen raspberries, blueberries, blackberries), 4lb: $11.89

There are many other fruits and vegetables available, in bulk quantities.

 

I have seen some paleo cookbooks at my Costco store, including:

Diane Sanfilippo's great new book Practical Paleo, which I recently reviewed;

Sarah Fragoso's Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook;

and Julie and Charles Mayfield's Paleo Comfort Foods.

I have found many other items to help me in the kitchen, including Cook's Illustrated's The Science of Good Cooking; an enameled cast iron 8-quart French oven ($79.99); and a super-exciting new Hamilton Beach slow cooker that has a timer and a removable insert that can be heated on the stovetop or in the oven ($44.99).

What are your favorite products to buy at Costco?

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Comments

  • kristiina Sunday, 12 August 2012

    This is a great list! We buy many of the items here...some things are not available, though, since every Costco stocks different things. Plus, our 18 pack of brown eggs is twice as much as yours...crazy. (I'm in VA) The only thing I'd add to the list is the 6 pack of peppers for $5.59 and the box of baby spinach for 3.99 (that's about half as much as it costs at our local grocery store).

    I'll be printing this off for my next trip to Costco--thanks!

  • Elissa Sunday, 12 August 2012

    I'm glad this list is helpful! The eggs on this list are white, I believe--the brown ones are more expensive and organic at my Costco. I had a great Costco trip the other day and got some bananas for $1.39 for a bunch of 8, fresh wild sockeye for $8.99/lb, really awesome prosciutto for $7.55/12oz, 10lbs of carrots for $5.49 (Earthbound organic, they're really good! I go through them quickly), and plenty of the things on the list. I spotted a new find, which I'll be adding to the list: 78oz of Nutiva coconut oil (this is my preferred brand) for $21.99! And, while I didn't see Practical Paleo By Diane Sanfilippo on the book table of my Seattle Costco (could have been because of the crazy amount of people there?), I DID see, for the first time, Paleo Comfort Foods by Julie & Charles Mayfield and Everyday Paleo by Sarah Fragoso!

  • Tianna Monday, 13 August 2012

    Love this Costco grocery list! People often forget that they can get produce at Costco but I buy most of my veg there - if anything, ginormous bags & containers of spinach/broccoli/bok choy encourage me to eat more greens!

  • kristiina Tuesday, 14 August 2012

    that's awesome re coconut oil...plus the paleo books. the costco buyers are awesome--forward thinkers. i came back to print this off for my trip today. thanks again!

  • Beverly Wednesday, 14 November 2012

    Such an awesome resource! Thanks for putting this together!

  • Liza Wednesday, 14 November 2012

    I also buy Kirkland wild caught smoked sockeye salmon (lox), don't remember the price though. I'm glad to see the pork jerky is gluten free. I never gave it a second glance, automatically assuming it had gluten. I'll have to check it out next time.

  • Lydia Thursday, 20 December 2012

    Thank you for this list! I love Costco & I am there often. I just wanted to get clarification on a couple of the snack items you listed. Aren't the craisins, jerky & Larabars all sweetened with some form of sugar? The last time I looked (it's been a while ago) craisins were sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. Are they unsweetened now? I'm gonna have to check it out because I would love to have them as a snack. Thanks again for the list. I'm printing it out to take with them to hunt down some of these items I didn't know were there.

  • Elissa Thursday, 20 December 2012

    I compiled this list some time ago, and I honestly can't recall whether these items have sugar in them, since I don't actually buy any of these snack items myself. I'm sure you can check the Larabars website for their ingredients, and perhaps Craisins as well. A lot of the dried fruit at Costco is sweetened, but I didn't intentionally list anything sweetened with HFCS.

  • Elissa Thursday, 27 December 2012

    Lydia--I just went to Costco and took a look at the Craisins. They don't have HCFS but DO have a lot of sugar, so I removed them from the list and replaced them with some figs that have no added sugar. Thanks so much for the tip.

  • Lydia Sunday, 20 January 2013

    Elissa,

    Thanks for the follow up!

  • Pam Sunday, 27 January 2013

    Our Costco has great Brussell sprouts too You are right about good fresh produce. Boston lettuce good for wraps

  • [...] Eating at Me (Costco Shopping) [...]

  • Sarah M Friday, 12 July 2013

    I have been buying the Trident salmon burgers but didn't yesterday because the ingredients are NOT paleo. They have flour ad other chemical ingredients in them. The SECOND ingredient is canola oil. Yuk!

  • Elissa Saturday, 13 July 2013

    Thanks for the information! I'll make a note of it.

  • Catherine Thursday, 01 August 2013

    This is wonderful information! Thanks!

  • Naot Footwear Trendy Friday, 06 September 2013

    Now about reviewing the article everyone will like this as it's accurate so it's great spotting an author that's stating this on the internet to look at

  • peter jones Wednesday, 09 October 2013

    Ive just started my diet, this was a big help.

  • how to go paleo Wednesday, 09 October 2013

    I didnt know about this, thanks

  • Katherine Wednesday, 05 February 2014

    Costco Toscano Olive oil (in glsss) is the real deal: a high quality, extra virgin. Sadly their organic olive oil should not be labeled extra virgin nor should their large plastic jug.

    Source: http://www.truthinoliveoil.com/2012/09/toms-supermarket-picks-quality-oils-good-prices

    "Corto Olive – good, fresh super-high-density arbequina oil available at Costco (occasionally)"

    "Costco Kirkland Toscano – Kirkland is the Costco store brand. I’ve been disappointed by Kirkland Organic EVO (not to mention the “extra virgins” in multi-liter plastic jugs), but the Toscano signature oil is the real deal."

    Trader Joes also has some good oils. My favorite is the 100% greek kalamata. Tom writes:
    "Trader Joe’s – 3 out of the 6 extra virgin oils I tasted in August, 2013 were the real deal. One of these, the Premium 100% Greek Kalamata, was very fresh, spicy, complex at an extremely competitive price (1 liter for $8.99). The California Estate Olive Oil was also a good choice, while the Premium Extra Virgin was decent and defect-free, if a bit uninspiring. The 3 other Trader Joe’s “extra virgins” I tasted were defective."

    His blog post here discusses the TJs options:
    http://www.truthinoliveoil.com/2013/08/trader-joes-extravirgins-and-floozies

  • Cindy Thursday, 06 March 2014

    I found 10 pound bags of organic yams (sweet potatoes), for $10.99!

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