The Best and Worst Costco Foods for 2021
Figuring out the best, most nutritionally dense foods to buy — especially at a store as huge as Costco — isn't always easy. That's what we're here for!
We checked in with a whole bunch of nutrition experts to find out what they suggest people buy at Costco if they want to make healthy choices. They also gave us suggestions on what the worst foods at Costco for nutrition are. Some of these foods might surprise you, but some of them will definitely make sense.
You might find some of your favorites on this list, and hopefully, they'll be in the good category rather than the bad. Ahead, find the best and worst foods at Costco and bookmark this for your next warehouse run.
And for more on what to buy and not to buy at the warehouse chain, here are Costco Foods You Should Always Avoid, According to Nutritionists.
Best: Fresh Organic Chicken
One of the most obvious and biggest advantages of Costco is that you can buy in bulk to save money. But if you're buying fresh food, buying in bulk doesn't always seem like the best choice. However, Heather Hanks, a nutritionist at Instapot Life, actually takes advantage of the bulk buying — when it comes to chicken.
"I like to buy fresh organic chicken in bulk and freeze the packs that I don't use," she says. "This is a great hack for families!" (Costco has a few options, like this one.)
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When we say "barrel of pretzels at Costco," we know you can picture exactly what we're talking about. These are definitely appealing because they're a delicious crunchy snack that's easy on your wallet. And while pretzels can be okay in small amounts, they're really not the best snacking option.
"A single serving contains nearly 20% of your daily recommended intake of sodium —and we all know that a surplus of sodium can lead to water retention and bloating," says John Fawkes, NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer, Precision Nutrition-certified nutritional counselor, and managing editor at The Unwinder. He also added that pretzels are essentially empty calories because there's really no nutritional value to be found.
Best: Love Beets
This isn't the first time we've raved about Love Beets. These in particular make mealtime so much easier. They're already ready to eat and can be thrown in a salad, in a bowl of veggies, or just eaten alone. Registered dietitian Emily Timm is also a fan of these. "They're super tasty, nutritious and convenient," she shares and adds that she particularly loves them as a salad add-on.
For more on this purple veggie, Here's Why You Should Add Beets to Your Diet.
Worst: Chocolate Chip Cookies
Do we even need to say it? Yes, these cookies are delicious. Yes, we know you want to eat them. No, you probably shouldn't (even when they're on sale).
Actually, eating one cookie here and there is fine and can help you keep a balanced diet, but the biggest problem with Costco's chocolate chip cookies is that you get so many in one pack, which makes it easier to eat too many of them. With all the sugar and refined carbs, these cookies should definitely stay on Costco's shelves.
Best: Kirkland Spring Water
If you're someone who struggles to drink enough water every day or if you're someone who has a hard time staying away from soda, this one's for you. With sparkling water, you're not only upping your water intake, but you're drinking something that has all the vibes of a soda without all the sugar. Dr. Amy Lee, head of nutrition at Nucific, loves stocking up on Kirkland Sparkling Water when she makes a Costco run.
"A lot of people, including myself, find sparkling water to be more tolerable [than plain water]," she says. "At zero calories, and at about 0.30 per can, it's just another added reason to embrace hydration." Plus, you can add some frozen berries to it for more antioxidants and more flavor!
Worst: Kirkland Bacon Crumbles
Bacon isn't necessarily a bad food to eat. It does have a lot of protein (albeit also a lot of salt and fat), but Kirkland's Bacon Crumbles are not the route to go when you want bacon.
"One Tbsp. contains 4% of your daily value of saturated fat and 5% of your daily sodium intake and they are completely void of nutrients," Jenni Bourque, registered holistic nutritionist and contributor to DNA Lean, shares. If you really want bacon, buy a pack of real low-sodium bacon and cook it yourself.
More news about the breakfast staple just came out this week, and there's a major side effect of eating it.
Best: Cauliflower Rice
Costco has a few cauliflower rice options, and they're all worth picking up. Amy Davis, RD, LDN, says, "Cauliflower rice is such a great way to add nutrition and volume to your meals with little to no calories, fat, sodium, or carbs."
She also notes that you can easily add this into so many more things than you might realize to get an extra serving of veggies: oatmeal, smoothies, your favorite rice-based dish, and more. "And for all the rice lovers out there, try half rice, half cauliflower rice and you won't even know the difference (probably)."
More than one of the nutrition experts we spoke to highlighted Costco's giant tub of Nutella as an absolute no-no. It goes without saying that Nutella, though a nut-based treat, is just loaded with sugar. Though a small bit of Nutella here and there would be a fine treat, carting home a six-pound tub (or two) of Nutella from Costco is just asking for trouble. Unless you plan to use it in an industrial kitchen or a restaurant — anywhere you're serving dozens of people — just leave it at the warehouse.
Best: Banza Pasta
Banza pasta is an excellent, nutritious alternative to regular pasta. Made from chickpeas, this pasta has less refined grains and way more protein and fiber. "It offers twice the protein and three times the fiber of traditional pasta — while also lower in carbs and naturally gluten-free," says Maggie Michalczyk, RDN. "I use it anytime I'm in the mood for a pasta dish with more nutrition!"
Plus, you can stock up on it by bulk-buying at Costco and even save a little money along the way.
Worst: Veggie Straws
Just because the name has "veggie" in it doesn't mean these are a healthy snack. They're actually full of carbs, salt, and fat — and very little veggie content at all.
"So many people get caught up in the marketing of these, but in reality, they're no different from a potato chip," Timm says. "There's nothing wrong with eating potato chips on occasion, but if you're choosing these because you think they are healthier they're not… unfortunately!"
WE have some ideas for what you can eat instead: Everyone's Excited About This Healthy Costco Platter In Stores Now.