The 10 Worst Foods To Buy at Costco, According to Dietitians
You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't love Costco. They have great deals on groceries, including healthy items like chicken breasts and nuts in bulk, but they also have aisles and aisles of not-so-healthy items that are packed into oversized containers. While buying in bulk may save you money, it can make eating healthy and portion control a challenge. On top of that, the big box store offers a lot of delicious, indulgent items that can derail any plans for healthy eating—we're looking at you, Costco bakery!
Look, we're not going to tell you to deprive yourself of the foods you love. Enjoy and indulge! That said, If you're avoiding high fat and high sugar foods, for whatever reason, and getting ready for a Costco run, we've talked to registered dietitians about the best choices in every aisle. Read on for their picks and opinions about what to avoid at Costco if you've committed to eating healthy.
Cinnamon Pull-Apart Rolls
"One of the biggest challenges with this is that the portions are huge and you can't buy just one," says Lisa R. Young, Ph.D., RDN. "You need to buy 12 items which encourages overeating. And they are high in sugar, fat, and calories! Share one with two people."
This is another bakery treat to split with a friend or family member, says Young. "The muffins are so big that they are equivalent to eating four to six pieces of bread. They often have 500 calories, many more than people think."
Kirkland Signature Chicken Bakes
You're better off baking your own chicken, says Young. "Processed meats are particularly unhealthy and have been linked to increases in some chronic diseases like cancer. They are ultra-processed and not as nutritious as homemade meals," she explains. "This frozen chicken bake is loaded with fat, particularly saturated fat coming from the various cheeses. Plus it's high in calories and salt."
Nutri Grain Bars
Don't be fooled by these bars, says Young. "These are not nearly as healthy as people think. First off, buying them in bulk encourages overeating. They are also low in fiber and high in added sugar, with 3 tsp per bar."
Pre-Made Skillet Mac and Cheese
It's just too easy to eat the whole thing! "Like traditional mac and cheese dishes, this one is high in two nutrients that should be limited for heart health—saturated fat and sodium, so keeping portions in mind is important," says Mia Syn, MS, RDN.
"That being said, cheese, while high in fat, also offers valuable nutrition including protein, calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus."
The Food Court Hotdog
Yes, it's good, and yes it's cheap, but it should be an occasional treat, according to Syn. "Costco's famous food court hot dog is a nostalgic crowd-pleasing favorite. While all foods can fit into a healthy and balanced diet, hot dogs should be limited to special occasions since they are processed meat and high in saturated fat and sodium," she says.
Chocolate Covered Potato Chips
"Unlike traditional potato chip servings, this one would be a fraction of the size. Combining potato chips with chocolate makes them more calorically dense and higher in fat and added sugar," Syn explains. "Like traditional potato chips, this snack could be hard not to overeat so keep portions in mind to keep sugar and saturated fat consumption in check."
Kirkland Frozen Pepperoni Pizza
Share this pizza, says Stacy Davis, RD. "This item is really high in salt and fat. It's a thin crust pizza so if you are eating this alone, most likely you are eating more than a quarter of it. Having 1/8 of it along with a salad or some veggies is a better option."
Frozen Beef Wellington
This probably shouldn't be on your grocery list if you're eating healthy. "Frozen Beef Wellington has a hefty amount of saturated fat and sodium," says Jinan Banna, Ph.D., RD. "These are two components of the diet that should be consumed moderately. In excess, they may increase the risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease."
Yes, it's convenient, but Banna explains, "Pre-cooked bacon also contains some saturated fat and sodium to be noted. It is important to moderate intake of both of these, so this should be consumed sparingly. Consumption of too much processed meat has also been shown to be associated with the development of chronic disease."