Calgary Dietitians Share Their Costco Favourites

Calgary Dietitians Share Their Costco Favourites

Calgary Dietitians Share Their Costco Favourites

Do you ever wonder if you’re missing something good at Costco? I know I have my favourites, but the shelves are jammed with hundreds of unusual products I’ve never tried. I wondered, what do other nutrition pros buy at Costco? I surveyed Calgary dietitians, and 12 of them answered the call, some with long lists and enthusiastic descriptions, some highlighting just one or two favourites.

The answers revolve around the theme of whole and minimally processed foods like fresh and frozen fruit, and most lists also have a few uniquely Costco items. I’ll start with the most popular choices, then share the individual lists, followed by a few words about what dietitians don’t buy at Costco. Hope you discover something new. I did!

Calgary Dietitians’ Costco Top Ten

Okay, technically, there are 14 items on this list, because there were a few ties. Nonetheless, these are the foods mentioned by at least a quarter of the dietitians in my little unscientific survey, in order of popularity.

  1. Just about everyone mentioned fresh fruit and vegetables – a wide variety of them.
  2. Over half like the frozen fruit, especially berries.Costco frozen blueberries
  3. Also more than half get meat, fish, or chicken at Costco, but all different products.
  4. Five go for greek yogurt, of which some mentioned the Kirkland plain 3-pack, while the others go for Liberte or Oikos.
  5. Five do black bean spaghetti, which I’ve never been brave enough to try (in a Costco size)! (Note – this was not available last time I went to Costco, but hopefully they get it back soon.) 
  6. Hemp hearts 
  7. Crackers – all different brands and varieties (see below)
  8. Quick cooking steel cut oats
  9. Avocado oil
  10. Extra virgin olive oil
  11. Silver Hills bread
  12. Chia seeds 
  13. Cheese
  14. Natural peanut butter

Calgary Dietitians’ Costco Shopping Lists

Sarah Remmer, RD
President, Lead Consulting Dietitian, Writer/Blogger, sarahremmer.com

My faves are:

  • Black bean spaghetti (pictured below)
  • 3% oikos flavoured yogurts
  • Tru Roots Chia Seeds (pictured below)
  • Kirkland Organic ground beef 3-pack
  • Lilydale organic whole chickens
  • Natural peanut butter – 2 pack 
  • Bob’s Red Mill quick-cooking steel cut oats Bob's Red Mill Quick Cooking Steel Cut Oats at Costco

Kristy Leavitt, RD
South Health Campus

  • Pumpkin seeds – Costco sells a giant bag of delicious roasted pumpkin seeds for a pretty decent price. I love adding them to my oatmeal at breakfast and salads for some extra protein.Pumpkin seeds at Costco
  • Sprouted rice & quinoa blend (pictured below) – I love that this takes way less time to cook than regular brown rice, but is still super nutritious!
  • The 3-pack of plain Greek yogurt (pictured below) – Greek yogurt that’s WAY cheaper than anywhere else!
  • Frozen fruit – Costco’s frozen fruit section is the best, plus its cheaper than frozen fruit at most other grocery stores.
  • Fresh berries – Costco has literally the most beautiful fruit, especially berries! I always load up on strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries (especially during the summer!)
  • Natural peanut butter 2-pack – I go through a LOT of PB, so these 2-packs are great.
  • Roasted chickpeas – These are great for a super convenient protein-rich snack (aka a snack that will keep you feeling full for a while!)
  • Silver Hills bread – Aside from Cob’s bread, Silver Hills is my fav. Super nutritious and filling, thanks to the high-fibre and high-protein sprouted grains; plus you can’t beat $6 for 2 loaves!

Melanie Ksienski, RD

We love lots…Mary's crackers at Costco

  • Mary’s crackers 
  • Sweet potato crackers
  • Tunisian organic extra virgin olive oil (pictured below)
  • Natural peanut butter
  • Almond butter
  • Bob’s Red Mill quick cooking steel cut oats
  • Hemp hearts (pictured below)
  • Tamari almonds
  • Frozen fruit, especially berries
  • Most fresh produce
  • Plain Greek yogurt (pictured below)
  • Green pea pasta at CostcoThe green pea pasta. It’s great – kids love it too. Best when made fresh and eaten right away. Hardens in the fridge and not so good for leftovers. (Note – also not in stock right now, but hopefully coming back!)
  • Rio Mare Italian tuna – a fairly new item and so glad they carry it now!
  • Coconut clusters
  • Quinoa
  • Kirkland no sodium added organic tomato sauce & diced tomatoes

Oh I could go on and on…

Ali Campbell, MSc, RD
Preventous Collaborative Health

  • Avocado oil (pictured below)
  • Black bean & edamame pasta 
  • Berries
  • Hemp heartsHemp Hearts at Costco

Vincci Tsui, RD
vinccitsui.com

I know clients LOVE the sweet kale salad, snap pea crisps, roasted chickpeas and PB2 (pictured below). Our Costco staples are more boring:

  • Chia seedsChia seeds at Costco
  • Walnuts
  • Hemp hearts
  • Meat
  • We also like to buy the big bottles/jugs of shredded parmesan and keep it in the freezer.
  • Oh, and I like to keep a bag of BarkThins in the freezer too

If we didn’t get Squirrelly bread (pictured below) through SPUD we would probably buy it at Costco.

Sarah Cross-Leu, RD

Love the Cloud 9 Gluten-Free granola bar mix!Cloud 9 Gluten-Free granola bar mix at Costco

Chelsey Love, BSc, RD
Registered Dietitian for Simply For Life
chelseylovenutrition.com

  • Brown rice / quinoa blend TruRoots Sprouted Rice & Quinoa Blend at Costco
  • Avocado oil (pictured below)
  • Mary’s Crackers
  • Silver hills bread (pictured below)
  • Frozen berries and mango
  • Perrier water
  • Vanilla hazelnut coffee beans
  • Crumbled feta cheese
  • Huge avocados
  • Cherry tomatoes – AB grown!
  • Frozen wild sockeye salmon
  • 4-pack ground turkey
  • Flat of free range eggs
  • Kitty litter lol

Carolina Leon, RD

  • The black bean spaghetti  My kids love it and I tell them is Batman pasta. ?Black Bean Spaghetti at Costco

Evelyn Cheng, RD
Owner at Eatuitive Nutrition
Consultant at Imagine Heath Centres Downtown

  • Olive oil – about half price compared to regular grocery stores Cooking oils at Costco
  • Hemp hearts
  • Greek yogurt (Oikos or Liberte)
  • Vegetables – especially the little potato company, bell peppers, asparagus & mushrooms
  • Fruits (especially berries)
  • Coffee beans – haha not sure if this should be mentioned but this is also about half price
  • Clif bars – about 30% off and sometimes they do $3 off
  • Cheese – almost half price as well
  • Bulk meats – up to 30% off sometimes with $3-5 off, but caution on price as sometimes equal to regular stores
  • Spices – $3.99 for a big thing of Chili flakes, black peppercorns, pure vanilla extract (large and I think $22.99)
  • English muffins – $5.99 for 24 but the caveat is they’re white – more than half off!!

As you can all see I love numbers 😉 Unrelated to food: ANKLE SOCKS!

Rachelle Vallee, RD
Diabetes Centre Calgary

  • Organic black bean spaghetti and Pedon More than Pasta Green pea pasta – both are gluten free, high protein and fibre, low carb
  • Hummus – I like the red pepper hummus because I eat a lot! But my clients often like the pre-portioned ones to help with portion control
  • Silver Hills Little Big Bread
  • 0% plain Greek yogurt (Kirkland) Plain Greek yogurt at Costco

To name a few!

Emma Train, RD, CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator)
inyourfacenutrition.com

  • PB2 Peanut butter powderPB2 powdered peanut butter at Costco
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • 3 seed beetroot crackers (gluten-free)
  • Bagged salads
  • Small peppers
  • Coffee
  • Avocados
  • Precooked beets
  • Cooking oils (extra-virgin olive oil and avocado)
  • Frozen free-range chicken breasts
  • Bob’s Red Mill quick-cooking steelcut oats
  • Canned no-salt added tomatoes
  • Frozen blueberries
  • Frozen raspberries

I generally only buy what I can carry and it’s usually everything on this grocery list once every three weeks.

Nicole LeBlanc, RD
Owner/Coach, Nutrition Renewal

  • Chia seeds
  • Organic broccolini
  • Black bean spaghetti
  • Artichokes
  • Coconut oil
  • Vega protein
  • Bobs Red Mill quick-cooking steel cut oats
  • Silver Hills bread Silver Hills bread at Costco

Cheryl Strachan, BSc, RD, MBA (me!)
Sweet Spot Nutrition

Here’s the list I had at the start, although I’ll be adding a few based on all of the good ideas above.

  • Crunchmaster multi-grain crackers Crunchmaster whole-grain crackers at Costco
  • Hummus
  • Parmesan or asiago cheese
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables, especially cherry tomatoes, mandarin oranges, pre-washed spinach, portobello mushrooms, grapes, and whatever else looks good.
  • Chicken thighs
  • 4-pack ground turkey
  • Trident wild salmon burgers
  • Steelhead trout

    Costco steelhead trout

    Steelhead trout

  • Frozen fruit, especially blueberries and cherries. We love these!
  • Hemp hearts
  • Chia seeds
  • Quinoa
  • Nuts, including almonds, walnuts, pecans, and cashews.
  • Avocado oil and extra virgin olive oil
  • Ocean’s Pole & Line light chunk tuna
  • Boom Chicka Pop Sea Salt Popcorn – just 30 calories and 30mg sodium per cup, and my kids love getting it in their lunch
  • Finally, occasionally, dark chocolate almond or pumpkin seed BarkTHINS, which I tuck away in the basement pantry.

What’s NOT On the Lists

Researchers have speculated that warehouse stores like Costco could be contributing to our growing waistlines. Eating behaviour expert Brian Wansink demonstrated in study after study that people consume more from large packages, whether food or not. There’s a reason manufacturers are happy to discount everything from giant shampoo to granola bars for Costco.

So, if you want to eat less of something, logic suggests not buying it in Costco-sized packages. That may explain why we didn’t see potato chips, pop, cookies, or candy on most of the lists. We didn’t hear about cold cereal (almost all of the cereal Costco stocks exceeds the 8g of sugar per serving criteria in my best cereals roundup). We also didn’t see highly processed entrees like pot pies or mini-tacos. As Vincci Tsui said, our Costco staples are a bit boring, and that’s a good thing. Dietitians may enjoy those things from time to time, but you won’t see us buying them in bulk.

One specific product I was pleased not to see was the fake healthy Veggie Straws (pet peeve alert). img_3005Unfortunately, I see these all over the school and at birthday parties, but they’re actually emptier empty calories than good old potato chips! Read the label. No veggie goodness in there.

Also, no dietitian mentioned Dave’s Good Seed Bread. While it’s a source of healthy seeds, it’s partly white flour (see the label below and refer to my Whole Grain Pop Quiz if you’re still scratching your head) and each slice has over a teaspoon of added sugar! If you want a better choice, look at the Silver Hills or even Dempsters breads. (Or hit your local Cobs bread instead – see my recent review here.)screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-12-32-17-pm


When you go to Costco, use Brian Wansink’s research to your advantage and buy large packages of what you DO want to eat more of – fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, fish, etc. Hope this gave you plenty of good ideas.

Thank-you to all of the amazing dietitians who contributed to this article. Anyone else, chime in on the Sweet Spot Facebook page and share your favourites.