RD-Approved Costco Finds!

Oh, Costco. How many ways do I love you? The endless rows of giant versions of favorite foods, surprisingly great socks and sports bras, and of course, ALL the samples! I’ve always enjoyed going to Costco with my Mom as long as I can remember. Shopping + food sampling all in one? That’s definitely my idea of an afternoon well spent.

Some of my favorite Costco finds from growing up were the salty, M&M riddled trail mix, Nature Valley granola bars, and Cup-a-Noodles. Times have changed a little since I started paying attention to what I put in my body. Gone are the days of loading up the cart with sodium-laden, sugary foods. This past weekend, I was at my parent’s house helping my mom pack up for their upcoming move. We took a lunch break and went to Costco per my request. Buying in bulk/shopping wholesale can be difficult when shopping for a small household, but knowing your eating habits and purchasing longer lasting, not fresh items can be a really smart financial move. These items here fit seamlessly into mine and Ben’s eating habits,  so I wanted to share some of the best deals I found with you guys! I’ve also noted a range of ways to use each item so you’re able to have some variety in your meals, and make sure nothing goes to waste.

  1. Organic Frozen Berries: 3 pound bag for $8.89
  • This purchase was such a no brainer! Ben and I use frozen fruit regularly, plus frozen foods lasts a long time. I would have spent almost 20 dollars on 3 pounds of organic frozen berries at Whole Foods! I don’t always buy organic produce because of the cost, but strawberries are on the “Dirty Dozen” list, so I try to buy organic berries whenever possible.
  • Ways to use frozen berries: smoothies, berry-chia jam, as a topping for oatmeal or pancakes
  1. Fresh Produce: 1 pound clamshell of organic mixed greens for $3.69, 2 pounds of organic strawberries for $4.99, 6 avocados for $5.69
  • Purchasing produce at Costco can be tricky if you have a small household. This is where knowing your eating habits is essential! For me, I know that I eat a lot of greens each week, as I make big salads for lunch, and often like a bed of greens with my dinner. I also love fresh berries with my breakfast. Once the berries are on their last legs, I’ll make a batch of chia jam, or Ben will throw them into his morning smoothie. We also both love avocado, and will each easily eat half an avocado in a day.
  • Ways to use greens: salads, stir fries, green smoothies, add a few handfuls to homemade pesto, in omelets
  • Ways to use strawberries: smoothies, top oatmeal or yogurt bowls, sliced in pancakes, add to salads, mash onto toast in place of jam, berry-chia jam, muddle or puree and add to a cocktail (or mocktail)!
  • Ways to use avocados: sliced in salads or for sandwiches, avocado toast (duh), avocado egg salad, chocolate avocado mousse, guacamole, creamy garlic avocado pasta sauce, smoothies, a green goddess salad dressing
  1. RX Bars: 12 bars for $16.99 ($1.41 per bar)
  • These are one of my favorite on-the-go snacks to have on hand! I love how simple the ingredient list is, and these bars actually tide my hunger over, as they are a good source of both fiber and protein. Costco only sells a box with their Chocolate Sea Salt and Peanut Butter Chocolate, but those happen to be two of my favorite flavors. Also, this box of 12 is almost 10 dollars less expensive than a box of 12 on RX Bar’s website!
  1. Nuts: Various prices, didn’t see anything over $30 dollars for up to 48 oz
  • Nuts are one of the healthiest, nutrient-dense foods to include in your diet. Costco has a huge variety of different nuts and nut mixes. I usually opt for unsalted varieties to limit sodium consumption. While these bags and containers of nuts aren’t cheap, if you consume them regularly they are a good price compared to typical grocery store prices.
  • Ways to use nuts: on their own as a snack, make your own trail mix, in place of granola on a yogurt bowl, in pesto, blend your own nut butter, crunchy topping for salads and grain bowls, roasted with different spices, added to homemade granola
  1. Almond Flour: $11.99 for 3 pounds
  • This was such an exciting find for me! While I do not follow a gluten free diet, I like to use almond flour in healthier baked goods, because of all the beneficial nutrients it has compared to enriched wheat flour. Almonds and almond flour are high in protein, fiber, monounsaturated fats, magnesium and iron. I had just purchased a 1 pound bag of almond flour at Trader Joe’s for $7.99 the week before, so getting 2 pounds MORE for only 4 extra dollars was a steal!
  • Ways to use almond flour: all those yummy baked goods you have saved on Instagram, pancakes, homemade peanut butter cups, combined with crushed nuts to make a crust on baked fish
  1. Frozen Wild Sockeye Salmon Filets: $32.99 for 3 pounds
  • Last but not least, I found this large bag of wild frozen salmon! I love that the pieces are already pre-portioned and individually vacuum packed. I always choose wild salmon over farmed when it’s affordable, but buying it fresh can be SO expensive. Buying frozen seafood in general is a great way to save money. A 2 pound bag of wild frozen salmon at my Whole Foods was $24.99 for 2 pounds. That’s $12.50 a pound vs. 11 dollars a pound at Costco…great savings!
  • Ways to use frozen salmon: baked or pan fried with lemon juice and herbs, salmon tacos, salmon burgers, salmon egg sandwich, in place of tuna in tuna salad

Buying in bulk is certainly not for everyone, but I love it when I have the option! It definitely takes a little creativity and planning, but can save you money in the long run. I started Daisybeet to show you guys that healthy eating really can be affordable and attainable for all, and I hope I was able to help a little with this guide! I would love to hear your tips and tricks for wholesale shopping for small households, as well as your favorite Costco finds 🙂

Budget-Friendly Grocery Shopping for a Nutritious Week

Do you ever feel overwhelmed when you go to the grocery store, and walk out having spent over 100 dollars on who knows what? (To be honest, this happens to me every time I go into Target). I understand this feeling, and know that one of the biggest perceived barriers to eating well is cost. As a graduate student living in New York City, I’ve become very adept at living on a budget. I’ve learned that grocery shopping and preparing most of my own meals is the best way to stick to a budget. I’ve also learned that with a little planning, shopping for and preparing delicious, healthy meals is easy and fun! I spend between 40 and 60 dollars a week on groceries – and this gets me through a majority of my meals (save for 2-3 meals out, mostly on weekends). Here are my biggest tips to staying within budget, saving time, and eating well by preparing meals at home.

  1. Do your research. Take a look at the grocery stores in your area you are willing to travel to. For some, there may be only one or two options, but if you are like me, there are probably 10 grocery stores within a half mile radius. Figure out which store has the best prices without compromising on quality. Trader Joe’s is my favorite for affordable, consistently high quality products!
  2. Form your plan. Before you shop, decide what you are going to cook for the week. For lunches, I like to prepare a big salad with 2-3 raw veggies, an inexpensive protein like hardboiled eggs or canned tuna, and a simple homemade vinaigrette. For dinners, decide on a few easy recipes that store well for a few days in the fridge. The majority of my meals are actually not “recipes,” rather, they are simple combinations of a lean protein source, simply prepared vegetables, and a complex carbohydrate. For example, baked salmon with roasted Brussels sprouts and cinnamon-paprika sweet potato fries.
  3. Shop the sales. Take a look at the sales flyer for your grocery store (or check online – Whole Foods posts their sale items by store) to figure out what is on sale that week. Usually, the produce on sale is also seasonal, so you’ll be saving money and eating in-season, flavorful food at the same time!
  4. Choose mostly plant-based meals. Contrary to what many people think, eating a plant-based diet is actually quite inexpensive. Meat and poultry are some of the most expensive items in grocery stores. Trying more vegetarian proteins is good for your health AND your wallet. Some examples are canned beans, eggs, frozen edamame and tofu.
  5. Block off 2 to 3 hours. You’ll want to have some time to shop, but you also need to prepare the food once you get home! Blocking off a few hours once a week to prep everything in advance will make weeknights easier and help you avoid ordering take out knowing the fridge is stocked with a fully or partially prepared meal.
  6. Make a list. Once your meal plan is set, make a list of all the ingredients you need. If you have time, it helps to organize the list by category – produce, grains, canned goods, etc. IMPORTANT: Check your pantry and fridge to see what you already have on hand. There have been more times than I can count that I come home with a carton of eggs or bag of oatmeal, only to find one unopened when I return! This step reduces food waste and saves you storage space and money.
  7. Don’t shop hungry. Go to the store after you’ve eaten a nice meal or snack. Shopping while hungry may lead to you stray from your list as you see snacks that become temptations. Shopping on a full stomach will help you stick to the plan and keep you within budget.
  8. Pump the jams. Once you return from shopping, put on your favorite tunes and get cooking! Start with the items that will take the longest to cook, such as roasting vegetables, then move on to the quicker tasks, like chopping lettuce or making a vinaigrette.

Follow these tips, and after a few weeks, you’ll be a grocery shopping pro! I may even go so far as to say you’ll ENJOY it J For a little more inspiration, I’ve attached a simple shopping list to use. Print out a copy, or make your own to help get started.

Daisybeet Shopping List for One

I would love to see your shopping successes and meal prep masterpieces on Instagram. Tag #Daisybeet so I can check them out!