Real Food 101: Top Ten Staples We Buy at Costco

Ever since I posted my list of top staples we buy at Trader Joe’s, I’ve received quite a few requests that I do the same thing for the other stores we frequent as well. The most popular requests? Costco and Sam’s Club. Now, I don’t have a membership to Sam’s Club, but I have been a member of Costco for many years. At first, it was difficult to find real food options in the big box store, but lately, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the abundance of organic and real food options they have.

So, without further ado, here are the top ten staples we buy at Costco. (For our family of four, we easily save more than our $50 annual club fee and we are enrolled in the program that gives us 2% back at the end of the year.)


100% pure maple syrup. Almost $5.00 less than Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.

Costco Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Organic extra virgin olive oil. Because many “olive oils” are actually a blend of genetically modified vegetable oils mixed with just over 50% olive oil, I only buy the organic variety for our family. While I would prefer this to be sold in a glass bottle, the value is just too great to pass up!

costco organic sugar

Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Cane Sugar…this is the sugar we use for everything. USDA certified organic, non-gmo, and completely unbleached. At just over $1/lb, this is a great way to make an organic upgrade without breaking the budget.

organic coconut oilWhen this product first hit Costco shelves last month, coconut oil lovers everywhere did a happy dance! I use this as “lotion” in the winter, for making homemade popcorn, in cookies, and to grease my egg pan. Yum, yum, and yum.

costco baking sodaThe best value in baking soda. I use it to scour my kitchen sink, clean bath tubs and showers, in my homemade electrolyte drink, to soften the girls bath water, and even to brush my teeth (it is a natural whitener). Buying baking soda in bulk costs about 1/10 of an equal amount purchased in the little boxes.

Distilled White VinegarYou all know I’m obsessed with vinegar. Buying it in bulk allows me to clean my whole house for about $.30. I’m not joking.

Costco NutsFor a long time, I fell for the rumor that Trader Joe’s had the best price on nuts. Then I decided to do the math myself. It turns out Costco nuts are about half the price of Trader Joe’s. Our family is nuts for nuts, so we are always able to finish a bag before they go rancid. Remember, as with any perishable product, buying in bulk is only a good deal if you will be able to use it up in a timely fashion.

Long Grain Organic RiceWe include brown rice in our diet at least once or twice a week. Buying these large bags of organic brown rice from Costco allows our family to eat rice all year long for less than $30.00. Once open, store rice in the fridge for up to a year.

muir glen fire roasted tomatoes

This is the only brand of canned tomato products that I currently buy for our family. Why? Because the can liners are BPA-FREE!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!! They also taste incredible and are made using organic tomatoes and without any yucky preservatives. (BPA has been linked to lower sperm count in males and early puberty in girls as young as seven.)

Gummy vites

Let me just be honest. I debated on whether or not to include this one. I know that giving children multi-vitamins, especially ones that taste like candy, is a very controversial subject. However, I do buy these for our girls, they enjoy them, the ingredients are legit, and purchasing them at Costco is less than half the price of what Whole Foods charges for the exact same product. (Do you give your kiddos a multi-vitamin?)

Anyways, these are some of the top staples we buy at Costco and try to keep stocked in our pantry at all times. Having these (and a few other staples) on hand saves our family hundreds of dollars a year and equips us with the ability to whip up quick and wholesome meals even when our stock of fresh food is lacking.

What is your favorite Costco product?!?

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  1. Melissa Morris says:

    I also buy most of these at Costco, except the sugar. I was curious about this, as I have been a C&H girl forever even though it is not organic–cane sugar is the only thing to use when you are a baker! I was wondering about the texture of the organic sugar and if it is fine like C&H or larger like the Sugar In The Raw. If it is larger, can you use a food processor to make it finer?

  2. I love the quinoa!!!

  3. This is a great list. Some additions to it that our family really loves are as follows:

    Mountain View low fat yogurt. Great for smoothies.
    Ancient Grains granola. Healthiest granola I can find and the price really isn’t that bad.
    Frozen berries. You just can’t beat the price.
    Cheese sticks. My son LOVES cheese sticks.

  4. I routinely buy nearly everything on this list! As you pointed out, there is a lot of food fraud out there, and many olive oils – even the organic ones – have been cut with cheaper oils. While I don’t have the reference at the moment, I do know that the Costco brand has been tested and verified to be 100% olive oil. Added bonus!

    Additionally, I can’t find a better price on organic whole chickens. I can find drumsticks only for less per pound at Trader Joe’s, but if you want a whole bird Costco is the way to go. I also buy their organic cheese.

    • Yes! Thank you for sharing on the olive oil. I just assumed that all organic would be pure…isn’t that the point?!? Anyways, great to know that Kirkland’s has been verified! Re: chickens…we had a local source that was over $1/lb cheaper but they went out of business. ๐Ÿ™ So sad.

  5. Aly Millert says:

    I love the organic whole chickens there as well as their organic chicken breasts and thighs. ๐Ÿ™‚ great list

  6. Thanks for posting this the day before I was planning to go to Costco! I was looking for the Muir Glenn canned tomatoes, though, and they (the Mar Vista Costco) didn’t have them – I did notice a ton of organic canned tomatoes from the Kirkland brand, which I don’t remember seeing before and I wonder if Costco is going to discontinue carrying Muir Glenn in favor of their own Kirkland brand? (I didn’t buy the tomatoes since I’m not sure about the can lining for the Kirkland brand).

    • Bummer! Our Costco had both Kirkland and Muir Glen…maybe they were just out. According to the lady I spoke with at Muir Glen, canned tomatoes that have an orange-y inside are bpa-free…if they have a white-ish inside, they still contain bpa. Not sure if that is true of all brands, but that was her suggestion. I guess they have such a long shelf life that some people still have ones in their pantry with bpa, but they are not making them.

      • You mean, orange-y just because it takes up on the color of tomatoes, and there is no coating at all, or orange coating? I have never seen orange coating inside the can, and I buy Muir Glen a lot. Thank you

  7. I noticed that the canned tomatoes are “fire roasted”. Does that change the flavor of them, or are they just good ol’ unflavored tomatoes??

    • Well…I would say they are plain tomatoes, but with a bit more “fresh flavor”. We use them in place of plain tomatoes in almost everything…I would say buy one at the normal store to try before you commit to the case if you are worried. Hope that helps!

    • I try not to buy fire-roasted tomatoes, as the black bits they usually come with are carcinogenic, but I am not sure about Costco’s brand, maybe they don’t have those black stuff in them. Have never tried them.

  8. HI
    was looking at baking soda online and found your website. was going to use it for taking a bath.
    Noticed your list of foods get at Costco. Also last year heard that for several years the government requires almonds to be pastuerized. I called Costco last year and unless they changed, they said, all Kirkland labeled nuts were pasturized using a chemnical method (can find on almond board). If labeled organic, that process cant be used. So I stopped getting nuts there. Actually found pecans, 2lbs/12 at Whole foods and walnuts 2lbs/9 last time there.
    While there are four main methods of pasteurizing almonds, steam processing, high heat treatment (roasting), blanching and highly toxic fumigation treatment with propylene oxide (PPO)(fumigant)
    You choose what want to eat.

    • Hi Mera! Thank you so much for sharing! I had no clue on the nuts, but I do know that imported spices are treated the same way so it comes as no surprise! I am so grateful that you made me aware of this so I can change from here on out!

  9. Jill Claterbos-Clay says:

    Hi Katie,
    I took your class on Saturday and started implementing some of the things you talked about today. After you discussed GMOs I was very concerned about one of my favorite things to buy at Costco, Edamame. I looked today and they are GMO free and organic! I am so excited I can still purchase my favorite snack without any concerns.

    Thanks for a great class and yummy recipes. I look forward to taking some more.

    • Yay! Yes, I love the steamed organic edamame from Costco! I was trying to stick with dry-good staples so didn’t mention them. So great to have you in class! I’m just subscribing everyone that signed up to my blog now, so watch for your confirmation email! Just FYI, anything that has the green and white USDA organic circle label on it has to be gmo-free!! That makes it a little easier to avoid the nasties!

  10. I don’t know about all the nuts that Costco sells but at least the almonds are pasteurized with PPO, a carcinogen known to cause cancer. For this reason we stopped buying our nuts there and look for organic, unpasteurized nuts.

  11. I buy the same products you show here at Costco, , except Coconut oil, it’s cheaper at Trader Joe’s. I’ve seen it even cheaper at Aldi ones (and yes,it was organic there too), but when I went back it was gone. Love both Trader Joe’s and Costco, and now Aldi, where you can buy some German products, is my new fav ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. I just wrote a comment, and only then noticed when you wrote this blogs ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, in 2013 coconut oil was cheap at Costco, as well as quinoa. Now they raised the prices a lot! I still by quinoa there, as it is still cheaper than anywhere else, but at the same time, it’s much more expensive than it used to be,
    Glad I found your blog, and I was just looking online how much Costco’s organic rice costs.
    Love the name of your blog, that’s how I call myself- healthnut ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. I wonder about bpas in the coconut oil, olive oil, and maple syrup.

  14. discouraged healthnut says:

    I have purchased walnuts,pecans & almonds every 6-8 weeks for a long time and am very sad to know that the almonds are gassed with PPO ! Shameful! hopefully all members will e-mail costco to let them know it is not right,especially for a membership store! I have tried to find out about processing method of walnuts and pecans ,but can’t get an answer!


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