One of the biggest struggles that families share with me in their journey to healthy eating is the trip to the grocery store. Price is often listed as a major roadblock, as is the terror of reading labels. Many moms feel like they are bombarded by claims they have no way of legitimizing and ingredient lists that they cannot pronounce. Is fat good or bad? How much sugar is too much? Is high fructose corn syrup really a big deal? What the heck is monosodium glutamate? It can become a daunting full time job and it can be a challenge to keep up.
Local, organic, grass-fed, free-range, non-GMO, and hormone-free are always best. Period. Real food just can’t be beat. However, a family making healthy choices does not need to be unaffordable. Make the best choices you can when you can, but don’t beat yourself up if you need to compromise occasionally. There is no health benefit to guilt.
To help families find healthy options at “normal “ grocery stores, here are my top picks from Costco.
1. Eat Smart Sweet Kale Vegetable Salad Mix – $5.39
This salad is so yummy. It’s a great quick meal or side full of nutritious super-foods. Just add a protein source (like one of Costco’s tilapia or mahi mahi frozen fish) and you are all set to go. The dressing is dairy and gluten free, but does contain soy and eggs. Find it in the walk-in-fridge section.
2. Kirkland Signature Whole Almonds (1.36kg) – $16.99
Whole nuts are a great healthy snack. These bags are big and last quite a long time. Choose non-salted, non-blanched when available. They also have pecans, walnuts, cashews, and pistachios.
3. Olympic Organic Probiotic Yogurt (2 x 600g) – $6.99
All organic. No additives. Only organic cane sugar used as a sweetener. A healthy microbiome (the complex balance of helpful little critters in your gut) is paramount for overall health and vitality. A probiotic yogurt is a great daily helper to maintain a healthy microbiome (so long as you have no sensitivities, intolerances, or allergies to lactose, whey, or casein). Add granola and berries for a delicious parfait treat.
4. Sun Tropics Coconut Water (12 x 520mL) – $14.59
Not-from-concentrate. No sugar added. Just pure coconut water. Coconut water is a natural source of minerals and electrolytes. It is my choice over artificial sports drinks any day. Some people find coconut water to be an acquired taste, so give it a couple chances. Be sure to serve cold and shake well.
5. Kirkland Signature Stir-fry Vegetables – $9.79
Another great, quick meal option for the whole family. I like to make this stir-fry with coconut oil and pair with salmon cakes or a white fatty fish. It’s a tasty and hassle-free way to increase your daily vegetable intake. There are a few different frozen vegetable options available.
6. Salmon Cakes
During my most recent trip to Costco, this item was not in the freezer section, but it usually is. These are tasty Alaskan salmon cakes (like burger patties) that can be barbequed, pan fried, or baked. Another healthy, tasty and quick dinner, salmon is a great protein source with the added benefit of essential fatty acids. There are lots of great frozen fish options in the freezer section. Choose non-breaded and low-sodium selections.
7. Philippine Dried Mangoes (800g) – $14.49
Though certainly not an everyday food, dried fruit can be a tasty sweet treat. These dried mangoes are delicious, but they are fairly high in sugar, so use moderation. They also have dried coconut and apricots.
8. Fresh Food Section
I know this isn’t exactly one food item, but I felt I needed to bring attention to the fact that Costco has a fresh produce and walk-in-freezer area. There are cucumbers, bell peppers, pineapple, a variety of greens, melons, and avocados. There are even veggie and fruit trays ready to pick up from events and special occasions. Generally it is a very reasonable priced section.
9. Webber Naturals Triple Strength Omega-3
I could write a whole series of blogs on the multiple benefits of essential fatty acids. Suffice it to say that most people are not getting all they need for optimum health. The omega-3 fatty acids in this supplement come from wild fish from the Pacific Ocean and are well regulated for purity. The enteric coating helps avoid those terrible fish oil burps; it slows down digestion of the tablet so that it does not break down early in the stomach.
10. Jamieson Vitamin C (500mg)
Vitamin C is one of your body’s favorite antioxidants. It is essential for connective tissue formation, neurotransmitter production, cholesterol breakdown, iron absorption, and, of course, healthy immune system functioning. This supplement has vitamin C in the forms of ascorbic acid and sodium ascorbate, both of which have good bioavailability, as well as a supporting blend of botanicals. It does have sweeteners, but there is no gluten or artificial colors or flavors and it is suitable for vegetarians.
Every Costco has different stock and their stock varies. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. It is meant to be a guide to help shoppers make better decisions for their family’s health. Eating healthy does not need to feel like an unrealistic ideal. Take it one step at a time and enjoy the journey.