As of today I am an official card carrying member of Costco.
I didn't take this decision lightly. In fact I don't really want to belong to this club. I hate big box stores, loud lighting, crowds, food demonstrators, and being surrounded by palettes of inedible food. I love supporting and interacting with my small local/organic grocer. So why would I join this place?
Feeding a family of four is expensive, especially when you shop healthy. In all, we spend an average of $1400 a month on household groceries. Gasp! I just got a heart palpitation typing that. It's not really a budget but more of an out of control train. What makes it even more difficult is that our food preferences are quite varied. For example:
- My adult daughter and I eat mostly gluten, dairy and sugar-free. We make whole food smoothies every morning. This means we eat a ton of organic greens, lots of vegetables, nuts and legumes, coconut products, organic frozen berries, fresh fruit, eggs and some meat. Oh...and 70% cocoa chocolate. Can't forget the chocolate.
- My husband eats a typical Mediterranean diet....lots of salads, olives, bread, pasta, fruit, stinky cheese and meat.
- My bottomless-pit teenage son will eat whatever is put in front of him, pizza, cookies and ice cream.
The Healthy Costco Experiment
My goal this year is to cut $3000 off our yearly grocery budget. It's either that or get rid of one of the kids. I'm curious to see if Costco can help me reach my thrifty goals. Googling "Healthy Foods Costco" brought up quite a few positive reviews, but they were all for the USA. It seems no one in Canada has anything to say on the subject. Thus, my Costco experiment.
First, I checked out the store with a member friend. I wrote down a lot of prices and made a few purchases. I realized that in pecans, hazelnuts, organic spinach, bananas and pesticide-free blueberries alone, I could save over $200 a year. Argh. This is not what I wanted to hear. With much apprehension, I joined.
Which Costco membership should you get?
A membership at Costco Canada costs 62.15 (including taxes). At sign up there was a push towards getting the executive membership. This would cost a total $124.30 and would get me a rebate check for 2% of my yearly pre-tax purchases. That means that if you spend more than $258 pre-tax a month, you'll start chipping away at the cost of what would have been your basic membership. Spend over $516 per month and you have yourself a free membership and money to spare.
*Costco membership tip: When I got home, I noticed that memberships start, not on the day you sign up but rather the month. If I had known this, I would have waited 5 days until we were at the beginning of Febuary to join.
Much to the cashiers disapproval, I chose the basic card, my reason being that Costco doesn't carry enough of the fresh or frozen organic produce we need on a daily basis. They also don't carry any truly non-toxic house and body products. Costco Canada does carry the Ecos brand but most of their products rate pretty poorly on the EWG. This means that for now, I'll stay with the lower class Costco citizens. I also don't want to fall into the Costco trap of buying things we don't need. Let's just say I won't be bringing my son here.
It turns out the selection of organic and conventional foods was even better than I thought. Plus my husband found the cheese department.)
What I will be doing over the next few months is posting my Canadian Costco healthy food finds here. Every time I'm there, I spot something new. Prices and products will vary from store to store, but hopefully this can help you decide if a Costco Canada membership is right for you. And if you already have a Costco membership, anywhere in the world, let me know what your favourite healthy finds are in the comment section below.
***A year has gone by since this post. It's membership renewal time for me. Will we renew? After you look over the foods below, check out my one year update post here.
Costco's Produce Section
To stay on budget, know how to successfully combine conventional and organic produce purchases. Check out the EWG's pesticide guide and decide where the balance lies within your budget.
- $3.89/11oz container Earthbound organic baby spinach
- $3.89/11oz container Earthbound organic Spring mix
- $3.39/11oz container EarthGreens organic baby kale (looks like Costco is replacing Earthbound with this brand)
- $3.89/11oz container Earthbound organic Romaine
- $6.99/5lbs Earthbound organic Baby Carrots
- Organic strawberries (very bland tasting so far)
Not organic but low in pesticides:
- $6.99/5 big Avocados
- $7.99/5lbs Mangoes
- $2.49 Pineapple
- $4.49/680g Mushrooms
- Portobello Mushrooms
- $3.99/5lbs Sweet Potatoes
- $1.67/3lb Bananas
- $4.79/2lb Brussels Sprouts
- $3.49 Cantaloupe
Costco's Money Saving Nuts (not organic):
- $12.99/908g Kirkland Pecans (Huge savings!)
- $10.99/908g Basse Raw Hazelnuts (Huge savings!)
- $16.99/1.36kg Kirkland Raw Almonds (for info on PPO fumigants, see this post here)
- $15.99/1.2kg Basse Sliced Almonds
- $16.99/1.13kg Anne's Unsalted roasted Cashews
- $19.99/1.36kg Kirkland Walnuts
- $19.99/1.36kg Kirkland Pistachios
- $6.59/1.65 kg Basse unsalted Sunflower Seeds
- $8.79/908kg Basse Pumpkin Seeds
- $27.99/680g Pine Nuts
Costco's Frozen Foods Section:
Costco has frozen veggies, veggie mixes, broccoli, edamame, strawberries, raspberries, berry blends, etc...
- $7.99/2.5kg Columbia Foods organic peas
- $7.99/2.5kg Columbia Foods organic corn
- $9.99/1.5kg Moov pesticide-free wild blueberries
- $9.99/1kg organic sweet cherries
- Assorted Wild-caught Fish
- $6.99/1.81kg Pineapple
Costco's Pantry Items:
- $9.69/8x796ml cans Kirkland organic Diced tomatoes
- $7.59/12x156ml Kirkland organic Tomato paste
- $5.99/2x750ml Simply Natural Organic Ketchup
- $8.99/4x739ml Simply Natural Organic Pasta sauce
- $15.99/1.8 kg True Roots Organic Quinoa
- $14.59/2lb Zavida Organic Coffee
- $16.99/910kg Webber Naturals Organic Chia
- $11.99/4.54kg Wholesome Organic Sugar
- $25.99/2.3L Nutiva Organic coconut oil
- $7.99/750g Nature's Path Organic Gluten-Free Sunrise Cereal
- $15.99/650g Nature's Path organic cranberry vanilla Qia cereal
- $11.99/1kg Wild Roots Organic Triple Berry Bliss
- $7.59/1kg Naturoney Organic Honey
- $7.89/3x350g Superior Organic Tofu
- $10.99/3.18 Organic Bob's Red Mill Steel Cut Oats
- $7.99/5kg Quaker Oats
- $22.99/1.36kg Sunblest Almond Flour
- $14.99/907g C+F black Chia seeds
- $14.89/800g Manitoba harvest raw Hemp Hearts
- $7.99/700g Rodelle Dutch Cocoa
- Assorted Olive Oils
- $9.99/1L Chosen Foods Avocado Oil
- $9.59/6x213g Ocean's Wild Pink Salmon
- $5.97/3x475g Giovanni Panzani Gluten-Free Spaghetti (rice, corn, quinoa)
- $5.89/1.5L Pilaros Roasted Red Peppers
- $9.99/2x1L Kirkland Artichoke Hearts (in oil)
- $10.99/737kg MaraNatha Natural Almond Butter
- $11.99/2 Kirkland Natural Peanut Butter
- $9.99/6x946ml unsweetened Original Almond Breeze
- $10.99/6x946ml So Delicious original unsweetened Coconut milk
Costco's Dairy and Meats:
- $8.99/kg ($4/lb) Organic Whole Chicken
- 28.99/1.8kg (4lbs) Kirkland Organic Lean Ground Beef
- $7.59/4L Natrel 2% Organic Milk
- $14.99/750g Balderson 2yr Cheddar with no added colors
- $9.99/2 dozen Organic Eggs
- $3.69/lb Local Butter
- 6.99/lb Organic Butter
Costco's Snacks and Other:
- $5.79/908kg Que Pasa Organic Tortilla Chips
- $16.99/18 bars Larabars (cashew/pbchocochip/coconut cream)
- $17.99/18 bars Taste of Nature organic bars (brazil/coconut/cranberry)
- $19.99/24x35g Lindt 70% cocoa mini chocolate bars
- $7.99/566g Mary's original organic gluten-free crackers
- $8.79/10 Kirkland Roasted Seaweed Snacks
- $8.99/2x600g Silver Hills organic gluten-free Omega Flax bread
- $12.99/1.13kg Made in Nature, dried, unsulphured Organic Figs
- $9.99/907g Medjool Dates
- $8.99/36x113g Applesnax no sugar added fruit puree cups
- $7.99-$8.59/ 2pack Happy Planet Gluten-Free Soups (Thai, Tuscan, Chili)
- SunRype Organic Apple & Apple/Rasp juice boxes
- Various Hummus brands
- $8.89/700g Rockwell's toasted Organic Coconut Chips
*** Click here for our CAN YOU SAVE MONEY AT COSTCO - ONE YEAR UPDATE Post***