Can You Save Money Shopping Healthy at Costco Canada?

Organic Foods Costco Canada


As of today I am an official card carrying member of Costco.  
Sigh.... 

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


Healthy Foods Costco Canada


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.

(Edited to add....It's only been a week and I caved in....I upgraded to the Executive Membership....with the same cashier. 

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.

Organic:

Organic Foods Costco Canada
  • $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:

  • Asparagus
  • $6.99/5 big Avocados 
  • Grapefruit
  • Onions
  • $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...

Of note:
  • $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: 


    Healthy Foods Costco Canada
    Organic:
    • $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



    Not organic: 

    •  $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:


    Organic Foods Costco Canada

    • $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 Butte
    • 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***





      30 comments:

      1. thank you for posting this!!! i am curious what province/area you are in . I know each carries different items and some of your prices are a little different from what i experienced today.

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        Replies
        1. You're welcome! I'm in Ontario and this is the Kitchener Costco. I heard prices vary.

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        2. Just to update....we had a new store open in Guelph Ontario, so some of the products were found at that store too.

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      2. Last year I joined Costco after visiting with a friend and realizing that they carried enough organic/non-gmo/gluten free products to make the trips worthwhile. Most of the products on your list end up in my cart, with the exception of anything that's animal-derived. The prices are very good, especially the nuts, dates, quinoa, steel cut oats, coconut oil, hemp hearts, chia seeds, tofu, almond butter, coffee beans, and frozen fruits for smoothies. I detest the lighting, crowds, decor fuglyness, non-localness, etc. but save an awful lot of money by shopping there. How's your experiment going?

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        Replies
        1. It's a bit early to tell but January yielded $1301 in groceries (not including the price of the membership). We are a bit stocked up with some of our groceries so I am hopeful we will spend less from this point on.

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      3. Hi! I live in Ontario too and I've been contemplating about whether or not to join my local Costco. Some items like nuts,quinoa and oats can be found in Bulk Barn so I was wondering if it's worth it to get these items at Costco. Is there a huge price difference? What about at Walmart? Because I'm trying to cut down my weekly grocery cost since I'm your regular college student.

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        Replies
        1. but they are a LOT more expensive at Bulk Barn - especially the nuts. e.g. ground almonds were $24/kg on sale at Bulk Barn.

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        2. Look up the presence of mold in Bulk foods. The containers and items in them may contain mold. Coffee, wine, chocolate has mold in them also.

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      4. Hi there

        am new comer to mississauga and a very healthy conscious eater (organic/non-gmo/gluten free/dairy free products).

        found your site info logical and very helpful.thanks a mllion

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      5. Am considering Costco membership for just myself...used to shop there with a lot of success when I did have a family and was wondering if they carried any healthy products yet. Just heard a nice report on the News that a lot of the Kirkland products (except the kleenex!!) are pretty highly rated.
        I guess...I will join up my local Ajax store now as it is looking pretty good. Thanks so much for this information as it is truly helpful!

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      6. Thank you! Our family of four could be a mirror of yours. I am trying to get down to 1200 per month of groceries, including detergents,most etc. I find Costco's fruit prices to be sometimes more than the local high-volume fruit store, but otherwise much cheaper.

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        Replies
        1. You're welcome. It's a challenge but doable and it's definitely worth shopping around.

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      7. Well you'd better be wary of the Costco $16.99/1.36kg Kirkland Raw Almonds and their Kirkland chocolate covered almonds, because Kirkland and other brands of non organic American almonds are pasteurised by fumigation with a toxic gas called propylene oxide which is also used in antifreeze and hydraulic fluid.

        You can't taste the residue in the raw almonds, but if you soak them and then make almond milk with them, you can taste it.

        http://foodidentitytheft.com/trying-to-avoid-almonds-that-are-gassed-heres-a-little-guide/

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        Replies
        1. Hi Bob. I talk about this in my one year Costco update post. Check it out here:
          http://lesssugarnaturally.blogspot.ca/2015/02/Costco-healthy-food.html

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        2. That is extremely disturbing to know. I eat the almonds as a staple in my diet. I used to assume the Costco meant Quality!

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      8. The Costco in Ottawa doesnt carry Earthbound Organics. The discounted organics was a big reason I was willing to settle for a big box store. While I found a lot of other good stuff like organic Quinoa, and nuts, I cant find any organic greens.

        Heck, they dont even sell Kale anymore, organic or otherwise! I drink green smoothies so I go through a lot of organic greens.

        I really could have used the Costco pricing on that stuff. They carry Latitude, which is the cheap stuff that Metro carries (Metro also carries Earthbound).

        Anyone in the Ottawa area know if the Kanata, Orleans or Gatineau (Quebec) locations have Earthbound? The Nepean location does not.

        ReplyDelete
        Replies
        1. What about Loblaws or Zehrs stores. I noticed they are carrying many organic greens now. It's worth checking out.

          Hopefully someone will chime in about the other Costco locations, but do let your Costco know what you would like them to carry. Believe it or not, they do take notice.

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      9. WOW...this is a dream page. I am going to print it out. I am a new (rather wannabe) vegan. And I have been looking for these things in Costco, but can never find them. I have been a member for sometime now, but only recently started to pay attention to what I eat. I found that the Costco I go to (the one in Scarborough, ON) does not carry some of the stuff, or maybe you could guide me how to find them. Like Pistachios, Coconut MIlk (I got Almond Milk, but not coconut), coconut oil, chia seeds, hemp hearts, quinoa etc. Please could you guide me where to look? It's so huge, I still cannot figure my way around.

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        Replies
        1. Hi Mona...Each store is laid out differently and might carry different stock. Also some of the items are regular items and some might be a one time thing. You could always make a list of what you can't find and ask at the service desk if they carry the products so you're not wasting your time searching. It's a good time to let them know what you want as they do listen to feedback. Hope that helps.

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      10. Mona, in the markham location, the pistachios are located in the aisle next to the chocolates. The chia seed, hemp hearts and quinoa are in same aisle as the cereals. I believe I found the coconut oil with the other oils.Coconut milk is at the last aisle near the toilet papers and paper towels. I haven't been to the Scarborough location in a while but it should be somewhat similar.

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      11. I am disappointed Costco advertises "Canada Organic" chicken when it is not a certified organic product.

        It is NOT organic unless it is certified organic.

        They should remove reference to organic on their chicken to avoid confusion.

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        Replies
        1. Hi there, My Costco certainly carries organic chicken with the Canada organic seal (you can see it in my chicken picture). I wonder if there was a product misplacement in your store as I just can't see Costco doing that. If they do, then you need to call them up and call them out on it.

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      12. Just wondering has the organic butter in your picture been delisted? Costco has been delisting lots of my organic needs lately. They had a six pack organic pasta for 9.99 in March... I bought 20 of them because I was worried it would be gone... And guess what never saw them again. And my favourite Stokidakis Organic Vanilla Greek Yogurt for smoothies which was also 9.99 was delisted even though their Kirkland conventional version at the same price/size still in the fridge. Yesterday was there to get milk and it was nowhere to be found but I'm not sure if they were just out of it? I'm located in the Mississauga Ontario area. Thanks again for an amazing blog and let's keep asking Costco for more organic.

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        Replies
        1. That's very possible. As seen by the replies....each Costco carries different stock and some products are a one time thing....sold until they run out of stock. This has happened with a few things I bought and listed here.

          That said, I seem to find most of the staples there regularly. I haven't been to Costco in a while (hubby usually picks up my list) so I'm not sure if the butter is still there. I'll keep an eye out next time I venture out there.

          The point is though....keep checking your Costcos and keep asking for organic options as they do seem to be interested in carrying organic products.

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        2. P.S. I shop mostly at the Guelph and Kitchener Costcos.

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      13. Dry Fruits have been a piece of our eating routine and our way of life since times immemorial. Alongside the umpteen medical advantages that they offer, dry organic products are likewise a superb wellspring of fundamental supplements and sound oils that help lessen the danger of unending illnesses. A long timeframe of realistic usability, simplicity of capacity and transportation make them a natural piece of each dietary suggestion

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      14. Your posts are simply fabulous and inspiring . Thanks for the inspiration!

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      15. thank you for a good report - really resonable!!!

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      16. It seems like the Moov organic frozen raspberries have been replaced with non-organic ones in the west Mississauga Costco. Has anyone seen the organic ones at their Costco recently?

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      17. They don't have larabars at my location :(

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      I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please comment below.