Luckily, Costco has so many organic choices that we can do the Paleo diet and stay on a budget. Part of following a Paleo lifestyle is working on your health but also aiming to be as sustainable as possible for future generations. These two goals can be a challenge when so many foods are mass produced with dangerous pesticides and genetically modified grains. Buying from a local farmer is always best but sometimes it can be costly or inconvenient. That is why shopping at Costco is a good compromise for your wallet and the health of your family.
Selection can change all the time at cost so always be on the lookout for new organic and Paleo compliant items. It can vary greatly in stores depending on your city and the demand for healthy items in your area. The great thing about Costco is I don’t even look at the prices because I know the quality is always amazing and the price is the best value around. Plus Costco stands behind their products so I can always return any item if I am not satisfied. I have been a member at Costco since 2005 and very rarely have I been let down. I fill up my cart and get out and on with my day because time is money too.
Part of going Paleo too is changing your priorities about money. Where I used to spend more money on fancy clothes or a car payment now I drive an older car and shop at Goodwill so I can spend more money on food. I wrote other posts about this too here and some people have an approach of getting more involved with their food such as growing a garden or working at a farmers market for a discount or free meat. You could even go work at Costco because I hear they have a great discount and benefits. Or you can start a food blog (read more here) and earn free food or even write a cookbook. The options for saving money on food are unlimited if you are determined to find them and the best part is you can improve your health at the same time.
Top Tips for The Paleo Diet on a Budget at Costco
Costco has organic chicken that fits in your budget and tastes amazing. Pastured chicken is the best choice but it is not always available or affordable. I like to get the wings, boneless thighs, whole chickens, and drumsticks from Costco, then take them home to freeze. It saves me from going out to eat and spending mucho dinero because I always have something easy to thaw and cook in no time. Dark meat is more affordable than white meat and meat on the bone is also cheaper. A whole chickens can easily be 4 or 5 meals when you eat the giblets and make broth. Also try the marinated wings in Mediterranean Paleo Cooking and your family will be singing your praises.
Costco has amazing lamb that is perfect for my book recipes such as lamb chops and the boneless leg of lamb. The lamb is imported from Australia which has higher standard for raising animals usually on grass, giving them higher omega-3 content. They also have lamb chops which I adore for a special occasion because meat on the bone provides special health benefits. Costco prices for lamb are much cheaper than Whole Paycheck that is for sure. There is a finger licking good recipe for herbed lamb chops in Mediterranean Paleo Cooking. I don’t eat lamb everyday but it is nice to know there is an option for it that is affordable.
Costco has 4 lb packs of organic beef for $20 which is a great deal! These are not grass fed but free of hormones and antibiotics. They do eat organic corn and possibly soy but it is definitely a better choice than conventional beef. This meat has just the right amount of fat mixed in and it tastes so good in a kefta kebab or a herbed burger from Mediterranean Paleo Cooking. I am also crazy for the Siva’s Cauliflower and Meatballs that so many of my readers have raved about.
I love to puruse the vegetable section for great choices and it is always pleasant surprise to find something new. I love the organic baby greens box of salad, organic spinach and organic carrots. Seasonal items are also on the rotation such as organic strawberries and blackberries. They have great frozen choices such as organic broccoli, frozen green beans and organic berries. Sometimes I use the clean 15 list to buy non-organic veggies as well such as Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, avocado, asparagus, even sweet potatoes. The costco vegetable are always a good value and can be frozen and added to soups to prevent spoilage. Also when the spinach start to wilt I add it to one of the frittata recipes in my book that are great for taking on the go.
Costco has an amazing selection of fresh seafood. It is easy to see what is wild and what is farmed because they are well labeled. I try to buy only the wild caught fish for better omega-3 ratios and less hormones and pesticide residue. My favorite is their fresh wild salmon to bake or broil in no time (try the Creamy Pesto Salmon in my book). They also have some good choices in the canned fish such as wild sardines with the skin on or skinless and boneless from Morocco for the sardine newbie. You can make the sardine cakes in Mediterranean Paleo cooking for a superfood power lunch. I like to keep their canned wild salmon on hand for days when I am too busy to cook and just throw it on a salad with some homemade vinaigrette from the sauces section of the book. I love to use their sustainably caught wild tuna from Wild Planet Foods that can be used on the salad nicoise if fresh is not handy . There are many great recipes for salmon and sardines in Mediterranean Paleo Cooking. The Kirkland Wild caught smoked Salmon is also amazing for making lettuce wraps or the crab stuffed wraps in the appetizer section of my book. They also carry jarred pickled herring which is high in omega-3 and will appeal to the Viking inside you.
They have pack of 18 organic eggs at a great price, which are healthier than regular eggs because they are free of genetically modified feed. Sometimes certain Costco markets in big cities have pastured eggs such as Vital Farms. Eggs are something every Paleoista must have to whip up muffins, omelets and or even the fluffy moussaka which is a a great dairy free recipe in Mediterranean Paleo Cooking.
Costco’s organic olive oil has great outside reviews for purity and it tastes great. I love to keep that on hand when I run out of olive oil that I bring from North Africa on my research trips for our book Mediterranean Paleo Cooking. Costco Carries coconut oil which has so many amazing health benefits such as being easy to digest and supporting healthy thyroid function. They also carry Kerrygold butter which is from grass fed cows that are raised primarily on grass which makes it much more nutritious with extra vitamin A and D for the immune system. You can make your own ghee with Kerrygold, my recipe for ghee is in the back of Mediterranean Paleo Cooking. Ghee is often a better choice for people with dairy sensitivities because most of the dairy proteins are removed. All of these nutritious fats are a great value at Costco and they keep a long time on the shelf or in the freezer so don’t worry about buying too much.
They also have a great selection of nuts, sometimes even organic. Usually they have good jerky such as Krave brand that is gluten free. They carry organic protein powder that can be used in a pinch when you can’t get to the kitchen. You can add a scoop to the awesome smoothie recipes in Mediterranean Paleo Cooking for extra protein.
Costco carries flax seeds and chia seeds which are great for Paleo baking, like my egg free breakfast cookies from Mediterranean Paleo Cooking that are not overly sweet. They also have maple syrup, coconut sugar and organic honey which are Paleo friendly sweeteners.
Costco has a great selection shelf stable foods which are great for buying in bulk because they don’t go bad. They have organic tomatoes and paste which you can use to make many of the sauces and tajines in Mediterranean Paleo Cooking. I buy olives, artichoke hearts and hearts of palm and sometimes they have roasted red peppers which I use to make Hmis Red Pepper Dip in Mediterranean Paleo Cooking. I have also seen organic tomato sauce in jars that is low in sugar.
While grains and beans are not technically Paleo they can be helpful if you have a large family and are truly on a limited budget. They can be included in a real food plan if someone if healthy and free of health issues such as skin problems or metabolic syndrome that are a sign of bigger problems down the line.
If you are a little more leinete on your regime or need carbs for an active athlete in your family try stocking up on organic quinoa and organic white rice while at Costco. Beans can be made more digestible by soaking them overnight before cooking and that can be welcome help for your budget. Read more about how to make grains and beans more nutritious from Dr. Weston A. Price. When eating grains and beans be sure to eat them with healthy fats and proteins to lower the glycemic impact.
Costco carries almond milk that can be great for people who can’t eat dairy. You can use almond milk as a dairy substitute in smoothies or sauces. I have sometimes seen coconut milk in certain stores which I wish was a constant item because it is so helpful for a gluten free diet. They also have coconut water which is a great substitute for sugary Gatorade before or after a workout. Also they carry naturally flavored LaCroix water that can give you that soda feeling without the guilt. I have seen Bai drinks that are sweetened with a low carb sweetener called Erythritol that is GMO free.
Spices and Condiments:
They have a great selection of spices such as garlic, paprika, whole pepper and salt. They have some organic spices such as basil and oregano. They have awesome balsamic vinegar without carmel color that sometimes has gluten and lately I have come across raw apple cider vinegar that has probiotic benefits! Sometimes they carry organic jam that can be a healthier choice than conventional. Sometimes they even carry organic mustard or ketchup so keep your eyes peeled at your store.
Costco has an excellent selection of dairy products that you can include if you are doing a dairy reintroduction or following more of a Primal or Keto style diet. They have many imported cheeses from France which are better quality that American choices because they have better standards for raising animals which equates to more nutrient dense products. My husband loves the Brie from Normandy, France that is Kirkland brand. They have organic milk and cheese that has less toxins that regular milk and these are priced very well for a large family or perfect for freezing.
Non-toxic Household cleaning :
Baking soda is sold in big bags and it can be used for non-toxic cleaning of the bathroom and kitchen. Also I like to clean with white vinegar that is sold in huge gallons. They have environmentally friendly detergent and dish soap that are free of artificial fragrance and that is great for people who are sensitive to synthetic smells.
I am a minimalist when it comes to health care because I believe prevention is the best form of medicine. A Paleo diet will reduce your risk for many common ailments. Costco often has bulk Epsom salt that can be used as a magnesium supplement for relaxation. It can also can be used as a natural laxative. They have Honest sunscreen which has more skin friendly ingredients than the normal kind. I like to use their coconut oil as carrier for my essential oil (see the brand I use here) regimen for many health uses. Also they carry some probiotics which are recommended leading in digestive experts such as Culterelle brand.
Costco has some great deals on workout clothes and even tennis shoes. You don’t have to break the bank to start your active and healthy lifestyle. I have bought tennis shoes, sports bras, socks and active wear that I still wear. Especially the Kirkland workout pants which I heard are modeled after Lululemon and I can tell because they fit great and are flattering.
I have bought many great kitchen items from Costco that are very durable and have held up well for many years. What you cook in is as important as what you cook because toxins can be released from the heat and if a pan is scratched. Cook your food in durable materials such as stainless steel, glass and enamel. I have great experiences because Costco stands behind their products for many years without arguing or needing warranties. I bought a set of stainless steel cookware from the Kirkland line and it has stood the test of time. I love it because it can go from the stove to the oven and into the fridge and I don’t need to buy much else.
I also can’t live without my immersion blender that I also got from Costco. It helps me make soups from my bone broth and cooked veggies. I like to store my food in glass containers that make it easy to reheat leftovers in the oven or toaster oven at the office and Costco typically has deals on sets. I have a Vitamix that they carry at Costco and it has been a deal breaker for me, meaning no other blender will do! The Vitamix is a must for a stocked Paleo kitchen! In addition my sister has a Magic Bullet for making smoothies that I have used and it is great because the blender container has a lid so you can take to go in the car.
I use my stainless steel tea kettle when I am groggy and it helps me sleep better knowing it has an auto shut off. By making my own herbal tea or organic coffee also available at Costco, I am able to avoid sugary drinks and the massive budget drain at the coffee shop.
Be on the lookout because sometimes they have enameled cookware similar to Le crueset in many colors. I use my enamel Dutch oven daily and it brings me much joy! It can be used to make the slow cooked dishes in Mediterranean Paleo Cooking such as the chicken and olive tajine on the cover.
Costco is a great place to buy books at a discount and they regularly stock Paleo titles from the best Paleo publisher Victory Belt. Right now (starting July 12, 2016), Costco will have a great set of Victory Belt cookbooks like The Ketogenic Cookbook by Maria Emmerich, which is a good protocol for losing weight and sharpening cognition without hunger. The Autoimmune Paleo Protocol by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne which is great for people with autoimmune conditions. Finally the creme de la creme is my cookbook, Mediterranean Paleo Cooking.
I wrote Mediterranean Paleo Cooking with my husband who is a classically trained chef from the Mediterranean region and our “creative director” Diane Sanfilippo who helped us bring our dream to life. We combined his family recipes with my passion for nutrition to create this behemoth 432 page book that has modifications for special diets including low carb, aip, fodmap, nut free and egg free. Pick it up at Costco today and save 40% – this is for a limited time – don’t miss out!
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