13 Healthiest Foods You Should Always Buy At Costco

healthy Costco foods
healthy Costco foods - Static Media / Shutterstock

You probably shop at Costco for great bargains on bulk groceries, plus the occasional white water kayak and 75-inch smart T.V. But some of the wisest warehouse purchases you can make are healthy foods you won't find anywhere else, at prices that beat other retailers by a country mile, even if they do tend to vary slightly by location. With a wealth of nutrition-minded finds scattered among the shelves, you could easily stock up on real nourishment while keeping more of your money in your pocket -- or putting it toward that 75-inch smart T.V.

Though stock shifts regularly and you can't always find the same item twice, we've zeroed in on some superior choices for Kirkland products made eating for health easier and more cost effective. We're not talking about food court favorites or Costco's cheese selection. These well-considered items are essentially Costco staples, pantry regulars you can keep on hand and work into your dietary habits. There are even a few double items, which lets you maintain the thrill of capturing a bargain while elevating your well-being. Who knew a membership card could be so beneficial?

Read more: 20 Frozen Foods Costco Shoppers Swear By

1. Organic Olive Oil

Kirkland Olive Oil
Kirkland Olive Oil - Costco

Extra virgin olive oil enjoys its status as the sweetheart of the healthy fats sphere. Beyond its well-documented health benefits like a high volume of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, it's also a highly adaptable neutral oil that can take on nutty and fruity flavors depending on how it's used. Costco accommodates your need for this heart-healthy ingredient by providing a 2-liter bottle for around $25.99, which any olive oil aficionado knows is a screaming deal. A similar-sized bottle at Kroger costs about $21 and a 1.5-liter bottle at Walmart costs around $20. The cost for all three may be similar, but only Costco's olive oil is certified organic, a definite draw for the health-minded olive oil shopper.

With a double-up on this nourishing oil, you can bring all your favorite recipes to the table with a more thoughtful nutritional profile. It makes a light and flavorful drizzle for summer pasta salads, works great as a baste for Mediterranean chicken and roasted vegetables, and can be spritzed on your popcorn to replace butter for a lighter snack. Having so much on hand will inspire you to take your healthful eating to new heights.

2. Roasted Almonds With Sea Salt

bag of Kirkland almonds
bag of Kirkland almonds - Costco

Who couldn't use a 3 pound bag of whole almonds in their kitchen life? With high concentrations of fiber, protein, and vitamin E, almonds make it easy and delicious to augment your healthy dining and snacking habits. With Kirkland almonds generous portion offered at around $11, you get enough of these mindful munchies to keep you in good spirits for quite a while. Even discount retailers like Walmart can only offer a 25-ounce bag for $8 or so, which makes this healthful Costco purchase an economical bonanza. For families who share healthy habits, having a solid stock available lets everyone dig in.

You can enjoy Kirkland almonds straight out of the bag. Reach in for a handful when you need a crunchy snack with a nourishing profile, chop them up to include in other healthy recipes, or blitz them in a food processor to make your own homemade nut butter. If you're more ambitious with your nutrition, add some to your homemade granola, toast them up for an even smokier snack, or give them a coarse chop and toss them in a salad to add protein and crunch.

3. Whole Grain Rolled Oats

bag of Kirkland Rolled Oats
bag of Kirkland Rolled Oats - Costco

Whole oats may just be the ancestral great-great-grandmother of all healthy eating. Oats in general are one of the most familiar grains around, prized for their high fiber content, which can help stabilize blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and may help with weight loss. Kirkland's 10-pound bag of rolled oats can be had for a cool $10 or so, a fantastic deal in light of rising oat prices at grocery chains like Kroger, where a 2-pound 10-ounce canister can go for over $4. This hefty bag gives you enough oats to play around in the kitchen. You can grind them into oat flour, toss some into cookies or bars, or turn them into crunchy homemade granola.

Of course, it can most easily be enjoyed as-is as a breakfast classic, as well as being used in crumble topping to add a touch of richness to fresh fruit without going too far afield nutritionally. But one of the more common mistakes people make when cooking oatmeal is only viewing them as a sweetened cereal. If you've never thought of using whole oats as a savory dish, there are many recipes that capitalize on its neutral flavor and hearty texture for dinner table fare by incorporating umami seasonings, eggs, and vegetables.

4. Protein Bars

Kirkland Protein Bars
Kirkland Protein Bars - Costco

Protein bars make a dilly of a meal replacement for eaters on the go, especially with scientific proof that a higher-protein diet can benefit you via weight loss, muscle growth, and bone density. You can keep them in desk drawers for a busy workday that don't allow lunch breaks, or stash the gym bags for the pre-or post-workout nutrient boost that helps with building muscle and replenishing energy. For $24 or so, you can haul home a 20-count box of Kirkland Protein Bars to enhance your fitness regimen however you see fit. And with a variety box that includes Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Chocolate Brownie or Chocolate Peanut Butter Chunk and Cookies and Cream flavors, you can revel in a healthy food that feels like a sweet treat. You can also home in on dedicated boxes of each type if you have a favorite flavor.

Compared to bigger name brands, Costco's protein bars provide 21 grams of high-quality milk and whey protein, plus an array of essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. A whole bar nets you 180 calories, which can replace or supplement a meal. Consider breaking them in half to make them go further and to use as quick snacks when a full bar seems like too much to chew on.

5. Organic Saigon Cinnamon

Kirkland cinnamon bottles
Kirkland cinnamon bottles - Costco

In addition to making everything it joins up with taste warm and delicious, cinnamon is also a known health helper in the kitchen. Its most powerful properties: It can assist in controlling blood sugar, reduce inflammation, and may even help stave off cancer. While the $19.99 price point for Kirkland Organic Saigon Cinnamon does sound a bit high for a seasoning, this pack comes with two oversized 10.7-ounce bottles, which is enough to get a conservative user through the better part of a year at least. Having so much on hand may inspire creative new ways to infuse your meals and snacks with cinnamon's soothing essence. And this version of cinnamon packs a bolder flavor than cassia cinnamon, which is considered a lower-quality form usually packaged as a less-expensive option.

Naturally, topping your oatmeal with a dash of cinnamon is a great way to work it into your diet. You can also add it to coffees and teas for a warm dash of spicy flavor and make your own pumpkin spice lattes when the season hits to save money and control the sugar content of your drink. Even if you drop a bit into your morning yogurt, you'll have a healthy seasoning to accent your nutrition, all thanks to Costco.

6. Organic Quinoa

bag of Kirkland Organic Quinoa
bag of Kirkland Organic Quinoa - Costco

Anyone looking for an alternative to their usual pasta or rice should pick up a package of Kirkland Organic Quinoa on their next Costco run. Quinoa contains omega-3 fatty acids, which is considered to be a helpful element for maintaining heart and brain health. It's a preferable grain for eaters facing the challenge of celiac disease, providing a gluten-free alternative that's both delicious and intriguing. Costco's substantial bag is a 4.5-pound treasure trove of nutritious possibilities, and at about $11, it's a grand bargain; a 1-pound bag will set you back just over $6 at Albertsons or Safeway, more than half the price for less than a quarter of the product.

Understanding quinoa means recognizing its versatility in the kitchen. You can experiment with recipes that feature the grain as a main element or part of a healthy ensemble. Toss in chopped cucumbers and cherry tomatoes, then dress with a bit of olive oil for a refreshing side salad. Serve it as a bed for strips of grilled chicken marinated in Italian dressing to bring out its Mediterranean magic. And if you're really adventurous, try toasting it and adding it to salads for a touch of crunch.

7. Organic Peanut Butter

Kirkland Organic Creamy Peanut Butter
Kirkland Organic Creamy Peanut Butter - Costco

As one of life's purest pleasures, peanut butter in its most natural form is a multifaceted problem solver for eaters of any age. We're not talking about those decadent occasions when it's worked into a dessert pie or used to fill chocolate cups. With Kirkland offering a two-jar pack of its creamy peanut butter for a smooth $12 or so, your kitchen can have a ready supply of rich protein paste with a warm nutty flavor that easily replaces better known brands where the ingredients list reads like a dessert recipe. Added sugars, corn syrup, and thickeners complicate what Costco gets right with a simple blend of only the most necessary ingredients: dry roasted organic peanuts and sea salt.

As a source of protein and beneficial saturated fats, peanut butter can easily work its way you're your weekly meals. Whether you spread it on whole wheat toast topped with fresh fruit for a wholesome breakfast, drop a dollop in your smoothies to add thickness and healthy fats, or mash it together with oats and bananas to make whole-food cookies with no added sugar, you'll have enough of the gooey stuff to last a good long while.

8. Hemp Hearts

Kirkland Hemp Hearts
Kirkland Hemp Hearts - Costco

A member of the cannabis family that carries none of the psychotropic properties of its better-known brother leaf, hemp has long been considered a medicinal plant by indigenous peoples. Hemp hearts are the inner kernel of the plant seed, similar to sesame seeds or toasted nuts, and can be used in the same instances as these more common ingredients. Their health profile includes beneficial omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and are a fantastic source of plant-based protein. Costco sells a three-pack of 2-pound bags (six pounds total product) for about $55, which may sound steep. But these small seeds can be used sparingly to make your investment in your health go further.

Think about using hemp hearts in your juices and smoothies to bring in healthy fats and extra protein. You can also sprinkle them over cereals or into bread recipes to give fruity flavor and crunchy texture while slyly increasing the nutrition quotient. And if homemade crackers are part of your healthy eating practices, try incorporating hemp hearts into your dough.

9. Organic Fruit And Vegetable Pouches

Kirkland Fruit and Vegetable Pouches
Kirkland Fruit and Vegetable Pouches - Costco

Being able to reach into the fridge and grab healthful snacks for your younger eaters makes Kirkland's Organic Fruit & Vegetable Pouches a warehouse shopper's windfall. The sweet purée in every packet is a mix of baby food, texture, and sophisticated fruit blends that can satisfy a wide range of ages. Even adults can toss pouch into their lunch packs for easy access to a nutritious snack when more involved meal prep isn't possible. A 24-pouch box costs about a sweet $15, which divides out to less than a dollar a snack. The best part? Each pouch contains only highly beneficial organic fruits and vegetables, plus a bit of ascorbic acid to prevent discoloring.

These pouches are shelf-stable, which means you can keep them on hand without requiring refrigeration. Having a few in a diaper bag, messenger pouch, or purse will give you ready treats you can feel good about when your schedule gets tight. Once opened, the pouches themselves will require refrigeration and are best consumed within 24 hours; you can maximize the nutrition by not leaving half-finished pouches in the fridge past the end of the day, which may mean double snacks and even more savings on your shopping bill.

10. Apple Cider Vinegar

Costco apple cider vinegar
Costco apple cider vinegar - Costco

There's been some back-and-forth about the best uses for apple cider vinegar and how to maximize its healthy qualities, especially when it contains acetic acid bacteria, the raw byproduct of the fermentation process which is also known as the "mother." As happens at Costco, apple cider vinegar comes as a hefty 1-gallon jug priced at about $27.99, but if you've priced apple with the mother included, you know this price point is spectacular for the quantity. Whether you favor it over other vinegars for its anti-bacterial and probiotic properties or you simply enjoy the distinctive flavor, Costco covers all your ACV needs.

If you're game to give it a try, you can easily work a little apple cider vinegar into your eating regimen as part of homemade salad or vegetable dressings by mixing it with a bit of olive oil and some Dijon mustard. It also makes a fun partner in baked goods to add a little zing and lighten up the batter (think whole-grain muffins or healthy quick breads).

11. Organic Frozen Blueberries

bag of Kirland Organic Frozen Blueberries
bag of Kirland Organic Frozen Blueberries - Costco

Blueberries are considered by many nutritionists to be one of the healthiest fruits on the planet. The antioxidant content can help with brain health, blood pressure, and recovery after exercise, and they don't taste bad, either. Kirkland Organic Frozen Blueberries may be the most convenient way to get more blueberries into your eating practices. Having this generous $8, 3-pound bag stashed in your freezer lets you have blueberries on hand even when the season for the fresh version has long since passed.

However you would use fresh blueberries, you can use these frozen blueberries just as easily. Thaw a cup or two the night before and have them ready to toss into whole-wheat pancakes or add as a cereal topper. They're also a fantastic snack that requires no prep or peeling; simply keep a cup or so in the fridge and take them along when you need a light nosh that carries a burst of sunshine flavor.

12. Turmeric

bottles of Kirkland turmeric
bottles of Kirkland turmeric - Costco

Nutritionists and physicians herald turmeric for its anti-inflammatory properties, enough to turn it into capsules to be used as a supplement. But you can add it to your spice rack with just a flick of your Costco card. At about $20 for two 12-ounce bottles of Kirkland Turmeric, you'll have plenty to experiment with as you discover how best to use turmeric in your culinary creations.

Even if you've heard of turmeric, you may not understand how it can be best utilized. The earthy mustard-like flavor fits easily into umami and spice-based recipes for meats and vegetables, dressings and sauces, and as a shake-on topping for jazzing up popcorn with a little spray of olive oil to help it adhere to the kernels. Some turmeric devotees even incorporated into hot chocolate; there may be such a thing as going too far with your healthful eating approach, and this sounds like it. But if you like your cocoa more earthy, then grabbing these two bottles of turmeric will be a great healthy addition for you.

13. Ancient Grains Granola

bag of Kirkland Ancient Grains granola
bag of Kirkland Ancient Grains granola - Costco

With a name like Ancient Grains Granola, Costco gives this flavorful cereal an air of classicism and more than a dash of implied healthfulness. It's not just any granola made using super-healthy Khorasan wheat, a strain that can be beneficial for heart health. It's also a probiotic food, which means your gut health will benefit from a bowl of what amounts to a crumbled oatmeal cookie in a bowl. Isn't healthy eating fun?

Granola usually makes itself known on the breakfast table as a stout and sturdy cereal all on its own. But it's also an excellent add-in for yogurt to give texture and added nutrients, as well as making an enticing sprinkle for a sliced fresh fruit dessert. If banana-based nice cream is your idea of a decadent treat, try tossing in a handful to create a banana bread-like version that keeps your nutritional goals squarely in check. And if you toss some in a cup and take it with you to gnaw on in the car, nobody would blame you in the least.

How We Chose Our Items

display of Kirkland Rolled Oats
display of Kirkland Rolled Oats - The Image Party/Shutterstock

Costco makes it easy to find the healthiest options among its Kirkland brand; often, the organic nature is called out on the label ahead of the food itself. We looked for organic versions of our products whenever possible to start off on solid footing. Then, we looked for whole-food items and products with minimal ingredients listed on the label. Both designations are usually indicators of a healthier food item and can give you a direct line to the Costco foods that make the most sense to incorporate in a healthy eating lifestyle.

Rather than simply opting for foods that could be eaten out of the box, we looked to include ingredients that can be used in a multitude of ways. Items like olive oil, cinnamon, and turmeric are easily added to other nutritious foods to elevate the healthy profile and can be kept on hand for use in a variety of ways. And because on-the-go items can be questionable when it comes to their real nutritional value, we looked for a few ready products like fruit pouches and protein bars to provide more mindful alternatives that also work well from a spending perspective. Buying these items in bulk allows healthy eating to be an affordable endeavor and provides a solid stock of individual packages to feed hungry families in a more thoughtful manner.

Read the original article on Mashed.