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A Dietitian’s Guide to Smart Shopping at Costco

As a dietitian, my trips to Costco are strategic and purposeful. Amidst the vast aisles and towering shelves, I zero in on products that offer not only great value but also nutritional benefits. Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand is a staple in my shopping routine, known for its cost-effectiveness and surprising quality. Even though I shop for a household of two, certain items are non-negotiables in my quarterly Costco haul due to their versatility and health benefits.

Why Kirkland Signature Stands Out

Kirkland Signature products consistently offer more bang for your buck compared to other brands available at Costco. More often than not, I find that the taste and quality of Kirkland items are superior, which makes the decision to buy them easy. Here are some of the Kirkland Signature products that make it into my cart every visit, and why they are staples in my kitchen.

1. Canned Tomatoes

In Vermont, the window for fresh tomatoes is small, limited mostly to the summer months. For the rest of the year, canned tomatoes are my go-to. Not only are they convenient, but they are also richer in lycopene, an antioxidant that becomes more available through the canning process. Kirkland Signature’s Organic Diced Tomatoes are a staple for their quality and price, at less than a dollar per can. These tomatoes are perfect for soups, stews, and a weekly batch of Shakshuka—a simple, nutritious meal I adore.

2. Canned Tuna

With fresh fish being an expensive and perishable commodity, canned fish is a practical alternative to help meet the recommended two servings of fish per week. Kirkland Signature Albacore Tuna, which comes in a pack of eight 7-ounce cans, is not only economical but also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, essential for heart, brain, and eye health. I use it in everything from pastas and salads to casseroles and homemade tuna cakes.

3. Parmigiano Reggiano

A true gem in Costco’s dairy section is the Kirkland Signature Parmigiano Reggiano. Genuine Parmigiano Reggiano from Italy must be aged at least one year; it’s a product of designated origin that is often costly. Costco offers a 2-pound block of this delectable cheese at a fraction of the typical price. Its longevity in storage—up to six weeks in the fridge or six months in the freezer—makes it an economical choice. I use it to elevate dishes like pastas and stews and save the rinds for flavoring broths and soups.

4. Peanut Butter

In my quest for a healthy peanut butter, Kirkland Signature’s Organic Creamy Peanut Butter was a standout, made only with dry-roasted peanuts and a minimal amount of salt. With no added sugars or oils, it’s a staple that supports my goal of reducing added sugar intake. This peanut butter is a frequent feature in our breakfasts and snacks.

5. Chicken Thighs

Kirkland Signature Chicken Thighs are another must-buy for their versatility and nutritional value. I prefer the bone-in, skin-on variety for its flavor and juiciness, but Costco also offers boneless options. Rich in protein and essential nutrients like selenium and vitamin B12, these chicken thighs are a cornerstone of my meal planning.

6. Ground Beef

Ground beef is incredibly versatile, and the Kirkland Signature Organic Ground Beef is no exception. It’s packed with protein, iron, and other vital nutrients, making it ideal for a range of dishes from hearty dinners to quick lunches. I often mix ground mushrooms into the beef for added nutrients and flavor.

7. Seltzer

A daily treat for me is a midafternoon seltzer, and the Kirkland Signature Sparkling Water in a variety pack of lime, lemon, and grapefruit fits the bill perfectly. Whether it’s enjoyed alone or mixed into a cocktail, it’s a refreshing part of my day.

The Bottom Line

Choosing Kirkland Signature products at Costco allows me to maintain a well-stocked pantry and freezer without breaking the bank. These selections support a healthy, balanced diet and make weeknight cooking simpler and more enjoyable. For those looking to maximize both their budget and their nutritional intake, considering store-brand options like those offered by Costco can be a game-changer.