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Top 10 Meal Prep Foods at Costco

Before I was a believer, I always thought Costco was all hype; until I started to drink the kool aide myself. I can now say that I love everything “Costco” and go grocery shopping there EVERY WEEK. Granted, there are only 2 of us in the house, but I still manage to get almost ALL foods I need from Costco, and it keeps my meal prep simple and food waste down. Check out some of my favorite items I have on hand to keep my week consistent and stay on track. 

  1. Hummus cups – These little individually packed hummus cups make snacks and lunches much easier. Coming in at 160 calories per cup, paired with carrots or celery make the perfect, satisfying snack. You could also incorporate it in lunches by spreading it on wraps and sandwiches. Want a little spice? You could add some sriracha or hot sauce to kick it up a notch!
  2. Salsa – Being a dietitian, I always stress how taco salads are so satisfying, yet so low calorie! Using salsa as your dressing dramatically cuts down on saturated fat and sugar intake compared to traditional salad dressings. Not into salads? Just have it as a snack! Having chips and salsa already portioned out into containers will keep your week simple yet still satisfying. 
  3. Salad kits – Prepping a salad takes a lot more work than it does to prep a sandwich or wrap. Costco has huge salad kits that will feed you at least 4 times during the week. What I’ll do is take the lettuce from the kits and divide into four containers, throw the salad mixings in snack baggies divided into four (so they don’t get soggy), and pick out a dressing. The beauty of this is you don’t need to buy all the ingredients individually, just pair with a protein and you’re done! Meal prep in less than 10 minutes! My favorite mix to use is the Greek salad kit with added chickpeas for protein (1/2 cup per salad). 
  4. Beans – Yes, the magical fruit. They’re loaded in fiber, protein, B vitamins, potassium, and the list goes on. The best part about getting them at Costco? You can get 6 cans in one shot and they’ll last you for weeks! As I mentioned earlier, adding beans to salads, dips, sandwiches and snacks is the easiest way to boost protein as well as kick up the fullness factor. No cooking is involved and your time is saved by using canned beans. Just be sure to rinse them before adding them, as it will wash off a lot of the sodium beans can have. 
  5. Frozen cauliflower pizza – This pizza is one of my favorites to ALWAYS have in my freezer. It has saved me from going out to eat countless times and I’m just as satisfied, maybe even more satisfied than if I were to go out and grab a pizza. Are they pricey? Yes, but you’re paying about $7 for each pizza which if you were to go out to eat, you’d be paying double that. It tastes delicious, is only 250 calories for a serving, and you can pick it up with your hands to eat it! #winning
  6. Bean and rice burritos/burrito bowls – These are another super satisfying, yet quick grab and go type food. They are frozen, so they can hang out in your freezer until you come across that one time where you don’t have a plan, you’re hangry, and you have nothing to eat in the house. I have eaten these so many times when I just don’t have time to sit down and eat and I need to make it quick. Not only are they delicious and super easy to throw together, they’re also vegetarian! 
  7. Eggs – If you asked me a few years ago if I thought hard-boiling 28 eggs was aggressive, I would’ve told you you’re right. What I’ve come to realize, is that 28 eggs can go fast when you’re using them either in a meal or as a snack between 2 people. These eggs are sold in a 28-pack, which is perfect for me because I know I’ll use them all! I cook them all in the oven to keep meal prep simple, and they come out tasting fresh, delicious, and easy to peel which is always a win. 
  8. Veggie Cakes – Are they processed? Yep! Does that stop me from buying them? Nope! These veggie cakes are a great way to add veggies to a protein to make your meal complete. We all have those nights where dinner isn’t prepared, and we don’t feel like cooking. These cakes come in handy especially for that! They’re loaded with veggies, provide some protein, and you can try to trick your kids into eating them too! Yes, it’d be better to make these on your own, but who always has time for that? 
  9. Quinoa – This bag just keeps on giving. I’ve gone through 2 of these in 2 years time. I would consider this a panty staple for sure. When you’re low on time or don’t have a starch to pair with meals, quinoa will always be there waiting when you have a 4 ½ lb bag in your cupboard. One of my tricks to adding more flavor? Cook it in a broth instead of water (bone broth, chicken broth, vegetable broth) and it’ll shock your tastebuds! 
  10. Rotisserie chicken – The meat that’s already cooked and tastes delicious before you even take it home. These can be great for a quick family dinner paired with some veggies or even a salad kit from Costco and you have a complete meal. Also, they’re only $5, I mean….do I need to say more? 

While I have listed my top 10 foods that I get, I have to say that Costco always surprises me. Since I made this list, I’ve also tried egg white frittatas (delish), chickpea snacks, raw nuts, beyond meat cauliflower pizza, almond milk, mashed cauliflower, and the list goes on. I can’t say enough great things about the healthy options I find here, it’s just a matter of looking around and seeing what’s new. That’s another thing I love about this big-box store; there’s always something new to try! So next time you have an hour to burn, stop by your local Costco, check out the food items and let me know if you find something new and delicious! 

Top 5 High-Calorie Culprits

We all have those moments where we eat great, nice and clean, step on the scale a day later and think “What? I didn’t lose anything?!”. Well, lucky for you, I’ve compiled a short list of things that could be tacking on more empty calories than you think. This is not to say that you can’t have these foods, but that you should just watch your portions on them and as always, talk to a dietitian for more help!

Salad dressings

I used to be the kid that ordered a salad without dressing, I was so grossed out by it. Knowing that now, I can’t believe this was something I’d do! I love dressing on my salad as much as the next person but it’s important to make a conscious decision to try and keep calories low without sacrificing taste. My favorite salad dressing is honey mustard, which for one serving (2 tbsp), it can add as much as 200 calories to my already 300-400 calorie salad! So what can I do to help keep calories low but still get that honey mustardy taste? I made my own dressing of course! Mixing plain greek yogurt with equal parts honey and mustard was my solution and it’s one that I love doing every week.  I get more protein, lower sugar, and can have more without it being even close to the same amount of calories.

So that covers honey mustard, but what about all those other dressing out there? Try and look for greek yogurt-based salad dressings in your local grocer. They are often lower in sugar and much lower in calories by almost half! If you really aren’t into making your own dressing or really don’t want to stray away from your go-to dressing, always always always be sure to check the nutrition label in the back for serving size. You’ll typically find that serving sizes of salad dressings are 2 tbsp. Stick with that serving size and no more! Otherwise you can add hundreds of calories to a healthy meal without even realizing it.

Condiments

Oh yes, the ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise we all know and love. While these are always staples at your BBQ parties or 4th of July parties, they’re something that we’re adding to already high-calorie foods (hot dogs, burgers, pasta salads). So, what are some alternatives? Try and find a low sugar or no sugar added ketchup. The tomato-based staple can contain lots of extra sugar we don’t really need, so check your label and be sure there’s no more than 5g of added sugar. With mayo you can use greek yogurt instead. Just like the salad dressing, it will increase protein and decrease fat dramatically.

As for mustard, it’s already a low-calorie condiment, but will be higher in sodium. Fun fact: during a Spartan race I did one year, I saw a group of guys consuming mustard packets all throughout the course to stay hydrated because of the sodium content in them; GROSS! Sorry, but I’d rather do something else to stay hydrated. Relish is another condiment that’s very low in calories but adds tons of flavor to foods, so eat up!

Alcohol

We all know alcohol is calories and no one wants to hear that they should cut back or limit the amount of drinks they’re used to having. It’s more important to be aware of the ways in which alcohol can increase calories so drastically. Yes, hard liquor has sugar in it, but it’s the mixers you need to watch out for. It’s always better to use a seltzer/club soda as your mixer than sprite, coke, or any other high-calorie soda or juice for that matter. One vodka-tonic drink gets you 215 calories per drink, where a vodka-seltzer drink will only be around 75-100 calories. Be very conscious of tonic water. Many people think that because it’s “water” it’s got to be better than soda; FALSE. Tonic water is LOADED with sugar and only increases the chances you’ll be feeling your head pounding the next day. Ever had a gin and tonic hangover? Need I say more?

Butter

Butter; another great staple in our diet that only adds to the taste and deliciousness of foods. I am the first to go in on a good helping of bread and butter or loading up some cinnamon raisin toast with butter. Even though I love it, doesn’t mean I don’t watch how much of it I put on my foods. 1 tablespoon of butter can offer up about 100 calories. Butter is also high in saturated fat which increases our risk of heart disease, and boosts triglyceride and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. So what to use instead of butter? Olive oil! I always put olive oil on my vegetables before I roast or steam them. It’s also better to spray pans with olive oil rather than a spray non-stick concoction. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat which offers up wonderful health benefits. Being an Omega-3 fat, it will decrease your risk for heart disease and HDL (good cholesterol), but will also lower triglyceride levels and LDL.

Cream and Sugar

The two most common foods we throw into our coffee. When I first started drinking coffee, I would load it with vanilla creamer and all the sugar I wanted until it was sweet enough. I can’t even imagine what it would taste like to me now. Limiting the sugar and creamer you put in your coffee can dramatically decrease your simple sugar intake first thing in the morning. If you add 2 tbsp of sugar and 2 tbsp of creamer, you’re adding upwards of 10-15 grams of added sugar just in your cup of coffee! We’re only supposed to have a total of 26-34 grams in our ENTIRE day. So luckily for us there are plenty of great alternatives to make our coffee taste just as good. Try using coconut, oat milk, or almond milk creamer. Keep in mind, getting a flavored creamer can cut down on the need to add extra sugar. Also note that changing the flavor of your coffee takes some getting used to, so be patient and give it some time! It’s so important to limit added sugar intake to decrease risk of any co-morbidities.

Put a Little “Everything” In Your Life

Everything bagel seasoning has emerged as the latest thing to literally put on everything. So why not provide you with some knowledge on why it can be great for you and how you can use it more often! It all started with a grocery store called Trader Joe’s. They came out with a little bottle of magic called “Everything but the bagel” seasoning, and it sounds exactly like it is…everything but the bagel.

It’s simply the seasoning that you find on an everything bagel, but guess what….it’s good on everything!! 

It’s comprised of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried onion flakes, dried garlic flakes, and sea salt. All these flavors formed into one make a super seasoning! So why should we use it on foods? The poppy and sesame seeds are going to offer up more healthy fats (omega-3s), offer more satiety in meals, and of course load it up with flavor. Calories are moderately low, so this seasoning is a great choice to add a burst of flavor. A serving size is considered ¼ tsp which offers up a whopping 5 calories, so while it still provides calories, it’s not going to load calories onto a meal like a sauce or marinade would. You do still have to be aware of the sodium, since sea salt is one of the ingredients, but as a whole, this can be a great choice on lots of different foods. 

If you haven’t tried “everything” seasoning yet, here are a couple of foods you could try it with to see if you truly like it. I’ve personally thrown it onto my eggs (which is amazing), coated chicken and steak with it, added it to roasted veggies, and you could also add it to a soup, salad or avocado toast as well! There are SO many ways you can use this seasoning that it’s almost silly not to try it. 

Finding this seasoning used to be much harder, but with the popularity of it growing, it’s easier to find. Some big stores you can find it in include Walmart, Costco,Giant, Redner’s and of course the OG Trader Joe’s. If you don’t feel like buying it, chances are you have all the ingredients to make it at home too! Here are the ratios:

¼ cup sesame seeds

¼ cups poppy seeds

3 tbsp dried onion flakes

3 tbsp dried garlic flakes 

2 tbsp course sea salt 

Mix all this together and you’ll get 1 cup of deliciousness! Try it for yourself and comment below to let me know what you thought! Time to take your meals up a notch!