Tuesday, 7 May 2013

My Love Affair with Costco

Time and time again I hear people say “I want to eat healthy, but its too expensive". I completely agree that eating healthy sometimes isn't feasible on a budget, particularly if you are shopping at specialty health food stores. No I don’t want to or can afford to spend $4 on a cucumber at Whole Foods, but there are ways to eat healthy without breaking the bank.

Especially as a student, it's easy to let your health take the back burner when exams, school stress and other commitments begin to pile up. Let’s be honest though, it’s a lot easier to spend $80 at the bar (pre-drink, taxi, tequila shots, Smoke’s poutine, drunk text messages, new lipstick, dress from Aritzia etc.) than it is to buy $80 worth of quality fresh produce at the grocery store.

In comes Costco. How I love going here with my mom and her membership card. Yes Costco sells a TON of junk food, or health food in ‘disguise’ (think protein bars filled with HFCS and soy-protein isolate, that's a whole other blog...), however they also have done an amazing job stocking their shelves with healthy, organic food, full of real ingredients, and a good selection of fresh fruits, veggies, frozen foods and meat.   These are my go-to items I buy at Costco that will have you tons of money compared to if you buy them as single products at Loblaws.

Taste of Nature Bars
Unsweetened Almond Milk
Fresh fruits and veggies & frozen stir-fry mixes and berries
Eggs and/or egg whites
Boneless skinless chicken breasts, beef/pork tenderloin and boneless lamb
Frozen shrimp, turkey burgers and salmon burgers & canned wild salmon 

Here are some new items I found on the shelves that made great additions to my kitchen

 Starting from the top left, yes snack sized packs of almonds aren't exactly eco-friendly, but they came in handy when I was in Boston for a week long conference. You can stuff one or two 100-calorie packs in your purse and that way you always have a healthy snack on hand
Hemp hearts and flaxseeds are both great sources of healthy fats, I mix them with buckwheat grouts and chia seeds to make my own homemade version of holy crap cereal. If you're allergic to eggs, you can also use 'flax eggs' as a substitute in baking.
This is the biggest pack of sun-dried tomatoes I have ever seen and will probably take me an entire year to get through. Sun-dried tomatoes make a tasty addition to homemade hummus, salads, appetizers and sauces.
Costco is great for bulk nuts. I made homemade Nutella using these hazelnuts, and I also saw a giant bag of sliced, blanched almonds that would be great for making homemade almond flour. Medjool dates make a tasty, nutritious alternative to sugar when baking. They are also great stuffed with goat cheese as a party appetizer. Try this recipe from Elana's Pantry to see how you can incorporate dates into your baking, and dates are also fantastic for making healthy desserts and homemade Larabars. 

Stayed tuned for my next post. Although my week in Boston for the EB conference was fabulous, I was tired of eating out for all my meals and couldn't wait to get home and be back in my kitchen. While the seafood was delicious, restaurant meals and portion sizes tend to be heavy, salty and not always the healthiest. Have you ever had trouble deciphering the menu when looking for something lighter to eat? I'll have some easy solutions to help you out next week! 

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