“If it tastes good, spit it out.”
Jack LaLanne (50’s Fitness Guru)
Following yesterday’s post, “ALDI’s Top 10 “Eat Clean” Food Items at a Healthy Price,” I had the idea off of a few other wordpressers varied food reviews of items from some of my favorite grocers (ALDI, CostCo, Trader Joe’s,) I knew I had to make a follow up “Eat Clean” list for the latter two.
It just so happened I went to Costco today, so what better time to take some quick pictures, before storing the food, and sharing the value with fellow WordPress peeps! Without further blather, here’s the list:
1. The $4.99 Rotisserie Chicken
This is at the top of the list for a few reasons, the first being this: by keeping it at this price, Fortune reports they lose up to 40 million dollars a year. They keep it at that price because it’s such a famously good deal, and it brings in so much foot traffic. It’s almost like they’re paying you a portion of the cost to buy it. Not only is the price great, it is consistently delicious; crispy on the outside, and moist on the inside, and an overall healthy looking bird, without too much fat or stringy meat. I’ve gotten birds from other grocers, and not only are they a dollar or two more (at least) they are not consistently good, like at Costco. The best part about it is you can do so many different appetizers, soups, and meals with the inclusion of it. Cut it right off the bone, make chicken salad sandwiches with it, chicken sandwiches, chicken fried rice, and once it’s almost picked clean make chicken soup and/or bone broth with it.
Favorite Eat Clean Use with Costco Rotisserie Chicken: Chicken Cherry (or grape) salad with cashews, Chicken “Veggie Heavy” Fried Rice, chicken sandwich with a little onion, avocado, and hint of cheese.
2. Fresh and Frozen Vegetables and Fruit
As mentioned in Inexpensive Clean Eating Shopping Tips though Costco has the best prices on just about every fruit or vegetable of the fresh or frozen variety, the problem with the fresh version is if you can finish it all before some of it goes bad. For that reason I don’t always buy greens there, (or bread) as well as other fresh fruits and veggies, but I do buy the 10# organic carrots for only $5.99 (!) as well as the 6 pack of mixed bell peppers (also $5.99) as they either keep longer or I know I can use them all without worrying of either going bad ever (I’m a second generation carrot juicer).
Though sometimes ALDI has the same bell peppers for only $1.69 as their “produce pick of the week,” they’re usually $2.89 to $3.29 and the size and freshness is often questionable, whereas the ones from Costco are always of the fresher and larger variety.
That’s why mostly frozen vegetables and fruit are purchased. Every trip there I always get the organic frozen broccoli, organic frozen peas, and either the frozen organic triple berry mix, the frozen wild blueberries (no pesticides, so as good as organic) or the frozen cherries. At the amazing price all of these items sell at, you could probably buy the same amount of the non organic variety at your typical grocer and end up paying a similar amount, if not more.
Favorite Eat Clean Use: With the broccoli, just plain mostly. Or lately with a hint of butter and brewers yeast (latest favorite). With the pea’s I put those in the “Thug Kitchen,” “5 Spice Fried Rice w/Sweet Potatoes,” recipe as well as in the special mash I make for “Sensei Stinky” as mentioned in Dog Arthritis Relief Tip’s. Rarely, also used for an old school winter staple, “$hit on a Shingle.”
With the berries a small handful is plunked into the morning power oat mixture as it’s finishing cooking, (when not doing the organic diced apple,) and always a small handful is added into the veggie heavy juicing session. I’ll soon be adding a sprinkle to the yogurt as well of a fellow wordpresser’s suggestion : )
Lastly, the bell peppers are usually sauteed and put atop the morning eggs, or the red ones included in the veggie heavy fried rice. The organic carrots are used for the fresh veggie juice (2-3 thrown in) as well as julienned or peeled for salad topping. I’ve got a healthy addiction lately to sauteed, almost carmelized carrots, and they’re also heavily thrown into with a red bell pepper into the Eat Clean Veggie Fried Rice Recipe.
3. Organic Bulk Canned Goods, and Bulk Goods in Jars
Organic Black Beans, Organic Diced Tomatoes, Pole N Line Caught Tuna, Two pack of Spanish Green Olives, but really anything in a can or jar in bulk is a great deal, (those items listed are just regulars I purchase each time.
When buying those boxes of canned goods compared to how much you would pay by buying them individually, you’ll save at least a few dollars on any canned item, or item in a jar. The green olives are especially a good deal compared to how much they are in a smaller jar at any other grocer.
Favorite Eat Clean Use: I can never put enough olives in a tuna salad, or a veggie heavy pasta. BTW, try chickpea, or lentil pasta if you haven’t, it’s not bad at all! Can’t say the same about the black bean or edamame pasta’s, but maybe one day.
4. Cooking Oils
By far the best price on an assortment of oils. I would guesstimate you save 2-4x as much as you would buying olive oil, coconut oil, etc. as you would at a regular grocer. The coconut oil is an especially good price. I bought a paint bucket’s worth a few months ago and I’m only about halfway through with it, even though it’s used daily for oil pulling and in the dog’s food, but also I use it once a week for homemade stovetop popcorn, and once a month for homemade granola. The olive oil is used every single day, mostly for veggie sauteeing, sometimes as a salad dressing, and it lasts for months (a little goes a long way). Bonus; if it gets on the hands you have a high quality moisturizer (much needed for these dry Minnesota winters).
Favorite Eat Clean Use: Coconut Oil; Oil Pulling, Wet Granola base, Stovetop popcorn, healthy dog food additive. For the Olive Oil; Sauteeing and roasting veggies, as salad dressing.
5. Nut’s and Seed’s
The nuts are similarily priced as nuts elsewhere, but at Costso (like ALDI) they’re consistently fresh. At the typical big box store I can’t even remember not purchasing stale, cardboard tasting nuts. I like the Almonds, as they’re more versatile when cooking (at least for me) but switch it up and grab the walnuts and pecans every so often.
Though the nuts aren’t a huge savings value over other grocers, the seeds are a much better price than anywhere else. I get the chia seeds everytime, and the hemp hearts sometimes, and that’s about it, as I just throw them into the power oats for added protein and fiber.
Favorite Eat Clean Uses: Thrown into the morning oat power mix (broken in half by hand,) pan toasted and mixed with rice for almond rice, put in homemade granola, or sometimes roasted in the oven with spices for spicy almonds (chili powder, garlic, hint of cayenne and turmeric, sea salt).
I knew spices were a great deal over purchasing them anywhere else, even the bulk bin at any grocer, but the full realization came today, when a 12 oz. canister of ground Turmeric was thrifted for only $3.49! At Trader Joe’s 2oz of Turmeric are $2, (which I never thought was a terrible deal, as it’s comparable to 2oz in bulk at the co-op). Cinnamon is also a great deal, it’s also a few dollars and probably lasts a year.
So with the turmeric you get exactly 6x more from Costco than at Trader Joe’s for only $1.49 more! The quality looks the same too. I can’t imagine the rest of their spices are that good of deal, but I bet their close, being in larger amounts.
Favorite Eat Clean Use: With Turmeric in the soon to be mentioned Haymaker Cold Buster drink, and sprinkled on Stellas’s special mash mix for arthritis relief. With the cinnamon, I add it onto the morning oats, and homemade granola, or on the ALDI Rye Bread with a little butter and raw honey.
7. Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
This really is a spectacular deal. I was at ALDI last week and couldn’t wait, so I bought a liter for $3.99. Today, I was reminded how much better of a deal it is in two pack form at Costco ($5.99,) a $2 savings. I never used this stuff once until a few years ago after thrifting the book “Apple Cider Vinegar: Miracle Health System,” (by the Bragg Family-great book!) and with curiousity piqued, I started using it a little..then a little more..now I use it nearly every day in my Cold Buster Haymaker “Tea” Recipe.
You’ve probably heard how great of a natural cleaner vinegar is, and how effective it is on dirty household surfaces. Now take that cleaning power and imagine how great it cleans out your insides! You can see why there’s a whole book devoted to it’s powers. It’s an acquired taste, and you will scrunch your face when you drink it, but after time it goes down like water (well, not quite, but much easier than when you first start).
8. Organic Grains (Oats, Quinoa)
As Quinoa has gotten more popular it’s not as great of a deal as it once was at Costco, (in comparison to what is ued to sell for everwhere else,) but it’s still a bit cheaper than anywhere else, and those smaller savings at up to big savings, when extrapolated over time. The oats also are a really good deal compared to store bought oats, but you can still find the best price when they’re on sale at the co-op bulk bin, at least in my experience, but not everyone’s fortunate to have a plethora of co-op’s like Minnesota does. Also, I assume any other rice would be a similar good savings as those two grains, but those big bags of rice (in many varities) are intimidating and would take me years to finish. I also don’t buy the bread, as I would never come close to finishing the two packs loafs.
Favorite Eat Clean Use: Oats are eaten every single day for the past 6-7 years now. They provide great energy, and in the past few years I’ve started adding in a small handful of Quina to the morning power oats. The main reason I started getting Quinoa was after discovering the “Black bean w/Quinoa salad” recipe by “Oh She Glows,) pictured to the right, which also also uses an Eat Clean item from #3 on the list (Organic black beans) and from #2 (the organic carrots). Actually also #4 as well (the olive oil).
Fun fact about Quinoa: Did you know this Peruvian grain has all of the essential amino acids (the building blocks of life). It is one of the few non animal sourced foods on Earth that can boast this (as all animal based foods have the complete amino acid profile). Makes it a great, complete food for not just vegetarians, but for everyone!
9. Organic Eggs
Though I usually get eggs from the co-op for the same exact price ($3 per dozen) and enjoy the local aspect of those, as well as the (recent) tradition of picking my own, it’s hard to pass up the consistent sized ones from Costco if you’re all ready there, and running low. $6 for 24 organic eggs is an amazing deal, and like the chicken you can make endless meals or combinations of meals with them.
Favorite Eat Clean Use: Every day for the past few years, 2-3 eggs every morning alongside the power oats. Also use one in the veggie fried rice (whoops).
10. Organic Coffee and Japanese Green Tea
By far the best price for organic coffee, and tea. I would guess if you drank a bag every two weeks you would make your money back alone on the cost of a Costco membership in a years time. I would also guesstimate the coffee there is at least 40% less than anywhere else, and another bonus if you’re a coffee conessiur is that there is a new variety just about every time you come in (I treated myself and spent $5 more on a 2# bag today than usual to try the new kind out). Because it’s bought so much it’s always super fresh.
Honorable Eat Clean Mentions
Though Kombucha isn’t a thrifty deal by any means, or a necessity, if you’re going to buy it, get it at Costco where you’ll pay at least 1/3 less than elsewhere. They just started carrying it in the past few months, and I treat myself to a 6 pack each time (tried a new one today, it’s great-the ginger flavored one pictured in the featured image) though not quite as good as my favorite one they usually carry (the Tart Cherry by a different brand (Kevita?).
Fun fact: If your’e an American (and not a vegetarian/vegan/etc.) than it’s likely you consume 2-3x more protein than necessary. Many studies have been done that have showed that consuming protein past a certain amount (it’s not much) won’t make you any stronger. Like any food, excess amount of protein will be converted to fat. Though it you lift weights you may need slightly more protein thatn the average person, how much you need has been way overemphasized by the companies and bodybuilding magazines trying to sell the protein. Do a little research, but I’ll do a blog post on it in a few weeks anyway.
Seeds of Change Ready to Eat Packets
These aren’t a great price when compared to buying rice and quinoa in bulk and making it yourself, but that takes at least 20 minutes, so if you’re pressed for time, get these as they still be a ton cheaper and lot healthier than anything you’d buy premade from a convenience store, fast food dump, or grocer. They’re extremely delicious, only take 90 seconds in the microwave, and with a little cheese, black pepper, garlic powder, sea salt and a few dashes of hot sauce you have a pretty scrumptious snack.
Lastly , there are some Not Eat Clean foods, (but extremely delicious item,) as You’ve got to have some allowance for “dirty” food and treat yourself for buying all that healthy crap!
Just go straight to the Costco food plaza and get a huge slice of delicious pizza for only $2 or a an unforgettable “Chicken Bake,” (for $2.99 or $3.49, I forget, and thank me later : )
It’s so hard to pass through the cookies and chip aisles without getting something, so I try to avoid them, but I’m a glutton for punishment, so I usually torture myself imagining how delicious they are, but a quick look at the ingredients reveal it’s all combination of whwat, sugar, salt and fat, so I usually walk on by, sneering at the packages like Chef Ramsay looking at overcooked scallops.
I also like the Perdue chicken nuggets, and the Humbolt Creamery Vanilla Ice Cream.
Here’s my receipt from today: