10 Best Healthy Snacks to Buy at Costco, According to a Dietitian
Costco is one of my favorite places to shop. In addition to basic household staples, like toilet paper and laundry detergent, they carry a lot of my favorite groceries (see my favorite 10 healthy foods to stock up on at Costco). There are so many foods for sale in the giant warehouse it can feel a little overwhelming—especially once you hit the snack aisle. Is a box of 45 granola bars or fruit snacks the way to go? Do the chips or pretzels call your name? While you can make delicious snacks with lots of the fresh foods that Costco carries (carrots and hummus, apples and peanut butter... basically any fresh fruit or vegetable) I tried to include a mix of healthy "snack" foods that typically end up in my cart to help you make smarter snack decisions the next time you're on a Costco run. Here are my 10 favorite healthy snacks to buy at Costco.
1. Energy Bars
Not all energy bars are created equal (here are some of EatingWell's favorite protein bars). Some are basically candy bars, but there are also lots of great options and luckily, Costco carries quite a few. The selection will vary depending on where you are, but KIND bars and RXBARs are two brands that I always see at Costco (and at Costco.com). KIND bars are low in added sugar and RXBARs have none. Energy bars are typically a little expensive, so getting a lot at Costco can help you save on the price per bar.
2. Dried Fruit
While fresh fruit makes a great snack, Costco carries a wide variety of dried fruit. Two staples that we almost always have in our pantry are their unsweetened dried mango and a giant bag of raisins. Some dried fruit has added sugar, so check your labels and try to choose unsweetened options or dried fruit that doesn't have too much added sugar. Plus, since it lasts a very long time and is shelf stable, you're less likely to waste it.
Costco sells peanuts, pistachios, almonds, cashews, mixed nuts, walnuts, pecans—so basically any nut your heart desires. I love nuts as a snack, especially paired with dried fruit, because nuts deliver the satisfying combination of healthy fat, protein and fiber. If you don't go through nuts quickly, keep them in your freezer so the fats won't go rancid (if you buy them at Costco, you're going to be getting a lot of them!). Some of their salted options are high in sodium, so if you're minding salt in your diet, choose unsalted.
4. Chobani Less Sugar Greek Yogurt
I love buying plain Greek yogurt in big tubs and adding my own fruit and sometimes a bit of honey or maple syrup. But these individually packaged yogurts by Chobani are so easy to throw in a lunch box or grab for a quick snack. They're made with 45% less sugar than other flavored yogurts and are a great option for kids or adults who don't love the tangy bite of plain yogurt.
5. Autumn's Gold Grain-Free Granola Bars
I'm all for eating whole grains for their fiber, vitamins, minerals and convenience. However, if you feel like most of what you're snacking on is carbs, carbs and more carbs, these bars from Autumn's Gold, made with almonds, pecans, coconut and pumpkin seeds, are a nice option to break out of your snacking rut. They have some sugar and carbohydrates from maple syrup and honey, but for around 200 calories you'll also get some fiber, protein and healthy fats in a delicious and on-the-go package.
6. Simple Mills Crackers
Trying these crackers for me was love at first crunch. They're made with almond flour and have some fiber and protein, but most of all they're just tasty. These crackers pair deliciously with cheese for a filling snack. The price at Costco can't be beat and inside that giant box is two bags, to help keep your crackers from going stale.
7. Second Nature Trail Mix
People often ask if trail mix is healthy (here's why I think it mostly is, but not all trail mixes are created equally). While I love the Kirkland brand trail mix with m &m's candy this box of Second Nature Trail Mix Wholesome Medley comes in pre-portioned bags and is a mix of dried fruit and nuts with a little bit of chocolate. They make a great snack option when you want something ready to grab that provides sustained energy with a mix of protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fat (with a little chocolate).
8. Nature's Bakery Fig Bars
We keep these on hand for toddler snacks but the adults in this house frequently grab them too. The first ingredient in these is whole-wheat flour and they're made with real fruit. There is 14 grams of added sugar in a package (two bars) which doesn't bother me for a once in awhile snack, but if you find yourself reaching for these every day try having one bar paired with a piece of cheese or handful of almonds for some protein to help you cut down on the sugar.
9. Whisps Cheese
If you're a cheese-lover or watching your carb intake, these crunchy cheese snacks are perfect for you. They're made out of just cheese but they're dried and crunchy like a cracker. These are wonderful if you're snacking on the go or in place of croutons on a salad. Because they're made of cheese, they are a good source of calcium and protein.
10. Pure Organic Layered Fruit Bars
Everyone in our house loves these bars. They're a fun way to have something sweet that isn't just a piece of fruit. Each bar has about 60 calories but no protein to speak of, so these are great to pair with yogurt or nuts or just have as a smaller snack on their own. I've seen other brands of fruit leathers sold at other Costco's, so if you have kids or just love fruit, keep your eyes peeled. Also, I don't think I've ever enjoyed something banana flavored but the strawberry banana flavor is out of this world.
Welcome to The Beet. A weekly column where nutrition editor and registered dietitian Lisa Valente tackles buzzy nutrition topics and tells you what you need to know, with science and a little bit of sass.