Costco, Buy This Not That Part 1

Ever become so obsessed with something you tell all your friends, family and even complete strangers and can’t stop talking about it?

That’s how I feel about Costco.

Costco Post 1

I’ve been a member since 1999 while in college and an old boyfriend of mine and I started a T-Shirt business that we absolutely knew was going to be making millions. So, we just HAD to buy a Costco Membership to support our employees in the near future. Ha!

Fast forward to today, it’s one of my most favorite places to visit (but never on a Saturday!) and it’s the place that inspired this post.

Unfortunately, I didn’t make millions with that T-Shirt company but it seems like I’m spending millions there since having kids?! Can ya feel me?

Why? The amount of quality organics is OUTSTANDING! 

In fact, 2015 Costco Wholesale officially surpassed Whole Foods Market as the leading organic retailer in the US.

Pretty cool, right?

I mean, what other place can you grab Christmas presents, toilet paper, grass-fed steaks and an electric toothbrush all in one shot?

What inspired this overhaul at Costco?


I was shopping at Costco one day and noticed the color difference between Wild Caught Salmon vs. Farmed Salmon. I snapped a photo and posted it on Instagram and asked my community, “Which one would you buy?” I didn’t think it was a photo people really cared about. Man, was I wrong!

Everyone started asking me to make a list of what products to buy and those to avoid at my fave place — Costco.

So, I started to dive in. And, while it took me a lot longer than I originally planned, I wanted to be sure it was through and reading every ingredient takes time. :)

Costco Shot

The details on how I got the yes’s, no’s and yellow lights :: 

  • Contacted Costco’s Customer Service Department directly to find the sources of many of their products (including meat).
  • Researched brands online that my store carries.
  • Personally read the ingredient list from each of the items below. With help from my mom and 9 year old son! ;)
  • Contacted several brands directly to ask about their particular products. 

This guide is based on what’s important to me — buying organic and avoiding gmo’s and pesticides — as well as what’s available at my store here in the Bay Area.

What things should I buy organic? 

  1. Dairy
  2. Meat
  3. Produce

Why? The high levels of pesticides, growth hormones and antibiotics are no bueno for your body and can cause many harmful side effects over time. 


Organic Image USDA

Notes on Organic, Non-Organic

Choose organic if at all possible!

Why? Food that goes into our bodies (especially kids and their growing bodies!) should not be filled with pesticides OR packed full of antibiotics or other man-made chemicals. 

We truly don’t know the long-term effects of these combination toxic “cocktails” that we’re bombarded with every single day – in our food, skin/body care, outside pollution, herbicides, etc. etc. etc.

I’m not sure when we started to think spraying our food with poisons was a good idea, so for me and my family, I try to choose organic whenever possible.

Need a better organic selection at your nearest store? ASK THEM! Stores only carry what we demand, right? So, use your voice by choosing organic and investing in the health of yourself, your family and the planet. 

Thinking you can’t afford healthy, organic food? HERE’S 41 TIPS to get the best, highest quality, less toxic food, while saving your hard earned cash.

Not all organics are created equal. For example, Organic creamy ranch is most-likely still made with inexpensive oils or thickeners that are basically unhealthy anyway. Just organic. So, try making your own when it comes to still overly processed items like ranch, pre-made times,  or prepared foods.

Save $ on Organic Food

Notes on “Healthy”, “All-Natural” & “Natural” and other random claims on product packages.

Food companies, of which the majority don’t care about your health, make health claims on their packaging to make you think a particular product is healthy, coming straight from the farm,  and okay to eat.

Things like

All Natural, Healthy, Fat-Free, Sugar-Free, Natural, No Artificial Colors, Low-Fat, Cholesterol Free

are all, to be rather frank, a load of bs. 

Or, the entire brand is meant to have you thinking that it’s some way related to nature.

Nature’s Valley, Open Prairie, Farmer John, Hormel Natural Choice, Farmland, Hillshire Farm, etc.

Get the picture?  They spend millions of dollars on marketing campaigns to paint an image in your mind that 

The product in front of you is incredibly healthy, all natural, straight from the most amazing farm where animals graze on grass and eat bugs all day, the veggies are grown in the most natural way possible and nothing is done to harm them in the process. So, it’s clearly really good for you.

Never mind the fact that they’re sprayed with toxic chemicals, injected with antibiotics and hormones, and treated in the most inhumane way possible. 


And if you buy something that’s processed, read the ingredients!

Too many people focus on NUTRITION LABELS when they need to be reading INGREDIENT LISTS!

But, what about NATURAL FLAVORS? It’s natural, right?

Check out this awesome article about natural flavors and why I highly suggest avoiding anything with them listed on the ingredient list. 

Now on with the show…


Shelf Stable Drinks, Fresh Produce, Dairy, Meat (Refrigerated Section), Taking a walk through the right side of the store to the back, by the meat/dairy


BUY THIS, Shelf Stable DRINKS — 

Martinelli’s Organic Sparkling Cider

Martinelli’s Organic Apple Juice

KS Organic Coconut Water 


CocoLibre Organic Coconut Water (natural flavors)

Pellegrino Sparkling Water (owned by Nestle)

Apple & Eve Organic Apple Juice (natural flavors)

KS Organic Lemonade (flavor?)

Zico Coconut Water (not organic but just coconut water)


KS Water (So wasteful. Get a water filter and buy a stainless steel or glass bottle)

Cascade Ice Organic Sparkling Water

Apple & Eve Organic Lemonade

Martinelli’s Apple Juice 

Pellegrino Aranciata 

Pellegrino Limonata Sparkling

Diet Snapple


Honest Kids (Owned by Coca Cola)

VitaCoco (added sugar)

Welch’s Grape Juice

Treetop Apple juice

Capri Sun (all. yes, even organic)

All Gatorade


Diet Coke


Diet Pepsi

Pepsi One

Mountain Dew





Dr. Pepper

Izzy drinks

Starbucks Refreshers


Country Time Lemonade and Powdered Lemonade

Sunny D

KS Apple Juice

Ocean Spray Cranberry Cocktail

Cascade Ice Zero Calorie Water/Drink

KS Vitamin Rain

KS Sparkling Water

Sobe Lifewater


Naked Juice

Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Bottled Frappuccino

Starbucks Bottled Coffee Frappuccino

Kerns Nectar

Need healthier options for the neon colored rocket fuel that’s marketed towards athletes? Young and old?

You know that one that all sports players drink and swear makes them run faster, play harder and perform better drinking this stuff?

Try using coconut water and adding in some fresh fruit to have a naturally healthy sports drink that’s loaded with potassium and hydrating as all get out.

Here’s a great article on why I don’t serve Gatorade – aka sports drinks – to my kids. It’s a powerful concoction of sugar, sugar, sugar, salt and artificial flavors and colors = think CHEMICAL SH*TSTORM!

 If you’re looking to spice up your water rut, and actually enjoy your 8 glasses a day, check out my simple Water Refreshers.


(All Organic) 











Sweet Potatoes






Green Beans



Spring Mix

Super Greens

Brussels Sprouts








Peeled Beets


Windset Farms Tomatoes (non-pesticides)

all Non-Organic 






Bell Peppers





Cherry Tomatoes

Snap Peas


Sweet Potatoes



Bok Choy




Kale Slaw (buy, but toss the dressing packet and MYO – make your own)

Caesar Salad Mix (again, toss the dressing packet & croutons and MYO)





You’ll see I included other non-organic produce except corn and soybeans in the YELLOW LIGHT section. The reason is that I firmly believe eating MORE veggies (and fruits!) is BETTER than not eating them at all (non-organic included). So, buy what you can afford, what’s in season, and what’s available.

Wash the hell outta the non-organic produce and DEFINITELY check out EWG’s website for the most heavily sprayed fruits and veggies and try to avoid those on the Dirty Dozen list. 


Pastured Eggs

Organic Hard-Boiled Eggs

Clover Organic Milk


Organic Eggs

Non-Organic Eggs


KS Milk (Any)

Silk Almond Milk (make your own with this recipe)

Soy Milk

Being organic or free-range, doesn’t mean cruelty free!

*A note about eggs that are organic, free-range, and cage-free.*

There’s so much controversy and confusion out there caused by the companies (on purpose!), making claims and having you again, believe that you’re buying an incredible product with integrity. And you’re sure paying the price for it at checkout! 

I used to buy the pastured eggs and they stopped carrying them so I switched to organic. Well, after doing research for this post, I became aware of the over-crowded chicken factories so I stopped buying eggs from here altogether. I found an incredible small booth that visits my farmers market on Saturday and pick them up once a week. 

The unregulated claims companies are using are really a bummer and goes to show you, again, can’t trust what’s on a package. So, you have to do your own research about what brands they carry and stick to those that are pastured or shop somewhere else. Obviously do what works for you and your budget. I just don’t think it’s cool that companies make claims on their packages and price gouge you for it when it’s exactly the same thing as the regular versions.

Welcome to our food industry. 


Wild Caught Shrimp


Wild Ahi Tuna

Wild Dover Sole

Wild Scallops

Fresh Crab

King Crab Legs

Wild Lobster

Wild Coho Salmon

Wild Halibut

Wild Pacific Rockfish


Farmed Seafood Medley

Any Farmed Salmon

Farmed Tilapia

Farmed Catfish

Farmed Prawns

Farmed Shrimp

Farmed Trout

Any Sashimi/Sushi


Organic Coleman Chicken

Coastal Range Organic Ground Turkey

Organic Beef

Organic Bison

Grass-Fed Beef


Niman Ranch Beef (not labeled grass-fed but humane. Will look into this one further but for now, it’s on the yellow light list)

Niman Ranch Bacon


Columbus Turkey Bacon 

Open Prairie “Natural Pork”, see note below*

All Kirkland Signature Beef, Pork, Chicken, Ribs, Bacon

*A note, Open Prairie Beef that my Costco sells is owned by the giant Tyson, which owns several brands – some of which contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the anti-labeling GMO bill here in CA and elsewhere. Find out more here

Also, Tyson Foods has also been accused of severe animal cruelty because of their concentrated factory farms as well as unfair working conditions. Google Tyson Foods and you’ll see what’s up. The point? Know where your meat comes from and choose organic and grass-fed or just skip it altogether. 

Check out Local Harvest to find local farmers markets to visit and companies that sell and deliver meat online (as well as fresh organic local produce).  American Farmer’s Network and Primal Pastures are great places, too. 

Think you can’t afford quality, organic beef? Try splitting a package with friends/family or signing up with the websites above to be notified of sales and promotions. Also, inexpensive meats are some of the best meats to cook with, in my opinion. They LOVE low and slow cooking temperatures/times and favor the slow cooker. Check out my recipe tab for lots of slow cooker recipes and digital cookbook The Slow Cooker Movement

Here’s a great article on why to choose grass-fed ALWAYS over factory farmed meats.

To sum it up, know where your food comes from to avoid any animal cruelty, artificial growth hormones, gmo’s, additives, preservatives, or things that aren’t meant for human consumption. 

LOVE THIS ARTICLE AND HUNGRY FOR MORE? Share it with your friends and get social! :)

Sign up for our newsletter so you’re the first to know when we launch our next post :: COSTCO :: BUY THIS, NOT THAT – PART 2. We’ll cover all things processed, canned, frozen and baked goods. 

**Full disclosure**This is in NO WAY dissing Costco. I think they’re an incredible company to support, and I show this by shopping here a lot because you can’t beat their prices and selection — I just feel strongly that we should be mindful of buying meat, eggs, and dairy that DOES NOT come from filthy factory farms that treat animals like pieces of trash. 

Just another note on humane meat —

I contacted Costco directly and asked about where their meat comes from if it’s from regular factory farms. Hey, I’m pretty upfront. Here’s the answer ::

They do know where there meat comes form – mostly North America. But, they couldn’t tell me whether the meat they carry was from factory farms (google it). The woman told me they have teams in place that periodically inspect their suppliers farms. So, I do know they care about where their meat comes from but I still would prefer to know more about the animal welfare and factory farms.



*Affiliate disclosure. Note, if you buy some of the products listed above, I’ll receive a small commission. I only recommend brands I personally use and love. 

Get Free Email Updates!

Signup now and receive an email once I publish new content.

I will never give away, trade or sell your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.


  • Candace

    This is a great article, thank you so much for putting the time and effort into such a great resource! Can you tell me why Niman Ranch got the yellow light? We eat their bacon pretty often. Thank you

    • Shauna

      Hi Candace!! Thanks so much for reading the post!

      I actually used to buy Niman Ranch bacon, too, but then I read an article by the Mr. Niman (who sold the company) and he was talking about how the meat doesn’t come from natural, pastured farms like they suggest, aka “all-natural.”

      It’s probably the better of any of the brands they sell at Costco, but since I couldn’t find any more info on where their pork comes from, I put in on the yellow list.

      Hope that helps but definitely choose and buy what you can and what’s available. This isn’t to scare you, just to get people thinking outside the factory farms and brands “all natural” claims. :)


  • janene frank

    So thorough! Thank you!!

Leave a Comment

©2014 Shauna Bryant | Rockin' Moms Kitchen All Rights Reserved
Design by Rachel Pesso and Development by Brandi Bernoskie
Photography by In Her Image