I'm a Dietitian & These Are the Kirkland Products I Buy Every Time I Go to Costco

Plus, my favorite ways to use them.

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Reviewed by Dietitian Maria Laura Haddad-Garcia

Costco has an incredibly loyal following, and I can see why. Their products are reasonably priced, regularly change to match the seasons and boast a reliable quality. And maybe most notably, they are all available in bulk. As a household of two, not all of the Costco-sized products make sense for me to purchase regularly. However, there are certain nonnegotiables that I always stock up on during my quarterly trips. Of the products I always buy at Costco, the majority are Kirkland Signature brand. They’re usually more cost-effective than the other brands they offer, and oftentimes I even prefer the taste.

Here are the Kirkland Signature products I buy every time I go to Costco, and why I love them so much.

Related: I'm a Dietitian & These Are the 6 Canned Foods I Always Buy at Costco

1. Canned Tomatoes

Living in Vermont, there are only a few months in the summer where I’d rather use a fresh tomato than a canned one. For this reason, canned tomatoes are something I always have in my pantry. And they actually offer more of the inflammation-fighting antioxidant lycopene than their fresh counterparts due to the heat that's used to preserve them. They’re an easy way to add veggies to soups and stews, and can be used as the base of an easy, balanced meal like Shakshuka (which I make nearly every week). Rather than buying a few cans at a time at the grocery store, I opt for getting them from Costco. The Kirkland Signature Organic Diced Tomatoes come in a pack of 8 for just $7.99, less than a dollar per can compared to more than $2 per can for similar products at other stores.

2. Canned Tuna

Fresh fish can get pretty pricey, and doesn’t last very long after you buy it. To help me up my intake to the recommended two servings per week while staying within my budget, I always have canned fish on hand. More often than not, this includes the Kirkland Signature Albacore Tuna. It comes with eight 7-ounce cans for just $19.99. Plus, tuna offers a variety of nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids that are crucial for heart health, brain health, eye health and more. I love to add it to pastas, salads, casseroles, tuna cakes and basically wherever I would use cooked, flaked fish.

3. Parmigiano Reggiano

My favorite budget-friendly thing to buy at Costco is the Kirkland Signature Parmigiano Reggiano. Parmigiano Reggiano is a type of cheese from a specific region in Italy, and it must be aged for at least one year (or up to three years). Parmesan, on the other hand, is not regulated and the taste, texture and quality can vary. So you can imagine my excitement that this 2-pound block is just $22.99, compared to comparable products that can be up to $24 per pound.

While 2 pounds of cheese may seem like a lot, it lasts a long time. This hard cheese will last in the fridge for up to six weeks if stored properly, and can be frozen for up to six months so you don’t have to worry about it going bad before you can use it. Its high quality makes it shine on a charcuterie board, but its thrifty price also means I don’t hesitate to grate it over stews or pastas or shake it into a salad dressing. Don’t throw away that rind, either! I keep a bag of rinds in the freezer to use in broths and soups, like our One-Pot Lentil & Vegetable Soup with Parmesan.

4. Peanut Butter

When I’m choosing peanut butter, I look for ones with just two ingredients: peanuts and salt. This led me to the Kirkland Signature Organic Creamy Peanut Butter. It’s made with only dry-roasted peanuts and salt—and pretty minimal amounts of salt at that, just 65 milligrams of sodium per 2 tablespoons. Other products can have added sugar or added oils to alter their flavor and texture. These are fine to enjoy in moderation if that’s your preference, but most Americans regularly overeat added sugar, which can increase your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and dementia.

In our house, we go through a lot of peanut butter, so the two 28-ounce jars don’t last long. My partner eats it straight from the jar for a snack, but I like to stir a spoonful into oatmeal or spread some on a slice of toast for a protein-rich breakfast.

Related: How to Choose the Healthiest Peanut Butter, According to Dietitians

5. Chicken Thighs

To make weekly menu planning a little easier, I keep my freezer stocked with a variety of proteins—including Kirkland Signature Chicken Thighs. I love that I can take out a package to thaw and cook whenever I need to. I prefer bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs because they cook up juicier, but Costco also offers boneless, skinless thighs and breasts, all in 10-pound packages. Chicken thighs are a stellar source of protein—a nutrient that’s crucial for muscle repair and growth, healthy digestion, bone health, skin health and more—as well as selenium, potassium, zinc, vitamin B12 and iron.

6. Ground Beef

I also like to keep Kirkland Signature Organic Ground Beef in my freezer. It's another super-versatile protein, and I use ground beef to make everything from lettuce wraps to potpie. Plus, it's super nutritious. A 3-ounce serving contains about 23 grams of protein and nutrients like iron, potassium, zinc and magnesium our bodies need to thrive. To stretch a package even further, I like to mix in ground mushrooms, like in our Grilled Beef-Mushroom Burgers with Quick Pickles, for some added fiber and nutrients that you can barely taste (personally, I think it makes them even more juicy and flavorful).

7. Seltzer

Every day, I have a midafternoon seltzer. I usually pour one over ice, sometimes adding a splash of fruit juice. Since I go through them quickly, I like to buy them in bulk. Kirkland Signature Sparkling Water comes in a 35-pack with three different flavors: lime, lemon and grapefruit. Their citrus-forward flavors are great for mixing up cocktails and mocktails, or I've been known to top a glass of white wine with some to make a low-ABV spritz.

The Bottom Line

Opting for store-brand products is a great way to save money on your grocery bill, and Costco is no exception. Kirkland Signature items have a loyal following for their low prices, high quality and versatility. Whether it’s canned goods like tuna and tomatoes or staples like peanut butter, I always have some Kirkland products in my Costco cart. Having a well-stocked pantry and freezer helps me make weeknight cooking easier and more budget-friendly, too.

Read the original article on Eating Well.