The Costco Diet?
I hail from Sequim, Washington, not far from the headquarters of Costco Wholesale, the popular warehouse shopping company that sells everything from electronics to clothes, books to wine, furniture to tires and, of course, food.
There’s a misperception about Costco and its competitors that they only sell food in bulk sizes fit for a family of twelve. Actually many items in warehouse stores are the same size you might find in grocery stores, at a fraction of the cost.
I’m a big fan of Costco, especially its commitment to customer service and providing quality merchandise at affordable prices. My coauthor Pete Williams, however, has reached the point where he rarely shops anywhere else. Talk about keeping life simple.
Here’s a look at how to simplify your nutrition planning.
Rotisserie chicken: These are an excellent value at $5.99. Remove the fatty skin and you have enough for one meal plus leftovers. If you buy two, you can carve the second one up and take care of several lunches and perhaps another dinner. Other great protein sources available at Costco include eggs and cottage cheese.
Flank steak: This is the leanest cut of beef, yet it’s juicy and flavorful. Costco portions aren’t small, but if you’re cooking for only one or two, you can freeze half of it.
Wild salmon: It’s sometimes difficult to find salmon that’s not farm-raised, which contains higher levels of chlorinated compounds known as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Costco sells wild salmon, some of which is already marinated.
Vegetables: Go for the mixed dark greens available in boxes or bags. Organic spinach comes in large bags or plastic tubs with a short-term expiration date. Spinach is versatile—you can use it to anchor salads or cook it in olive oil and serve as a side dish for dinner. Asparagus and broccoli come in larger packages and can be enjoyed several times over the course of the week. At our house asparagus is considered finger food.
Berries: Berries are one of the best sources of antioxidants and they provide flavor as an oatmeal topping or part of a dessert. The price of blueberries fluctuates wildly over the course of the year, depending on whether Costco can obtain them from local farmers or must ship them from greater distances. You usually can find blackberries and strawberries as well. Frozen berries are always a good option.
Olive oil: This can be a bigger-ticket item, so it pays to buy in bulk. Costco’s private-label “Kirkland” extra virgin olive oil is a good value and a rich source of healthy fats as a salad dressing or as a marinade for spinach and asparagus.
Tomatoes: Rich in antioxidants, tomatoes are a staple of any high-performance diet. Costco sells them in all sizes, from grape to full-size.
Oatmeal: There’s perhaps no simpler, better breakfast than old-fashioned Quaker oatmeal. Costco sells a large double-bag box that will last two months, even if you eat oatmeal every day for breakfast. Steel-cut oats is a terrific option, as well, and can sometimes be found at Costco.
Whey protein powder: Whey is a by-product of cheese manufacturing and includes many essential amino acids that boost the immune system and promote overall good health. Protein powder, such as EAS whey protein, can be found in chocolate and vanilla powder and can be mixed with oatmeal to give your breakfast some potent protein. It’s also good as part of a pre-workout shooter or mixed with berries as a smoothie.
Nuts: They’re not cheap, so it pays to buy in bulk. You can put them in salads, mix them into post-workout recovery shakes, and even eat them alone as a mid-afternoon snack to get some healthy fats. Almonds, walnuts, and pecans are good choices. Freeze to keep fresh.
Brown rice, whole wheat couscous, whole wheat pasta: Since we make this category a minor portion of Core Performance nutrition, you might be better served with smaller packages from the grocery store. Then again, these products do have a long shelf life.
Water: Costco sells bottled water by the case. Grab some standard half-liter bottles, along with some 8-ouncers for kids or guests who might not need a full bottle. Of course, you can save money and the environment by refilling your own water bottle.
Wine: Did you know that nobody sells more wine in the United States than Costco? Because of that buying power, the savings is passed along to you. Costco wines come from all over the world, including Europe, South America and Australia. Alcohol, even wine, should be kept in moderation, but there’s perhaps no better place to pick up a quality bottle of wine for a reasonable price. My favorite is pinot noir, but Costco has everything to satisfy your wine palate.
With just these thirteen items, you can feed yourself for a week. It’s not all you can eat, but it could account for more than 80 percent of your consumption, more than enough to keep yourself on budget and, more important, on track with the Core Performance nutrition program.
Excerpted from Core Performance Women by Mark Verstegen and Pete Williams. For more info or to order Core Performance Women, visit any of the following Web sites: Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Borders.com, Indiebound.com or Penguin.com.
About The Author
Mark Verstegen – An internationally-recognized leader and innovator in the world of athletic performance training, Mark Verstegen is the founder and president of EXOS.