Wednesday, 21 May 2014

The hunt for healthy food at Costco Australia

Since Costco arrived in Australia the cost-cutter in me has been dying to go and check it out. However the $60 membership fee really was a turn off, could I justify spending $60 just to end up buying 40 toilet paper rolls? Since going sugar-free and attempting to rule out processed foods from our pantry the items that really hike up our grocery bill are the 'health' foods. Every time another sugar-free baking recipe fails I grimace at the waste of money and ingredients it took to make it.
So a few weeks ago I bit the bullet and pushed my oversized trolley through Costco's doors in an attempt to make some savings on my regular 'healthy' pantry items. There are of course the expected tempting items such as new cameras and flat screen TV's to entice you and tables of basic American clothing at good prices, but it was really the food I was curious to check out.

Within a few minutes of entering the store, as if they knew I was coming, I spotted a stack of massive jars of coconut oil and kilo containers of chia seeds side by side. The kilo jar of Chia Co. chia seeds were $19.99, the major supermarkets sell a half kilo packet of this brand for $20.95, so it was a 50% saving right off the bat! The coconut oil is organic and cold pressed and was $13.99 for the 900 gram jar. My usual tiny 300g jar of coconut oil costs $6.44 so it's a great saving, $15.55 per kilo compared to $21.45 a kilo!
As I continued to wander the massive aisles there were a few more bargains to be had. A 4.25 kg box of Quaker oats (yes that's a lot of oats!) were a few dollars less a kilo than the usual shelf price. Although I will say that the oat connisieur in our house; husband, tells me they don't taste as good as Uncle Toby's and do seem to take much longer to cook. The kids haven't complained and I use them mainly in cooking so it hasn't bothered me. There was also a nearly 50% saving buying a huge 2 kg bucket of Jalna yoghurt as well (yes I am not scrimping on the servings at the moment!).
Other regular items that can be found in our pantry such as Val Verde bread sticks, Real Foods Corn thins and Heinz baked beans were also cheaper but the savings weren't as significant. I also found some UHT cartons of coconut milk that worked out to be $1.33 per 400ml carton which isn't overly cheap but UHT coconut milk is impossible to find elsewhere.  I have to say though it was Mary's Gone Crackers, crackers that I was in search of and didn't find them on my first trip but on my second trip, ta-da! They are one of the healthiest packaged crackers you can buy and are usually $9 for a small box at our speciality supermarket so I was happy to find a huge half kilo box for $11.29. Their only ingredients being organic wholegrain blend of grains and seeds, water, sea salt and tamari and are gluten free!
As far as other staples go the prices were going to have to be pretty good to compare to my regular supermarket; Aldi. Things such as tinned tomatoes, nuts, cheese, milk and quite a lot of other staples were not cheaper than Aldi and of course at Aldi you don't have to buy a dozen of them to make the savings! (Watch this space for my upcoming post of my favourite healthy buys at Aldi!)
Some of my bulk buys in our storeroom (aka the garage!)
So how would I rate Costco in terms of savings for healthier foods? If you aren't buying soft drinks by the pallet load or buckets full of chocolate peanuts then I would say the savings are moderate. Items such as the coconut oil, chia seeds, Mary's Gone Crackers were great buys and I am sure I would make the $60 membership fee back in a year of savings but as with the whole concept of Costco you make the savings by having to buy these items in bulk. If you aren't going to eat a kilo of chia seeds by the use-by-date then it's probably not worth the savings. As with all shopping you need to know your prices and compare the unit prices. So all in all I would say if you regularly use items such as coconut oil, coconut flour, gluten-free flour, chia seeds etc then you will save money buying these items at Costco, however if you only have a small family and only use these types of items on occasion then you'd be pressed to make your membership fee back on healthy type food alone. That being said I did of course walk out of there with 40 rolls of toilet paper as well!!
Are you a Costco member? Do you think you the savings are worth the membership fee?

(Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post, all opinions expressed on the brands and companies mentioned here are my own)


  1. When I saw the title of your post I though "Good luck!" But you did well in the end!

    1. Yes it was certainly a tough challenge Sam, but did come out with some gems!


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