Popular Costco food court items—from the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Trying to eat right as you grab a meal on your Costco run? It may be a king-sized challenge. Like the products sold in its warehouse, Costco’s food court isn’t known for serving small portions. With high sodium and saturated fat (and a severe lack of fruits and vegetables), many of Costco’s meal offerings leave much to be desired for a healthy lunch, dinner, or snack.
Of course, part of the problem is that Costco’s menu could be more varied. For example, in the eating area of the big box giant, there are only a few entrée, drink, and dessert options. Furthermore, because the food court menu changes depending on the season or location, it cannot be easy to maintain your favorite healthy choice for an extended period.
Still, all is not lost! A few options contain whole food ingredients and will set you back less than others regarding calories, fat, sodium, and carbohydrates. As a nutritionist, I recommend five choices for healthy dining—and five to steer clear of next time you’re shopping at Costco.
The 5 best Costco food court items
1. Chicken Caesar Salad
The Chicken Caesar Salad is at the top of the Costco food court items list with the new vegetable list. Grilled Chicken, croutons, and shredded cheese are served on a bed of leafy romaine lettuce, providing plenty of fiber and protein. Just be careful with the Caesar dressing to avoid excess fat and sodium.
2. Smoothie with Fruit
Costco doesn’t divulge its menu items’ ingredients, so it’s hard to know exactly how much fruit the fruit smoothie contains. That said, its nutrition profile is among the best on the menu. This chilly treat is 240 calories, with no fat and very little sodium. So if you’re watching your carbohydrates, know this isn’t a low-carb choice. It also needs to be clarified how many of its 50 grams of sugar naturally occur and how many are added.
3. Hot Latte
If you’d like a coffee to sip on while you browse for epic boxes of crackers and bags of meatballs, try the food court’s hot Latte. It contains only 130 calories and 12 grams of sugar. It even sneaks in 9 grams of protein!
4. Chili with Beans and Beef
Surprisingly, Costco’s food court chili with beans and beef is one of its lowest-calorie entrees at a modest 450 calories. Its fiber content of 17 grams also contributes significantly to your daily fiber requirement. The sodium content of the chili is the only drawback here. One bowl of soup packs more than a full day’s recommended sodium.
5. BBQ Beef Brisket Sandwich
I’ll admit that this meaty sandwich has lots of sodium and saturated fat—but it redeems itself somewhat with a lower calorie total than Costco’s other sandwich options. If possible, round out your meal by grabbing some fruit or vegetable samples while shopping.
The 5 worst Costco food court items
1. Pepperoni Pizza
Costco’s pizza may be legendary for its size and taste, but it only earns a few points for healthiness. A single serving of the pepperoni persuasion provides 710 calories and 13 grams of saturated fat. My advice: if you’re craving pizza, purchase a Kirkland frozen variety from the Costco warehouse and bake it home.
2. Baked Chicken
Like any other restaurant, remember that you can always split or take home part of your order at Costco’s food court. That’s a great idea if you choose the chicken bake, which has 770 calories per Hot Pocket-style hand pie and more than 100% of the daily sodium recommendation.
3. Hot Dog and Soda
You probably wouldn’t expect Costco’s hot dog and soda option to be a slam dunk for health—and you’d be right. But, unfortunately, the classic dog and drink combo doesn’t have much to offer nutritionally. Its white flour bun provides only 1 gram of fiber, and the sugar in your choice of soda (plus the excessive sodium and saturated fat in the hot dog) won’t harm your cardiovascular system.
4. Polish Sausage
Costco’s Polish sausage is neck and neck with the hot dog and soda combo—and not in a good way. Like the hot dog, the Polish sausage contains 32 grams of fat (12 saturated) and almost the same amount of sodium and calories as the hot dog. But, since research has linked a diet high in red and processed meats to colon cancer, it’s best to choose foods like sausage sparingly anyway.
5. Turkey Wrap
A turkey wrap sounds like a healthy choice on paper, but Costo’s food court version is far from a low-calorie sandwich you’d make at home. Though it boasts a sizable 53 grams of protein, this lunchtime go-to contains 101% of the daily sodium recommendation and 80% of the daily request for saturated fat. The turkey wrap has more saturated fat than any other food court menu item.
Learn more: The 14 Best High-Protein Fast Food Meals