8 Costco Foods That Are Packed With Protein
Protein isn’t only a muscle-building resource, it is an essential macronutrient that our bodies need in abundance for a variety of functions. “We need to eat protein every day in order to keep our cells healthy,” says Kimberly Gomer, MS, RD, LDN, and director of nutrition at Body Beautiful Miami. Not only do we use protein to build and repair muscle tissue, but protein is used to oxygenate cells throughout the body, create enzymes that aid in digestion, and regulate hormones in our endocrine system.
Costco is one of our favorite grocery retailers, especially when it comes to the economic benefits of buying in bulk. Where protein is concerned, however, Costco isn’t only a resource for stocking our fridges and freezers with animal-protein family packs, or other options that can be found in the fresh or frozen meat sections. High-protein Costco foods can be found in various departments throughout the store and according to Gomer, there are many benefits of seeking out alternative sources of protein.
“Two main advantages to eating more plant-based proteins are that animal protein has no fiber while plant protein is rich in fiber,” says Gomer. “Fiber helps with feeding our gut microbes and is extremely filling both when eaten and that keeps you full longer. It also has no dietary cholesterol, which is a huge health bonus for heart health, diabetes, and weight management.”
The National Academy of Medicine recommends that all adults should consume 0.83 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, which amounts to between 46 and 56 grams for average humans. Where reading labels regarding protein is concerned, Gomer advises that the amount of protein is somewhat less of a concern, because most adults are getting more than they need, but what you’re getting in addition to the protein.
“An important habit is to look at the food label ingredients list and see what is added to the food,” she says. “Are salt, sugar, and industrial oils included?”
Whether you’re looking for plant-based proteins, high-protein snack options, or healthy protein sources that are shelf-stable and don’t take up so much room in your freezer, here are eight high-protein Costco foods that you can feel good about stocking up on.
1. Mayorga Organic Chia Seeds
Seeds are one of nature’s quiet superheroes, providing a laundry list of desirable nutritive characteristics, including protein. Chia seeds are both versatile and convenient when it comes to using them in recipes.
“This is a fantastic product,” says Gomer. “I love its single ingredient, and it gets bonus points for being organic.”
In addition to its 5 grams of protein per serving, “chia provides a fantastic source of fiber,” she says. “It can help reduce cholesterol levels and promote satiety as it makes you feel full longer.”
Buy now: Mayorga Organic Chia Seeds
2. Season Skinless & Boneless Sardines in Olive Oil
While most adults may be getting enough protein regularly, seafood is a source of protein that we may not be getting quite enough of. Preserved seafood products, such as these sardines in olive oil not only provide similar benefits to fresh seafood, but they are easy to keep on hand in your cupboard.
“These are high in omega 3s and have no added unhealthy processed seed oils,” says Gomer.
Keep an eye on sodium levels of canned seafood, however, and make sure to balance them out throughout the day with lots of fresh ingredients with no added salt.
3. Kirkland Signature Dry Roasted Almonds
“Nuts are a fantastic, nutrition-dense snack,” says Gomer, noting that it is best to buy them raw or roasted with no added oils, such as with these dry-roasted almonds that are seasoned only with a touch of sea salt.
A serving of almonds, for example, provides 6 grams of protein, good, unprocessed fat, and fiber to keep you feeling satiated. Nuts can also be on the expensive side where high protein snacks are concerned, so a high protein Costco option in a bulk quantity is perfect for saving money in the long run.
4. Harvest Creek Pulled Pork In Water
Similar in nutritional value to canned seafood options, “[canned meat] can be a good convenience item when fresh versions are not easy or accessible,” says Gomer. Pulled pork especially is really easy to add to wraps, quesadillas that are also loaded with veggies, or salads, without having to roast a whole shoulder to enjoy its high protein benefits.
“The ingredients in this pork are nice and simple,” she says. “Only pork, water, and some salt. They do not add any extra flavoring here which is a bonus.”
Buy now: Harvest Creek Pulled Pork In Water
5. Kirkland Signature Organic Quinoa
According to Gomer, “here is perfection — a single ingredient, organic product with the bonus of a little extra protein along with a healthy whole grain.”
Not every whole grain also packs a protein punch, but quinoa is a super food that brings 6 grams per serving to the (literal) table. Quinoa can also be a great convenient source of protein, since you can cook it ahead and store it in the refrigerator, making it easy to compose a nutrient-dense grain salad. I’m also partial to a breakfast of champions that pairs quinoa with a poached egg, avocado, and hot sauce.
Buy now: Kirkland Signature Organic Quinoa
6. BelGioioso Fresh Mozzarella Snacking Cheese
Dairy can also be an excellent source of protein, especially lower-fat, gut-healthy options such as yogurt and skyr. As for high protein Costco foods with a high degree of convenience are concerned, Gomer also advises that cheese — making sure that there are no additives — can also make for an easy, on-the-go snack, as with these individually wrapped mini-mozzarellas. Containing only the basic cheese requirements of milk, enzymes, and salt, (with vinegar to aid in curd formation,) each individual cheese has 5 grams of protein.
7. Kirkland Signature Liquid Egg Whites, Cage Free
Long gone are the days when whole eggs were considered a cholesterol concern, but for a dose of the protein and vitamins that eggs bring, minus a majority of the fat, egg whites are a handy item to keep in the fridge. These cage-free egg whites are a single-ingredient item, an approach that Gomer especially encourages, that brings 5 grams of protein per serving. Egg whites are a worthy component for an omelet or scramble, or can make a hearty frittata or make-ahead egg cup.
8. Goya Black Beans
“Beans, legumes, and lentils are all quality plant protein sources,” says Gomer, which also brings the benefit of fiber to the equation. With 7 grams of protein in just half a cup, black beans are arguably one of the most versatile sources of protein: they can be added to grain bowls or salads, pureed into a spread, or even be the star of their own side dish or burger alternative.
Buy now: Goya Black Beans
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