The Healthiest Items You Can Order At A Costco Food Court

A trip to Costco is often similar to a mini (and sometimes major) shopping vacation. The members-only wholesale warehouse was first launched in 1976 in San Diego, California, and has since grown to become one of the most popular destinations for groceries, baked goods, appliances, electronics, and more. 

A morning spent at Costco is incomplete without a stop at its food court, though, which as of early 2024, was re-established as a members' only affair too. While it seems as though some shoppers without membership cards to the wholesale establishment have been able to enjoy its treats (much to the surprise of some loyal members), one Reddit user's post seems to indicate that management has reinforced their rule effective April 2024. So the only way you'll get into the warehouse and its food court is via a membership card, if you didn't know already. 

Membership woes aside, however, consuming meals at food courts like the one at Costco might leave some of the more health-conscious folk scrutinizing the menu for minutes. Luckily for you, we asked the board-certified internist and head of nutrition for Nucific, Dr. Amy Lee, for some suggestions. Turns out the menu has foods that are healthier than you think, like the rotisserie chicken Caesar salad and turkey Swiss sandwich, for instance. Per the expert, who spoke exclusively with Health Digest, these Costco meals have nutritional value. Let's take a look. 

The rotisserie chicken salad has protein and complex carbs

As explained by Dr. Amy Lee, the rotisserie chicken Caesar salad, priced at $6.99, offers a good combination of protein and complex carbs. "You have your protein from the chicken and your vegetables as complex carbs," explained the expert. What's more, the chicken in the salad is not fried and "probably pretty decent with the protein per serving," added Dr. Lee. The 710-calorie meal is made using chicken breast, which is the leanest and therefore, healthiest part of the bird. It contains fewer calories than thighs and drumsticks, and more protein.

With two out of three of the macronutrients checked off the list, it's not surprising to see why this food item was on our expert's list. Protein is important for your body in so many ways. From your hair, skin, and nail health to your muscle health, bone health, metabolism, and immune system function, the list is pretty long. Complex carbs are often referred to as the "good" carbs. One of the differences between simple carbs and complex carbs is the latter's fiber content. Fiber helps slow digestion, so if you're looking to feel satiated before perusing the aisles at Costco, you'd be all set with this meal. The salad also contains romaine, parmesan cheese, and a creamy Caesar dressing. Romaine lettuce offers calcium, vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, phosphorous, potassium, and magnesium. 

There is one word of caution with the dressing, though. "I would advise that you go careful with the dressing which could help one limit on the caloric density," warned Dr. Lee.

The turkey Swiss sandwich is a great option too

When consumed minus the skin, turkey is considered one of the most healthy sources of animal protein. Also, white meat, like turkey and chicken, contains less saturated fat than red meat. Another plus.

Costco's turkey Swiss sandwich contains 900 calories and comes with oven-baked turkey, a sun-dried tomato spread, Swiss cheese, lettuce, and yellow mustard mayonnaise — all for the cost of $6.99. According to some who've tried the product, Costco isn't skimping on portion size either, when it comes to the turkey or the cheese. 

"[The turkey Swiss sandwich] is decent," shared Dr. Amy Lee, mainly because it's a sandwich and it's not fried; nor is it overloaded with sauces. Fast-food items can have a lot more calories than you'd expect because of what's in their sauces. From a high content of saturated fat to added sugars and oils, they could be hiding any number of surprises. For those of you trying to cut carbohydrates from your diet, however, Dr. Lee has a small tip: "If you want to save on carbs, you can eat it with taking one of the pieces of bread off."

The fruit smoothie without added sugar also works

An errand outdoors could make you thirsty. This is when a good smoothie can hit the spot. When you say smoothie, however, unless you are making the beverage at home yourself, there's no telling what goes into it. Hence, there is concern about added sugars, artificial preservatives, and flavorings. 

Turns out Costco's offering of fruit smoothies with four servings of fruit at 220-230 calories, has no added sugar, no artificial flavors, or colors. It comes in strawberry, blackberry, acai, and mango. "[This] sounds good too with the four servings of fruits. Typically, we have to be careful with smoothies because they add sugars and fruit juices from concentrate. I would definitely share that with a friend as it is a treat and not a meal," shared Dr. Amy Lee. 

Ultimately, it's important to understand that these food items are healthier in comparison to what else is on offer on the Costco food court menu, like the ice cream sundae, chocolate chip cookie, or hot dog and drink combo. While they're probably some of the healthy foods you can afford on a budget, they can't replace a meal you prepare at home, where you're aware of all that's going into making it. But these food court items do stand out as good options for those days when you want to grab a quick bite during a busy grocery shopping session with your family or friends. 

Speaking of outdoor activities, it's worth talking about how a road trip can benefit from healthy gas-station snacks