Note from Kelly: I always get excited about the budget-saving tips that Tiffany shares with us each month, but this one is a real gem – not only because it helps to save money, but also time! By having this handy list to compare prices, we can quickly see what gluten-free items may be available at our local Costco and make a quick trip over to check them out. So thank you, Tiffany, as always for yet another incredibly helpful post!
No doubt about it, saving money on real food is hard. We have an aggressive grocery budget of $330 to feed four people for four weeks. It’s a budget that has been attainable for several years now, but despite my best efforts, I still went over budget last month.
So when others say they struggle with affording whole foods, I completely understand! We started our own real food journey a couple years ago and back then, I could have really used a tour guide of sorts. A guide to tell me what to buy, where to get it and how much it was going to cost. Having a list like that would have GREATLY reduced my stress level, freed up more time and overall, made the switch to real food just a whole lot easier.
While I can’t go back in time and re-do the baby steps we’ve already taken, I can take what I’ve learned and create a tour guide for those who need the help NOW. That’s exactly what this post is: It’s a real food guide to healthy food at Costco – the gluten-free edition.
After walking the isles over and over again at my local Costco, I’ve compiled a pretty good list of gluten-free foods that are affordable. The list is broken down into different categories, depending on how you shop for gluten-free foods:
- “100% Gluten-free foods” are certified, stamped and labeled as gluten-free. According to the manufacturer, these are processed and packaged in gluten-free facilities, so there should not be any risk for cross-contamination.
- “Gluten-free foods” are those that naturally do not contain gluten, but are not certified or marked as gluten-free. These items might be processed or packaged in facilities that handle wheat, so there is a chance for cross-contamination. If you are Celiac or highly allergic to gluten, use your own discretion when making a purchase.
There’s also a bonus category: Honorable mentions. However, just because an item is labeled gluten-free, doesn’t make it healthy. High fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and MSG are all gluten-free, but they’re all food additives, far from real food and flat out not healthy for you! Keep in mind that this list is not all encompassing. While I have done my best to include as many items as I possibly could in this gluten-free food at Costco guide, there will always be variation depending on where you live. For those who don’t have sensitivities to gluten, you might want to check out my original frugal real food at Costco list for even more real food items that are affordable at Costco.
Without further ado – here we go!
100% Gluten-Free (certified)
Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour, $17.99 for 3 pounds For gluten-free/grain-free bakers, almond flour is a staple item in the pantry. At just $6/lb, Honeyville’s blanched almond flour at Costco is a STEAL! I checked at least three other brands and they all come up costing over $2 per pound MORE than Honeyville. If you’re a fan of Kelly’s GF recipes here on this site, you’ll notice that she exclusively uses Honeyville blanched almond flour and has even conducted a Kitchen Showdown showing how Honeyville compares to another popular brand.
Nutiva Coconut Flour, $6.99 for 4 pounds Yes, you read that right! Costco has coconut flour for just $1.75/lb! This is another amazing deal for all real foodies alike, especially since some brands cost as much as $6/lb.
Essential Baking Multigrain Bread, $7.99 for (2) 17oz loaves Homemade gluten-free bread can be difficult to master if you’re new to gluten-free baking, so this is a nice addition when you’re just craving a sandwich. While this price seems a bit high for bread, it’s actually very affordable for gluten-free bread, costing about 50% less than the average single loaf on most store shelves! TruRoots Quinoa, $18.00 for 4 pounds Quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain, and this nutritionally dense food is an excellent option for many gluten-free diets. Costco has it for just $4.75/lb, and considering you’ll get approximately eight servings from one pound, this makes for a very frugal accompaniment to dinner.
MiRancho Corn Tortillas, $2.99 for 24 count Corn tortillas are a must-have in our house for taco night. If you can’t make your own from GMO-free corn masa (or are feeding too many to warrant making them from scratch), this is an excellent alternative at just 12¢ per tortilla.
Lundberg Short Grain Brown Rice, $12.99 for 12 pounds Rice is a staple in many gluten-free homes, and at just over $1/lb for brown rice, this is a great way to buy in bulk and save. Would you believe that some other brands of gluten-free rice cost over $5/lb? Honorable Mentions
- Luke’s MultiGrain & Seed Cracker, $7.89 for 20oz (100% certified)
- Luke’s Organic Brown Rice Chips, $6.99 for 20oz (100% certified)
- Late July Organic Tortilla Chips, $5.99 for 24oz (100% certified)
- Mary’s Gone Crackers, $8.39 for 20oz (100% certified)
- Pure Ancient Grains Bar, $15.99 for 15 count (100% certified)
- KIND Variety Pack, $17.99 for 18 count (100% certified)
The “honorable mentions” are gluten-free, however, that doesn’t mean that they’re 100% real food. There may be unhealthy additives or preservatives, so it’s always best to check labels. Plus, they’re incredibly expensive!! You’re basically paying a lot more money for convenience and may end up with far less nutrition in return. Still, I understand the need to satisfy a craving for a simple cracker or nut bar. So you may wish to purchase these if they fit your dietary lifestyle and there’s room in your grocery budget. Otherwise, opt to make these foods from scratch instead using the delicious recipes on Kelly’s snack recipe page (there’s 10 to choose from).
UPDATE: It has come to our attention that some Kirkland nuts at many Costco locations may have an allergy statement indicating that certain nut varieties may contain wheat or have been processed in a plant or on equipment that handles wheat. Therefore, it is extremely important to read labels to ensure any product you purchase is 100% gluten-free, particularly for those with Celiac disease.
Kirkland Cashews, $14.99 for 2.5 pounds At just $6 per pound, these are some of the most affordable cashews you’ll find. Plus, you can get salted or unsalted at the same great price.
Kirkland Peanuts, $6.99 for 2.5 pounds Peanuts are technically a legume, not a tree nut, so peanuts might offer a viable nut alternative to those who are allergic to tree nuts. They’re also just $2.80/lb at Costco – perfect for snacking, baking or even making homemade peanut butter.
Kirkland Almonds, $13.99 for 2.5 pounds Whole almonds can be ground into almond meal or almond butter if you have the right equipment, making these whole nuts an excellent money saving opportunity. It’s important to note that California is the only state producing commercial almonds (the ones you would buy in a store). Because California requires that all almonds be pasteurized, there’s a chance that the premium charged on “raw” almonds is purely for profit. If you’re able to get raw almonds locally for $5.60 or less per pound, take advantage! Otherwise, look into the true source of your almonds to be sure you’re not overpaying for almonds that aren’t really raw. Nutiva Hemp Seed, $12.99 for 24 ounces Hemp seeds are incredibly high in protein, and another excellent alternative for those with nut allergies – especially since they have a nutty flavor! We use them to make protein smoothies, and at just 54¢ per serving, they’re incredibly frugal. P.S. Nuts and seeds can be used to make dairy-free milk alternatives. Get the recipes, tutorials and see how much you can save by making it yourself HERE.
Nutiva Chia Seeds, $13.99 for 32 ounces Chia seeds are a powerhouse of nutrition and protein, and are often used in recipes as the binder. Plus, a little bit goes a long way! They’re just 44¢ per ounce at Costco, which is about a 50% savings off most local stores and even other online retailers! Honorable Mention
- Qia Superfood Cereal, $14.59 for 22 ounces
- Pink Wild Alaskan Salmon, $12.89 for (6) 6 ounces
- Wonderful Pistachios, $17.89 for 24 ounces
While technically gluten-free, the Qia Superfood Cereal could easily be made at home for much less by buying the ingredients in bulk and measuring them out into a container. In this case, you’re again paying for convenience and not the food itself.
The Alaskan salmon is an excellent deal at just $5.72 per pound, but do be aware of the BPA that might be in the can. They’re not labeled, so you should double check with the manufacturer before consuming on a regular basis.
Finally, the price of pistachios is actually higher than other online retailers. It’s given “honorable mention” because sometimes it’s easier to buy everything from one store, at one time, rather than making several trips or placing orders through several companies. Just know that these nuts are priced on average $2-3 more per pound than other shops.
BONUS! Free Shopping List
Get both the real food and gluten-free editions of the Costco price list together in a one-page format that you can download and print. Simply visit this page (or click on the image at left), scroll down to the entry form and enter your email address for instant access. This helpful free list makes shopping much quicker and easier!
P.S. If you’re still working on creating a grocery budget (learn how to budget HERE), know that buying in bulk will save you money over time, but it requires an upfront cost that can sometimes be difficult to afford. A great strategy is to aim for just one item each budget cycle and go from there. Soon you’ll create a meal plan from a stocked pantry and be able to save extra funds to splurge on better meat or organic produce!
What gluten-free foods do you buy from Costco? Leave your finds in the comments!
Note from Kelly: Don’t miss all of the other great budgeting posts that Tiffany has shared here. Simply click here and keep scrolling through to see her many helpful posts on how to save money on your food budget.