Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Costco Gluten-Free Bargains 2011 - Part 1

Costco Gluten-Free Bargains, Deals, and Money-Saving Items

I wrote a Gluten-Free Blog entry about Gluten-Free Food Bargains at Costco a couple years ago, and thought it was a good time to post some updates to that blog as Costco has introduced new gluten-free items and/or modified the pricing of gluten-free foods that have been available ever since I wrote the original article.

We have been able to really save a lot of money purchasing some of our regularly-used gluten-free items from CostCo, and enough so that the savings definitely pays for the annual membership. I have compared the bulk-pricing of certain gluten-free diet items to the non-bulk-pricing counterparts in normal grocery stores, and in some instances we are saving well over 50% on the same items! This adds up to huge savings over the period of a year (i.e., the membership period) and has easily exceeded the $50.00 annual fee.

I will be posting more of these observed gluten-free items and prices in future blogs, as there are many more items to list than I want to cram into on blog entry :)

Gluten-Free Quinoa at a Great Price

Gluten-Free Cheap Quinoa at Costco

Quinoa is a gluten-free grain that is a perennial favorite with me! As such, this Costco gluten-free bargain is a huge money-saver for me. This 4-pound bag of Earthly Delights Organic Quinoa is only $9.49, which pushes the per-pound price down to a very reasonable $2.37/pound! Compare that to what some grocery stores want for small boxes — I have even seen prices at some grocery stores approaching a per-pound price that is up there with what Costco charges for this entire 4-pound bag!

Needless to say, when you find money-savings potential like this on a gluten-free diet food that you regularly consume, the savings adds up. I prefer Quinoa to rice for many reasons — taste, texture, and nutrition — and thanks to this much more affordable way of buying quinoa, I can also like it without feeling like the price is much of a detractor.

Gluten-Free Tasty Bite Madras Lentils

Gluten-Free Tasty Bite Madras Lentils at Costco

As you can see in the picture, Costco wants $6.99 for a box of (4) 10-ounce packages of these ready-to-eat Madras Lentils. I rather enjoy these semi-spicy Indian-inspired lentils over a bit of rice or quinoa. I have also found that these work well as a baked-potato topping. They are simple to prepare (just microwave them for about 90-seconds), and I find the price decent for a total of 8 servings (pushing the per-serving price under a dollar).

I am not going to do a full product review at this time, but I will say that I like the fact that they are vegetarian, gluten-free, have no MSG or preservatives, and are all natural. They only have 150 calories per serving, and that includes a nice 7grams of protein and 14% of the RDA of Iron. What I do not care for is the 510mg of sodium per serving, but luckily I consume very little sodium in my diet otherwise, so this is not a big deal for me personally. But, it is something to consider.

Gluten-Free Almond Butter

Gluten-Free Almond Butter bargain at Costco

If you have shopped around for almond butter, you know that it can be rather expensive depending where you find it. Well, here comes Costco to the rescue with a very nice deal on what is clearly labeled "gluten-free" Almond Butter from Maranatha (brand), with a nice big 2# jar costing just $5.99. At $3.00/pound, this is getting down into the price territory of peanut-butter, and as such you may want to try some wonderful variations to peanut-butter cookies or similar gluten-free desserts and recipes (especially if someone you know has a peanut allergy but can still consume almonds).

This almond butter is ground to a "creamy style" consistency, though it is still very thick. Why? Well, this is the real deal: it has only ONE ingredient — ground dry-roasted almonds. That's it! No added sodium (awesome!), no added anything. As such, the almond oil naturally separates to the top and you have to stir it in once you open the container. It's full of protein too (7g per 2 tablespoons). At only $3.00/pound, I turn to almond butter much more often that I would otherwise.

Gluten-Free Rice Dream Organic Rice Milk

Costco sells this gluten-free rice milk in cases of twelve (12) one-quart-sized (i.e., 32-ounce) containers for $16.49. This brings the per-quart price down to $1.37, which is by far the best price I have found it for anywhere. It is not uncommon for me to see the same quart-sized containers at the grocery store for $1.99 or higher. And, since this product has a rather lengthy shelf-life, you can buy a case, save some money, and have it around for quite a while.

We use enough of this gluten-free drink to save a lot of money over a year. In fact, the savings on this rice milk alone nearly pays for our membership. We use a fair amount of it on breakfast cereals as well as in things like our homemade gluten-free smoothies. I personally tend to mix it half-and-half with Living Harvest's Tempt hemp-milk to cut down on the carbs a bit while also introducing some extra Omega 3's and 6's into the equation, but the hemp-milk is around $4.00/quart as compared to this $1.37/quart bargain rice-milk from Costco.

Gluten-Free Pure Via : Stevia Sweetener at Best Price anywhere

Pure Via (Pepsi company's brand of Stevia Sweetener) has saved me countless calories and carbohydrates, and now Costco is saving me a lot of dollars as well — they have the Pure Via Stevia Sweetener (which is gluten-free per the company website's FAQ) for only $9.79 for a 400-packet box. This 400-count box gets the per-packet price down to a very reasonable 2.5-cents/packet.

With no carbohydrates and no blood-sugar impact, this sweetener is great for my morning tea or coffee. I admit I like my tea rather sweet, so I will use 2 packets of Pure Via in a large (20-ounce) glass of tea in the morning. I also use it in my smoothies to sweeten without calories, which is handy when I am using otherwise low-sugar ingredients in the smoothies particularly.

I have not yet tried to bake any of my gluten-free desserts with it yet, but sooner or later I hope to see if I can create some reduced-sugar dessert recipes by substituting at least part of the sugar with this Stevia product. If so, buying stevia in bulk at Costco will make even more sense than it already does. Again, this deal is saving me a lot of money already (I have seen smaller packages/boxes of PureVia sell at prices that are 5-times or more the per-packet price this Costco bargain offers).

Gluten-Free Corn Tortillas : Super Bargain

Mission Brand Corn Tortillas - 100 count - $2.99! (that is 5#12oz of tortillas!) Clearly labeled gluten-free and a super-deal at just 3-cents per tortilla! These gluten-free tortillas are wonderful for making all sorts of "wraps" also - whether you like placing some salad items in them, your favorite meats, etc. I am utterly amazed at the price of only 3-cents each! Wow! They hold up rather well in the fridge, and I have managed to use one bag of these over a period of 3 months without a problem. These are a no-brainer purchase for me, as I enjoy gluten-free corn tortillas in my diet on a regular basis.

More Gluten-Free Costco Bargains to Come...

This is just the first installment of the Costco gluten-free products I will be discussing here. So, stay tuned and I will be bringing another list of deals to you soon. Hopefully you have a Costco near you where you can take advantage of these low prices and bulk-items when it can save you money.

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.


Our Diabetic Warrior said...

Thank you so much for this!!!!!

Anonymous said...

This was extremely helpful. I will look for these items at my Costco. Thank you for posting!

annelies at attune foods said...

Hi Mike- our Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice Gluten Free cereal was just brought into Costco stores in the Bay Area. If it does well here then there's a possibility for it to expand to other Costcos too. Just thought it might be a helpful addition to your great list. :)

Anonymous said...

hahaha I love that you took the time to post the pictures of gluten-free deals at Costco. Thanks! You wouldn't think a large corporation such as Costco having such a vast selection of GF foods. I stumbled across a GF shopping app the other day for Apple products which you might like. It's called Food Tester. It scans barcodes and tells you if they contain any gluten or allergens in them. It's a nice assistant while shopping. Anyways, thanks again for the info.

Anonymous said...

Mike, it has been my experience that Rice Dream rice milk is not gluten-free....barley is used in the processing of it, and the company has confirmed that information. I stopped drinking it when I became sick when using it. I checked a package of it (organic) a few weeks ago, and gluten free is not on the label.Is the Rice Dream sold at Costco different than that sold elsewhere??

Mike Eberhart said...

Anonymous (on 9/6/2011): you appear 100% correct! This is news to me. I would have sworn that at one point the product was labeled GF, but it no longer says that.

So, I went to the Rice Dream website and FAQ page and pulled the following quote that states their position on it still being "gluten-free", though it sure is an oddly inconsistent and semi-scary statement (in my opinion):

"Is RICE DREAM Beverage a gluten free product?

Yes. Although RICE DREAM Beverage is processed using a barley enzyme, the barley enzyme is discarded after use. The final beverage might contain a minute residual amount (less than .002%) of barley protein."

WOW, I really have no idea what to make of that!? There are proteins in Barley other than gluten; is that perhaps the what is being referred to in that statement? Got me. It *could* very well be like other GF products that use gluten-containing ingredients during a portion of the production process that make no difference in the end-result, but I am not scientifically informed on how Rice Milk is made compared to other products.

So, given that, I have no idea what to do aside from say: drink at your own risk. They (Rice Dream) claim it is gluten-free (on that web page). I wonder why they do not reinforce that claim on the packaging? But, that in itself is not unusual; in fact I have found that inconsistency all over the place. But, we will each have to make the call as to whether drinking Rice Dream is worth any perceived "risk". I have been OK with it for a long time, and I like how it has no added *gums* (that bother me). This is one of those great examples of where consistent gluten-free product-labeling/testing laws would help a LOT!

Thanks for the comments.

Anonymous said...

Any direction on Gluten Free salad dressings at Costco?
Do they have any - have they ever?


Mike Eberhart said...

I don't have a specific list of GF Salad Dressings from Costco. I know they have *some* though, per labels I have read. I also notice that Costco changes what products they carry, and does so quite a bit, so it is hard for me to keep up with all of what is available.

I actually do not use much in the way of store-bought salad dressing either; it is rather easy to whip up my own versions on the fly using some known-safe ingredients I have on hand like olive oil, some vinegar, herbs, etc.

If anyone shops at Costco and has a more specific list/answer, please post here. thanks.