If you live in United States and love Mediterranean food, you have to check out this basic shopping list of products that I buy at Costco Wholesale Club. These are my favorite Costco foods for Mediterranean Cooking!! Let me make clear that these are just my recommendations as an avid cook of Mediterranean cuisine, but I’m not affiliated with Costco when writing this post!!
I grew up in the Mediterranean, I lived and breathed the Mediterranean lifetyle for 21 years in my life:). If you have visited my blog before, you know that I love to cook Mediterranean food. Some recipes are Mediterranean Diet compliant and some not.
When I first moved to United States, it was a culture shock in many aspects, from grocery shopping to life and college. I was so surprised to see tomatoes and oranges year around in stores since I grew up with a very seasonal produce availability. My grocery store sold crumbled feta cheese in a small container for an outrageous price!!
If you’ve ever been in the Mediterranean, you know we use feta for breakfast, lunch and dinner. That small box of crumbled feta wasn’t going to cut it!! I needed block feta, possibly in a big container!! Hope you are not falling on the floor laughing at this point because I’m pretty sure this seems like a first World problem to many…but to me, this was a vital issue back then:))).
And so someone introduced me to Costco!! Finally, I could buy decent feta, great smelling olive oil and the CORRECT cucumbers for my Greek Salad!! More on the cucumbers below:))).
1. English Cucumbers
Costco sells English cucumbers in sets of 3, they’re usually greenhouse grown so available year around. They’re cheaper than in most grocery stores plus if you make Greek salad, tabouleh, tzatziki or Albanian tarator you know you need English cucumbers instead of the regular American cucumbers.
These cucumbers have less seeds and crunchier taste. A chickpea and cucumber salad is a great example of how I use these cucumbers too.
2. Extra Virgin Olive Oil [EVOO]
There’s so much I can say about olive oil. If you love good Mediterranean food, you need good quality olive oil. Sometimes the brand at grocery stores don’t taste right (to me). While I have found some great olive oils in small Mediterranean stores, they’re not that convenient for me to drive to.
Once I tried the Costco EVOO, I was very happy to use this oil daily. I always indulge in evoo from Mediterranean stores but for daily use, Costco’s variety is perfectly fine and economical.
There’s several evoo in Costco, try them when you can to see which flavor you like the best. There’s Spanish version, and Italian one and a general organic bottle.
- Bonus tip – if you like other oils besides olive oil, there are plenty of them too. I can’t speak to the quality of them because I mostly buy olive oil and occasionally a bottle of avocado oil. I prefer avocado oil for some frying and in desserts as it’s flavorless and it keeps cakes, brownies etc soft.
3. Coarse Mediterranean Sea Salt & Spices
Mediterranean sea salt is the best salt you can use in cooking in my opinion. Costco sells this coarse Mediterranean sea salt with a grinder incorporated in the bottle. I love using the coarse version for roasts and grilling.
Besides the Mediterranean sea salt, I also love the black pepper that comes with a grinder. I used to have a wood grinder back home and still haven’t found a good old fashioned pepper grinder to replace it. The grinder the pepper comes with does the job perfectly until I can find a new one:).
While you can find fresher quality fish at a fishmonger or proper seafood store, some of those stores (in my area) have limited hours or not enough availability at times. So if they run out of catch of the day, they run out. I love buying fish at Costco, especially the wild variety. I’m not too crazy about the farmed ones, even though that will do in a pinch. The frozen wild caught fish that I have tried from Costco are as below with some of the recipes I have published:
- Halibut – Cast Iron Halibut with Couscous
- Salmon – Salmon with Dijon Mustard & Tarragon Sauce
- Branzino – Baked Mediterranean Branzino
- Chilean Sea Bass – Pan Fried Chilean Sea Bass
- Snapper – Oven Baked Snapper
I love to shop there once a month and stock up on some seafood items. It makes it so much easier to know that I have few protein items in the freezer ready to cook anytime.
Flavorful tomatoes make an enormous difference for a salad. While most grocery stores have tomatoes year around, they’re not always the best tasting. I always stock up on a variety of tomatoes during my monthly Costco shopping trip.
Here are some of my tomato recipes for you to check out:
Nuts make for healthy snacks and add great texture to anything from overnight oats to cakes and desserts. My husband loves them as snack, we started buying the below container when he was doing a low carb diet.
Then we often buy walnuts, pecans and pistachios for desserts , breakfasts and other recipes. See Albanian Walnut Baklava as an example of a recipe:).
I have had my Costco membership for 12 years at the time of writing this post. While most of the time I knew what I wanted (feta cheese & cucumbers), some other items on the shopping list made their way there as trial and error but earned their spot:). I often buy chia seeds, hemp hearts and pumpkin seeds at Costco.
They are great over yogurt and fruits, making your own granola or energy balls like these Pumpkin Seeds Energy Bites.
I think I’d be a Costco member just for the cheeses they sell, even if I didn’t care for the other grocery items. If you have known anyone from the Mediterranean / Balkan area, you’d know that they can’t live without Feta Cheese. It’s not a joke!! My husband says I add feta to every meal I make lol. Not 100% true but very close:))).
But Costco has lots of other cheeses too, I don’t have a picture of all of them. But we love having some Manchego cheese on a cheese board, or use Jarslberg as snack bites or in savory muffins, use gruyere in frittatas or egg muffins etc.
There are so many more options, I can’t mention them all but definitely check out brie and goat cheese too when you are there:). It’s a section I avoid when I’m on a budget, because while the cheeses are cheaper than regular grocery stores, it can definitely add up when you buy several of them.
9. Fruits & Vegetables
Produce and fruits section is one of my favorite ones. There are usually several seasonal options at a convenient price point. In the Mediterranean, we cook a lot of veggie casseroles with a little bit of meat or other protein. So the emphasis is on lots of fresh veggies.
10. Dried Fruits
We love dried fruits and often consume them instead of desserts. Desserts are left for special occasions. Some of the options I have tried and love from Costco are:
11. Canned San Marzano Tomatoes
I used to think that making my own marinara sauce was a bit overrated even though I love cooking. Well, I tell myself now that I was wrong:). My kids love pasta and I am cooking a lot more pasta dinners lately.
I tried my own marinara with tomatoes from my garden back in March 2020 when we started studying and working from home as a family. It was good but not quite amazing!! I knew I needed San Marzano tomatoes or some other high quality, flavorful tomatoes. I found canned San Marzano tomatoes, whole tomatoes at Costco and use 2 cans at a time to make my own pasta sauce, it produces about 3 jars so it’s great!
Now, couldn’t ignore wine:). That’s the drink of choice for most Mediterranean countries. Plus it goes great with the typical mezes, appetizers, fresh salads and cheese platters!! There are plenty of choices, but lately I seem to be getting Pinot Noir or Pinot Grigio.
There’s usually a wine connoisseur at the wine area to help you make the best choice for what you are looking for. I have a learned a thing or two by stopping at talking to that person when looking for wines.
13. Kalamata Olives
Ok, ok, not sure this deserves to be on the list but I stock up on kalamata olives at Costco once a month, I buy two big jars so that’s why I am adding them. I add them to salads daily at home so that’s why I love them so much:).
I make a baked feta appetizer that I serve with kalamata olives and cherry tomatoes (all three items from Costco). We used to bake feta before Tiktok made baked feta viral:).
14. Lamb Chops and more
Good quality lamb is hard to come by. I always rely on Costco to always offer at least one or two cuts of lamb. I love cooking lamb for family celebrations and for traditional Albanian and Mediterranean dishes.
If you have any questions please let me know in comments. I’m not affiliated with Costco, so any opinion here is my own and based on my family’s favorite grocery items from this store.
I’ll update this list periodically as new products are added to store all the time:). For now, I hope you enjoy my Costco shopping list for Mediterranean Cooking!!