Costco Food Court Salads: you can make them healthier

After my usual Thursday night Costco shopping run, I normally have only a frozen fat-free yogurt and a Costco food court salad — with some major alterations to what otherwise could be a very unhealthy salad choice.

Costco is one of my favorite places to shop, as I’ve written here. But since my angioplasty, I’ve been severely disappointed at the unhealthiness of its food court offerings. I can no longer eat the hot dogs I once did, too much fat and salt. Same for the giant slices of Costco pizza. And even the Costco turkey sandwich, which you might think was healthier, is loaded with fat and salt, far too much for me.

So after my usual Thursday night Costco shopping run, I normally have only a frozen fat-free yogurt and a Costco food court salad — with some major alterations.

I recently came across a post talking about how unhealthy that Costco food court salad is. “This jacked-up salad has more calories, total fat, cholesterol and sodium than either the Kirkland Signature All Beef Hot Dog or Polish Sausage,” writes the Tasty Island blog.

The fat is in the dressing, of course, and the cheese and croutons that come with the salad. If you eat all that, the salad has 40 grams of fat and 2,680 mgs of sodium, about two days worth of salt for me, or for you if you’re dealing with blood pressure or heart issues.

“As for the salad, substitute the OEM Caesar dressing for an Extra Virgin Olive Oil-based vinaigrette dressing and take out some of the parmesan cheese and croutons, and it obviously will be far better for you than the hot dog. But who’s going to do that at the convenience of Costco’s Food court? Not me, that’s for sure,” writes the Tasty Island.

This is what a Costco food court Caesar salad looks like when you unwrap it, a giant cup of fat-filled Caesar dressing and a mound of high-salt, high-fat grated cheese
This is what a Costco food court Caesar salad looks like when you unwrap it, a giant cup of fat-filled Caesar dressing and a mound of high-salt, high-fat grated cheese

Well, that’s exactly what I do routinely. First, I never get the croutons. The counter help will offer them to you in a small bag. I simply say hold the croutons, they are fat bombs I don’t need.

I next deconstruct the salad, tossing the generous cup of Caesar dressing and picking off almost all the grated cheese, leaving a tiny bit for taste. I then add my own oil and vinegar (pity Costco doesn’t offer oil and vinegar in its food courts).

Remove and discard the Caesar dressing and most of the cheese. Don't even ask for the croutons.
Remove and discard the Caesar dressing and most of the cheese. Don’t even ask for the croutons.
You're left with a  relatively healthy salad with chicken.
You’re left with a relatively healthy salad with chicken.

Doing all that cuts the calories in the salad to about 194.8 and the sodium to 176.4, according to Sparkspeople. I hope that’s accurate.

Always carry your own oil and vinegar packets to use on any salad. I buy these in bulk on Amazon.
Always carry your own oil and vinegar packets to use on any salad. I buy these in bulk on Amazon.

I still worry a bit about how much salt is on the chicken. but all in all, the salad is much healthier once you strip the junk out, and it’s filling because it is Costco-sized, after all.
John

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8 thoughts on “Costco Food Court Salads: you can make them healthier”

  1. Aloha John,

    I noticed a pingback on my Tasty Island Honolulu Food Blog from this post, and just wanted to congratulate you on your weight loss. You look fantastic! I myself lost 40 lbs. back in 2012 through the normal diet and exercise routine, while also adding Japanese Green Tea into my regimen, which really helps boost the metabolism, effectively melting away visceral fat (the culprit most men have that causes a “beer belly”), amongst many other cardiovascular and antioxidant health benefits.

    I see you really crunched the numbers on Costco’s Caesar Salad. To be honest, when I walk through Costco’s Food Court nowadays, I almost feel my arteries congeal from just the smell of all that fatty Pizza cheese and hot dog grease. Ugghh. It’d be great if Costco became more considerate of health conscious folks such as you and I and offered alternatives. Such as the Caesar Salad with low calorie, low sodium fixinz and vegetarian or turkey-based hot dogs.

    Anyhow, have a great new week!

    Pomai
    The Tasty Island

  2. Aloha John,

    I noticed a pingback on my Tasty Island Honolulu Food Blog from this post, and just wanted to congratulate you on your weight loss. You look fantastic! I myself lost 40 lbs. back in 2012 through the normal diet and exercise routine, while also adding Japanese Green Tea into my regimen, which really helps boost the metabolism, effectively melting away visceral fat (the culprit most men have that causes a “beer belly”), amongst many other cardiovascular and antioxidant health benefits.

    I see you really crunched the numbers on Costco’s Caesar Salad. To be honest, when I walk through Costco’s Food Court nowadays, I almost feel my arteries congeal from just the smell of all that fatty Pizza cheese and hot dog grease. Ugghh. It’d be great if Costco became more considerate of health conscious folks such as you and I and offered alternatives. Such as the Caesar Salad with low calorie, low sodium fixinz and vegetarian or turkey-based hot dogs.

    Anyhow, have a great new week!

    Pomai
    The Tasty Island

    1. I also purchase the costco salad, but have substituted the dressing with Bolthouse Italian vinaigrette.

      https://bolthouse.com/product/italian-vinaigrette/
      (I have a strong reaction to the sugars in the costco dressing)

      I wasn’t paying attention to the cheese that you mentioned. I’ll need to follow your suggestion to toss most of it away, and either skip out on eating the croutons, or keep only a couple of them.

      thanks for the info.

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