Shopping at Costco for Food Allergy Families

People often ask if a Costco membership is worth it when a lot of what you’ll find in any store, let alone a membership based one, isn’t an option when you have food allergic individuals at home.  Produce and basics aside, I wanted to write about a few finds this past week at our Henderson Costco.  Be advised that these selections are specific to our Southwest region of the country and that no one paid me to write any of this though Happy Family and Luke’s were FABlogCon sponsors last year.

This post has been on my mind since I first wrote about Kirkland’s Ricemilk (here and here) but thank you to Sharon Wong from Nut Free Wok for encouraging me to get it done!  The photos are just from my phone so they are more illustrative and informative than pinterest-worthy.  As always, call companies to verify a food’s appropriateness for you.  I uploaded these files at full resolution so you can click on the images and peek at ingredient labels if you are interested in seeking a product out.

Corn Tortillas

Tortilla Land Tortillas
Tortilla Land Tortillas

When E outgrew her corn allergy but had not yet outgrown her wheat allergy, these were a great option.  I usually am not a fan of corn tortillas but you cook these up fresh and they are wonderful in recipes like enchiladas.  60 for $6.39, I’m not sure if they freeze well or not.

Tortilla Land Tortillas
Tortilla Land Tortillas

Kirkland Ricemilk

Kirkland Ricemilk
Kirkland Ricemilk

Read more about the ingredients here and about their stock status here for Kirkland Organic Ricemilk.  We use it almost exclusively even though milk is now technically a safe option for us.  Unlike many Ricemilks, it is not in a shared facility with nuts per my last communication with Costco corporate.  $13.99 for 12 containers with 4 cups in each.

Kirkland Ricemilk
Kirkland Ricemilk

Udi’s Granola

Udi's Granola (not safe for nut allergies)
Udi’s Granola (not safe for nut allergies)

We can’t have oats, peanuts, tree nuts, or sesame so this Granola isn’t an option but I include it here for my gluten free and vegan friends that may not be aware Costco is carrying products by Udi’s.  My favorite nut free and oat free granola is by Enjoy Life but I don’t know if they’ll break into Costco with anything other than Plentils for the time being.  $6.79.

Udi's Granola (not safe for nut allergies)
Udi’s Granola (not safe for nut allergies)

Luke’s MultiGrain & Seed Crackers – Chia Seed

Luke's Crackers
Luke’s Crackers

Luke’s crackers are pretty tasty and though my favorite of their products would have to be their chips (and even some of those have sesame), I love that an allergy aware company is featured at Costco.  This particular box consists of two large backs of the crackers (not snack packs like I assumed when I first purchased them) and the flavor is very neutral.  $7.99.

Luke's Crackers
Luke’s Crackers

Nutiva Coconut Oil

Nutiva Coconut Oil (Peanut Facility Warning)
Nutiva Coconut Oil (Peanut Facility Warning)

I am sharing Nutiva’s coconut oil in a cautionary way since they now carry a shared with peanut oil in the facility warning.  We haven’t bought it since but it may still be a safe option for some!  (Updated 12/1/14 – I found an announcement that some varieties now are made in a different facility.  View the article on Nutiva’s site to learn more.)

Peanut warning on Nutiva Coconut Oil
Peanut warning on Nutiva Coconut Oil

Krusteaz Gluten Free Brownie Mix

Krusteaz Gluten Free Brownie Mix
Krusteaz Gluten Free Brownie Mix

I purchased this for my sister in law, who is doesn’t eat wheat or gluten products, so I could make an easy treat considering we don’t stock gluten free flours the way we used to at home when E was allergic to wheat.  She really enjoyed baking with these mixes and liked the results.  Great price, but again, I didn’t buy these necessarily for my daughter so I don’t know what other factors may come into play ingredient-wise.  Just nice to see gluten free options for people!  $7.99.

Krusteaz Gluten Free Brownie Mix
Krusteaz Gluten Free Brownie Mix

Mamma Chia Chia Squeeze

Mamma Chia Chia Squeeze
Mamma Chia Chia Squeeze

When I was a kid we didn’t eat anything out of a pouch. . .well, I guess except for drinking Capri-Sun “juice.”  But I digress.  My kids love all things pouch based it seems and Costco is in tune with that.  $11.99.

Mamma Chia
Mamma Chia

Go Go Squeez

Go Go Squeez
Go Go Squeez

These applesauce pouches are E and R’s favorite – my daughter even wrote the company a letter (with her Auntie’s help) to thank them for being nut free.  You may think, of course applesauce is nut free, but it is nice to see Go Go Squeez taking pride in that.  $10.99.

Go Go Squeez Applesauces
Go Go Squeez Applesauces

Happy Family Fruit and Veggie Twists

Happy Family Pouches
Happy Family Pouches

Happy Family also has a line of fruit sauce pouches but crazily these were stacked right next to the powdered peanut butter in the store (just an observation, I know everything is sealed) and they have this little note on them saying your purchase supports “Operation Peanut Butter.”  I looked into it and it is actually a program to help with starvation around the world in children with peanut butter enriched with other ingredients.  Every purchase supports this project.  You can watch a video clip from Happy Family about Operation Peanut Butter here.  I personally would like to know more about the way they are approaching this program but their hearts are in the right place and it is not an implication regarding the manufacture of these pouches themselves.  I just was surprised by the new reference on the label and looked into it a bit.

Happy Family Fruit and Veggie Twists
Happy Family Fruit and Veggie Twists

Essential Bakery Seeded Gluten Free Bread

Essential Bakery Seeded Gluten Free Bread
Essential Bakery Seeded Gluten Free Bread

We stumbled upon this bread a while back and bought some to try when my sister in law visited.  No nuts, gluten, dairy or soy!  It is also delicious toasted or untoasted so do check it out.  $7.99 for two sizable loaves of yummy gluten free bread is a great deal too.

Essential Bakery Seeded Gluten Free Bread
Essential Bakery Seeded Gluten Free Bread

 Stretch Island Fruit Leathers

Stretch Island Fruit Leathers
Stretch Island Fruit Leathers

$10.59 for 48 fruit leathers that sell at supermarket checkouts for 50 cents apiece is a substantial deal (22 cents apiece, in fact).  All of these fruit leathers are natural and make for a good purse/diaper bag emergency snack.

Stretch Island Fruit Leathers
Stretch Island Fruit Leathers

Yummy Earth Fruit Snacks

Yummy Earth Fruit Snacks
Yummy Earth Fruit Snacks

40 fruit snacks from one of our favorite companies, Yummy Earth!  These are even gelatin free.  I like to buy things like this for my daughter’s class so they have safe treats on hand in case a student forgets a snack at home.

Yummy Earth Fruit Snacks
Yummy Earth Fruit Snacks

Jelly Belly Halloween Mix (Peanut Free)

Jelly Belly Halloween Mix (Peanut Free)
Jelly Belly Halloween Mix (Peanut Free)

100 individual bags of Jelly Belly jelly beans for $9.79 – I bought these for my daughter’s school Trunk or Treat so they could pass out peanut free options.  Please confirm that these are safe for other allergies of course.

Jelly Belly Halloween Mix (Peanut Free)
Jelly Belly Halloween Mix (Peanut Free)

Annie’s Crackers

Annie's Crackers
Annie’s Crackers

These are wheat based crackers but another option for in class snacks at $11.89.  They do have soy and milk alerts in addition to wheat, I am glad for the absence of oats on these.

Annie's Crackers
Annie’s Crackers

Kirkland Tortilla Chips

Kirkland Tortilla Chips
Kirkland Tortilla Chips

We buy the non-organic Kirkland corn chips for a very good reason – the Organic variety has a nut warning.  Click here to see the front and back of the Organic variety.  We once grabbed the wrong one by accident so I thought I’d mention it.  $4.99.

Kirkland Tortilla Strips (Choose the Non-Organic Variety to Avoid a Nut Warning)
Kirkland Tortilla Strips (Choose the Non-Organic Variety to Avoid a Nut Warning)

Kettle Potato Chips (Kirkland)

Kettle Potato Chips (Kirkland)
Kettle Potato Chips (Kirkland)

$4.79 for a bag of potato chips bigger than your head can’t be beat.  I like to eat these with salsa which I know makes me weird but I don’t mind.

Kettle Potato Chips (Kirkland)
Kettle Potato Chips (Kirkland)

Honest Company Shampoo

Honest Company Shampoo
Honest Company Shampoo

I haven’t purchased this shampoo but the label looks promising.  Have any of you tried it?  $14.99 is spendy for me but it might be a good option given the ingredient list.

Honest Company Shampoo
Honest Company Shampoo

Allergy Medicine

Allergy Medicine
Allergy Medicine

I have yet to fill an epinephrine prescription at Costco (see also: my posts about EpiPen and Auvi-Q two packs and expiration dates) but we do get Zyrtec, Claritin, and Benadryl there for time to time.

And on an amusing note…

I spotted this cart at checkout – when we entered the store Costco had a display for singing Olaf dolls.  R wanted one and I said no but a lot of parents had their kids playing with them in their carts so it was funny to see how many ended up on the “re-stock” pile.  Poor Olaf!  Don’t worry, some grandparent is going to buy you anyway so you can sing for the whole family at home. . .

Discarded Olaf Dolls
Discarded Olaf Dolls

So!  I hope this was of interest – I’d love to know what food allergy friendly finds you have at your local Costco because I’m a Costco nerd (Exhibit A).

____

Edited 10/27/14 to add:  A reader (thank you, Mary!) communicated to me that Costco will take otherwise safe candy and mix it in with unsafe (for, say, nut allergy) candy to package for Halloween so a trick or treater wouldn’t actually know if their usual brand was safe.  They informed me they’d tried to work with Costco on the issue but they would not budge.  I did want to share that warning as it was not something I’d thought about before.  They also brought up the elephant in the room, so to speak, about samples and cooking in the aisles for samples that involve nut products or other allergens.  There are signs stating that there are allergy warnings but we all know children don’t and can’t sometimes read those signs so parents of food allergic children need to pay special attention.  Sample distributors will ask a child to get their parent’s permission before trying food but I’ve also had them offer my child something while I was standing there and make no statement about allergies.  Of course there is also the risk of a child grabbing something in the rush of people to get a sample and the fact that the reps don’t usually have more information about a product than what is displayed on their packaging.  So my recommendation of Costco comes with caveats, however, you can certainly find a lot of good options from among the multiple aisles of mixed nuts.  

13 thoughts on “Shopping at Costco for Food Allergy Families

  1. When we were at your house the other day, Billy noticed the Krusteaz Gluten Free Brownie Mix in your pantry. He did a double take because there is a recipe on the side for a chocolate peanut butter pie, and of course that was facing out.

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  2. Krusteaz (the gluten filled kind) is my sister’s favorite mix! (She doesn’t have celiac disease like me. We grew up with a BJs membership since it’s closer to us, and have had pretty good luck with allergen foods there as well. Go Go Squeezes have got to be one of my favorites. Love this post! 🙂

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  3. Thank you so much for posting this! It’s such great info to know. My son is ana to dairy, peanut/tree nuts and has a zillion other mild allergies. I wanted to let you know that Kirkland brand rice milk is being deleted as of 10/15/15!!! I was so sad to hear this as this is the only rice drink may son doesn’t have a reaction to. I would have bought 50 cases had i known they were going to discontinue it. Maybe if enough people push to have it back, they will put it back on the shelves? I googled this issue which is how I found your website so THANK YOU – at least on good thing came out this discontinuation.

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    1. Our rice milk has disappeared from Costco locally this month as well – the kids are so disappointed! Glad my post was useful, though and good luck on your allergy mom journey!

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  4. I appreciate your research, but will contribute this:
    Don’t blame a demo representative, if your child grabs a demo without checking the allergy info.
    Parents and caregivers of those with allergies, need to teach individual personal responsibility for what they eat. A child with asthma or diabetes or any other medical condition, needs to learn how to take care of their condition as early as possible. My grand daughter was diagnosed with several food allergies at 18 months. Some of her earliest words were “Have peanuts?” She is not 3 yet, but she asks this all the time — sometimes even when we are giving her something to eat but always if it is coming from someone other than her parents or grand parents.

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Ann! I’ve wrangled with the individual responsibility issue in labeling discussions – there are certainly age appropriate ways to communicate with children about their allergies but I don’t think my daughter understood issues like cross contamination when she was small and saying “no thank you” to any food that I didn’t approve. Sounds like you are on a good track with your grand daughter – stay safe out there!

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  5. I have an email from Costco dated this past August (2016) stating that the ricemilk was from a treenut and peanut free facility. I ordered cases of it since cross contamination is a concern for us. I contacted them again this week–and they said the facility is not tree nut free. I asked if the faciilty has changed and they said no. I haven’t heard from them since I sent them copies of both emails. When was the last time you checked on the ricemilk? I’m praying it’s safe!

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    1. Not recently, thank you for your information. I’ll try to reach out to them when I have a chance – we still use it daily so it is very important to know. What part of the country are you in?

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      1. Northeast–how bout’ you? I can never get it at my local store so I order it online. I am so upset—it is our only option (I’m sure you understand) unless I make it myself…and he doesn’t like the milk I make. 😦

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      2. My husband heard back from Costco (he sent an email the day after I did after I didn’t hear anything). They confirmed that although there are no peanuts, there are tree nuts and soy. No more Kirkland Rice Milk for us. 😦

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      3. Oh no! We’re in Las Vegas, I saw you mention you’re in the northeast but I imagine it is all the same facility. Thanks so much for sharing your update.

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