When you’re having one of those don’t-even-think-about-asking-me-to-cook days, it can be a lifesaver to swing by your local warehouse store, flash your card, and pick up one of Costco’s famous rotisserie chickens. (They’re so popular, they even have their own Facebook page.) What’s not to love about them? They’re ready to eat, tasty as all get-out, a bargain at $4.99, and after the initial dinner, you can use the rest in dozens of recipes using leftover chicken. But as convenient and cheap as they are, there’s a good argument for not buying Costco rotisserie chicken (via Business Insider).
Costco members love their ready-to-eat birds: The company sold 91 million of them in 2018 alone (per CNN). In fact, the demand for rotisserie chicken is so great that the company built its own chicken processing plant in Nebraska to ensure a steady supply of the smaller whole chickens that cook well in the rotisserie oven. The move actually costs the mega-chain money in the long run, but they stand by their belief that Costco members’ happiness outweighs corporate profits.
Still, if you’re concerned about health and taste, you could do better than picking up a pre-cooked chicken.
Rotisserie chicken is no health bargain
The federal FDA notes that Americans consume 3,400 milligrams of salt every day, way more than the recommended amount of 2,400. Excess sodium can raise your risk for high blood pressure, which in turn increases your chances of heart attack and stroke. And it’s not the sprinkle of salt on your veggies that’s the problem: According to the American Heart Association, a whopping 65 percent of the sodium we eat comes from supermarket processed foods.
Among them: that awesome Costco chicken. According to Business Insider, part of the secret behind their addictive flavor is an infusion of saline solution along with sugar, food starch, and a handful of other ingredients that help keep the meat moist. That added salt ups the sodium content to 460 milligrams per serving — less than some other brands, but still not the best option if you’re trying to curb your salt intake.
Another potential issue is the chicken’s freshness. As nutritionist Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, told the TODAY, “You want to be sure you’re choosing chickens that are fresh and that they haven’t been spinning around on those rotisseries for hours.” Always check the label to see when the bird was prepared.
Making your own chicken might take longer than picking up the pre-made Costco version, but you’ll have the advantage of being able to control the amount of salt. Try flavorful alternatives like lemon, garlic, and rosemary. You might find that you actually like your homemade version better!
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