My Favorite Options at Trader Joe’s

I don’t know about you, but I rarely find everything I need at just one grocery store. Last month, I shared with you the items that I typically purchase at Whole Foods, including lots of convenient  healthier options for when you don’t have the time or energy to prepare all of your food from scratch. Today, I thought I’d do the same for another store I frequently visit: Trader Joe’s.

I was first introduced to Trader Joe’s when we moved to California a little over 10 years ago. We were on a super-tight budget at the time, so I felt like I hit the jackpot when I found that Trader Joe’s carried a lot of our favorite foods at a more affordable price compared to our other nearby grocery stores. When I plan my weekly grocery shopping, I almost always start at Trader Joe’s first, because I know they will have the most affordable prices. They don’t carry everything I need, but it’s a great place to start when you’re trying to stick to a budget.

Here’s a peek at some of my favorite finds at Trader Joe’s:

Fresh Produce

Salad Supplies. I buy quite a bit of our organic produce from Trader Joe’s because it’s hard to beat their prices. Each week, I’ll usually buy a bag or two of their romaine hearts to chop up for salads (I use one Romaine heart per person for meal-sized salads, so I find buying this 3-pack is a better value than buying a bag of pre-chopped romaine.) They’ll also often carry some of my favorite salad toppings, including steamed beets, cooked lentils, carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, radishes, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, fresh ginger, garlic, and more.

Cauliflower “Rice.” I love that Trader Joe’s is making it easier than ever to eat more veggies. They sell bags of pre-riced cauliflower in their fresh produce section, so you won’t even have to break out your food processor to make Cauliflower Fried Rice or Cauliflower Jambalaya. (They even have a bag of organic cauliflower rice that they sell in the freezer section.)

Shredded Cabbage. Pre-shredded cabbage will always be more expensive than shredding a head of cabbage yourself, but this bag at Trader Joe’s is about as affordable as it gets and makes life so convenient. I use it regularly to make my 2-Ingredient Detox “Spaghetti” as well as my Chinese Cabbage Salad from Everyday Detox.

Medjool Dates. As you may know, my family goes through a lot of dates. Sometimes 4 pounds each week! I use them daily in our smoothies and snacks, like my Date Energy Balls and Brownie Bites. I prefer to buy my Medjool dates at Costco (their dates are always soft and squishy!), but I don’t always shop there each week because it’s out of the way. So, Trader Joe’s is my next-best option, and the dates are usually in pretty good shape and close to half-price when compared to the dates I find at Whole Foods. (Neither Trader Joe’s or Costco carries organic dates, but that’s a trade-off I’m willing to make to stick to our budget.)

Frozen Items

Frozen Carrot Spirals. This is a new item that I just found on my most recent trip to Trader Joe’s. Similar to the prepared cauliflower rice, now you can keep your spiralizer in your cupboard and use pre-made carrot spirals as your pasta!

Frozen Organic Chicken Breasts. We don’t cook a lot of meat in our home, but when I do, I like it to be as easy and mess-free as possible. I love these organic frozen chicken breasts because they are super-affordable and I can cook them in my Instant Pot in 15 minutes or less when my husband wants extra protein added to our meal.

Frozen Organic Acai Puree. I never tried using acai puree in a smoothie recipe or bowl until Trader Joe’s started carrying these packets. My son LOVES smoothies made with these little frozen pouches, so we go through at least a pack a week. We also buy our other organic frozen fruit for smoothies at Trader Joe’s, including mango, wild blueberries, strawberries and raspberries.

Frozen Cauliflower Fried Rice. I love that you can buy organic cauliflower rice at a reasonable price! Because it’s already frozen, this rice is PERFECT for making my Easiest Cauliflower Pizza Crust recipe.

Bread & Pasta

Ezekiel Sprouted Whole Grain Bread. This is my son’s favorite bread; he eats a slice almost every day. Though it’s not gluten-free, I find that wheat is easier to digest after it’s been sprouted. This brand is available at several grocery stores, but Trader Joe’s usually offers it at the cheapest price. (Sometimes I can find it at Costco for sale as a 2-pack in the frozen aisle, too.)

Food 4 Life Brown Rice Bread. This is my go-to gluten-free bread, so we usually keep a loaf in our freezer since we don’t go through it very fast. The slices are slightly smaller than a traditional loaf, and I think it tastes best toasted. (I toast it directly from frozen.)

Organic Brown Rice & Quinoa Pasta. Several quinoa pastas on the market also contain corn, so I prefer Trader Joe’s relatively new gluten-free pasta blends using brown rice and quinoa. The texture and flavor are great! We use Fusili pasta to make my Vegan Mac n’ Cheese.

Organic Red Lentil Pasta. Lentil pasta is relatively new to me, but I love that it contains only one ingredient, red lentil flour, and has 13 grams of plant-based protein per serving. I plan on working with it in future recipes!

Organic Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce. I don’t love most of the pasta sauces available at Trader Joe’s, but I’ll buy this jar in a pinch because it has no added sugar. I much prefer the one I buy at Whole Foods, though.

Pantry Staples

Dried Fruit, Nuts & Seeds. Trader Joe’s has a wide variety of dried fruits that have no added sulfur (important for those with allergies) and no added sugar. I’ll also stock up on their raw nuts and seeds, such as their organic raw almonds, pumpkin seeds, hulled sunflower seeds, raw cashews, and more. They don’t carry organic versions of everything, but their options are affordable and easily accessible.

Raw Honey. I love using thick raw honey in some of my salad dressings and raw fudge recipes, so I always have a jar of this raw honey on hand.

Organic Peanut Butter. As you may know, my husband has a serious love for peanut butter, so we always have a jar of organic peanut butter in the fridge to whip up a Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup “Milkshake” or a batch of No-Bake Peanut Butter Cup Bars.

Creamy Cashew Butter. My son and I both prefer cashew butter over peanut butter, and Trader Joe’s jar tends to be the most affordable. (And the tastiest, because it’s salted.) I use their cashew butter to make my Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies and the Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookie in my cookbook, No Excuses Detox. (We also buy our raw almond butter at Trader Joe’s to make raw almond butter fudge!)

Organic Tahini. I was so excited when I saw that Trader Joe’s started carrying tahini, because it’s the closes to my favorite raw tahini that I’ve found. It’s not labeled as raw, and does taste slightly more bitter, but it works in most of my tahini-based recipes in a pinch. And I love that there’s no added oil!

Olive Oil Spray. This is random, because I don’t use this olive oil spray for cooking– I use it to spray on baking pans before I add parchment paper over the top. It helps keep the parchment paper in place, so it’s perfect when you’re working with a recipe where the parchment paper might slip or move, like in making a loaf of Coconut Flour Zucchini Bread or Chocolate Pecan Crumble Bars.

Organic & Fair Trade French Roast Coffee. I don’t drink coffee every day, and when I do I have to stick to decaf because I’m still breastfeeding. This coffee from Trader Joe’s is my favorite because it actually tastes like real coffee(!!), and isn’t nearly as acidic as most decaf blends. My husband drinks the caffeinated version of this French Roast and loves it, too.

Baking Supplies

Blanched Almond Flour. When I first started grain-free baking years ago, blanched almond flour was a specialty ingredient I had to order online. Now it’s conveniently available at Trader Joe’s! I don’t use blanched flour very often, as I prefer to use the meal made from whole almonds, but it’s nice to have the option when making my buttery Almond Flour Shortbread Cookies or Matcha Mint Cookies.

Almond Meal. Simply ground whole almonds (including the skin), I use this almond meal in my Vegan Banana Bread, Iced Sugar Cookies, Chewy Brownies, and more. If you’d prefer to use an organic almond meal, simply make your own using the raw organic almonds they sell.

Gluten-Free Rolled Oats. I love having this large bag of rolled oats on hand for making my own oat flour, as well as for recipes like my Vegan Baked Banana Oat Cups, Lactation Energy Bites, and Chewy Granola Bars.

Organic Coconut Flour. This is another flour that I used to have to order online to find it affordably, or at all, but now it’s conveniently available at Trader Joe’s as well. I find that it has a similar texture to other brands I commonly use, like Nutiva and Let’s Do Organic, so I use it interchangeably when making coconut flour baked goods like my Coconut Flour Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins and Coconut Flour Carrot Cake.

Organic Coconut Sugar. Coconut sugar is one of my favorite natural sweeteners for making fluffy baked goods that aren’t soggy in the middle. I love that I can now pick it up on a regular trip to Trader Joe’s! It makes these Paleo Double Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins light and fluffy, and also works great in my Vegan Almond Butter Blondies.

Snacks & Treats

“Just a Handful” Trail Mix. I used to keep a stash of these individual snack bags in my office as an easy work snack. They offer several flavor varieties that contain a mix of whole nuts and dried fruits. (One has dark chocolate chunks included, too!)

Larabars. When I first got into eating better, Larabars were my go-to snack. They’ve changed over the years and aren’t quite as delicious as they used to be, but I still keep a bar or two in my purse as an easy shelf-stable snack. The Cherry Pie and Apple Pie flavors are my favorite, while my son and husband prefer the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip. (Of course!)

Just Beets. If you’re looking for a crunchy snack, these dehydrated beets are about as healthy as it gets. They do taste like beets– so if you don’t like that flavor, you probably won’t like these– but it’s nice when you want something crunchy that hasn’t been deep-fried.

Kale Chips. Once I discovered these “cheesy” vegan kale chips, I totally stopped trying to make my own at home. They taste similar to a Doritos-like coating, over a crunchy kale chip. My picky son loves them, too!

Roasted Plantain Chips. These roasted plantain chips are a crunchy and salty alternative to potato chips. They’re another toddler favorite in this house, and go well with guacamole.

Avocado’s Number Guacamole To Go. I love these individual serving packs, because we don’t go through a lot of guacamole at once, and I hate for it to go brown in the fridge. These single-serving sizes are perfect, and the ingredients are what I’d use if I were to make it myself.

Parsnip Chips. I don’t think these are any healthier than eating a regular potato chip, but they taste SO good that I think I might prefer them over a normal potato chip! They’re a fun treat to have on hand.

Gone Bananas. My son is obsessed with ice cream these days, so these bite-sized coins are a fun alternative to our usual banana soft serve. You could totally make them yourself at home, but these are super-convenient .

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. Again, these aren’t healthy at all other than the fact that the dark chocolate probably has slightly less sugar than the milk chocolate version. I love these smaller bags because they keep my sweet tooth in check. These are the peanut butter cups I’ll use when don’t want to make my own vegan mini peanut butter cups for my special Flourless Vegan Peanut Butter Temptation Cookies.

I hope you’ll find this round-up useful. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below, and feel free to share links to your favorite products, too!

Reader Feedback: Do you have any favorites that I missed from Trader Joe’s?

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Meet Megan Gilmore

Hi, I’m Megan. A former fast food junkie turned certified nutritionist consultant, trying to make healthy living as easy as possible. I believe in eating delicious whole foods on a regular basis to help naturally support the body’s detox organs— no juice fasting required. (Unless you want to!) If you make one of my healthy recipes, tag @detoxinista on Instagram or Facebook so I can see!

34 thoughts on “My Favorite Options at Trader Joe’s

  1. Kristin

    Thanks for this!! TJs is my favorite, but we’ve been living in the UK for three years and I miss it so much! Can’t wait to try all these new products this summer when we return!

    Reply
  2. Vicki

    Oh my you don’t know how helpful this is!! I was put on a plant based eating plan by my cardiologist and have been doing pretty well for 2 months. I purchased your Detox book about a week ago and am finding some recipes i am able to use. I have a friend who suggested we make a trip to Trader Joe’s and it is wonderful to see your list of tried and true products. Thanks so much!

    Reply
  3. Marlene

    These are my favorites too! Especially those dark chocolate peanut butter cups. They are perfect for a chocolate craving in a pinch. And yes Trader Joe’s has the best prices around! I’m actually headed over now for my weekly haul. 🙂

    Reply
  4. June

    Two produce items I always buy at Trader Joe’s are the organic carrots and organic apples. The carrots are so sweet and the price is really good too. The 1lb carrots are .79cents in my area and the bag of apples ranges from $2.49 to $2.99, though I did buy a $4.99 bag recently with 15 apples in it!:) I also like their grassfed cheddar cheese and coconut oil spray among other things of course.

    Reply
  5. Kiki

    A well-known author recently wrote to TJs to ask how the Roasted Plantains were cooked as she suspected they were fried. She posted their reply on Instagram. They are indeed fried. Bummer!!!

    Reply
  6. Curllee

    Cauliflower rice is a scam. It is mostly the ground stems not the florets. Looks all the same to the consumer.

    Reply
    1. Lisa

      According to google they have the same nutrients maybe even slightly more than the florets, so that is a good thing, then there is less waste when they are selling the florets, great business practice/

      Reply
  7. Paulette

    Thanks much for this… I do trader joe’s every week, but it is great to see your items that I have missed seeing at all! I have my go to’s but they are always adding more… and this is great.. plus I love your recipes!

    Reply
  8. Sheralee

    I agree the Costco Dates are the best around locally up here. soft caramelly and fresh. Price is decent. The last tub I got from Costco was organic dates !!. I love the bag of coloured carrots, and Kale Slaw from Trader Joes, and the power juice.

    Reply
  9. Leah

    Thank you for this!.
    My thought is that this is all entirely too much plastic and our planet is swimming in plastic that never ever goes away.
    Please encourage others to buy in bulk. All this is convenient food and though it is cheap the true cost to our planet is hidden. You have a far reaching influence and we need to start buying in bulk whenever possible and making better choices for the environment.

    Reply
  10. Milissa

    Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are also two of my usual grocery stores, although neither is convenient enough to go to every week, so it’s usually once a month and I buy a lot of the same things you do, minus the produce. I agree their prices on organic produce are hard to beat but I still find it hard to fit organic produce into our budget. I also do a LOT of shopping at Aldi, which is owned by the same parent company as Trader Joe’s and carries a lot of healthy options. A bonus for us is that they have very good quality produce at amazing prices and also carry a small selection of organic produce though I still typically feel it’s not within our budget. I think the snack items are what limits my budget. With two kids who want to eat every ten minutes, I can’t always keep up with homemade snacks and both kids are picky, so it’s tough. But I did see some items here I haven’t noticed at Trader Joe’s and will be looking for next week on my trip there. I’m super curious about the red lentil pasta as I’m always worried about us all getting enough protein on a mostly plant-based diet. Thanks!

    Reply
  11. Milissa

    Totally not related but I LOVE NO Excuses Detox. Every recipe I’ve tried (at least 25 of them) has been delicious. I added a dollop of homemade nutella to the Frosty Chocolate Breakfast Shake and it was insanely good. My kids loved the Singapore Sweet Potato Noodles and we just finished a second night of Speedy Blackbean Burgers, which my kids also love. I made a double batch the first time and froze half so that we’d have them for a quick evening meal. And the meal plans are such a bonus. While I haven’t followed any to the letter, it really helped with new ideas for dinners and lunches and I was able to better organize my shopping list. Thank you so much for writing it!

    Reply
  12. terri

    My Trader Joe’s favorite is the frozen chopped garlic. Comes in a mini tray so that you can pop out one cube of garlic at a time. It thaws quickly, so I even use it when making salad dressing. And I love not having to worry about how fresh that head of garlic on my counter is.

    Reply
  13. Mb

    TJ has best price on kerrygold butter…$2.99.
    Also their organic frozen broccoli and string beans are made in USA. As well as organic frozen strawberries and wild berries.
    Avocado oil is great from them
    Some cool drinks…currently they have Moroccan mint tea which is slightly sweet.
    Great post. Love your blog. Keep up the great work!!

    Reply
  14. Andi Sutherland

    Thanks, Megan! Trader Joe’s is one of my happy places. I buy many of the same products as you — I totally agree
    about the French Decaf Coffee, plus it’s water processed. Here are some of my other staples: Their organic frozen fruit and berry selection is terrific. I always get their Wild Boreal blueberries for smoothies, which have no pesticides and are a bit less expensive. Their organic maple syrup is delicious and a really good price. I’ve had mango puree from their dried organic mango, which doesn’t have sulfur. Their organic soy milk has no added ingredients other than soy and water. I love their Organic Power to the Greens, which is a mix of baby kale, baby chard, and baby spinach. I freeze the bag as soon as I get home and then throw handfuls into smoothies. They also have really good prices on chia seeds and flax seeds, as well as organic lemons. Although not organic, I love their steamed baby beets imported from France. For a freezer staple, their Saag Paneer and Chana Masala are delicious too. Although I’ve just found a local source for eggs, TJ’s has organic, cage free Omega 3 eggs. They have organic sprouted extra-firm tofu and excellent organic hummus. Plus, let’s not forget about the wine and flowers!!!

    Reply
  15. Pia

    Hallo Megan, I Love your Blog and I’ m a Great Fan of lots of your reicipes. But this Article Makes me Wonder. All the Food is packed in plastic… that isn’t healthy! Plastic is terrible for Our Environment 🙈 I think living detox Means more than nutrition…

    Reply
  16. Jennifer

    Thanks for sharing Megan! Where I live the only choices are Trader Joe’s, Costco and the Commissary for reasonably priced organic foods. We do have a local health food store, but their prices are just as expensive if not more than Whole Foods which is located 45 min from Antelope Valley. Thanks for tip on Dates as my children annihilate these weekly. I was getting some excellent organic ones from Vitacost but my budget has recently changed significantly. I also love TJ’s: Organic Grass-fed Beef Jerky sticks; Organic Grape & Medley and Vine-Ripened Tomatoes; Organic Fresh Beets; TJ’s Organic Sprouted Bread; Corn Nuts; Organic Green Beans, Brocolli and Cauliflower; Organic Apples & Pears; Organic Spinach, Celery Hearts, Mixed Green’s; organic Zucchini Squash; Frozen Organic Brown Rice; Chicken Chili.

    Reply
  17. Alicia

    You mention Costco a few times in this post – I would LOVE to see a similar list for there. This series is great 👍🏻

    Reply
  18. anne broderick

    I too, love and purchase the items you mentioned. Have you tried their LARGE, pimento stuffed olives . . . YUM. Also delicious is their Sour Dough Bread if you don’t mind gluten and white flour. It is delicious and costs only $2.99 compared to $6.99 at the grocery store. Not sure about the beets you mentioned, but here, TJ’s carries in the produce dept. cooked beets (from France) that are delicious. I serve them cold. They come in a small box. And the best bar of soap I have ever used is the Tea Tree Oil (slightly green color). It has a clean fragrance and sudsy. And for people who like corn nuts, their ginormous corn nuts are delicious, if your teeth are strong enough! I forgot the name of them, Giant Peruvian, maybe? Love this post. Thank you.

    Reply
  19. Sontina Barnes

    Oh my goodness Megan, this is a wonderful resource!!!!! I love your cookbooks and my family can’t get enough of your vegan dessert recipes :)! My sister-in-law has raved about Trader Joe’s for years but I was not in an area to utilize them. Luckily, a new one has opened in my area. I can’t wait to try some of these. Thank you!

    Reply
  20. lucy

    PSA – Google Express will deliver Costco for $4.99. They only do non-refrigerated things (including dates!). Costco also not super convenient for me to get to with full-time job and young kids. Prices are the same as in-store if you have a membership, or 10% more if you don’t. Link below for $10 off your first order 🙂
    https://google.com/express/invite/58TNVP5JC

    Reply
  21. Mel

    Wow, I have bought all but three items you list above at TJs within the past 2 weeks! TJs is (and has been for 35 years) my first choice in shopping. Love them for all the reasons you note. Within the last few weeks the TJs I shop at now has a section specifically for organic wines, which I appreciate.
    I love your book, Everyday Detox and your blog. You have helped me significantly move to a better way of cooking and eating and I feel better than ever. I have also dropped about 5 pounds in the 2 months I have been eating the Everyday Detox way!

    Reply
  22. Lia

    Thank you for this post. Trader Joe’s is one of our regular shopping stops every other week, along with Costco. I was not aware of some of these items, so I want to see if they’re available locally so I can add them to our shopping list. My mouth is watering at the thought of trying the “riced” cauliflower with leftovers from our favorite Indian restaurant. 🙂

    I also second the idea of a post about the items from Costco!

    Reply
  23. Deborah

    I like Trader Joe’s as well and have been a customer for quite a few years. One of the things that bothers me is that the Ezekiel bread is thawed out there. Since it’s sprouted grain bread I was always told to purchase it frozen and thaw it out in the fridge. I’ve been eating it for at least 10 years and won’t buy it from Trader Joe’s but enjoy a lot of their other items especially their nuts. Best prices out there! Your blog is very helpful an fantastic by the way…

    Reply
    1. Joyce

      You may want to ask if they have some in the freezer in the back. I have found they keep their specialty breads on the small separate shelf in the freezer in the back.

      Reply
  24. Katy

    Hi, Megan — I love your blog and have been cooking from your cookbooks for a long time! My family and I go to TJ’s weekly, so I’m excited to try some of these “new” options. Thanks so much for sharing (and I THIRD the comment that was posted before — I’d love to see a similar post featuring your picks from Costco)! Be well 🙂

    Reply
  25. Hil

    Love this list! That brown rice and quinoa pasta is the only gf pasta I like- I actually prefer the texture to regular pasta. Love TJ’s for their produce and yogurt. They now have full fat unsweetened yogurt that is super affordable. Their dried fruit is always delicious and love that they have non-sulphured and unsweetened options. Their popcorns are great snacks- their olive oil popcorn is just popcorn, salt, and olive oil and is a delicious snack.

    Reply

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