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:
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 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.
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.
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.
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?