Trader Joes: A guide to healthy shopping + downloadable shopping list
Ahhhh, grocery shopping, the dreaded chore that must be done. I am not sure if it was the convenience of Trader Joe's being literally 1 minute away from my house or if it was all their unique, health conscious and cost effective products that got me hooked. But whatever it is, I am there at least a few times a week, sometimes even daily. I feel like I have my own reserved parking space. There is something about the store being relatively small that makes shopping there such a breeze, even with kids in tow. I can be in and out in 10 minutes. For someone who doesn't like grocery shopping, this is HUGE! I can run by in between carpool drop offs and make sure I have everything I need for dinner that night and for the rest of the week.
I (usually) love that they are so friendly and while I'm checking out they give me all kinds of new ideas and recipes based on what I am purchasing. Plus, they are super friendly to my assistants (aka my tots in tow) who always get excited about their Trader Joe stickers and their pint-sized shopping carts. We
Every time we pass by Trader Joe's they ask to stop in. They love feeling so grown up as they push (or to be more honest, run... crashing into everything in their way ;) ) their little carts down the aisles. I love that even at such a young age they can be part of the shopping process. Yah... it does mean that sometimes I end up with 5 bunches of bananas instead of 1 or we end up with some other random items that they took off the shelves and dropped into their cart. But I mean, it's always good to have an extra bag of dried mango or jar of salsa.
I'm often asked what are my go-to staples that I get at Trader Joe's so I figured I'd spill the beans. Here's the run down on what I usually buy. Warning. It's a long list. I also included a downloadable PDF shopping list at the bottom of this page so that you can print it off and take it with you the next time you head to Trader Joe's. Here goes... let me know what I left out ;)
DAIRY: Feta Cheese. (Israeli brand)Great for a Greek salad, on ezekiel toast with tomato and avocado or on top of tomato slices with basil for a gf pizza.
GRAINS: Challah. While we technically are gluten free, I sometimes run out of time and don't have the chance to make my own Challah. Trader Joe's has a great Challah with minimal ingredients/preservatives that is a great "back up" plan. Ha, I think my kids have a conspiracy going on to make sure that my Thursday evenings are too busy to make Challah so that I will buy the Trader Joe's Challah. Wrap it and put it in the oven for a few minutes before serving so that it is warm and delish!
Gluten Free Brown Rice Bread. If you’re gluten free for health reasons, this brown rice bread is a good option.
Gluten Free Hamburger Buns. Again, if you’re gluten free these are a
White Corn Tortillas. With only three ingredients (corn, water and lime) these are another great gluten free option. Great for fish tacos, sweet potato and avocado quesadillas or for pulled chicken or beef tacos. Load ‘em up with lots of veggies and you’re good to go. I also cut them into tria ngles, using a pizza cutter, spray them, season with some salt (sometimes I’ll add some zaattar seasoning) and bake in the oven on 350 for 15-20. They make perfect (gf) baked tortilla chips for munching on with gauc, hummus or salsa.
Brown Rice Pasta. A healthier option (plus it’s gluten free) to regular pasta. They have spaghetti and penne etc.
Steel Cut Oats. Steel cut oats are a "power food" because they are an excellent source of protein, fiber and select vitamins and minerals. Use steel cut oats the way you would regular rolled oats (except a longer cooking time). The benefits of steel cut oats are greater than rolled oats because of the way they are processed.
Hemp Seed. Hemp seeds have a mild, nutty flavor and are a great healthy fat exceptionally rich in omega 3 and omega 6. Great to add to salads or smoothies for that extra nutritional boost. Perfect to add in muffins and granola recipes as well.
Flaxseed Meal. Has a light and nutty flavor that is great to add to smoothies, muffins or any baked good for added fiber and nutrition.
Medjool Dates. I buy these and keep them in my freezer. They are great to add to recipes as a natural sweetener (instead of sugar). Think of energy bites, granola bars and even some chocolate pudding and dessert recipes. They are great for plain ol munching as well, just keep an eye out that you don’t eat too many at once. It’s easy to do that, but that is a lot of sugar for your body to handle, even though it is a natural sugar.
VEGETABLES. There are certain veggies that I can only get here that we absolutely love.
Baby Zucchini. There is something about mini vegetables that my kids just love eating them. Slice these in half and season with evvo and some salt and roast.
Belgian Endives. I like to buy these every once in awhile to change things up and make a endive and walnut salad.
Tri- Colored Carrots. These are so pretty and make a perfect side dish of roasted carrots or carrots fries.
Pickled Veggies. They have amazing fermented sauerkraut with pickled cucumbers and a spicey pickled vegetable that is so good. Especially if you’re short on time and need something quick, this is it.
Tempeh/Tofu. Great vegan option to use instead of meat. They also have meat crumbles and tofu sausages that I only use on rare occasions. They contain soy which I try to stay away from.
Beverages: Teas. They have seasonal teas that are so good. Pumpkin spice or vanilla black tea are my favorites.
Sparkling Water. I love the refreshing taste of Trader Joe’s flavored sparkling waters. We really try not to drink too much juice in our house. On occasion I like to mix the flavored sparking water with some orange juice for a “special cocktail” for my kids. They love the bubbles and it is our special family “soda”.
DRIED FRUIT AND NUTS. They have some of the best dried fruits and nuts because a lot of them don’t contain added sugar and oils, which I love. They also have some great convenient snack packs which are great for travel, on the go and outings. Here are some of my favorites.
BARS: Raises the Bar. (plain and chocolate chip) While I am not a fan of bars in general because they have a lot of added sugar and oils that add up to make them high calorie and fat and they really aren’t all that healthy that they pretend to be. I prefer taking the time to eat real, whole foods on a plate, not a three bite bar. BUT, there are times when life is super busy and you need something quick. I like to have these bars as a back up for those super rushed mornings when there isn’t time to eat breakfast sitting down. (yes… it happens…) My kids take these with a individual pack of almond butter in the car and eat it on the way.
Fruit bars. I love their two ingredient fruit bars. They have such great flavor mixes like apple mango and apple banana and apple strawberry. What’s awesome is that it is only two ingredients. Two fruits. That’s it. If you are watching your weight, keep in mind that these are higher calorie and you’d do much better off eating a whole apple and a whole fresh mango. But, I love to send these to school with my kids as a treat.
Beans: Beans are a great vegan source of protein. Fat-free Refried Beans. It’s hard to find kosher refried beans so I was so excited when I saw this.
Black Beans. Great for salads, as a topping option in DIY bars or to make a black bean dip!
Garbanzo Beans. Perfect for making your own hummus so you can control how much oil and fat goes into your hummus.
HUMMUS. Ok, they have the best assortment of hummus flavors from roasted red pepper to edamame and roasted garlic. Hummus is my go to for everything. Great for sandwiches, with veggies, grilled chicken, crackers etc.
Muhammara. A roasted red pepper dip with roasted red peppers, walnuts and pomegranate juice which is great on toasted ezekiel bread or as a dip etc.
FROZEN: Fruit Bars. Raspberry Lemon or Lime fruit bars are a delicious and refreshing treat.
Ice Cream. Non-dairy vanilla and cherry chocolate chip ice cream contain soy but are great to have on occasion.
GF Pizza crusts. I always have these on hand for a quick and easy DIY pizza for Saturday evenings or Sunday afternoons. I love to set up a bar of veggie toppings so that every can create their own favorite pizza and bonus: get in lots of extra veggies!
Frozen garlic, basil and parsley. These are the best invention ever. Super handy shortcut. I always have these in my freezer. No need to peel and crush garlic anymore leaving your hands smelling for the next two days. Each cube is a garlic clove, pop out into your dish and use just as you would a garlic clove. Great for cooking, salad dressings and adding extra flavor.
Edamame. Frozen organic edamame are a great source of protein and fiber. My kids love popping them out of their pods and it is another way to get them involved in the cooking process.
Popcorn and potato chip individual bags. I like to send these to school with my kids. It is also great if you are trying to get a better handle/understanding of portion control.
SPICES: Here are my TJ favorites.
Chili Lime Spice I love to use on chicken, salmon and sweet potato or zucchini fries)
Everything but the Bagel Spice I use it on EVERYTHING, literally! On top of a sunny side up egg, avocado toast, challah, sesame chicken, schnitzel, on sesame noodles or green beans, in cabbage salad.... and that is just off the top of my head. Whenever I feel like a recipe needs a little "something", I just throw some of this on top and it never fails!
Smoked Paprika I love using this on roasted cauliflower, in Shakshuka (recipe here), on top of chicken...
Coffee Rub Great for meats and grilling
Tomato Sauce. Two great options. Roasted garlic and tomato basil. Great for making a quick meat sauce, shakshuka, as a pizza sauce or over (spaghetti squash) pasta.
Avocado Oil. A great healthy oil for cooking, dressings and sauteeing.
Toasted Sesame Oil. Great for asian dishes and for a bold and delicious flavor.
GF Flour. Great as a gluten free flour substitute for any of your baked goods. I like to use it in waffle/pancake batter.
(Vermont) Maple Syrup. A vegan healthy(ier) sweetener option, can be used in recipes instead of sugar.
Raw Almond Butter. Minimal ingredients make this a healthy nut butter option for added protein. Great in smoothies, on apples as a snack, with banana on ezekiel toast for breakfast, in energy bites etc.
Anyways, I hope you had fun with me on our little Trader Joe's adventure. I'd love to hear from you, what are your favorite go-to Trader Joe's items? Click here to download a PDF printout Trader Joes shopping list that you can take with you the next time you go to Trader Joe's.
Until next time... xoxo