I love Trader Joe’s for so many reasons. They have unique food and snacks, lots of healthy options and their stores are small enough to easily (and quickly!) navigate. These days I’m loving that they have mini carts for kids and, best of all, it’s the cheapest store around! If it’s in your area, I don’t need to sell you on the store but I always love hearing what other people are buying and loving so I’ll share my list and please share your go-to’s with me in the comments below!Also, if you’re a first-time mom or the mom of a new addition, you might wonder how you are going to go shopping now. Maybe you have it way more pulled together than me and haven’t had to worry about this at all but I seriously didn’t know how I was going to shop with my first baby and I really didn’t know what the three of us were going to do when baby #2 was still a newborn! Later this month, I’ll share how I manage to grocery shop with both a baby and a toddler.
Back to my list! Here are some of the healthy things (not in order of importance) I almost always grab when I’m at Trader Joe’s and why I love each one:
- Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup. Simple, tasty and great for an easy lunch! I add black pepper, dried dill and a whole wheat bagel and lunch is served! This one is better than the versions I’ve tasted at other stores and, unless you really need to watch your salt intake, skip the low-sodium version because the flavor just isn’t the same.
- Almond Butter. Again, it’s the cheapest place to get it but they also have more variety than most stores. They have raw or roasted, creamy or crunchy, salt or no salt options and many times, all of the above are in-stock at my local stores (not always the case for many Trader Joe’s items). We have a peanut allergy in the house so we eat a lot of almond butter sandwiches and we love it in oatmeal.
- Organic Cottage Cheese. Organic cottage cheese is hard to find at regular grocery stores and the very expensive at specialty stores. If you haven’t tried cottage cheese with your kids, it’s a great alternative to yogurt (nothing against yogurt, just to get some variety) and, if you haven’t eaten it since you’re a kid yourself, give it a try – it’s full of protein.
- Organic, Plain, Whole Milk Greek Yogurt. Another thing that is hard to find at regular grocery stores is full-fat yogurt, especially a plain option. There is usually an aisle chock-full of non- and low-fat yogurts that are usually full of sugar and can only keep you full for about 5 minutes. I highly recommend swapping out your non- or low-fat yogurts for whole milk varieties. It will fill you up a little more and I think the taste is much more appealing since the extra fat reduces that sour, tangy taste. I like plain because it’s a blank slate that you can use in a lot of smoothies and other recipes and you can easily add fruit or sweetener if you choose.
- Organic, Bagged Lettuces. This is the cheapest place to find organic bagged salads. If you have time to wash and chop your own, even better, but I’m way more likely to use spinach, arugula and romaine when it’s clean, chopped and ready to go.
- Spices. They can’t compare to a specialty spice store but if you’re used to picking up jarred spices at the grocery store, get them at Trader Joe’s instead. They will be just as fresh and way cheaper than the spices at the grocery store. Herbs and spices are a great way to add flavor to a dish without salt, fat or sugar. I particularly love their 21 Seasoning Salute blend for eggs and I have friends that are obsessed with the new-ish Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning blend.
- Pine Nuts. If you make pesto like it’s going out of style, then I suggest getting Pine Nuts from Costco because I think they are a slightly better deal but, otherwise, Trader Joe’s is your place. They sell them raw or already toasted and, I am not exaggerating when I say their price for an 8-ounce bag is the same as a 1.75oz jar at my closest ‘regular’ grocery store. Yes, that is more than four times the price. By the way, have you ever wondered where pine nuts come from? If so, check out this quick Huffington Post read.
- Frozen Brown Rice. Nothing is faster than heating up a packet of frozen already-cooked brown rice and they have regular and organic options. I don’t like to heat anything in plastic so I empty it onto a plate first and it makes a great quick base for a quick lunch or dinner! I’ve even used it to make fried rice and for baby food!
- Oatmeal. I love quick-cook steel-cut oats and it’s sometimes hard to find this combo at a lot of other stores. I like more texture in my oatmeal but I don’t want it to take forever to cook.
- Cubed Butternut Squash. Butternut squash is a favorite in our house but not my favorite to prep. It’s kind of a pain to chop (and a bit dangerous!) and, when there were just two of us, it was just too much squash. Now, I could easily use some for baby food or sneak some into some mac and cheese but this still saves me a ton of prep work! Here is a great fall recipe using this pre-cubed butternut squash.
And a shout-out to my favorite non-healthy purchase: Chocolate-Covered, Peanut Butter-Filled Pretzels. These are dangerous. Do not open them on the way home from the store or you will be horrified at how many are missing when you get home! Just hypothetically, haha.