Trader Joe’s. Oh, how I love you.
If you’re not already a TJ’s convert, here are three quick reasons why you should be:
- None of their private label (Trader Joe’s) products have artificial ingredients, GMO’s, or artificial trans fats. These are things you’ll find routinely in a store like Safeway, so this alone should encourage you to make the switch.
- Most of what they sell isn’t bad for you. Sure, you can find unhealthy food anywhere, but compared to other grocery stores, TJ’s keeps a healthier consumer in mind.
- They’ve kept the price of bananas the same for 15 years. Say what!
I’m going to let you in on a secret.
I’m that girl who actually loves grocery shopping. Seriously, it’s not a chore for me.
There’s something cathartic about shopping the aisles, checking things off my grocery list app (it’s amazing) and having a fully stocked kitchen at the end of it. Most of the time, I relish in the process. Unicorn, I know.
Whether you love or hate grocery shopping, I’ll walk you through my Trader Joe’s haul. I’m giving you all my favorites: the staples, the honorary mentions, and the things we normally buy that weren’t included in this trip. This has been a heavily requested blog post, so I’m excited to bring it to life.
I’ll save my full weekly process of meal planning and list making for another post, but suffice it to say I always walk into TJ’s with a list on my phone. I know exactly what I’m there to get for the week ahead.
I honestly don’t veer a lot from my list. Maybe I’ll grab something new if it’s looking good, but usually if I impulse buy, I’ll end up with one of two outcomes:
We won’t eat it and it’ll go bad
It’s an unhealthy food that I’ll buy “because my husband loves them” (I love them) and then eat myself.
These are the tried-and-true foods we buy every single time we go - not the random impulse buys.
Let’s dive in.
Ezekiel Bread. This is my all-time favorite bread, and since it’s sprouted, full of nutrients, and has no flour, it’s always going to win in my book. We eat avocado toast every morning on this bread, and it’s divine. Like, I could continue this habit for the rest of my life - not kidding.
Two tips for this bread:
No. 1: it’s much better toasted than eaten at room temp. The texture is so much better.
No. 2: keep it in the freezer and take individual slices out when you’re ready to eat them. Because it lacks preservatives, it’ll go bad faster than Dave’s Killer Bread or other brands.
Avocados. Speaking of avos, they hold a spot on every single Trader Joe’s Haul we do. I usually buy 5 at a time. Aside from the morning toast, they’re always in our weekly salads or homemade guac.
Lemons. I use 90% of the lemons we buy in my water. What can I say? I’m picky about my water being cold and flavorful - otherwise I just won’t hydrate as well. I’ve got an 80 ounce pitcher in the fridge that I fill to the brim and squeeze half a lemon into. I go through at least one pitcher a day.
Limes. Limes are the opposite story to lemons. I never use them in my water; always to freshen up dishes like homemade guac, soups, sauces, shrimp, or homemade cocktails.
Bananas. I mentioned that Trader Joe’s has kept the price of their bananas ($0.19) the same for 15 years. We primarily use these for morning smoothies. One banana goes in each, along with frozen pineapple, mango, spinach, and water.
Pineapple. Ever have those foods you didn’t think you liked as a kid, and the only reason was that you’d never tried it? That’s pineapple for me. I love it now. We cut it up, bag it, freeze it, and use it daily for morning smoothies.
Honeycrisp Apples. I love having these on hand for afternoon or evening snacks. They’re perfect with TJ’s raw almond butter.
Larabars. Also great for snacks. I’ve got three in my work backpack at all times, just in case I get hungry. I’ll grab one if we’re heading out the door and I’m starving, too. Favorite flavor: peanut butter.
Hummus. There are inevitably about 5 tubs of hummus in our fridge at any given time. It’s a go-to dipper for carrots, crackers, or cucumbers, which is what we use it for 90% of the time. The other 10%? We spoon it on top of a salad or mix it into the dressing. That’s amazing, too. We’ve tried (and love) all their flavors, but my favorite is the classic hummus.
Mild fresh salsa. Another go-to snack dipper, along with TJ’s blue corn tortilla chips.
Granny Smith apples. Years ago I said, “how ‘bout we try apples instead of crackers” on our weekly date night cheese board and they’ve never been the same since - in a good way. But only Granny Smiths, since they’re so tart! Slice them and top with sharp cheddar or cambozola. The other main thing I use green apples for are in salads. They’re a flavorful addition in every season, on almost any salad.
Nuts. TJ’s has the best bagged nuts. We put them in a big bin in our pantry and eat them for snacks every day. Here are the varieties we always have in our Trader Joe’s Haul:
- Thai cashews (for a snack)
- Toasted slivered almonds and low salt pistachios (for salad toppers)
- Truffle marcona almonds (for a happy hour treat)
- Pine nuts (for pesto)
Coconut milk. Another TJ’s staple for us. We use it in cocktails/mocktails, curries, soups, Thai noodle dishes, and more.
Bell Peppers...for weekly Taco Tuesday, when we make tacos, burritos, enchiladas, or taco salad. Or homemade curries in the winter.
Wine. Need I say more? And since I honestly can’t tell the difference between fancy wine and $5.99 wine, I’ll take the $5.99 one.
Other Honorary Mentions
Chicken. You may know that I’m (mostly) vegetarian, so this might seem kind of weird in the Trader Joe’s haul! We actually only bought this to use as treats to train our puppy, and it worked like a dream. It’s not part of the normal shop.
Seasonal produce. In this case, butternut squash and delicata squash made the list. In the spring, it’s asparagus and peas. In summer, it’s berries, watermelon, peaches, and zucchini. In the fall, it’s mushrooms, pumpkin, squash, and figs.
Cheese. We primarily eat cheese as a topping for salads, pastas, or on a date night cheese board. We’ve always got sharp cheddar, blue, goat, feta, and parm on hand.
Onions + garlic + ginger. We’ve got a big bowl on our counter full of red and yellow onions, garlic, shallots, and ginger. I love having them on hand; they add flavor to nearly every meal.
Other things we buy all the time
Beans. It wasn’t included in this Trader Joe’s haul, but we’re always stocked up on black, pinto, kidney, and garbanzo beans. They’re part of most dinners, whether it’s tacos, salads, soups, or grain bowls.
Sweet potatoes. Mashed, roasted, sauteed, or baked, these guys are a constant rotation in our house.
Bagel seasoning. One of the best TJ’s obsessions. It’s sold in the spice area and if you haven’t tried it, you’re missing out. Best on avocado toast, but can be used on countless other things like scrambled eggs, salads, and more.
Frozen fruit. Smoothies are one of our staples, so our freezer is stocked with berries of all varieties, mango, peaches, and spinach.
Ground flaxseed and hemp seeds. We put these in the morning smoothies for quick and easy added nutrition.
Dark chocolate peanut butter cups. My unequivocal weakness. I swear those little bags whisper to me in the checkout line!
So much of weight loss and healthier eating is determined by our habits, and those start in the grocery store. Next time you're in there, ask yourself:
“Am I buying this because I’m consciously choosing it, or buying it out of habit?”
If you're choosing foods with intention, you’re definitely on the right path.