Trader Joe’s Healthy Shopping Guide

 

My name is Brenda, and I am a Trader Joe’s addict. There. I said it. Ah, that feels better. I’ll feel even better once I’ve converted YOU into a TJ’s shopper. Here’s the low down.

(small print) In the interest of full disclosure, I have NO business affiliation with Trader Joe’s and these are just my own personal experiences and opinions. I have not and will never recommend something to you that I don’t love. That would be lame sauce..

I want more people to shop at Trader Joe’s! It’s cheap, healthy, smaller & faster to navigate, & an overall better shopping experience than most big grocery stores.

Every time someone complains to me about the cost of healthy food, I ask them if they’ve tried Trader Joe’s. I get the following responses:

  1. “What is Trader Joe’s?” *head tilted to the side
  2. “No. I’ve been hearing about it, but I’ve never gone” …sigh

 

What is Trader Joe’s?

It’s a chain of grocery stores that sells healthy, organic, high quality, whole food at very affordable prices. Think super cheap Whole Foods without any bells or whistles.


Trader Joe's Sign

It’s owned by the same people who created Aldi’s.  For those of you who don’t know, Aldi’s is a grocery store that sells food for far below market value. You can get an entire grocery cart filled for about 1/4 the price of normal stores. TJ’s is the healthy version of Aldi’s!

TJ’s is able to sell at such low prices because most of the items they carry are private labeled. That means 90% of the items they sell are “Trader Joe’s” brand. Their hummus, turkey bacon, coconut oil, and most everything else is all “Trader Joe’s” brand.

So rather than buying in bulk from a company like Kashi, and reselling for marginal profit, they buy in bulk from a similar but smaller/cheaper company, and put their own label on it.

They’re also able to keep food prices low by selling staple household items like toilet paper and paper towels at a higher price. So while I love to get my food here, I don’t buy many household items here.

 

What to expect at Trader Joe’s

It’s small. This is part of their business model. Even the largest Trader Joe’s I’ve seen in California was small. I love this because it makes for a fast trip. But if you can, it’s a good idea to do your shopping on off hours. The aisles can get cramped on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

The staff are friendly. They pride themselves in encouraging the clerks at checkout to converse with you. Some days it may be a bit annoying, but all in all, I find the atmosphere to be very Cheers style “where everybody knows your name”. (if you don’t know what Cheers is, just ask your mom or watch Nick at night).

You’ll sometimes see little bunny rabbits. Trader Joe’s is very child friendly. They offer little kiddie grocery carts to keep children from getting bored, and to let them feel like little grown ups (in bunny costumes).

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Great Quality Healthy Items. Things like coconut oil, chia seeds, apple cider vinegar, organic kale, wild caught salmon, himalayan sea salt, organic chicken, and other goodies are typically very expensive. Trader Joe’s sells these otherwise harder to find items at a fraction of Whole Foods prices. 

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Living in the midwest, most conventional stores like Jewel or Dominick’s don’t carry things like wild salmon, pink himalayan salt, or organic kale. And when they do, it’s for even crazier prices than Whole Foods. So Trader Joe’s is the best of both worlds when it comes to convenience and pricing!

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Pre-Packaged Greens. So this may be a downside to some of you, but there isn’t an open area for the greens like most other grocery stores. All of the kale, chard, cilantro, lettuce, etc is in pre packaged bags. I do not mind this at all.

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Hopefully that gives you a good idea of what to expect if you’re new to TJ’s.

Things I Love at Trader Joe’s

Now here’s a quick little list of the things I love to get. I don’t necessarily get them all at one time, but the following items are in my Trader Joe’s rotation

Produce:

Keep your eyes peeled for organic. Sometimes you have to hunt a little bit. All the produce items listed, I buy organic. They are very cheap at TJ’s!

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Arugula
  • Fresh herbs like cilantro, rosemary, thyme,
  • Tri color bell peppers
  • mushrooms
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Tomatoes on the vine
  • Bag of Gala Apples
  • Bag of lemons
  • Bag of sweet potatos
  • English cucumbers
  • Brocoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Baby Carrots
  • Red Onions
  • Green Onions
  • Pre-Peeled Garlic cloves (next to the fresh herbs)
  • Pre-peeled butternut squash (not organic)
  • Avocado (not organic usually)Anything after that is rotational. so sometimes I’ll buy grapes, sometimes cherries, etc. But the list above is my favorite TJ’s organic items.

Protein:

  • Organic chicken breast
  • They sometimes offer grass fed beef depending on your location
  • Nitrate free turkey bacon. (most turkey bacon is full of nitrates, msg, etc, this one is not)
  • Any of the sea food (they typically offer fresh wild caught salmon which is great!)
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Eggs/egg whites/and hard boiled eggs
  • Caviar for cheap (I actually HATE caviar, but occasionally eat it for the EFA’s. A serving of caviar contains much higher EFA that fish oil supplements)
  • Frozen Turkey or Chicken burgers

Canned:

  • Organic tomato sauce (great for chili or spaghetti squash)
  • Garbonzo beans/chick peas
  • Black beans, kidney beans, white beans
  • Chicken and beef broth (actually in a jug, but near the cans)

Grains:

  • Pre-Cooked brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Red lentils (grain/legume)

Other Goodies:

  • Orange Muscat Vinegar, Balsamic Vinegar, & Apple Cider VinegarIMG_2132
  • Coconut oil & coconut oil sprayIMG_2074
  • Olive oil (there are a wide variety to choose from)
  • The nut isle (filled with your hearts content of nuts. Tread lightly hahaha)IMG_2141
  • Nut Butters. They’ve got tons of them. I LOVE sunflower seed butter, If you haven’t tried it yet, you need to turn your computer off right now and go get some. Stat.
  • Roasted Seaweed snacks (if you like sushi, salty, crunchy flavor you might love these. Notice the half empty shelf below!)IMG_2140
  • Vanilla Beans (only buy them if they’re soft. Sometimes they get crunchy if they’re on the shelves too long)
  • Organic apple sauce. The little bunny in the picture up top said “Daddy, this aahpuu sauce we get!” before plopping it in her little kiddie cart. Grown ups can eat apple sauce too though.
  • Goat cheese (an occasional cheese I buy for salads, if I’m in the mood for cheese)
  • Seasons &  grinders on the cheap!IMG_2131

 

And that’s pretty much it!

If you’re into exploring, go have some fun this weekend and check out your local Trader Joe’s.

And if you need something to read this weekend while snacking on your roasted seaweed, you can always check out the Lean Secrets Fat Loss Program, written by yours truly (shameless plug).

I wish you all a beautiful weekend filled with good food, good people, and good health!

Sincerely,
Brenda

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